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  • Willow Whitaker

Humans and Monsters: An Analysis of Current Anti-Trans Legislation in the United States


Adapted “The Nightmare” from My Favorite Thing is Monsters


In My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris, ten year old Karen draws out her life in 1968 Chicago with a grotesque horror-influenced style. Each new chapter is designated by her doodles of 40-cent horror comics. All the adults are drawn twisted up with their own vices. Even Karen’s close friends are drawn as monsters and ghosts and vampires. She herself is always drawn as a werewolf, hunchback and jagged teeth always visible.


This might seem like a disturbing view point for a young kid to have about the world, but Karen sections off her understanding of what “good monsters” and “bad monsters” really are.


Good monsters, people like Karen, her effeminate friend Franklin, and her school crush Missy, are those who “[Give] somebody a fright because they’re weird looking and fangy…a fact that is beyond their control.” The good monsters are people who embrace the things that make them different. Whereas bad monsters, according to Karen, are the hateful and cruel people in the world. The people who bully her and her friends, and the adults who are controlled by their own prejudices. “Bad monsters are all about control…they want the whole world to be scared so that bad monsters can call the shots…”




In recent years, we can definitely see how bad monsters have been calling the shots. Within the last year, more than 460 Anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in the United States. These bills attack a plethora of trans rights, including the use of preferred pronouns, the use of a preferred bathroom or a public bathroom at all, limiting public self-expression (a well-known discourse topic being drag performances), and especially limiting gender-affirming healthcare for trans individuals, mainly trans youth.


In fact, most anti-trans action from right-wing politicians and citizens seem to center around this mantra of ‘protecting the children.’


Unsurprisingly, as of April 14th, 218 of these bills are focused on school and education. Florida’s ongoing book bans forbids titles like Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships and Being A Human and stories like Gender Queer: A Memoir of ever appearing in a classroom setting. West Virginia bill HB 3001 is one of many similar bills across the nation which prohibit the use of a student's preferred pronouns by faculty and staff. Texas bill SB 8 prohibits schools from infringing on a parent’s right to their child’s “moral and religious training…education, and consent to medical, psychiatric, and psychological treatment.”


Former President Trump, ever the right-wing populist, also took part in the wave of anti-trans hate. In a video he posted on his personal social media platform, following his announcement of candidacy for the next election, he stated: “Here's my plan to stop the chemical, physical, and emotional mutilation of our youth. On day one I will revoke Joe Biden's cruel policies on so-called gender affirming care. Ridiculous.”


Media host Michael Knowles also gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and said outright: “Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely. The whole preposterous ideology.”


Heading into 2024, it’s clear that trans-rights will be a major topic of discussion during the election, with dangerously polarized opinions on each side. It’s important to note that transgender citizen’s only take up less than 1% of the U.S. population. So why have they become such a large target for political regulation and hate? In simple terms: it’s a fear tactic. Conservative leaders want to instill fear in their supporters. Fear is what rallies people quickly to a cause. If they believe transgender citizens, or drag queens, or inclusive education are out to indoctrinate their children, then they will do anything to prevent it. Even if it means blindly condemning their fellow humans out of pure ignorance.


Adapted “Oedipus and The Sphinx” from My Favorite Thing is Monsters


OEDIPUS: “I’m scared of the part of me that is you…”

THE SPHINX: “Oh you stupid villager!! Of course you’re scared! Because the part of you that is me…is a much bigger part of you than you think!”


While sometimes outright, and other times subtle, queerness has always existed alongside the monstrous in literature and history. Monsters are things ‘normal’ people fear, things that don’t belong in society, things that threaten the current way of life and risk breaking it entirely. We can see how My Favorite Thing is Monsters and other queer stories could flourish inside this trope, as well as queer reality.


Emil Ferris’ dichotomy of good and bad monsters rings true in our current America. “The bad monsters want the world to look the way they want it to. They need people to be afraid.” Right-wing voices are painting transgender citizens out to be monsters. An “ideology” which threatens the safety of our American children, a people who “indoctrinate” and “mutilate” themselves and others, and the Frankenstein’s monster who steals little children from their families.


This is the image transphobic conservatives are trying in earnest to repeat and spread throughout their supporters, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the more serious and life threatening issues in the United States at present. While worrying over the ‘indoctrinating left,’ these people seem to simultaneously work very hard to limit free speech, education, and healthcare when it doesn’t follow their rules. Instead of embracing knowledge and inclusion, they pour all their efforts into destroying a community which is made up of nothing more than fellow human beings.


In Karen’s drawing shown above, Oedipus is afraid of the Sphinx because he fears he is just as much a monster as she is. Right now, conservatives seem to be staring down their own man-made Sphinx. However, it is up to them if they choose to realize — that she is not a monster at all.



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