Imara Jones was on Velshi on MSNBC on December 10, 2022, to discuss how the attack on trans youth is part of a larger Christian Nationalist strategy, with violence considered as a necessary evil to achieve their goals.
We generated a transcript for accessibility, read it below.
Transcript of Velshi on MSNBC interview with Imara Jones
Ali Velshi: We’re less than two weeks into the month, there have been multiple threats made against trans individuals and queer friendly spaces in North Carolina. Peyton O’Conner, the first openly trans member of the Asheville School Board, announced her resignation this week following non-stop harassment from a Christian Nationalist group. In Columbus, Ohio, last Saturday, armed protesters that included members of the Proud Boys lined up outside of a church where a scheduled drag queen story hour for children was being held. The organizers made a last minute decision to cancel the event fearing violence.
Drag themed events in particular have become prime targets for the far right. The group GLAAD has so far documented 124 incidents of anti LGBTQ+ protests and threats targeting drag events. Much of the anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric has been fueled by Christian Nationalist think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, which have provided conservative lawmakers across the country with blueprints for anti trans legislation.
The journalist Imara Jones says that these groups operate as middle men between far right Internet forums pushing conspiracy theories and conservative legislatures. Writing in Newsweek, she says “I and my team of journalists have documented how a coordinated campaign of right wing politicians, hate groups, think tanks and Christian Nationalist billionaires have created an ecosystem to spawn hundreds of anti trans bills and to create a culture of fear. This effort to dehumanize trans people picked up by anti trans figures like Matt Walsh create conditions for stochastic terrorism like we saw at Club Q.” Imara Jones joins me now. She’s an Emmy Award and Peabody Award-winning journalist, the founder and CEO of TransLash Media and chair of the Transgender Law Center. Imara, great to see you again. Thanks for being with us.
Imara Jones: Thank you so much for having me.
Ali Velshi: I’m sorry that we never have you on for a good reason. Unfortunately, it’s always stuff like this. But there’s a there’s something I think our viewers need to understand about this. This isn’t—there’s always been anti queer and anti trans violence and and and you know, demagoguery in this country. But the research you’re indicating tells us a different story that it is, it is highly orchestrated and it seems to be done with some sort of political motivation behind it. It’s not just plain old prejudice, which would be bad. There’s something else to this.
Imara Jones: No, I think that’s right. I think one day we we will have me on for a cheerful reason. But I think that you’re right. I think that there are two motivations that we have to understand that are operating simultaneously. The first is that for the groups that compose what we call the anti-trans hate machine, that they really do want to see trans people out of public life because it’s a part of their vision for creating a world where Christ can return to America. And it if you’re not a part of this world that doesn’t sound like it’s something that you’re familiar with, but for them it’s, it’s orthodoxy. And the second part is that they’ve done a lot of research, specifically focus group research. And I understand that for a lot of people in the middle in the United States, that a soft spot in political argument is this intersection of what I’ll call soft transphobia and discomfort with the idea of young people.
And so, like, you know, as they say to boxers all the time, you punch in the bruises; that is, you say you hit in the weak spots. One of the weak spots that they understand for them as a part of a gain, to to get political control, is to make this argument about trans youth—understanding that that can be weaponized. And so that’s why there’s this hyper focus on young people and it is a part of this essentially decade long plan that they have to do this. And so we can trace where these bills come from. We know that the bills targeting trans athletes comes from the Alliance Defending Freedom that’s based out of Arizona. We know that the bills that specifically target trans medical care—equal access for for trans teens or what people call gender affirming care—comes from the Family Research Council, and both of those groups have been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups.
So this is not an accident and we need to stop treating this argument as if it is a good—good faith argument about what’s in the best of trans youth. Because if you talk to trans youth and their parents and the people that actually care for them, there’s a totally different story.
Ali Velshi: So this is really interesting because in a few minutes we’re gonna do my book club and it’s the same thing right there. There’s this argument that it’s a good faith argument by parents who are worried about their kids turning queer or Black. It’s not. It’s not. These are funded arguments by groups, and that’s one thing to accept, that it’s a funded political operation. But in the case of of trans people and queer people, it is leading to violence and death and it’s it’s it’s creating an intersection between anti gay, anti trans people and hate groups that are doing other things.
Imara Jones: That’s right. As a matter of fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that one of the most underreported stories is the fact that the tremendous growth in hate groups in the United States is actually fueled by those that are focused on gender identity and also LGBTQ issues. So what you have laid out is exactly right. And we have to remember that many of these groups that are anti trans, including the ones that I named and the Heritage Foundation and many others, if we had you know 20 more minutes we could go through them all, is the fact that many of them have learned and road tested these tactics in the anti abortion movement.
And in that movement what we have seen is that they understand that there’s a political wing, you know that these politically acceptable or seemingly acceptable and reasonable groups. And there’s always an armed wing and that the armed wing and the political wing say that they don’t have anything to do with each other but. we know are deeply connected. And January 6th showed us that and the same groups that are at the heart of January 6th in both the political wing and the armed wing of this movement are also at the heart of anti trans movement.
Ali Velshi: Imara we do have a lot more to talk about on this topic and I thank you for always taking the time to to discuss it with us. Let’s continue the conversation. Imara Jones is the founder and the CEO of TransLash Media and the chair of the Transgender Law Center.
Did you find this resource helpful? Consider supporting TransLash today with a tax-deductible donation.