In 2018, transgender teens in all 50 states could freely be prescribed hormones and blockers, legally change their names and pronouns , and play in gender-appropriate school sports. No one cared. But before the year was out, terror would come.
The evangelical Christian right —enraged and vengeful from a long series of legal defeats—was seeking an issue to reignite its endless war on homosexuality. In just a few years, over 1,000 anti-trans bills would be introduced into state legislatures nationwide, as the names, pronouns, genders, and bodies of a few thousand children were transformed virtually overnight into an issue of state concern, and animus towards them an integral fiber in the evangelical Christian right’s tribal identity.
Terrified parents of transgender children found themselves suddenly under investigation, threatened with charges of felony child abuse, in danger of imprisonment, and fearing the loss of their children to state foster care, began fleeing their home states. They were part of huge wave of internal political refugees unknown in the U.S. since the terrible days of chattel slavery, and in their wake they left behind their homes, careers, extended families, pensions, and life savings as they streamed across state lines in search of safety for their transgender children.