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What Do We Fight For?

Dissecting the hypocrisy surrounding the attacks on drag and trans rights

Drag queen gets ready in changing room

The two sides

With this piece I want to express my perspective. I don’t want to point to facts or figures, I don’t want to be a neutral party reporting on events or standing on the sidelines. With this piece I am going to give a very black and white view of how I feel, about the world and the actions of so many people. First of all I want to answer the question I have proposed: What do we fight for?

The way I see it there are two sides, especially in western culture. There is one side who fight for protection, for laws to be put in place to allow for freedom of expression, freedom of living. One side just wants to live life in peace without anybody else telling them they can’t, without faceless people rallying together to tell them that they are not valid and should be ashamed of who they are. One side is on constant defence. Where does that leave the other side?

The other side in contrast is on constant offence. The other side takes time out of their own lives just to spread hate. Instead of using the short lives we have to enjoy it with family and friends, they use it to tell others that the way they are living is wrong. They use their lives to push for laws which say that the other side shouldn’t be allowed to exist. They use their lives in the name of hate. The kicker being, if this side didn’t exist, neither would the other.

Digging deeper

You’ll notice I didn’t specify the subject matter in the introduction, and yet I’m sure a lot of you either sympathised with it or inserted a subject that is close to you. Whether it be sexuality, race, gender and so on, this pattern of the two sides is unfortunately consistent. The most recent case of this has been with the drag bans in America, and that is what I want to touch on with this piece.

These bans, with the main topic surrounding the state of Tennessee, originate with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and started with the rights of trans people being taken away. In 2021 the Tennessee legislature enacted laws that required parents to be notified when LGBTQ+ topics were discussed, with the option to opt their kids out of those studies. They also prevented transgender kids from participating in sports alongside peers. In 2022 numerous laws were passed with ten states barring transgender students from playing sports, two states barring transgender students from accessing bathrooms, and two states restricting discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. Finally in 2023 we reach the new drag bans, prohibiting drag shows in public. What does this mean for LGBTQ+ rights going forward?

First of all, the bans themselves are very intentionally vague. On top of being a very clear attack on LGBTQ+ rights there has been a specific focus on how it leaves trans people especially vulnerable. With the ban itself being worded vaguely, it leaves enforcers of this law to interpret it how they want. This could mean that a trans performer singing at a bar for example may be arrested and charged for breaking it, cracking down further on the lives and peaceful existence of trans people. It’s also worth pointing out this isn’t just happening in America. Although no laws have been passed, trans people and drag queens face discrimination in the UK too.

The frustrating hypocrisy and warnings of the future

As outlined above, moves are being made by the other side to violate and take away the freedoms of people who are ‘different’. What I have shown only scratches the surface of the waves that are being made, all in the name of spreading hate for people just trying to live their lives and it paints an unfortunate warning for the future. These lawmakers and the members of the public who rally behind them are not going to stop until they have their idea of a perfect society. A society where everyone acts the same, everyone looks the same and where any hint of LGBTQ+ culture is snuffed out. Unless of course, it’s where they can control it.

It has been revealed that multiple key figures in these bans have previously participated in the subjects they are attacking. Bill Lee who has said he will sign the legislation on banning drag was found to have dressed up in drag in 1977. Lieutenant governor McNally of Tennessee who has been a leader in pushing these anti-LGBTQ+ movements was revealed to have liked and commented on suggestive male posts on Instagram. Then finally one of the most insulting, Pennsylvanian congressman Glenn Thompson back in 2022 voted against same sex marriage only to then attend his gay son’s wedding. What does all of this tell us exactly?

People are scared to lose control, and hate when others live freely outside of that control. As the coming generations learn more about acceptance and love, the other side gets louder with more aggressive attacks. It is important that we fight back for the freedoms of not only what affects us, but what affects others, now more than ever. This is a turning point, and although we are on that constant defence, we can be louder than them as we know that what we fight for is everything.


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