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Photo: Axios

The "demonization" of transgender people has been "taken to a new extreme" as part of a "culture war," Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) said at an Axios event Thursday.

Why it matters: In 2021, Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced a record 60-plus bills targeting transgender youth.

  • Torres said Congress needed to pass the Equality Act, which passed the House, to expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Torres said, "there's a false narrative that the Equality Act is an existential threat to religious liberty, to womanhood, to female athletics."

What he's saying: "We are witnessing the revival of the culture wars," Torres said. "The difference between then and now is that the new culture wars specifically targeting the trans community. Republicans have been waging a deeply cynical campaign of scapegoating and fear-mongering."

Torres also discussed being the first gay Afro-Latino person elected to Congress, and says every time he steps foot on the House floor, he feels "the weight of history on his shoulders."

  • "My election means that LGBTQ Latinos will finally have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, United States Congress, and that is a breakthrough that I proudly and vocally celebrate," he said.

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

A decade after "don't ask, don't tell," cadets see progress, room for growth

The Navy Color Guard presents the flags as the Corps of the Cadets takes the field prior to the Air Force vs. Navy game on Sept. 11, 2021, at Navy. Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the 10th anniversary of the end of "don't ask, don't tell," cadets say that campuses are more inclusive, but that more work needs to be done, AP reports.

The big picture: The "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which strictly prohibited gay people from serving openly, is no longer in effect, but homophobic comments still occasionally arise and many transgender students do not feel comfortable coming out, per AP.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.