“President Biden is forcing 5-year-olds to learn about gender reassignment surgeries, gender identities, and other radical ideas,” the fundraising page reads in part. “American needs to step up TODAY and stop this sick and twisted ideology from poisoning our children. If we fail, our children are doomed.”

“Democrats are HELLBENT on destroying our faith,” further texts reportedly read. “Removing God from the center of our nation, and pushing transgender ideology on young children.”

Vivian Topping, director of advocacy and civic engagement at the Equality Federation, and Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights

Obviously, there’s a lot wrong here. First of all, safe, gender-affirming health care is life-saving health care. We know this. We also know children are not waltzing into operating rooms and demanding surgeries; gender-affirming health care can be as simple and non-intrusive as having a trusted medical professional support a young person’s pronoun use or gender presentation, for example. In many states, youth under 16 can’t access certain care, like hormonal therapies, as it is. And while conservatives love to stir misinformation about some treatments, like puberty blockers, those decisions are personal medical calls that should be made between the person and their physician, not any of us. 

Now, about the texts. I have sincere concern that messages like these are going to result in a youth being harmed, if not killed. If someone is actually trans, they could inadvertently be outed and face serious abuse, violence, or become homeless. They could be sent to conversion therapy, an archaic, heinous medical practice that has not yet been banned in the entire nation. This sort of messaging can also harm cisgender youth, too, especially if they are remotely non-gender-conforming in the way they present or dress themselves or the sort of activities they enjoy. 

The language and framing also feed into the Republican talking point about grooming and groomers—imagine how many parents will get a text like that and immediately interrogate the young people in their home to figure out if a neighbor, teacher, or coach “booked” this surgery or talked their adolescent into it? Again, that’s not how any of this works. But if you’re intentionally fanning the fire, you’re going to get some explosions.

And that could cost vulnerable youth their lives. 

As of now, Barrett is serving his second term in the Michigan State Senate. Previously, he served two terms in the state’s House of Representatives. He’s now campaigning for the Republican nomination to represent Michigan’s 7th in the House. That primary takes place on Aug. 2 and the general election is held on Nov. 8, where the winner of the Republican primary will be up against Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin. 

You can check out footage from Barrett where he again waxes hysteria about small businesses closing because Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tried her best to save lives during the pandemic.

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