I hate cockroaches. My last apartment had a problem with the disgusting little insects, who would occasionally wander into my unit through a shared wall with a neighbour. I did everything I could to rid myself of the problem. I would vacuum them up when they made a run for my cat’s food bowl, and I got used to liberal use of Raid to kill them.
The solution to pest problems is rather simple: you must exterminate them before you’re overrun.
This, ironically, is also the stance taken toward trans people like me by many conservative and gender critical figureheads over the last few years. In 2022, British gender critical activist Helen Joyce, a former editor at The Economist, told an online web panel that trans people are “a huge problem for a sane world,” and that society must work to reduce the number of trans people even if that means going after happily transitioned people for forcible detransitioning.
Instead of allowing trans people to lead private, dignified lives, she instead has decided that trans people are a societal problem. And that problems always have solutions and the solution here is that there should be fewer, or perhaps no trans people in the world.
This has been particularly on my mind this week as the trans community has mourned the murder of 16-year-old British trans girl Brianna Ghey, who was stabbed to death in broad daylight in a public park near her home.
Just last week, the National Review ran a piece in favour of a recent Trump video rant about trans people and our rights. “Few things are more fundamental to civilization than the basic, immutable distinctions between men and women,” wrote conservative commentator Nate Hochman.
In the piece, Hochman endorses former President Trump’s extremist proposal to eliminate trans people from society: a ban on gender-affirming care for all trans people—kids and adults, legislation to declare that there are only two genders that are assigned at birth, immediately ceasing all funding for any federal program that recognizes that trans people exist, outlawing federal funds from going toward gender transitions and a private right to sue doctors who provide gender-affirming care.
The society proposed by Trump and Hochman is not one in which trans people can exist in any capacity. It’s a fundamentally eliminationist proposal, akin to taking Raid to millions of American trans lives.
Hochman is not alone in the use of eliminationist language. Notorious anti-LGBTQ2S+ social media user, whose account has millions of followers, Libs of TikTok literally compared queer and trans people and their allies to cockroaches in a 2022 interview with Tucker Carlson.
The New York Times quoted longtime conservative activist Terry Schilling, who has led the charge to bring trans issues to the forefront of the Republican agenda, saying that his ultimate aim is to ban transition care for all Americans at any age, including adults. Schilling was the driving force in promoting the trans sports controversy that spread like wildfire throughout the country in the 2020 election cycle.
In 2018, gender critical academic Sheila Jefferys told a U.K. House of Commons event that trans women “parasitically occupy” the bodies of women—despite, you know, living in their own bodies.
A parasite. Almost … like a cockroach.
It is perhaps too great a task to try to describe what it’s like to exist in a world where so many people think I’m a problem that needs solving, or a pest that needs exterminating. This type of rhetoric only has one logical conclusion: eliminate the problem. You don’t take half measures when dealing with a pest problem, after all.
Earlier this week, two teens, both 15, were arrested in connection with Ghey’s murder. The two alleged killers’ motivations are not yet known, but we do know that in Joyce’s gender critical world view, Brianna’s murder means there’s one less problem for a sane world.
The conservative and gender critical “solution” to trans rights is very much a deliberate, eliminationist project. Think about it: no legal recognition, no healthcare and no recognition within broader society. What kind of life would that leave for us trans people? None.
Cockroaches, meet Raid.