The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles speaks at CPAC on March 4, 2023. (CPAC)
A speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference inspired an eruption of cheers after he called for the eradication of “transgenderism” on Saturday—yet another escalation amid the seemingly nonstop legislative push from Republicans across the U.S. to cut trans rights.“If transgenderism is false—as it is—if men really can’t become women—as they cannot—then it’s false for everyone,” the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles said at CPAC. “If it is false then for the good of society and especially for the good of the poor people who have fallen prey to this confusion, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.”
“There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing,” said Knowles.
Though Knowles wasn’t the only speaker to go after trans people, and several speakers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Sebastian Gorka, a formal official in the Trump administration with neo-Nazi ties, also took to the podium to bash trans healthcare and people, Knowles’ rant was critiqued as sounding “downright genocidal.”“They are dehumanizing us, a necessary step to bringing about that elimination,” transgender activist and researcher Erin Reed wrote in her newsletter last week in response to an onslaught of similar statements by right-wing commentators. “They are now saying the quiet part out loud, assuming that no one will call them out on it. We cannot remain silent and allow them to pave the way for the elimination of transgender people.”VICE News reported last year that the escalation in anti-trans rhetoric and policy already had some people expressing concerns about a possible genocide against trans people.A week ago, Knowles denied that his stance was genocidal by arguing that trans people don’t exist in the first place. “It's not a legitimate category of being... They're laboring under a delusion. And so we need to correct that delusion,” he said on his show on Feb. 28.
After his statements at CPAC, Knowles accused journalism outlets of libel and defamation after they reported that Knowles said he is calling for the elimination of trans people, as opposed to “transgenderism.” He also reportedly demanded retractions from several outlets, and claimed there was a difference between calling for the eradication of transgenderism and the eradication of trans people.To many, there is no difference. “They are one and the same, and there’s no separation between them,” Reed told Rolling Stone.Gender-affirming care for youth is safe and effective, and has been endorsed by major medical bodies in the U.S., including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Despite the widespread medical backing for providing trans people with adequate healthcare and support, this year has seen more anti-trans bills proposed than ever before, with more than 350 anti-trans bills introduced in at least 36 states. Trans inclusive institutions—and the people that staff them—are also receiving more death threats than ever. This has consequences, and studies show that trans people are already more likely to experience mental health struggles, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and thoughts of suicide, than cisgender people. Puberty blockers and gender-affirming therapies, which are safe and effective, are correlated with better mental health outcomes for trans people, and teens who are able to access gender-affirming therapy typically have better mental health outcomes than trans people who have to wait until adulthood.At CPAC, other speakers also went after trans people, and promised to introduce even more draconian anti-trans legislation. “I introduced a bill called the Protect Children’s Innocence Act,” Greene reportedly said during her speech. “That will make it a felony to perform anything to do with gender!”