How right-wing media turned State Farm against trans youth
A targeted campaign by anti-LGBTQ mainstays like “Libs of TikTok” and Fox News has led the company to abandon a program supporting trans and nonbinary youth
State Farm is the latest corporation to fall prey to a right-wing hatemongering machine increasingly focused on targeting businesses and their support for LGBTQ inclusion -- becoming a “working model” of how the right can force companies to be silent on, or even oppose, LGBTQ rights.
On Monday, Consumers’ Research, a right-wing organization that runs ad campaigns targeting corporations it sees as too “woke,” launched an attack ad targeting State Farm, saying it obtained emails showing the company’s participation with the GenderCool Project, a youth-led advocacy organization, in a program that provides trans-inclusive books to schools and communities in Florida which choose to participate.
Consumers’ Research characterized State Farm’s efforts to provide age-appropriate literature, written by trans and nonbinary youth, as the company targeting “5-year-olds for conversations about sexual identity” and engaging in “textbook indoctrination.” The organization's leadership has been featured on Fox News, and its campaign mirrors other right-wing, anti-LGBTQ agitators like the “Libs of TikTok” account on Twitter.
Key figures in pushing anti-LGBTQ hysteria set sight on State Farm
After the right-wing organization’s Executive Director Will Hild posted the emails to Twitter on May 23, alongside an article from conservative outlet the Washington Examiner, online troll Chaya Raichik (the person behind the Twitter account Libs of TikTok), quote-tweeted his post.
Raichik has played a crucial role in directing attacks against LGBTQ people and their allies in right-wing media. She helped drive extremist lies that LGBTQ people are “grooming” children and has used her extensive Twitter following to direct hate against at least 222 schools, education organizations, or school system employees just this year.
This week’s rhetoric against State Farm is a repeat of last week’s rhetoric on Calvin Klein, which Fox host Tucker Carlson criticized for featuring a trans man in an ad, or the week before when Target was the source of outrage over its Pride Month merchandise directed at trans and nonbinary people. Whether it is Fisher-Price or Oreo or Pixar, conservative media will latch onto any minor show of support companies extend to trans people, especially trans youth, to drive up anger with its viewership.
Within hours of Hild’s tweet, right-wing media sites were filled with articles citing the voluntary program as proof that companies were “pushing” “transgenderism” on “5-year-olds” and one spewing familiar extremist rhetoric calling the company a “groomer.”
Meanwhile, Consumers’ Research had taken to Facebook, another gathering ground for the rabidly transphobic, putting between $3,500 and $4,500 into ads promoting its attacks against State Farm -- ads that have so far reached at least 440,000 people and remain active as of publication.
State Farm opts to stand with extremists, earning no one’s support
The same day, State Farm sent its agents an internal email noting that its partnership with GenderCool “has been the subject of news and customer inquiries” before asserting that “conversations about gender and identity should happen at home with parents.” It also said the company doesn’t “support required curriculum in schools on this topic” and declared it would be ending its participation in the program. The company released an identical statement to the Washington Examiner.
While Raichik and others on the right reveled in having forced the company’s hand, Hild went on Newsmax to say he did not believe State Farm was going to follow through with ending its participation in the program, instead demanding it hire “a credible external third-party to audit all of their activities with this program” as well as track down and remove any books that were donated.
Meanwhile, the company faced widespread backlash for choosing to cater to extremists over showing even moderate support for LGBTQ youth, with writer Charlotte Clymer chastising State Farm’s complicity.
But State Farm, being the cowards they are, instead of aggressively pushing back against the hateful censorship of anti-LGBTQ extremists, chose to humor the premise that anyone in this situation, any parent or child, was being required to do something they didn’t want to do.
No one was. It was intended to be all-privately-funded, all-volunteer, and all strictly based on recipients choosing to be part of the program.
But State Farm pulled the plug because they got scared and decided it’s more important to placate anti-LGBTQ extremists than stand beside the LGBTQ community in a moment of horrific uncertainty.
Attacks on State Farm billed as “working model” by architect of anti-LGBTQ and critical race theory panic
This attack on State Farm would not be unique were it not for the company choosing to relent to the pressure.
Right-wing media seemingly find a new business to target every week. Most notably, Disney has suffered, alongside Florida’s taxpayers, for conservative’s fixation with targeting any hint of LGBTQ inclusion in the company’s programming or policy.
State Farm’s quick willingness to walk back any support for trans youth did not go unnoticed by those directly responsible for concocting outrage against companies for inclusive policies, including Chris Rufo, a figure perhaps most at the center of driving the current racist, homophobic, and anti-trans outrage over school curriculum and company policy. His roles helping to manufacture anger over the false claim that schools are teaching critical race theory and driving the moral panic over Disney earned him significant coverage on Fox News.
For Rufo, if Disney was “the proof of concept” for his smear tactics, State Farm is “the working model.” Other companies, he says, will be next.