Private communications with GOP legislators read like 'Handmaid’s Tale' excerpts: report

Private communications with GOP legislators read like 'Handmaid’s Tale' excerpts: report
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1012690480 Austin, Texas / USA - Jan. 20, 2017: Women dressed in "Handmaids Tale" costumes attend a rally for reproductive rights on the steps of the Capitol. - Image

A trove of leaked emails between South Dakota legislators and anti-trans lobbyists read like excerpts from "The Handmaid's Tale," according to a new report.

The communications between lobbyists, state Rep. Fred Deutsch and other South Dakota legislators use deeply religious language that shows Christian nationalists are pushing restrictions on LGBTQ rights as part of what they believe is a holy war, reported Vice News.

“Know that many have prayed and are praying for you this day," wrote Vernadette Broyles, a lawyer and president of the Georgia-based Children and Parental Rights Campaign in a 2020 email. "Do not back down, nor should you be afraid. Know that the Lord is with you. The children of South Dakota belong to him. He is jealous over them. Let his jealousies be spoken forth in the House of Representatives of South Dakota today so that his children would be made safe. Know you are HIS representative today. Do not be afraid. Stand firm in what is right."

The emails were shared with Vice by Elisa Rae Shupe, a trans woman who had de-transitioned and become an anti-trans advocate before re-transitioning and renouncing her ties to Christianity.

“I fell prey to the belief that if I did what they suggested that I would be cured of my gender dysphoria," Shupe said. "I was encouraged to confess my sins, ask for forgiveness by Jesus, and turn my plight over to the Lord Jesus Christ. I was also asked to accept that my transgender status was a sexually motivated sin and to cure myself by attending a religious 12-step program, which I did for approximately a year."

The messages are peppered with references to blessings, prayers and apocalyptic warfare.

“It is the language of Christian nationalism,” said Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University. “It is the language of people who very much believe they are doing God’s will, and it is the language of people who very much believe that they are engaged in a holy war.”

Lecaque said South Dakota Republicans, who've gotten three anti-trans bills signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem, and GOP legislatures around the country are trying to eradicate the trans community while presenting themselves as underdogs.

“They are not trying to protect children," Lecaque said. "They are trying to murder the transgender community,”

“Stopping the existence of transgender people and the acceptance of trans people in the public sphere is to them some sort of religious imperative,” Lecaque added. “It’s particularly fascinating that this group that has all this money, control in state legislatures, control of the house, they had a presidency, is acting like somehow they are David in the struggle.”

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