Governor Tudor Dixon. It’s a possibility that sends a shudder down the spine of anyone in Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community.
And for good reason.
It is no exaggeration to say that there has never been a major party gubernatorial candidate in Michigan history so openly hostile to the rights of LGBTQ+ people. That’s not to say previous candidates (and governors for that matter) haven’t been bigoted, but never has a candidate made their hatred an actual plank in their platform.
Education is the very first section on the issues page of Dixon’s website, under which she says she wants to ban school personnel from “talking to Kindergarten–3rd grade children about sex and gender theory secretly behind their parents’ backs,” and ban “born boys from playing on girls’ teams in school-sanctioned, gender-specific sports.”
Both of those positions are patently transphobic, feeding into the hysteria behind Florida’s notorious “Don’t Say Gay” legislation and efforts already here in Michigan to ban trans athletes from high school athletics.
Dixon has repeatedly returned to those themes throughout her campaign, most recently on Tuesday, Sept. 20, outside the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) in Lansing, where she held a press conference to call for the resignation of state Superintendent Michael Rice after the release of an MDE training video from 2020 instructing teachers how best to deal with students of different gender identities.
While the video discusses calling students by their preferred names and pronouns and how to report mental health concerns without outing students to their families, far-right activists have falsely claimed it is instructing teachers how to secretly assist with the sexual transition of children without informing parents.
The MDE has denied those allegations, calling them “patently false and deliberately divisive,” while defending the training as providing “safe, supportive, and inclusive school climates where all students can thrive — especially students who identify as LGBTQ+.”
It’s important to note that the Trevor Project has reported that more than half of LGBTQ+ youth who reported running away from home did so because of mistreatment or fear of mistreatment due to their LGBTQ+ identity.
Dixon, however, is fully on board with the hysteria, regardless of what damage it may do to LGBTQ+ kids.
“Make no secret about it — our own state agency is being weaponized to actively recruit our kids and advance their radical gender theory with zero input from parents,” she said in a statement. “My position is very clear: Our schools need to stop pushing radical sex and gender theory and instead get back to teaching kids how to read, write, and do math.”
Dixon also wants to ban certain books, using Tuesday’s event to say that if elected, she would favor legislation to ban books that are deemed “pornographic.”
“I would take a look at the books that we are seeing that are pornographic and make a decision on what we do to make sure that we are not having children reading pornographic — or having a teacher read — pornographic material to children or a child in school,” said Dixon, apparently unaware of the irony of her comments coming during Banned Books Week.
Dixon has been previously critical of “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto,” a book aimed at the young adult audience and written by a queer and Black author.
As to who or what entity would decide what was pornographic in a K-12 setting, Dixon told a reporter for the Michigan Advance it was “two naked people, and they are acting out a sexual act, and multiple different sexual acts.”
She then offered to send the reporter examples of porn.
But then, none of this can really be said to be a surprise about Dixon, who has been ramping up her anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric for months.
As early as April, she tweeted claims that schools are “grooming children,” adding “we won’t let them secretly talk to kids under 8 about sex.” Then in June, when drag queens were the outrage of the month, she said that if elected she would “sign a bill that creates severe criminal penalties for adults who involve children in drag shows. This type of behavior is criminal child sexually abusive activity.”
However, education isn’t the only arena in which the LGBTQ+ community should have concerns about a Dixon administration. Her unequivocally hardline stance against reproductive rights would also have an impact.
Dixon, who believes there is “healing” through forcing a 14-year-old pregnant rape victim to carry her baby to term, says that the only exception for abortion she is in favor of is if the life of the mother were in danger.
“I’ve made it very clear. Health of the mother and life of the mother are two different things,” said Dixon. “Anytime the mother’s life is in danger.”
But Dixon’s concept of gender identity makes it clear that she’s leaving transgender people out of the conversation around reproductive rights.
In fact, immediately upon gaining the GOP nomination, Dixon opted to use gender identity as a line of attack against Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, who she’ll be trying to unseat Nov. 8.
“It’s time to elect a real woman in Michigan,” Dixon tweeted the very night of her primary win, quickly following up by asking Whitmer “What is a woman?”
Studies have shown that transgender men with a uterus are at a similar risk of unplanned pregnancy as ciswomen and would similarly benefit from abortion services.
So whether it is pandering to the age-old trope that those who are LGBTQ+ are by definition sexual predators or that providing compassion to trans children is morally depraved, the queer community has more than enough reason to make sure the phrase “Governor Tudor Dixon” never comes to pass.