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When a pro-cop group in Grand Rapids demonstrates their transphobia: Why exposing the spectacle of anti-trans campaigns are part of trans solidarity

April 17, 2023

It is hard to ignore all of the anti-trans messaging and actions that are taking place across the country right now. From anti-trans legislation to all of the far right anti-trans actions and talking heads. Anti-trans ideologues like Matt Walsh, Jordan Peterson, Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro can be found all over social media.

Then there are the anti-trans campaigns that target organizations, entities and businesses that chose to embrace or at least market towards the trans community. The most recent example is the staged anti-trans theatrics of Kid Rock who is targeting Budweiser because they have an image of a trans person on their Bud Light cans. This statement from Kid Rock has been followed by a plethora of other anti-trans messaging, particularly attacks agains the beer company.

One example of this attack against Budweiser was recently posted on the Grand Rapids-based page of the police apologist group Silent No More. They posted this imagine of a Budweiser can – here below – with the following text:  

There are opportunities in business to spread hope, honor courageous men and women who’ve DONE something, inspire positivity in a time where cynicism dominates – all instead of trying to use a skinny white boy that wears lip stick that has mental issues to advertise to a market the size of a closet.

First, this hate-filled message is first and foremost an anti-trans message, that is not only repugnant, it fuels an anti-trans message that can often lead to physical violence against the trans community. 

Second, this anti-trans message is posted on a site that is primarily about justifying police violence and the function of policing in general. However, as is the case with many pro-cop social media sites and pro-cop apologists, they also embrace white supremacy, heteronormativity, xenophobia, and transphobia. Taking a stance against calls to hold cops accountable or defunding of police departments has not only provided social media space for groups like Silent No More an opportunity to push their authoritarian, pro-state violence messages, it gives them license to target the most vulnerable and socially marginalized groups in the country – Black people, immigrants and those who identify as trans.

Third, and maybe the most ridiculous aspect of their Budweiser can image, is that it includes an image of the former NFL player and US soldier Pat Tillman. Now Tillman is not the patriotic poster child that those on the reactionary right might think he is. Tillman did enlist in the US military after 9/11, but he also grew increasingly critical of the US military while he was overseas. In fact, Tillman was even reading one of the most prolific critics of US foreign policy, Noam Chomsky. 

Despite the fact that the reactionary right, members of the Bush Administration and the NFL has canonized Tillman as a shinning example of patriotism, there is a great deal of information and analysis about the fact that Tillman was killed by “friendly fire.” In fact, Tillman’s family, especially his mother has for years challenged the official narrative about her son’s death, as she did in this interview on Democracy Now in 2008. Pat Tillman’s mom also challenged the narrative that then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was spinning about the former NFL star.

Now, I don’t consider Budweiser as a company that actually cares about trans people. Like any good capitalist, they care about maximizing profits and expanding their markets, even if that means appealing to the trans community.

More importantly, the spectacle created by Kid Rock demonstrates just how absurd the anti-trans community is, plus it exposes their ridiculous reasons for hating trans people. What is most unfortunate about this dynamic is the fact that the news media spends so much time promoting these so-called culture wars, but fails to report on the actual harm the current anti-trans campaign cause. 

For an excellent resource to combat anti-trans disinformation, check out this document from Political Research Associates. 

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