The Right-Wing War on Trans Youth Was Hiding in Plain Sight

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“Well, I have unfortunately lost two of my children to the transgender cult,” Meagher told The Daily Signal in an interview at the Values Voters Summit in 2019. She has described trans people in grotesque terms, while also casting doubt on gender-affirming health care. Still, in 2020, The New York Times quoted her in a story about anti-trans bills that had recently been introduced in South Dakota. Meagher had presumably traveled from Washington and testified in the South Dakota House against one of the bills, which would have criminalized medical providers who offered gender-affirming care to minors. This April, she was in Texas, testifying in support of HB1399, a House version of the extreme bill that just passed the state Senate, spreading misinformation about trans health while arguing that physicians should be legally barred from providing gender-affirming care for trans youth.

For all her visibility in conservative and mainstream media, Meagher’s attempts to shut down Drag Queen Story Hour events in Washington State seem to have failed. “At one point, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht walked to the front of the room and said that, as a member of the LGBTQ community, ‘it’s inspiring to see everyone out here,’” a Seattle Times writer noted of one story hour in Renton, Washington, the same town where Meagher shot her video.

MassResistance highlighted Meagher’s efforts to shut down LGBTQ youth events at public libraries in Washington in 2019, using the controversy she helped stir up to mobilize people against the LGBTQ community. The group’s Washington chapter put out a sheet of talking points—claims that the events lead to the “sexualization” of young children, which they then falsely linked to “an epidemic of human trafficking”—with the dates and times of scheduled story hours, along with the names and contact information for the library trustees. Parents contacted MassResistance for help, the group stated: “The parents first wanted to protest the event. But instead, we told them that the best thing would be to get inside and take photos and video of what happens. They agreed, and we worked with them on planning for that.” Meagher’s appearance on Fox, which aired her video, was one result of this collaboration, and MassResistance claimed it as a victory: “Within a day it was covered in one way or another by several national conservative media outlets, from PJ Media to Fox News. Though those media focused on the drag queen part of it”—which, of course, MassResistance also focused on—“the mothers’ effort was still a success!”