Anti-LGBTQ Activists Used Anti-Trans Rhetoric To Sway Voters in Key 2019 Political Elections

GLAAD CEO:  “...this ‘top-down’ strategy by anti-LGBTQ activists will only be defeated when the community bands together and fights back.”

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today released the following information to show a disturbing trend by anti-LGBTQ activists who have used anti-trans rhetoric and messaging to influence this year’s contentious elections across the country. The anti-trans ads reached Americans through many mediums and appear to have targeted electoral contests in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia. But despite the onslaught of ads, LGBTQ candidates like Danica Roem and pro-LGBTQ candidates like Andy Beshear were able to win their respective elections. 


  • Nationwide: The same conservative PAC that is behind the Kentucky ads has cut a series of anti-trans spots that culminate in the message: “On Tuesday, November 5, vote against Democrats.” It is unclear where these will air.
  • Kentucky: A conservative PAC is running ads claiming that that the Democratic candidate for governor, Andy Beshear, is threatening opportunities for cisgender females athletes because he supports “a competitor who claims they are a girl.”
  • Louisiana: Ralph Abraham, GOP candidate for governor, is running ads stating, “as a doctor, I can assure you, there are only two genders.”
  • Mississippi: GOP candidate Tate Reeves has made anti-trans comments, insisting to the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association that trans rights would trample on religious freedom. 

Donald Trump, Jr. used this anti-trans rhetoric just yesterday, and anti-LGBTQ activists are likely to continue using this tactic into next year’s critical 2020 elections. This anti-LGBTQ campaign is a similar strategy deployed by anti-LGBTQ activists in the 2004 elections, a successful effort which demonized marriage equality. 

“The Trump Administration’s incessant attacks on transgender Americans have effectively spread across the country in 2019 state elections, and the public should expect this tactic to be used during critical elections next year too,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s President & CEO. “The assertions and misinformation in these ads have been debunked time and again, but this ‘top-down’ strategy by anti-LGBTQ activists will only be defeated when the community bands together and fights back.”

The anti-transgender dialogue comes as attacks on the trans community have skyrocketed. So far this year, more than 21 transgender women of color have been murdered, continuing a disturbing epidemic on the community. Further, President Donald Trump and his administration’s 130 attacks on the LGBTQ community have largely targeted the transgender community specifically, including denying trans Americans health care and banning trans people from serving in the country’s armed forces.

Below you will find background information from GLAAD on how anti-LGBTQ activists are using anti-trans language and messaging in their campaigns:


With past LGBTQ political footballs like marriage equality no longer playable for them, some conservative candidates and groups are spewing anti-transgender rhetoric and using misinformation about trans people inlast-minute attempts to turn out voters in their favor. A similar strategy was made by the Virginia Republican Party and its candidates, who used debunked ads about immigration days before the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial elections.


With a president whose own anti-trans record is clear, statewide candidates are following the national party’s lead and using transgender people as a way to get out the evangelical vote.


In Kentucky, it’s an organizational PAC called Campaign For American Principles, and in Louisiana and Mississippi, it is the Republican Party’s candidates’ own campaigns. However, the anti-trans push is a mainstream political position that is supported by virtually every conservative group, the vast majority of GOP elected officials, and the current Trump Administration. Which means we are more likely than not to see this push in GOP campaigns up and down the ticket across the nation through November 2020.


Below you will find the type of anti-transgender rhetoric that is surely to pop up in future political ads across the nation through the 2020 political cycle. 

Claim: There are only two genders.

Truth: Human biology is far more complex than a binary. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all agree that gender identity does not exist in a structured binary. 

Claim: Trans women have an unfair advantage in sports.

Truth: This is false, and the so-called “unfair advantage” narrative developed only when transgender athletes began winning their competitions. As the NCAA states, there are about 150 to 200 student athletes who identify as transgender. However, they have not received attention because they haven’t won their matches. Organizations like Athlete Ally have also worked with scientists to confirm that a person’s gender identity does not impact their performance as an athlete. 

Claim: Trans rights threaten religious freedom.

Truth: The idea that trans people are in conflict with any law, policy, or statute is 100% built around transphobia. Transgender people are religious and non-religious, Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal. That’s because transgender people are simply people trying to live, work, and operate in society the same as anyone else.


There are two major differences between the most prominent anti-LGBTQ wedge issue, marriage equality, and this current anti-trans push. 

(1) The Democratic Party is largely united in support of trans rights, something that was not true when the big anti-marriage pushes of the early 2000’s led to anti-LGBTQ electoral success.

(2) Public polling shows that a majority of American voters support trans rights, with many polls showing even a plurality of Republican voters hold favorable views.