Don’t confuse hate speech with free speech in America

Eliyahu Gasson | Staff Writer

April 20, 2023

We are in the midst of a new Lavender Scare. The rights of people in the LGBT community — especially transgender and non-binary people — are being threatened by reactionaries whose aims are to silence people and destroy the progress they have made for equal rights and representation.

These people hide behind facades claiming that their “just protecting biological women” and their “putting the well being of children first.” They justify their hateful actions and rhetoric about trans and gender non-conforming people through their own twisted morality — a morality that they probably don’t entirely adhere to themselves.

Because of these people, the lives of those who are transgender and non-binary are under threat. My claim is not hyperbole. This is the case, and reactionary pundits have said as much.

Last month, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles was given a platform by CPAC to rail against transgender people.

“Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely,” Knowles said to thunderous applause from the suckers at CPAC.

The man was ridiculed online for his remarks advocating for the “eradication” of transgender people. Despite having clearly said it on stage, he was somehow upset that outlets like Rolling Stone were using his own quotes against him. Knowles can claim that he isn’t advocating for genocide, but his own rhetoric proves otherwise.

I heard what he said via Twitter. In the same thread, I found out that he would be speaking at the University of Pittsburgh in April — just one month away. As soon as he gave his speech, progressives online were signing petitions against his event which was organized by the College Republicans at Pitt.

In the lead-up to the event, Pitt released a statement about the decision to host Knowles on campus. They claimed that they are “committed to cultivating an environment of mutual respect, concern for others, diversity, inclusion and belonging.”

Of course, if this were true, they would not allow an event called Should Transgenderism be Regulated by Law. The very notion that a groups’ identity should be regulated is absurd and evil to any sane and polite member of society. Knowles is not a sane or polite member of society. He is a ghoul, a grifter and a bigot. His ideas, if put into effect, would limit the expression and the bodily autonomy of adults, which is anti-American.

It seems like many American conservatives dread a diverse America. The leaders in the conservative movement are intentionally making life more painful for minorities in this country.

Legislatures led by Republicans around the country are enacting laws that make it near impossible for adults to receive the gender affirming care they need. It’s not just about the children like they said, it’s about the adults, too. Trans people continue to be legislated back into the closet.

And conservatives have the gumption to criticize protestors for becoming violent when their right to exist as they are is being debated.

Those who dare to question whether or not a minority group should be allowed to exist peacefully do not deserve a platform. Knowles does not deserve a platform. That Pitt would let him have a microphone on their supposedly safe and inclusive campus is absurd. All people have a right to exist peacefully.

Protestors did show up to Pitt’s event with Knowles this week. Roads were closed, entrances were blocked and effigies were burned. Unfortunately, these efforts did not put an end to the event.

I’ll admit here that I am worried about the rhetoric surrounding trans issues. I believe that all people have the right to bodily autonomy. I am also a part of the LGBT community, and I worry about what legislation against trans people could mean for my future.

I also have a younger brother who is trans. He came out about two years ago. I have noticed an improvement in his mental health as he transitioned from life as a girl to life as a boy. Before transitioning he was quiet and depressed, and my parents were concerned about self harm.

Now, he is outgoing and cheerful (or about as cheerful as adolescents can be around their older siblings). He’s even taken after me and joined my high school’s marching band. I am so proud of my brother.

It genuinely hurts to think about where he would be had he not been able to get the help he needed. Thank God my siblings and I are lucky enough to have supportive parents. I wish that it could be the same for everyone.

Seeing people like Knowles be given a platform to express their disbelief and conspiratorial attitudes about transgender people worries me greatly. There is no place for fascists in academia or in this country.