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An op-ed published by NBC News Thursday blasted the efforts by some Republican-led state legislatures to curb “gender-affirming” surgeries for minors, as well as re-affirm parental rights in raising children, claiming the GOP is engaging in a “cultural clampdown.”
In the op-ed, Alan Elron, president and CEO of the liberal Pulaski Institution, argued such bills show “a breathtaking disregard for individual rights,” amount to “no less than cultural authoritarianism,” and are “a threat to our political system.”
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Elrod began by detailing a set of proposed bills in Missouri, Idaho, and Texas “designed to limit the access of minors to gender-affirming health care,” claiming they were “expansive in their attempts to control the residents of their states.”
“A flurry of bills that show a breathtaking disregard for individual rights on topics from abortion to race are flying through legislatures in these and many other red states,” he wrote.
Elrod lamented such bills, claiming those that criminalized out-of-state services for gender related surgeries, as well as abortions, were “a clear affront” to people’s ability to enjoy freedom of movement.
He added that bills allowing “neighbors to act as bounty hunters” against their fellow citizens frayed “the relationship people have with their bodies and their neighbors,” and that threats to investigate parents for abuse “fundamentally warp the nature of how the state relates to the American household.”
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“Across the country, local and state politics are beset by transgressions of liberal values,” Elrod wrote. “Taken together, the trend in these red states represents a high-water mark of illiberalism in 21st century America. To call this phenomenon merely a new manifestation of the long-ranging culture wars, as so many are, is a mistake. It is no less than cultural authoritarianism.”
“The current cultural clampdown needs to be understood as a threat to our political system, as well,” he later added.
However, Elrod wrote that states across America weren’t free to do as they pleased because of “constitutional protections.” He noted how a federal judge in Arkansas blocked a bill banning “gender-affirming” treatments for underage people, and how a judge in Texas intervened when the state attempted to prosecute parents of trans children for child abuse.
“That a wide range of deeply illiberal violations of freedom and dignity can exist below the federal level is nothing new in American political history. But this particular movement comes as we are facing a democratic crisis in this country, and both must be acknowledged,” Elrod wrote.
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“Democracy is a process. And while it’s one that produces winners and losers, liberal democracy is one in which the losers aren’t abused and in which they can be assured that their right to remain and participate in society won’t be abrogated. Today, in state capitals across the country, a spate of illiberalism threatens that security,” he concluded.
To the ire of the Biden administration, a number of states have taken action to protect underage children from undergoing gender transition surgery or therapy, including Alabama, Florida and Texas, who have all either passed laws or have a policy in place preventing or advising against such procedures.
A report published earlier this month detailed a number of youth who, as teens, underwent the process to change their genders, leading to long-lasting negative effects on their bodies and mental health, as well as regret.