GOP rhetoric hurts transgender people, says LGBTQ org

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – During Fancy Farm this year, a handful of Republican politicians made jokes against the LGBTQ community, specifically the transgender community, during their speeches. Spectrum News 1 reached out to the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization in Kentucky, to hear their response. The organization’s executive director, Chris Hartman, said, “Shame on Kentucky Republicans for trying to turn Kentucky’s trans kids into political pawns for votes.”

What you need to know

Held on the first Saturday in August, Fancy Farm is an annual political picnic in western Kentucky where many political candidates running for the upcoming election give speeches to raucous crowds.

This year, a handful of Republican politicians turned their rhetoric against the transgender community in their speeches.

One of the topics of these speeches included transgender people who play sports

The Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization in Kentucky, called out those who made the extreme comments and said they were hurtful.

What politicians serve at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic is why Hartman told Spectrum News 1 he purposely avoids it.

“I mean, I’ve had enough of the ham they dish out at the state capitol in Frankfort, so I usually feel like I don’t need to hear it from the Fancy Farm stage as well, where the rhetoric and vitriol are so much more on top” , Hartman explained.

The Fairness Campaign is an advocacy organization focused on legislation that prohibits LGBTQ discrimination. Since its founding in 1991, 24 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have passed equity ordinances, which prohibit LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Every year Republicans and Democrats are invited to speak at Fancy Farm, but in recent years the GOP has made up the majority of the speeches. This year three Democrats and 10 Republicans spoke at the event.

Fancy Farm host and Republican House Speaker David Osborne (R-59), U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), State Auditor Mike Harmon ( R) and Kentucky Legislator Richard Heath (R-2) ) were politicians who made comments against the LGBTQ community in their speeches. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was not at Fancy Farm, but his wife, political author Kelley Paul, filled in for him. His rhetoric against transgender people was the most extensive.

“Biden says, ‘Don’t worry, we’re not in a recession. Well, I wouldn’t expect a Democrat to know what a session is. They can’t even define what a woman is,” he said during his speech.

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 83, which would have banned transgender girls in grades six through 12 from playing girls’ sports and transgender women from playing on teams of university women.

“This is a tactic as old as time, and these comments would have been about gay marriage 10 or 20 years ago. Unfortunately, trans children are the attack of the day at the moment for conservatives to once again try to talk to a extremist base,” Hartman said.

Hartman added that the Fairness Campaign has the support of some Kentucky Republican lawmakers, but called those who made anti-LGBTQ comments extremists and said their comments were harmful.

“These are the kinds of comments that make, especially trans kids, feel higher levels of depression, experience higher rates of self-harm and, unfortunately, suicide,” he said.

Hartman believes candidates who use anti-LGBTQ rhetoric during their 2022 midterm election campaigns will lose votes.

“And I dare not say that many of them will lose, but I think their margins will not be as wide as they imagined,” Hartman said.

Hartman said the Fairness Campaign will take into account what politicians say as the advocacy organization considers who to endorse and support on Nov. 8.

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