LEXIT & CHURCH NETWORK STAGE ANTI-TRANS PROTEST AT O.C. CHILDRENS’ HOSPITAL
February 14, 2023 by KELLY STUART | ABNER HÄUGE
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About 75 people mostly tied to extremist groups and far-right churches protested at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) last Saturday. Their grievance was that CHOC gives trans children gender-affirming care, which in their minds means children are being groomed and mutilated. The protest was yet another blip on the radar in the ongoing campaign against trans rights fueled by right wing outrage and conspiracy-mongering.
The protest didn’t do much to disrupt the hospital’s daily activities. The crowd mostly gathered on the four street corners near the hospital with signs, then later lumped together in front of an impromptu PA system to hear speeches. Signs included gems of wisdom like “you cannot undue[sic] a sex change.” Some had pre-printed Turning Point Faith signs that said “Liberty is God’s idea.” A few Proud Boys were in the crowd along with a Capitol rioter called Andy Lai. Several people were in yellow, high-visibility vests. At one point they led an uneventful march around the block, shouting “Shame!” and “Leave children alone!” at the hospital.
Participating groups included members of the Proud Boys-linked “Lexit” or “Latino Exit”, who ostensibly campaign to get Latino people to leave the Democrats for the Republicans. Kenneth Prado, who recently won a seat on Hemet Unified School District’s board and is listed on the board’s website as an “advisor” to Lexit, spoke. Lexit also helped organize an anti-trans rally in Santee where neo-Nazis attended.
One speaker was a man called Bryce Henson who goes by “Ben Richards” and other names in public. When LCRW asked Henson about why he used different names in different places, our reporter was met with unserious deflection.
Henson, during his speech, insinuated there’s a conspiracy by schools to push kids to medically transition. Henson promoted and may be working with a group called “No Left Turn,” a group that wants to bar schools from teaching about racism and accommodating trans and queer kids, a lá the anti-CRT outrage cycle. Their website links to articles like “How Socio-Emotional Learning’ Became Another Vehicle For Anti-White Racism In Schools.”
“What’s going on in the schools has something to do with what’s happening at CHOC,” he said.
Henson and other speakers called for schools to be defunded if they accommodate trans people.
Speakers from religious groups called being trans or queer “demonic” or “satanic.” Sara Stephens, a former fringe gubernatorial candidate and getaway driver for a man who hit a journalist over the head with a metal pipe, lead a prayer at the event. Stephens laid hands during the prayer on Chloe Cole, a formerly trans person who’s become a minor celebrity in the anti-trans movement.
“We pray, lord Jesus, that you will take out every giant in the land. We come against every demonic stronghold—suicide and addiction and perversion and the trans movement and the LGBTQ, oh Lord!” Stephens prayed as the small crowd stretched up their arms.
Kelly Stuart is photojournalist covering the far right. You can view her portfolio here.
Abner Häuge (they/them) is a journalist and you can’t say they’re not because they got a Master’s from UC Berkeley’s Journalism School. After better journalist @desertborder texted them a hilarious screenshot of a Fox News segment, they spent all night memeing ‘ATTACK AND DETHRONE GOD’ and it became their catchphrase. You can usually find them in the bisexual aisle of the supermarket stocking up on Pocari Sweat for the boog.
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