GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is under fire for what some are calling “outrageous and fact-free,” and “unserious, untrue, and hateful” statements during her CNN town hall Sunday night, where at least one of her more attention-getting remarks is drawing anger and upset.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper to define the term “woke” as conservatives see it, Haley, according to Mediaite, replied: “There’s a lot of things,” which seemed to define her responses to several of the questions she was asked.
“You want to start with biological boys playing in girl sports,” said the former Trump Ambassador to the United Nations, referring to transgender girls. “That’s one thing. The fact we have gender pronoun classes in the military now.”
NCRM could find no reference to “gender pronoun classes in the military” via a Google search, although at least one right-wing website has posted what allegedly is a U.S. Military training video on pronouns.
“All these things that are pushing what a small minority want on the majority of Americans, it’s too much,” Haley continued.
That complaint could easily be applied to right-wing bans on abortion, school library books, and refusal to allow background checks on all gun purchases, to name a few.
“The idea that we have biological boys playing in girls’ sports, it is the women’s issue of our time,” Haley, a former South Carolina governor insisted, choosing that over equal pay for women, access to health care including abortion services, the economy, or gun violence.
But it was the next portion of her remarks that have many especially outraged.
“My daughter ran track in high school. I don’t even know how I would have that conversation with her. How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker room? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year.”
Georgetown University professor of policy Don Moynihan blasted Haley.
“This really is grotesque scaremongering. Research I’ve done suggests that such stigmatizing political rhetoric has mental health effects,” Moynihan writes, pointing to this piece. “Of course, Haley does not mention that trans teens have the highest suicide rates.”
Haley baselessly suggesting teens are contemplating suicide because of transgender girls participating in girls’ sports has no bearing in fact.
“Clinical psychologist here,” writes Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD. “Nikki Haley’s suggestion that trans youth are responsible for girls’ elevated suicide risks is disgusting. Let’s also be clear that the suicide rate for trans youth is sky high — they need support, not blame from a politician seeking the presidency.”
And just how many transgender girls playing girls sports in the U.S. are we talking about?
“While we don’t know the exact number of trans women competing in NCAA sports, I would be very surprised if there were more than 100 of them in the women’s category,” researcher and medical physicist Joanna Harper told Newsweek in April.
“One hundred transgender athletes would comprise an incredibly small number of the U.S. population,” Newsweek added, “and the number dwindles even further when it comes to middle school and high school athletes.”
NYU Professor Scott Galloway also criticized Haley.
“There is no data, or study (anywhere) linking teen depression to presence of trans kids,” he writes. “This mocks a serious issue, and reinforces a GOP theme of demonizing our most vulnerable. The opposite of leadership.”
Boston Globe opinion writer Renée Graham went even further: “There isn’t a shred of evidence connecting suicidal ideation in teenage girls to being in close proximity to trans girls. None. An ugly, damnable lie and exactly what one should expect from Haley.”
But Haley wasn’t done attacking transgender Americans.
“We should be growing strong girls, confident girls. Then you go and you talk about building a strong military. How are you going to build a morale and strong military when you’re doing gender pronoun classes?”
Her remarks on CNN were just part of her regular stump speech – Haley has said the exact same thing several times before.
And while she appeared to struggle for terms to define “wokeness,” back in March she had little trouble, telling attendees of the right wing conference, “wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic – hands down.”
Haley apparently does not see transgender service members as part of the U.S. Military — or part of its need to build “morale.”
“Our veterans deserve to be proud of their service,” Haley tweeted in May. “As president, we’ll ban gender pronoun classes in our military. No more ‘diversity and inclusion’ training.”
Chasten Buttigieg also blasted Haley.
“Nikki Haley suggesting that 1/3 of American teenage girls are contemplating suicide because of the existence of trans people is an unserious, untrue, and hateful thing to say. But hate is the point, isn’t it?” he asked. He also lauded CNN’s Tapper who appeared to mildly serve up some important facts to Haley.
Author, essayist, and former naval aviator Brynn Tannehill responded, saying: “Nikki Haley’s claim last night that transgender people are the reason why teen girls contemplate suicide is beyond specious, it’s actively contradicted by the actual statistics. It’s also dangerous pro-extermination propaganda.”
“Idaho leads the nation in teen suicides. It has been one of the leaders in banning trans youth from everything from sports, health care, bathrooms, government IDs, and inclusion in sex ed. It was the first to ban trans athletes,” she adds, linking to this Reuters article from 2020.
“The six states with the lowest teen suicide rates are all either blue or purple. Five of the six (CA, NJ, NY, MA, and MD) all have explicit protections for trans people codified into law. So it’s not the existence of trans kids in school,” Tannehill adds.
“Haley is also making the claim that Dylan Mulvaney being on TikTok is enough to cause teen girls to want to kill themselves,” Tannehill continues, noting her “videos are basically floof (hair, makeup, comedy, video diary). Mulvaney’s stuff is light entertainment. No one has to watch it, and she’s not telling people to go out and be a jerk to anyone.”
Haley has been using Mulvaney as a “punch line” for months, including last month, when her “joke” reportedly bombed.
“But simply by being visible, she (and any other visible trans person) is somehow responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of cisgender girls,” Tannehill adds, saying Haley’s “implication is clear: tolerating transgender people causes the deaths of lots of cisgender kids.”
Journalist Emma Vigeland notes the GOP presidential candidate is “saying that trans kids’ very existence is so confusing that it’s causing cis suicide.”
“Barbaric,” Vigeland concludes.