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The Reach: April 14-19, 2023

Eileen Filler-Corn Reveals New Video, Technically Not A Governor’s Race Ad

On Tuesday, Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), who served as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates until the Republicans gained control last year (the first female or Jewish person in that role), released a really compelling video on Twitter. It’s just so wonderful to see everyone come together to produce such a heartfelt tribute as she departs… but if you didn’t expect to see “Filler-Corn for Governor” at the end… you’re lying.

Famously Silent Clarence Thomas’s Nondisclosure Backlash

Overuse of the word “unprecedented” aside, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is famous for maintaining nearly full silence in his time on the highest court in the Nation, is facing calls to resign after it was revealed he did not disclose decades of lavish worldwide trips with billionaire, GOP mega-donor, real estate tycoon… and enthusiastic Nazi memorabilia collector Harlan Crowe.

Thomas is already under heightened public scrutiny due to his wife’s involvement in spreading misinformation and conspiracies regarding the 2020 Presidential Election, her possible financial links to, influence on, and partipation in portions of the protests on January 6th, 2022 that eventually lead to a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.

“Don’t Say Gay” Goes National

Three Wednesdays ago, Republican Governor of Arkansas Sarah Huckabee-Sanders signed into law one of multiple bills making their way to the former Trump mouthpiece’s desk, this one banning all trans-affirming care for minors.

Two Wednesdays ago, Kentucky Republicans overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a ban on youth gender-affirming care, part of a host of anti-gay legislation in the state modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which forces schools to “out” trans students and bans any discussion of LGBTQ+ existence, making the bill law.

Last Wednesday Rhode Island lawmakers heard a similar law in committee.

On Monday Indiana’s Senate passed a bill (which had already cleared the House) banning teachers from replying to questions from students about “certain topics” and requiring schools to notify parents if their student requests to be called anything but their legal name or birth-assigned gender.

Also on Monday the Texas Senate passed their own version of the bill, which goes further than the others by extending the ban through the end of High School and banning all forms of transgender healthcare for youth.

In North Carolina the Senate has passed a so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights” multiple times. Though it has died in the House in the past, a recent Democrat switching to Republican has LGBTQ+ citizens alarmed in the state, whose Democratic Governor will no longer be able to sustain a party-line veto.

The ACLU and other groups are tracking 494 bills introduced in 47 states aimed at harming LGBTQ+ people in a variety of ways. All are founded on intentional misinformation and hatred; a thinly veiled resurgence of Puritanical body-control ideals. 363 are still active, 92 have failed, and 39 have passed.

Virginia saw twelve of these bills introduced this year, but a single-vote Democratic majority in the Senate barely prevented them from passing, leaving many LGBTQ+ Virginians feeling extremely vulnerable across the commonwealth.

Florida Don’t Say Gay Bill Sponsor Pleads Guilty to Covid Relief Fraud

Former Republican Florida lawmaker Joe Harding, responsible for the aforementioned “Don’t Say Gay” bill, now law, in Florida —who resigned last December after being indicted — pleaded guilty on Tuesday to $150,000 worth of Covid-19 relief fraud.

Won’t Say Gay – But Seeking Your Vote

Last week Fairfax Senator Chap Petersen spoke to the City of Fairfax Democratic Committee (CFDC) at Fairfax City Hall, about the upcoming Senate election, for which a new, more liberal district has resulted in the first primary challenge he’s faced in a local race.

Petersen, who has been silent on LGBTQ+ issues since his days of voting for vitriolic bills written by Bob Marshall (who said autism and other disabilities were God’s punishment for women who aborted their first pregnancies).

Pressed to make any personal statement of belief, Petersen refused to provide any competent detail on a single LGBTQ+ issue (including whether he personally believes in gay marriage, or homosexuality as a sin).

Petersen was also grilled by his eighth grade English teacher on his refusal to ban assault weapons, which he claimed was to prevent making people “retroactive criminals,” and by a community member concerned about the Senator refusing to support businesses providing sick leave to part-time workers. Petersen referred to part time work as 8-10 hours in his response, though part-time work is largely measured as 20-29 hours per week.

Transphobia Replacement Therapy

This writer feels it necessary, amidst the plethora of disinformation circulating about trans youth in particular, to provide some basic reliable facts to our readers. This is the first mini “dose” of what I’m calling “Transphobia Replacement Therapy,” a humanizing, honest, reality-oriented intervention to these attacks.

The bottom line is none of this is anybody’s business unless they are trans or the parent of a trans kid, and the constant shifting of the burden of proof to the very people under attack is appalling, but this fight is at our doorstep, and it’s time to arm ourselves with knowledge, or at least make it available.

Trans youth go through extreme torment if and when they go through the puberty that conflicts with their identity, as it causes permanent changes to bone structure and beyond.

Trans men, obviously, do not want breasts. When puberty happens for them, if unable to access puberty blockers, and especially if without a supportive family or funds to purchase chest binders (a garment that compresses and conceals breasts), they frequently find their own ways to self-bind, wraping their chests in rope or duct tape, under their clothes. This can cause severe changes in bone structure, posture, breathing, and myriad other dangerous health issues.

Dueling Courts Tee Up Supreme Court Showdown On Birth Control

A Texas court and a Washington court offered opposing rulings within moments of one another on Friday regarding the medication mifepristone, known as the “abortion pill,” though it is actually a contraceptive, not an abortion.

The Texas ruling that sought to ban the drug using a law from the 1800s threatening fines and up to five years imprisonment for the use of the postal service to mail “Every obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device, or substance; and every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use; and every article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral purpose… and every written or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly [about abortion]… whether sealed or unsealed…” The law goes on like that.

The bottom line: this is the exact same movement as the anti-trans movement. This is not a coincidence at all. This is about body autonomy, stigma, and a Republican party trying to use one to control the other. And, historically, some Democrats.

Cramming In The Rest

With weeks like this piling on the news, it’s hard to cover everything, so here’s a brief overview of the big other news in politics:

A debate has been scheduled between candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination to represent the new State Senate District 37, which includes Falls Church. It will be held on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Post 130 (400 N. Oak St., Falls Church).

The Falls Church City Democrats announced their annual Potluck Dinner, to be held Sunday, April 23rd at Falls Church Community Center (223 Little Falls St., Falls Church). This will include the organization’s first Straw Poll, and candidates will be available to meet!

Tennessee [legislature] expelled all black Democrats [participating in a gun violence protest] from the body, but skipping over the other Democrat in the [protest], a white woman.

Every reader should look up Vice President Kamala Harris’s fiery speech about the issue.

The Republican running for VA Senate 37, Ken Reid, issued a message claiming the TN Democrats should receive the same punishment as the January 6, 2022 rioters that stormed the U.S. Capitol (smearing feces, looting, and ultimately resulting in five deaths). This after a campaign announcement last week that, though not in all-caps, read very much like it was. This is Northern Virginia, right?

The Virginia Legislature reconvened for its scheduled session to consider any vetoes or recommendations from Governor Greg Abbott. Nothing of note is expected to happen after the gridlock early this year prevented much from passing.