Capitalists behind anti-trans social media barrage

High school students in Tampa, Florida, protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’s ban on teaching about gender identity and sexuality in the state’s public education system. Meanwhile, the DeSantis administration has mandated the use of materials from the far-right PragerU hate group.

On Nov. 2, a hate group called PragerU spent what is reported to be a million dollars to promote anti-trans lies on the social media site “X” (formerly Twitter), owned by right-wing billionaire Elon Musk.

Who funds this hate group? It’s unknown where that specific million dollars came from, but the group was originally funded by two hydraulic fracking billionaires, and a quick search suggests those same billionaires are still involved in the group. 

Research also shows that other major donors include a right-wing foundation started by people who made their fortune pushing automation in factories, one of whom was a founding member of the infamous anti-communist, racist, sexist, fascist organization known as the John Birch Society.

There are three kinds of political group in this country:

  1. Those that are kept together with the grit and spit of working-class people and what little we can scrape together to fund resistance to oppression, exploitation, and violence.
  2. Those that are funded by rich people who want to push the most anti-worker, oppressive agenda you’ve ever heard of.
  3. Those that are funded by rich people who want to push a more liberal agenda in order to keep you from supporting the first kind of group, because they hate the first kind of group since those are the only kind that can make a difference.

The hate group (of the second variety) pushing this anti-trans barrage on social media is not unique. There are many anti-trans hate groups, most of them funded by very similar billionaires (or, in some cases, multimillionaires, as if that makes a difference in their political outlook). 

A recent exposé by the Huffington Post went into detail about Joseph Edelman, a hedge fund manager whose business focuses on health care. He funds anti-trans, anti-abortion, and anti-anti-racist (that’s not a typo) groups, including PragerU.

Bosses need scapegoats

You have to ask yourself: Why do they care?

The answer is: They don’t. They don’t care about trans people. They care about making money.

These capitalists make their fortunes destroying the environment, automating factories, and investing in for-profit health care. They make their fortunes intentionally worsening conditions for most of humanity. They profit off human suffering, and they know that right now, that suffering has escalated all over the world. 

Between the pandemic, climate change, unemployment, new forms of automation, and endless war, it’s pretty grim for workers and oppressed people everywhere.

They know that those conditions breed resistance. They know that people are angry and that anger has to go somewhere. The best thing they can do to keep that anger from showing up at their doorstep (where it belongs) is to push a scapegoat. 

A million dollars to tell everyone that trans people are coming for their kids is a small price to pay to keep justice at bay for another few years.

The fact that this will likely cause many trans people to die – as we lose access to health care ourselves, as we are so demonized that we become targets of violence, as we are driven into the closet and eventually to suicide – does not matter to them. They might hire people who have been deceived enough to sincerely hate us, but the rich and powerful people pushing this agenda? They don’t care if we die.

And that makes them worse than the true believers. There’s nothing there to convince, to shame, to educate, to grieve, to find compassion, to be debated. The only thing they will ever understand is mass resistance.

They are the source of the problem, not religion, not politics, not misinformed doctors, not terrified parents, not “stupid cis people.” They dangle millions of dollars in front of enough people, and some of those people will sign up to be used to spread hate. Then the religious, political, medical, parental, people out there are gulled by the million-dollar campaigns and constant media barrage. 

Without those millions dangled in front of them, most of the opportunists would never even think about trans people, and the deceived would never stop to think about us unless we were part of their lives. The few true believers would be powerless to push their agenda without the money as well.

Pushing ‘de-transition’ myth

The million-dollar campaign from PragerU is pushing the idea of de-transitioners. While many trans people do desist (the proper term for it), most do so due to economic hardship, threats of violence, discrimination, or other issues, not because they aren’t really trans. The number of trans people who permanently desist is very low. 

(There are reports of anti-trans parents in online forums complaining that their kids “aren’t growing out of this trans phase” – i.e., parents shocked to learn that the lies they have been fed are lies.) 

The number of people who regret transitioning is also exceedingly low, and even then, most regret it on the same basis as they desist — because of anti-trans bigotry, violence, or economic hardships.

Furthermore, there’s nothing wrong with de-transitioning. It’s another way of saying, “I explored my gender and figured out that transition wasn’t for me.” In the rare instances this happens, it’s perfectly okay. We should all be allowed to explore our genders without any barriers to doing so.

The problem is, the “de-transitioners” who are being promoted by these hate groups are opportunists using their stories to spread anti-trans hate. In the last year or so, there have been articles exposing anti-trans de-transitioner spokespeople as frauds. They’re usually paid to tell a story of de-transition, distort or exaggerate parts of it, and do the bidding of these hate groups. 

One recently exposed story was about a trans woman who was encouraged to sue her medical providers for pressuring her into transitioning. When she did this, the medical providers stopped providing her with hormones.

Yes, you read that right — this infamous “de-transitioner” was still transitioning! Cutting off her hormones sent her into a depressive spiral that sent her to a mental hospital. She eventually renounced her de-transitioner status and ties to the hate groups. 

While this individual was used by them, she was also willingly involved in their agenda, making her story a clear example of how these groups operate, and more importantly, what empowers them and their agenda: the money behind it.

This is why we have to make it clear when we stand up for trans rights that our enemy is the super-rich and their willing, knowing pawns, not the ones who have simply been deceived. Once we defeat them, once we defeat capitalism, the power behind anti-trans hate is gone.

This is not to say we should not fight for better conditions and oppose anti-trans hate before we defeat capitalism, but that understanding who is funding and empowering anti-trans hate should inform how we fight.

To defeat the capitalists funding the anti-trans agenda, we need everyone we can get to stand with us, which means remembering that not everyone with a backward idea about trans people is actually our enemy. They’re victims of deception, and it’s to them that we should address attempts at education and persuasion – and also solidarity in their own struggles, which are caused by the same group of rich parasites. 

Solidarity with others under attack should be the first step.

The writer is a member of Workers Voice Socialist Movement.

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