• December 5th, 2022
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Transphobic Misinformation Campaign Targets Latino Community


 

 

Latino residents of Colorado, New México, Arizona and Texas have been the subject of a recent targeted misinformation campaign using anti-trans rhetoric in an attempt to sway voters to the far-right in the upcoming midterms. Over the past few weeks, Spanish language flyers have been arriving in the mailboxes of Latino households in Colorado containing “lies and extremely dangerous messaging about transgender people,” according to a press release from the Latino Action Council. The flyer includes “a claim that President Biden and ‘his progressive allies’ are forcing children to have sex reassignment surgery against their will and are performing ‘radical and irreversible gender experiments on children.’”

 

The flyers were sent by America First Legal Foundation, and because of its status as a 501c3 nonprofit, it is inherently and purposefully unclear who is funding America First. The president of the right-wing nonprofit, Stephen Miller, is a former advisor to Donald Trump who is responsible for the Trump Administration’s family border separation policy. The organization has also been running Spanish language radio ads containing similar misinformation.

 

“This continued disinformation and misinformation targeting our Latino, Spanish-speaking communities is reprehensible.”
Milo Marquez, Latino Action Council

 

Several Colorado organizations held a press conference to address the lies about transgender communities and “push back against the echoes of Trump’s anti-LGBTQ+ messaging.”

 

Introducing the conference, Milo Marquez, director of the Latino Action Council called Miller and he America First Legal Foundation “bad actors,” and warned that “Latinos are increasingly targeted by voter misinformation such as this.”

 

“This continued disinformation and misinformation targeting our Latino, Spanish-speaking communities is reprehensible,” said Marquez. “These groups are creating panic in our communities to discourage Latinos [from voting] in the midterm elections.”

 

Elena Martínez-Vivot, a long-time registered Democrat and organizing director for the Colorado Democrats, who received one of the flyers said, “I’ve usually identified as a very strong leaning Dem [Democrat], so I don’t receive those sorts of mailers.”

 

Martínez-Vivot suspects that The America First Legal Foundation “was just pulling any Hispanic-sounding last name” when sending out their flyers.

 

Chris Davis, from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) Action Fund, an immigrant rights advocacy organization, added, “Routinely, white supremacist organizations like the America First Legal Foundation, target Spanish speaking communities during election season for the sole purpose of spreading misinformation.”

 

Davis said that “as an individual who identifies as they/them,” they see this campaign as a direct attack on the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s up to us in this room to stand up against it.”

 

Ruby López, QTPOC Programming & Spanish Access Coordinator

 

for Out Boulder Colorado—an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization—said that this campaign affects her personally as a Chicana trans person. “As someone who no longer has contact with my family…because of several reasons…When I saw this, I was shaken,” she said. “I already know that the Latino community is susceptible to certain anti-LGBT rhetoric.”

 

Beyond how this campaign may affect the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections, López says she is particularly concerned for how this will impact trans youth in the Latino community. “Trans kids will commit suicide at much higher rates than other kids,” she said. “They will fall victim to mental illness and substance abuse at a higher rate than most other kids.”

 

López worries that misinformation like this will create or worsen hostile environments for Hispanic trans youth, both at home and in their communities. “We cannot stand for this,” she said. “We cannot let our people succumb to this rhetoric.”

 

During her statement, Suniga, the president of the Weld County Latino Coalition, asked the radio stations which are airing these misleading political ads to think of the negative repercussions. She acknowledged that the radio stations need the funds generated by selling ad time; however, she said, “please don’t do it on the backs of Latinos.”

 

Dr. Luis Torres, who received one of these mailers, described his reaction as one of shock and concern. Dr. Torres is the former deputy provost for Academic and Student Affairs of Metropolitan State University of Denver and former chair of the Chicana/Chicano studies program. He said this hate campaign reminds him of similar campaigns targeting Latino communities which he has seen in the past which, he said, have been effective.

 

In terms of pushing back against this misinformation campaign, Milo Marquez said, “As a community, we are working together to make sure that we understand this misinformation and trying to combat that narrative.” However, going up against such a large and well-equipped organization, “we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

 

 

Benjamin Neufeld is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.

 

 

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