The Republican Party of Kansas has voted to endorse a statement that it will "oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity."
The author of the resolution, Eric Teetsel, proposed the measure during the GOP’s 2018 state convention — and claims the proposal is motivated by love.
“An ideology that says you can determine your own gender identity is broken and it’s going to lead to a lot of pain,” Teetsel told the Wichita Eagle. “Ultimately, we are motivated by love. It is concern for the well-being of others that drives us to seek out what is true and not just for society, but for them personally.”
(Attacking trans people by claiming to know what’s best for them is a very common tactic among conservatives; check out this Twitter thread from ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford debunking this, and other anti-trans myths that show up in a new book on the transgender movement written by a research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.)
While the Kansas Republican claims it supports the dignity of all LGBT people, the statement also makes clear that the state GOP does not support medical procedures — hormonal or surgical — which aim to affirm a person’s preferred gender identity regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.
One intent of the resolution appears to be counteracting transgender-rights efforts now underway in Kansas’ public school systems.
“The Republican Party was founded on certain principles and we continue to stand on certain fundamental, timeless truths about the nature of man and what is good and how we should operate as a society,” Teetsel said. “And we can’t get caught up in fads and trends and worries about what people might think about us on a particular issue.”
(I’d love to hear more from Teetsel on why he thinks it’s okay to refer to transgender people as “a fad.”)
Equality Kansas responded to the resolution on Facebook:
Denying science and attacking schoolchildren in the name of religion is not a recognition of “dignity.” This is a cheap election year attack by Sam Brownback’s son-in-law, and yet another attempt to dehumanize those who do not fit inside the narrow world view of Brownback, his family, and his wing of the Republican party. Equality Kansas is incredibly disappointed that Kansas Republicans, on a day they should be focused on protecting children, promote such an undignified and crass assault.
Eric Teetsel previously served as the Director of Faith Outreach for the Marco Rubio presidential campaign. Before that, Teetsel was handpicked by Chuck Colson (of Watergate and post-prison transformational fame) to run Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical coalition Colson launched in 2009 to bring Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical Christians together around the biblical values of life, religious liberty, and traditional marriage.
Kansas Republican officials have taken several steps to roll back LGBTQ rights in the past few years, some of which have drawn national attention. In 2015, Gov. Sam Brownback repealed an executive order that prohibited discrimination against state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This helped him get appointed as Trump’s Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom — a job that has not previously existed in any administration.
If attacking trans people provides a clear path to upward career mobility under Trump, that gives other politicians an incentive to follow in Brownback’s footsteps.