A conservative nonprofit led by former Trump administration adviser Stephen Miller is targeting Spanish-speaking Coloradans with mailed advertisements that advocates say dehumanize transgender Coloradans and their health care.
State Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, accused the group of trying to divide Latinos and dissuade them from voting using “gutter politics” tactics. The mailers also harm people who need affirming health care and the relationships between patients and health care providers, according to One Colorado, the state’s largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans.
“Anti-trans ads, targeting Spanish-speaking Coloradans, are a part of a national campaign to harm transgender/non-binary/gender-expansive community members,” One Colorado Executive Director Nadine Bridges said in a statement. “It’s another instance of disrespect and exploitation aiming to stoke fear and division for political gain.
The nonprofit behind the mailers, America First Legal, bills itself as the conservative movement’s “long-awaited answer to the ACLU.” The American Civil Liberties Union fought many legal battles against the Trump administration and anti-immigration policies pushed specifically by Miller. The ACLU has accused Miller of promoting white nationalist ideas.
America First Legal is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It has no records with the Federal Elections Commission and has not disclosed its donors.
The mailers it sent across the state, translated from Spanish, say that President Joe Biden and his “leftist allies are indoctrinating your children.” It also features a photo of United States Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to be confirmed to a federal position by the U.S. Senate. The mailer accuses her in Spanish of promoting “chemical and surgical castration of boys and girls.”
The mailers were first reported by the Colorado Sun. In a tweet thread responding to that story, America First Legal cited a memo published by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services that describes several forms of gender-affirming care. It describes treatment options that include adopting gender-affirming names, pronouns, and aesthetics to surgeries typically performed in adulthood.
America First Legal has not responded to a request for comment from the Denver Post.
Transgender and non-gender-conforming youth face “significant health disparities” compared to their peers, notably in mental health, substance use, and suicide, according to the memo, which cites several studies on the matter. Treatment helps minimize that.
“For transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, early gender-affirming care is crucial to overall health and well-being,” it states.
According to a policy brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation, most major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Psychological Association recognize gender-affirming care as medically necessary and appropriate.
For Gonzales, the mailer “is incredibly divisive, is false and is fear mongering at its worst.” Miller spent his time in the Trump administration attacking and fear-mongering about Latinos and is now trying to split them, she said.
“We know what it feels like to be dehumanized and attacked and to now try to split our community against the LGBT, and trans community specifically, is ludicrous,” Gonzales said.
The mailer also fails to understand the basics of Colorado’s Latino community, she said — 54% want political information in English and 35% want it in English and Spanish, according to a recent Colorado Latino Policy Agenda poll.
It’s unclear how widely the mailers have been distributed. Gonzales said she’s heard of people receiving them across the state.
Political consultant Denise Maes, formerly with the ACLU, said she’s heard from people primarily in the 8th Congressional District receiving them. That district, which stretches from Commerce City and the northern Denver Metro and into Greeley, is among the most hotly contested in the nation and has the largest Hispanic population of any of Colorado’s congressional districts.
It’s also among the most offensive tactics Maese, a Latino and a lesbian, recalls seeing.
“It’s horrible, and what I find even more horrible is going to the Latino community specifically, I guess under the assumption that our community is naive to these issues and gullible,” Maese said. “Even that is objectionable unto itself.”
Transgender identity and care has been an undercurrent in Colorado politics as well as the nation. State Rep. Brianna Titone, the only openly transgender state legislator, has been misgendered on the House of Representatives floor, and says her social media pages are constantly targeted with anti-trans attacks.
She analogizes the rise in transgender identity to the normalization of left-handedness: For generations, lefties were forced to become right-handed; as that norm eroded, the number of left-handed people rose, she said.
“Nobody is indoctrinating anyone,” Titone, a Golden Democrat, said. “They’re just empowering people to be who they are. That’s why there’s a jump in people who are trans and gender non-conforming.”
Further, the vast majority of medical providers go through a “rigorous process” with patients seeking gender-affirmation treatments to make sure it’s the right thing, Titone said.