TRANSCRIPT: The Anti-Trans Hate Machine Episode 1, ‘It’s Not Really About Sports’

Imara Jones: I was preparing for an interview one morning in February 2020. That interview was for a documentary that me and my team at TransLash were producing, called The Future of Trans. It’s a fundamentally hopeful piece about what’s ahead for trans people, what we can actually look forward to. As I was waiting for all of that to start, I do what I normally do. I was watching and scrolling through the news. Yeah, I do that–try not to judge me, because it’s my job. And that’s when I caught a glimpse, a glimpse of a potentially darker future in store for trans people. And that came in the form of a bill. And it was an anti-trans bill in Idaho.

Don Nelson on Idaho News 6: …lawmakers are now introducing a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ high school and college sports teams.

Imara Jones: It was the second piece of hateful legislation that year. And I thought to myself, This has to be coming from somewhere. I want to find out where and what’s going on. We wrapped up shooting the documentary two weeks later. And before I knew it, before, we all knew it, COVID was upon us. Everything had shut down. And more and more anti-trans bills were popping up in state houses all across the country. We were facing more than one epidemic. So I pressed my team to keep going after the story. And we started making calls. I’ve talked to experts and activists, many of them my friends, to ask what’s happening, and why now? They told me, “Girl, keep digging.” So I did. To be honest, I got a little obsessed. And a year after following my gut, I am reeling from what we learned.

The truth is that an enormous network of political action groups, billionaires and religious extremists have all come together to form an operation that most of us have never heard of. Their goal is to use trans rights as a way to push a larger crueler vision of the country. Now, you might not have heard of them, but we’re all feeling the impact of their operation. More than 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced in over 30 state houses this year. And this Anti-Trans Hate Machine is just getting started.

My name is Imara Jones. I’m a Black trans woman, a journalist and the founder of TransLash media. Welcome to The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality. Now, I know that all of this sounds like something out of a comic book or science fiction, like I’m describing Hydra from the Marvel world or the rise of the Sith and Darth Vader in Star Wars. But there’s more to this story than a conspiracy of frightening organizations hiding in plain sight. At the center of this are so many brave trans people. They’re fighting all over the country. Even trans children are facing off against this machine. Their collective courage and the power of their humanity is the only thing which makes me feel hope that this machine can be stopped and disassembled.

Let’s start this story in a place where it began for me, Idaho. Idaho is where the anti-trans sports bills really gained traction. And it’s the place where we have to go if we’re going to understand a key part of the Anti-Trans Hate Machine. Come with me to Boise, March 2020. 

State Lawmaker: We on? We’re on 

Imara Jones: Lawmakers have gathered for yet another hearing on a bill to bar trans girls from sports. It’s called HB 500.

State Lawmaker: I’d like to call the senate state affairs committee to order. We’re a little…

Imara Jones: The bill’s sponsor is there.

Barbara Ehardt: Thank you Madam Chairman. I am Barbara Ehardt, representative from District 33, which is Idaho Falls. And Madam Chairman, good committee: Truly I am grateful that you are allowing myself to come before you to present this bill, which is incredibly necessary. If I may, let me make it very clear that this bill is about one thing. It is about protecting opportunities, and continued opportunities for girls and women in sports. Every girl deserves the chance to pursue her dreams to excel in athletics, forcing girls and women to compete against biological boys and men has often made us spectators in our own sport.

Imara Jones: What strikes me watching this is that she’s passionate, and she totally buys into this nonsense. So much so, she names her bill, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. But there’s someone else testifying at this hearing too: a teenage girl. She’s got blonde ringlets and is wearing her high school cross country t-shirt. She’s super nervous.

Lindsay Hecox: If you cannot guess already, I am in fact a transgender girl and an athlete. I ran cross country and track in high school. This issue is so important to me because running is such a core part of who I am. It keeps me fit. It keeps me motivated in life in general. It keeps me alive.

Imara Jones: Her name is Lindsay Hecox. She’s a college first-year. She’s one of the bravest, most earnest young people I’ve ever seen. It’s the first day she’ll face off against the Anti-Trans Hate Machine. She doesn’t know yet, but this is just the start of a long fight. Lindsey came to Idaho from California to go to college, and to live as the young woman she always knew she was. And a big part of her dream was to run alongside other women on the cross country team. Lindsay had started to transition in the summer between high school and college. Can you talk a little bit about why you wanted to join the team?

Lindsay Hecox: Running by yourself isn’t as fun as running with a team, especially with friends. And you both push each other to be the best athlete possible. I was missing that aspect. Especially since I didn’t really have the full experience. So to speak, I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t in high school. It was just kind of sad to me that I never did it as Lindsay.

Imara Jones: Now I’ve spent hours talking to Lindsay and what sticks with me after every conversation is just how pure and simple her motivations are. She just wants to run, and feel good about her body, and have friends. Who’s opposed to that? And why would banning girls like Lindsay be a hill that lawmakers want to die on? Especially when the entire premise of the bill is founded on assumptions that aren’t based in any kind of evidence at all? Now, I know this is going to be a little wonky, but the people whose job it is to look at the science and decide what’s fair, say that once trans women reach the same hormone levels as cis women that there’s no difference in athletic performance. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, USA Track and Field and the International Olympic Committee all say that trans women can compete and that it doesn’t hurt cis women. So it’s not surprising that a lot of lawmakers in Idaho have concerns about HB 500.

Chase Strangio: I would ask that we vote against this. It is singling out folks and putting them on the margin even farther, and that, that’s just not the Idaho way–at least I hope not.

Imara Jones: Moreover, people in Idaho weren’t clamoring for anti-trans laws. Ritchie Eppink is with the ACLU of Idaho. And he says many Idahoans were deeply uncomfortable with the legislation.

Ritchie Eppink: Idaho’s largest employers–Chobani, HP, Micron, Clif Bar–came out against the bill. Idaho doctors, Idaho counselors, Idaho School Boards Association, students, including student-athletes in Idaho, they were all calling the governor’s office, they were all urging the governor to veto this bill. 

Imara Jones: Ritchie says it just didn’t make sense that the bill was still moving through the state legislature. 

Ritchie Eppink: It can’t be explained by what Idahoans want or by problems in Idaho. It’s something else.

Imara Jones: There was something bigger at work here than the voices of the people of Idaho. There had to be because even the Idaho Attorney General had issued a formal opinion to say that HB 500 is likely to be found unconstitutional by the courts. So from laboring lawmakers, to corporations, to citizens, to the State’s Attorney General. All were saying, “Slow down, don’t do this.” But the sponsor of the bill, Representative Barbara Ehardt and her allies were determined to ram it through. Her co-sponsor in the Senate began reassuring lawmakers that there’s no reason to worry about the fallout, because Ritchie was right. There was something else going on.

Christiana Holcomb: I do want you to know that there is a third-party group that has been working with us on this bill and will be responsible for any legal defense fees.

Imara Jones: And this third-party group stayed involved and helped get the word out about it. With this push, HB 500 passes. Governor Brad Little signs at less than a month after Lindsay Hecox stood up and told her story at the State Capitol. However, the passage of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act raised an important question: Who is this outside group who helped push the bill over the finish line? So my team and I started reaching out to Barbara Ehardt, the person behind the bill, because she would know. We called, we sent emails and we left voice messages. We even slid into her DMs. Yeah, I know. But I had to have an answer. Then one day, we tried calling her again, for what I thought was the last chance. It was a long shot. But this time she picks up and says, “Sure, I’ll talk to you.”

Representative Earhart?

Barbara Ehardt: Ehardt, uh-huh. 

Imara Jones: Ehardt. Oh, I beg your pardon. 

I didn’t know how much time I was going to have. So I jumped right in. And I asked her, Who helped you?

Barbara Ehardt: As you ask that question, can I give a little bit long of an answer?

Imara Jones: I think that we–No, I think that we want to hear as fulsome of an answer on each of the questions that I have. So I would encourage you to stretch your legs if you if you wanted to do that.

Barbara Ehardt: Okay, okay, thank you. I set forth trying to figure out how to how, to do this. Just kept hitting roadblocks and had reached out to quite a few pro-family groups. And literally, they were telling me, we couldn’t go forward…

Imara Jones: Let me unpack how this normally works. When a state lawmaker wants to draft a bill, especially a relatively new lawmaker, like Barbara, they rely on their staff, they rely on their legislative services office, or they reach out to nonprofits in their state for help. But Barbara made a beeline to national conservative organizations outside of Idaho for help. 

Barbara Ehardt: I felt kind of like I’d hit an impasse. And that’s actually when I reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom.

Imara Jones: Well, at least now we have the name of that outside group: Alliance Defending Freedom, or as they’re commonly known, ADF. So Barbara says she tells them that she wants to ban trans girls from sports in Idaho, and needs their help. ADF says, “Yes, we can do this.”

Barbara Ehardt: And then they decided that they were going to get more serious about this legislation. And then we completely changed it. And this is where you see what of course, many are using now in these other states.

Imara Jones: As I’m hearing this, I’m really glad that Barbara can’t see my face because it’s totally cracked. And everybody who knows me knows, I can’t mask my surprise. We’ve been investigating how the anti trans hate machine works for months. And within minutes, she’s just told me about a big piece of the whole plan. She’s saying that ADF not only basically wrote the Idaho bill, but that it’s become the prototypes for all of those other anti-trans sports bills that are popping up all over the country. Now, my jaw is also on the floor because ADF likes to mask its role. We reached out to them multiple times, like multiple, and no one would talk to us. They’re basically the legal arm of the entire right-wing “Christian values” movement in this country. They want an extreme interpretation of the Bible to be enshrined in every aspect of American law.

In their drive to do so, ADF goes far beyond the traditional Christian fundamentalism that you might have heard of, well, all your entire life. This is not your grandmother’s Christian fundamentalism. This is way beyond that. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated ADF as a hate group. That puts ADF with its innocuous-sounding name, “Alliance Defending Freedom,” in the same category as the Klu Klux Klan and neo-nazis. ADF’s extremist hate is particularly directed at LGBTQ people, but rather than burning crosses or carrying tiki torches, they weaponize the law.

How do they do it? They sue governments claiming religious liberty as a reason to discriminate, and y’all should know that they’ve been highly effective. Taking big name cases like Masterpiece Cakeshop and Hobby Lobby all the way to the Supreme Court and winning them. They also push state legislatures to legalize discrimination. ADF wrote the model bathroom bill that a bunch of states used in 2016 to try to tell trans people where to pee. Now they’re pushing model legislation–sound familiar?–to ban trans people from playing sports. The anti-trans Hate Machine just keeps doing the same thing over and over.

Christiana Holcomb: We cannot continue to pretend that allowing males to compete in the girls category does anything less than spell the end of women’s sports…

Imara Jones: That’s Christiana Holcomb. She’s a lawyer with ADF and a leading architect of their strategy.

Christiana Holcomb: Regardless of where we stand on a variety of issues. I hope we can all agree that turning women’s sports into a co-ed free-for-all simply is not a plausible solution for the cultural and the social challenges that we’re addressing. When our schools and our societies tries to ignore biological reality, people get hurt. Girls get hurt.

Imara Jones: But ADF is trying to hurt girls. Girls like Lindsay Hecox. Even though Idaho’s HB 500 has passed into law, Lindsay keeps doing her part, she keeps speaking out and keeps going to protests. At the same time, activists in her circle started working on a plan to bring a lawsuit. They want to hold the state accountable for discriminating against trans girls. In the latest sign of her bravery, Lindsay raises her hand to be the sole plaintiff in the case. 

And there’s part of this, where it seems like your motivation to get involved was truly self directed. And I’m wondering if you can talk about that, overall. And if there was a specific moment where you were like, “I have to do something?”

Lindsay Hecox: I don’t really feel like there was much of a choice in the matter. I guess I could have potentially declined. But that would have felt terrible for me. I wanted to do something for my community. And this is a huge thing. Like most trans people never get the opportunity to fight anti-trans politicians and legislature. So I don’t know, why would I… Why would I turn it down?

Imara Jones: Lindsay’s this young woman who just wants to run and be one of the girls. But here she is putting her life on the line and standing up because it’s the right thing to do. She doesn’t want anyone else to have to endure this. And that’s a profound thing to witness. On July 22 2020, Lindsay faced off against the State of Idaho in court, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. This case is the first one in the nation fighting anti-trans sports legislation. This lawsuit is about whether trans girls have the right to thrive.

Chase Strangio: Good morning, everyone. We are live from the federal courthouse in Boise. And we are here with our plaintiff Lindsay, we’re so excited to be here in solidarity this morning.

Imara Jones: Supporters were outside cheering her on. They knew what she was up against.

And then the four hour hearing starts. Around 40 people sit in the court room all masked up. Among them, lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, the group that helps Barbara and her colleagues with HB 500. ADF had promised lawmakers that they would help defend it in court. And here they are today keeping their word bringing the full force of the Anti-Trans Hate Machine up against Lindsay. During the proceeding, the ADF lawyers are totally dismissive of her journey. And who she is they repeatedly and intentionally call her and other young trans women, biological males, and they’re nasty about it. But Lindsay was told by her lawyers to prepare for this kind of thing. During the hearing, she’s ready because the slurs from ADF could come at any moment without warning.

Lindsay Hecox: I kind of just like, made my vision blurry, and was hearing the testimony by the opposing side but was kind of letting it roll by very quickly. I was definitely trying to make sure that whatever was said didn’t get through whatever barrier I set up so I wouldn’t feel actually very hurt.

Imara Jones: But after that first hearing, ADF suffered a setback. The judge issues a preliminary injunction against the legislation. That means Idaho’s ban on young women like Lindsay paying sports can’t be implemented. In an uncommon 87-page decision, that judge says that the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is actually unfair. He essentially calls it a solution in search of a problem, and one that’s probably unconstitutional, too.

Lindsay Hecox: The aspect of it coming from a Trump-appointed judge was kind of lost on me at that moment, but this came from someone who might have been opposed to trans rights and still happened. So I definitely think that today, I have more pride that we won that injunction. At the beginning, I didn’t realize how important it would be for the rest of the case.

Imara Jones: Right away the ADF, not surprisingly, and the state of Idaho challenged this win for Lindsay. So in May 2021, there’s a second hearing in the case. It’s in front of a three judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lawyer for the State of Idaho: If it please the Court…

Imara Jones: It happens virtually over Zoom. Like most court proceedings, this new hearing is dry, a bit of a snooze fest, if one is totally honest about it, but at the end of it is something explosive. It’s so unusual, and it shows the depth of ADF’s power.

Ritchie Eppink: The State gets to go last to make their final rebuttal. The last thing that the Court hears before the court makes a decision sometime down the road. 

Imara Jones: This is Ritchie Eppink again, Lindsay’s lawyer with the ACLU of Idaho. 

Ritchie Eppink: I’ve never seen this happen before–the state waived their time on rebuttal, and gave it to ADF.

Imara Jones: So he’s saying that the state of Idaho defered to ADF, a private organization, to defend the state’s law, HB 500. 

Ritchie Eppink: For me, it’s symbolic. It shows that really, it’s it’s ADF’s priorities. It’s ADF’s ideologies, that is driving this bill, and the state’s defense of it.

Imara Jones: So I’m sorry, the state of Idaho, deferred to ADF to close out its argument in the appellate case on why their law is constitutional? 

Ritchie Eppink: Exactly. Yeah, I don’t I’ve never heard about–I’ve never seen that happen before, something like that.

Imara Jones: As of this publishing, the court has yet to decide whether to let Barbara Ehardt’s law go into effect. But for ADF, this was never about just one state. With their support lawmakers in more than 30 states have introduced legislation based on the one ADF wrote with Barbara in Idaho, in 2021. Alone, at least nine states have joined in actually banning trans girls from sports. 

Barbara Ehardt: We–I–knew from the beginning, that this is, this was the kind of thing that would go to the court system.

Imara Jones: When I talked to Barbara, she essentially said that from the beginning, she thought that her bill had a shot to ban trans women from sports all across the country.

Barbara Ehardt: At one way or the other, we always knew this was the kind of thing that would be headed to the Supreme Court.

Imara Jones: You, you had a full expectation that you thought this could be litigated all the way up when you wrote the bill?

Barbara Ehardt: Absolutely. Without any doubt, hesitation or reservation. My expectation was it was going all the way. 

Imara Jones: And she’s not necessarily wrong. With a six-three Conservative majority on the Court, Barbara’s bill could become the law of the land. Chase Strangio is the Deputy Director of Transgender Justice at the ACLU. He’s been involved in every case that that organization has brought against the ADF’s anti-trans sports bills.

Chase Strangio: You know, what the other side is arguing for is a constitutional right to not have to share space with trans people, you know, to argue it violates their right to privacy, their right to equal protection to have to be proximate to us. And if they succeed on that, in these courts, if the Supreme Court one day holds that cis people have a constitutional right not to be proximate to trans people, then that can’t be undone, except by another Supreme Court case or a constitutional amendment on the US Constitution. So we’re talking generations.

Imara Jones: In all of this, Barbara has become a star on the Right. From the beginning, ADF cultivated her ambition and drive, and now she’s a lieutenant pushing anti-trans legislation nationally. 

How do you feel about having become a leader on this issue nationwide? And you’ve mentioned that you’ve testified in a couple of state legislature, or other states? So I’m wondering if you can just, you know, have us know where those are just so we can understand like, where you’ve traveled and the breadth of your leadership on this.

Barbara Ehardt: I traveled to Montana and to South Dakota. Certainly there’s been Utah and Kansas and North Carolina and North Dakota and I’m know I’m forgetting states, as a matter of fact I need to go write some of this down, but probably spoken with about 30 legislators from all around the United States. We’re helping them as they prepped for this. So I’m happy to keep doing that. Because this issue, obviously, hopefully you can hear I’m very passionate about. 

Imara Jones: And right-wing groups across the country are taking notice. 

Barbara Ehardt: Most of the people to whom I’d spoken before, in one way or another, had reached back to say, “Oh, you know, we’re, we’re behind you. We’re proud of you. We support you.”

Imara Jones: All of this makes me realize just how effectively the Anti-Trans Hate Machine runs because what started in Idaho with Barbara and ADF has now grown into a sprawling national operation. But what you have to understand is that the push to get trans girls out of sports didn’t start with Barbara and Idaho. If you ask Barbara, or any lawmaker pushing these sports bills right now, what evidence they have that trans girls in sports are actually a concern. They point to just one example.

Barbara Ehardt: This first really kind of hit my radar, where I was becoming more and more aware, as I was watching what was happening in Connecticut.

Imara Jones: Here’s the deal with Connecticut. Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller were two Black trans girls running track in the state. Now, Andraya and Terry were talented athletes. But let’s be honest, they weren’t necessarily more or less talented than 1000s of other young women. They placed some in statewide races, but they lost some. Even so, there’s been a titanic clash about whether they should be allowed to run. This clash is what captured Barbara’s attention. And leading the charge there is you guessed it, Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF sued the state of Connecticut in federal court for letting Terry and Andraya share a track with cis girls. Even though Terry and Andraya are no longer in high school, ADF is still pursuing it.

Chase Strangio: You know, they’re incredibly smart lawyers, which is frustrating to have people who are effective at what they do be so unbelievably cruel.

Imara Jones: That’s Chase Strangio again, from the ACLU. He’s seen ADF’s cruelty up close. 

Chase Strangio: We want to take very seriously their work as adversaries in this because they’re very good at it. And that’s troubling. 

Imara Jones: What’s troubling is that even the idea that these two trans women ran on a team with cis women, once upon a time is way too much for ADF. And it points to their extremism. But so to something else, Catherine West of Legal Voice is also litigating ADF’s anti-trans legislation. She says this is a debate about women’s body autonomy,

Catherine West: Important, it is so important to stand up against these kinds of bills and laws, because they’re so interrelated to the ways that laws are passed to control women generally, to limit the decisions that women can make with their own bodies. When a group like ADF is coming after girls who are trans, they’re coming after all women and girls, and they’re going to be willing to sweep, sweep up all of us, all girls and women in order to achieve what is their worldview or end goal.

Imara Jones: And this worldview is about using biological arguments to limit women’s rights. This case is pitting trans girls and cis girls against each other, but it’s actually an attack on all girls and women. However, there’s another big part of this. And that’s race. We cannot lose sight of the fact that this anti-trans sports movement began as a direct backlash to the mere presence of Terry and Andraya in track lanes with white girls in Connecticut. This means that anti-Blackness is a key part to understanding exactly how we got here. And you know what, that’s not a surprise.

Sports are often where the worst of America’s past, both in terms of race and gender collide. The examples are all around us. When white men like Michael Phelps are extraordinary athletes, no one even thinks twice about it. But when Black women, cis or trans, succeed, their very existence is interrogated. Competitors and officials wonder out loud if they have some unseen, outside, unfair, unknown advantage. And it’s why Black women athletes are much more likely to be subjected to so-called sex verification testing than white women. We see this with Caster Semenya, an Olympic runner from South Africa, who was forced out of competition just because she had naturally high testosterone levels. And we see it of course with Serena Williams, whose very physique has become a symbol, for some, of her “lack of womanhood.”

All of this is why Barbara and the rest of the Anti-Trans Hate Machine are playing right into history’s hands. They are doubling down on the legacy of misogyny and racism that most of the country is actually trying to unwind. But Lindsay Hecox, who was a teenager when all of this started, understands what most people like Barbara don’t. That it’s impossible to hold some women back without actually holding all women back. And she’s paying the price for standing up and for saying it. And it’s why she sometimes fears for her physical safety.

Lindsay Hecox: I was actually running in downtown Boise, or at least close to downtown. And some truck came by and the person in it, said it: “Hey, f— you.” I just knew it was directed at me. But I remember that very clearly. Because I had my heart rate just go two times as fast, like my whole body was agitated after that.

Imara Jones: And Lindsay dropped out of school last year. Working a job, being a full-time student, and taking on Barbara and the ADF was just all way too much. Still, Lindsay plans to return to Boise State next year, but even the way she talks about that, going back to school and trying out for the cross-country team, I hear her trying to shrink herself. 

One of the things you’ve said is that you don’t necessarily want to be the best. And I’m wondering if you could just elaborate on that. And why you mentioned that. And it’s, I’m thinking about it in the context of you, trying out for the team again. 

Lindsay Hecox: So I don’t feel like I want to be the fastest runner on the team just because especially with the fact that people would assume I have some kind of advantage. So I am perfectly fine with being in the middle of the pack or at the bottom of the pack of my team, potentially.

Imara Jones: But one person not shrinking is Barbara. She’s only grown in this fight. So I had to go back and ask her a big question that was still unanswered for me. Something told me that none of her previous answers tell the whole story. Why did Barbara actually team up with ADF and where in her framework for humanity does all of this fit? 

I’m wondering if you had ever listened to or heard the story of Lindsay Hecox? And if so, what your reaction was? And the reason why is, I’m going to say something. I know this is going to sound probably very strange to you. But what’s fascinating to me is the remarkable similarity in the way that you all both speak about sports and the importance of sport and what it does for you, and how it changes your life. That’s a very fascinating thing for me to hear in both of your stories, even as you’re on opposite sides.

Barbara Ehardt: You know what? You’re the first person in all of these interviews to ask something like that. And that, that is…that is an intriguing question. And I, I–but it makes sense to me. It makes sense that Lindsay would–Lindsay and myself would both feel the same way. Probably just like anyone who just enjoys the competition, the–and, and the sacrifice, the conflict resolution, so many things that come to her through sport, I want someone like Lindsay to be able to compete. But, you know, I just, I just don’t want Lindsay to be able to take away opportunities for girls and women. So thank you for pointing that out is something when you and I hang up. I’m going to probably ponder.

Imara Jones: Despite the fact that she’s unleashed an entire legal apparatus against Lindsay, who was 18 at the start of all this, she’s never even thought about what it’s been like for Lindsey? Barbara is legislating against an entire group of people in a case she hopes will reach all the way to the Supreme Court. And their individual experiences have never even crossed her mind. I had to give her one more chance to explain. 

But I’m just wondering, if you’ve ever thought about this from their perspective, like if you ever thought, “Okay, so my body is totally different than the men’s. My body has changed a lot from the medical interventions. So how on earth would someone like me like”–because we’re putting ourself in that person’s shoes–how in the world would they compete on a men’s team? They would experience it would seem to me some of the, you know, the disadvantages that you’re talking about. If they go on a track and try to compete with them, there’s no way they’re going to win. So I’m wondering if you’ve ever considered thinking about it from from their perspective?

Barbara Ehardt: I actually am empathetic to the challenges that Lindsay has faced and will face not just in sports, but in this life-changing decision. But Lindsay is making it as an adult. And, you know, I, I have to support the decision because Lindsay is an adult. And I think that’s important that, you know, be supportive of that. But with that comes consequences like I say, that we all don’t get to have a say in.

Imara Jones: She’s trying to play nice, but I hear something more ominous in all of this. Not only is she not considering the humanity of trans people, but she believes we deserve to be punished. Our very existence is the actual crime that she’s legislating against. I talked to Lindsay recently to see how she was doing. She’s sounding hopeful.

Lindsay Hecox: I actually just saw someone at work today, who was wearing a Boise State track and field shirt. And I was asking her questions about how the team’s doing and what events she was running and that little encounter just made me want to be on the team so much more. After kind of not having that enthusiasm for a while, just seeing someone who is on the team, realizing I could be her friend, potentially. It just boosted that feeling.

Imara Jones: Every time I talked to Lindsay, I’m just stunned by the fact that there is anyone let alone an entire movement that is trying to crush her or any other trans person for that matter. And that movement is so much bigger than ADF. Next time, we’re going to unveil one of the biggest and most influential parts of the Anti-Trans Hate Machine.

Trace Fleming: Speaking of politics and justice is the right thing to do. When it’s your kid, your 16 year old kid who just wants to be a kid. 

Carmarion Anderson: So shame on any politician introducing the hateful, mean spirited, and discriminatory bills that are anti-American. 

Phineas Fleming-Smith: It’s weird and scary. This is scary. 

Jacob Rosencrants: This just shouldn’t be legislated at all. 

Imara Jones: All that and more next time on The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality.

This project is made possible with support from the New York Women’s Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation. I’m Imara Jones, your host and executive producer. Oliver-Ash Kleine is our senior producer. Tyler Wilson, Annie Ning,  Ruby Fludzinski, Callie Wright and Jaye McAuliffe are our producers. Archer Quinn is our editor. Sound design and mixing by Alexander Charles Adams. Montana Thomas is our production coordinator. Research from Sydney Bauer. Gillian Branstetter and Elle Communications are in charge of press and outreach for this series. Our digital strategy is led by Daniela Capistrano of DCAP Media. Social media and production assistance by Yannick Eike Mirko. Graphic and social media support from Resistance Communications. Justin Kloczko is our fact checker and our intern is Jordan Mirana. Our theme music was composed by Ben Draghi, additional music courtesy of Lex Vilena, Mo Rooneh, Broke for Free, Doctor Dreamtrip, and Alexander Charles Adams. Subscribe to The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality, where ever you listen to your podcasts, and be sure to tell all of your friends about our show.

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TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.



TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.


Coming Soon

The Glow UP

At TransLash, change is constant. We embrace our own process of collective transformation, and we honor every step of the journey. We’re getting ready to celebrate a pivotal point in our story, and we’re inviting you to be a part of it! 

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We’ve been working behind the scenes to launch a new brand for TransLash—one that honors our roots, reflects our growth, and leaves room for what’s to come. Over the next few months, you’ll notice fresh visuals and content as we bring our “glow up” to life across our digital channels. This summer, we’ll celebrate the culmination of that work: our brand new website! We’re building a new home for the journalism you love and trust, grounded in our deep commitment to the trans community.

We’re stepping into our own transition, and we want to share it with you. Join us!

Be the first to know when we launch the new site!


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