Erica Hill, anchor of CNN This Morning, chose to celebrate “Pride Month” on Friday morning by “raising the alarm” regarding trans and LGBTQ “rights” alongside Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr (D), who also happened to be transgender. Hill went so far as to falsely suggest they were “no facts out there” to support the notion that the trans agenda was being targeted at kids.
Hill and co-host, Rahel Solomon, engaged Zephyr in what was essentially a whining match over “the harassment” that the LGBTQ community had received from “restrictions” in recent legislation and “backlash” at companies, such as Kohl’s, that were trying to be “allies” to the LGBTQ community by “selling Pride merchandise.”
During this segment of the show, Hill and Zephyr bemoaned the “record number of bills” that had been passed recently, especially the “restrictions on gender-affirming care, tightened regulations on school curriculum, laws restricting trans youth access to sports, efforts to ban drag performances” that they saw as “specifically targeting the [LGBTQ] community.”
In something of a bid to shutdown discussions in state houses, Zephyr even claimed that these bills “are still harmful” to people even when they’re “not even passed,” because of a story that he had heard of a trans teenager attempting suicide while watching the hearing for one of these bills.
There was also a discussion of “allies,” especially among corporations and individuals in the public sphere. Hill describes the “pushback” and “backlash” that she has seen recently towards the companies who were “embracing and supporting Pride Month,” and asked Zephyr for thoughts on these reactions.
Zephyr deflected the direct question, instead claiming that their opponents wanted to have the LGBTQ community “removed from public life” simply because of the LGBTQ-supporting stores being boycotted and the responding attempts to salvage a shrinking customer base.
Hill also made a ludicrously false claim that “there are no facts” that trans people were “coming after children,” among other claims:
What do you think it is in this moment that has made, not just the LGBTQ community, but specifically, the trans community such a target? There are—there are no facts out there that support that the trans community is coming after children, right, and is trying to change things.
In fact, from all of our reporting and from members of the trans community I've spoken with it's quite the opposite. People just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace and be their true selves. Why do you think there is such a focus on the trans community?
This claim was patently absurd because, as the Daily Wire aptly points out, trans and LGBTQ activists do target children—and they’re proud of it too. In a TedTalk on the matter of LGBTQ subjects in children’s media three years ago, LGBTQ rights activist, author, and creator of the series “Queer Stuff for Kids” Lindsey Amer says that “talking to kids about gay stuff is actually crucial” to their development. Amer, who also identifies as “non-binary,” claims that “exposure to diversity is an important part” of a child’s development.
One article from The New York Times and another from EducationWeek indicated that, according to studies, the number of transgender youth has shot up in recent years. Other articles from CNN indicate the importance of children transitioning early to be “consistent,” and the heightened number of “gender-diverse” high schoolers.
It seems that, rather than not “coming after children” and “trying to change things,” these are the exact goals of that community.
Transcript of the segment below (Click Expand):
CNN This Morning
ERICA HILL: June is National Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community is raising the alarm around the record number of bills which have been introduced across this country specifically targeting the community. There are restrictions on gender-affirming care, tightened regulations on school curriculum, laws restricting trans youth access to sports, efforts to ban drag performances, flooding state legislatures.
You may remember this scene as well from Montana back in April when State Rep. Zooey Zephyr spoke out against one of these proposed bills. She ended up being censured by state Republicans. Within the past week, we have seen a spike in the backlash to companies as well supporting Pride Month, selling Pride merchandise.
Joining us now is Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr. It's nice to have you with us in the studio. You and I had actually spoken just about a month ago right after you had found out that you were pushing to be reinstated. That wasn't happening in Montana.
Where we stand this morning, it is remarkable what we've seen in the last week or two in terms of pushback on companies. They were criticized for, you know, perhaps rainbow capitalism a couple of years ago and now there's a criticism for embracing and supporting Pride Month.
I just want to ask you specifically, Kohl's was coming under fire on social media. They had a Pride collection. They had clothing, had stuff for kids. And Laura Ingraham—on another network, an opinion host—suggested on Twitter that the company does not, in her words, “respect common sense or the American ideal.”
When you hear words like that—the American ideal and common sense—what does that say to you?
REP. ZOOEY ZEPHYR (D-MT): As a legislator, one of the things I think about is, when these bills come forward they get talked about as if they're very narrow. This is just about sports. This is just about health care for a certain age group. But what we see in moments like this is that the people who support anti-LGBTQ bills—they’re not content with a single piece of policy. They want to see us removed from all stores. They want to see us removed from public life. And to me, that's why it's so important in this moment that we fight back and that our allies, both individuals and corporations, are willing to stand alongside us.
RAHEL SOLOMON: Representative, ACLU put out some analysis that said by far, most of this anti-LGBTQ legislation is not even passed. But you say even if it's not passed it's still harmful for young people.
ZEPHYR: Yeah. The harm comes immediately, even when these discussions are brought up. We know in Montana that there was a trans teen who attempted suicide while watching one of the hearings. That's how her mother found her with the hearing up on the TV. This is the kind of risk that comes just from the discussion of these bills. And then, as they get passed and enacted, it becomes harder and harder because these bills themselves ca—create conditions where having a joyful, meaningful life becomes very difficult for trans people and LGBTQ people.
HILL: You talked about allies. What does it mean, in your view, to be an ally in 2023?
ZEPHYR: It means being unafraid to stand up in the rooms that you are in. I'm in the legislature doing my best to stop harmful policy, to move the needle with my colleagues, but that's just one room. Whatever room you're in, whether it's a newsroom, whether it's an office space, a PTA, or an awkward family dinner conversation, have the courage to stand up because right now, LGBTQ people need that support.
SOLOMON: What's your reaction when companies—corporations try to stand up and then they face the backlash that some are now facing. I mean, what do you think when you—when you see the backlash that some are facing?
ZEPHYR: I think it's—when we talk about the breadth of bills attacking the LGBTQ people—bills attacking our past when they ban our memoirs or ban our collective history and drag. Bills banning our present by banning teaching about us in school or public access to bathrooms, and our future by our health care. I think the companies facing backlash are seeing a sliver of what LGBTQ people are facing with our—the harassment we're dealing with. And we can't put our identities back up off the shelf. So it's important that these companies are standing beside us in a moment where we're under more attacks than we have ever been.
SOLOMON: Do you wish Target would have kept some of its merchandise on its shelves? Do you wish maybe Target would have done more?
ZEPHYR: I wish every corporation who is pushing—putting our Pride products would have the courage to understand that they have LGBTQ employees, they have LGBTQ customers. And by supporting our presence you don't take away anything from anyone else, you just show that we belong here as well.
HILL: What do you think it is in this moment that has made, not just the LGBTQ community, but specifically, the trans community such a target? There are—there are no facts out there that support that the trans community is coming after children, right, and is trying to change things. In fact, from all of our reporting and from members of the trans community I've spoken with it's quite the opposite. People just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace and be their true selves. Why do you think there is such a focus on the trans community?
ZEPHYR: We know the joy trans people have when they're allowed to transition and we come fully into ourselves. And right now, there's an effort on the right to create a boogeyman much like they attempted to do in the '90s with policy around the anti-gay m—gay movement. And we see echoes of the same rhetoric, you know, the same handful of detransitioners flown out, much like the same handful of ex-gays were flown out. Language in the '90s around gay people, quote, "recruiting" we see resurrected here in calling trans people, quote, "groomers."
It's that harmful rhetoric that they're trying to resurrect but it'll fail for the same reason, and that's because trans people, we are a part of every community. You’re never far from a trans person or someone who loves us, whether you're here, whether you're in your office, or whether you're in the governor's mansion in Montana whose own child is non-binary.
SOLOMON: Representative, thank you. It was wonderful to have you today.
ZEPHYR: Thank you for having me today.
HILL: Appreciate it, thank you.