Exploiting a controversy to demonize the LGBTQ community is a tactic of conservatives and the religious right which doesn't get talked about much. Via an extensive network of "news sources" and tweets they can twist a situation and use it to create a moral panic. And usually by the time the truth catches up to the story they spin, it really doesn't matter.
An example of this is the recent Texas custody case involving a seven-year-old transgender child.
From Media Matters:
Texas government officials are parroting right-wing media misinformation about trans youth, including during an appearance on Fox News, as the state is attempting to launch a “child abuse” investigation into a custody battle over a transgender child whose parents disagree about affirming her gender identity. Anti-trans figures have consistently portrayed the affirmation of trans youth as “child abuse.”
Right-wing media outlets have dubiously framed the custody battle as a debate over medical intervention -- despite the fact that the child would not be undergoing any such procedures in the near future. They have also pushed misinformation about medical interventions that are widely supported by medical professionals, inaccurately calling them “chemical castration” -- a false claim which has also been repeated by the Texas attorney general office.
The custody battle is between Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger, two divorced Texas parents of a trans child who goes by Luna and uses female pronouns. Three mental health professionals have diagnosed Luna with gender dysphoria, and Georgulas has accepted her as trans. However, Younger has rejected Luna’s gender identity, insisting she is not trans and referring to her by her former name (commonly referred to as a deadname). According to court documents, Younger “has engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior, including physical force, toward” Georgulas and “emotionally abusive behavior toward the child.” He has also launched an online campaign, fundraiser, and petition all using the name Luna formerly used.
On October 24, a judge ruled that the parents would share joint custody of Luna despite a jury ruling that Georgulas should have sole custody earlier this week. The judge’s decision came after major outcry from right-wing media figures and Texas elected officials, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
. . . Right-wing media led an extensive misinformation campaign about the custody battle, which Texas government officials relied on to justify launching an investigation.
(TX Gov. Greg) Abbott announced on October 23 that the Texas Office of the Attorney General and Department of Family and Protective Services are looking into the custody case. Government officials in the state used that misinformation to justify the potential investigation. Following the announcement, Texas Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Mateer sent a letter and issued a press release requesting that the state Department of Family and Protective Services “conduct a thorough investigation” into “possible child abuse” to “protect the boy in question [from] permanent and potentially irreversible harm by his mother.”
Mateer is an allied attorney with the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom; at least four other ADF allied attorneys worked in the Texas attorney general’s office in 2018. In 2017, Mateer’s federal judicial nomination was withdrawn after some of his extreme anti-LGBTQ comments were uncovered. Notably, Mateer claimed that the existence of trans youth proves that “Satan’s plan is working,” and he advocated for the harmful and debunked practice of conversion therapy.
. . .The language in Mateer’s comments and Patrick’s interviews comes directly from right-wing media, which have taken the custody battle and falsely reframed it to be about supposedly irreversible medical procedures. In fact, therapists have not recommended any medical interventions for Luna, but rather “would allow her to dress and otherwise identify as a girl.”
Of course that detail above wasn't included when right-wing sources went apeshit about the situation:
. . . Mateer’s comments about child abuse and “chemical castration” mirrored right-wing misinformation about affirming trans children--media outlets including LifeSiteNews, The Federalist, Christian Headlines, and The Patriot Post have propagated the “chemical castration” language before it appeared in Mateer’s letter from the attorney general’s office.
The article deserves a full read even though it is a horrible situation. This isn't the first time conservatives and the religious right exploited a controversy to spin the lie that the LGBTQ community are out to harm children.
In 2005, Massachusetts parent David Parker was arrested at his son's elementary school, Estabrook Elementary. He claimed that he was unfairly arrested because he was merely attempting to keep his son from being taught about "gay sexuality." Right-wing sources, although not as numerous or sophisticated as they are now, quickly heralded him as a hero.
Then the truth came out. Parker was a fraud and the situation was deliberately overblown. But it took a while before that truth came out and even afterwards, the situation nearly undermined same-sex families and marriage equality.
No doubt, the folks exploiting this recent situation is counting on it to undermine transgender rights.