Kayla Denker is a military veteran and a trained archaeologist who has worked in the private sector and for the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. She is also a trans woman living in America, and every day she navigates the difficult and increasingly dangerous terrain of living her life as an out trans person—estrangement from unaccepting family, hostile encounters in public, and a growing right-wing political crusade hellbent on scapegoating LGBTQ+ people as the ultimate evil and the source of society's ills, stripping them of their rights, and outwardly calling for the elimination of trans people from society.
Until recently, Kayla was working for the Forest Service, doing a job she loved. On March 5, however, after conservative commentator Michael Knowles openly proclaimed at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 4 that "transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely," Kayla posted a short video online featuring herself loading an assault rifle she legally owns accompanied by the following text: "While advocating just for trans people to 'arm ourselves' is not any kind of solution to the genocide we are facing, I do want to say that if you transphobes do try to come for me I'm taking a few of you with me." Then, weeks later, on March 27, Aiden Hale, who identified as a transgender man, murdered three children and three adults in a mass school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, where Aiden had been a student. In the wake of the Nashville shooting, rightwing and tabloid media outlets and prominent social media accounts began to furiously recirculate Kayla's video, lying about the origins of the video and, instead, painting a fabricated, fear-mongering narrative that connected her and Hale to a supposed network of violent and "militant transgender activists." Immediately, Kayla's life was turned upside down—she has been flooded with death threats and, last week, she was fired from the Forest Service. In this episode, we talk with Kayla about her life and work, the events of the past two months, and the reality of being a trans person in the US today.
Additional links/info below...
- GoFundMe: Help Kayla with Legal Fees and Survival
- Kayla's Twitter page (public), TikTok, and YouTube channel
- Trans Legislation Tracker
- Peter Wade & Patrick Reis, Rolling Stone, "CPAC Speaker Calls for Eradication of ‘Transgenderism’—and Somehow Claims He’s Not Calling for Elimination of Transgender People"
- Adam M. Rhodes, The Appeal, "Anti-Trans Bills Flood States in 'Centrally Coordinated' Attack on Transgender Existence"
- Maximillian Alvarez, The Real News Network, "The New Lavender Scare is an Attack on the Working Class"
- Lexi McMenamin, Teen Vogue, "How to Stay Safe as a Trans Student in School"
- France 24 ENG, "Activist Erin Reed on the 'Sustained fear Campaign' Behind US Anti-Transgender Laws"
- Death Panel podcast, "The Gray Lady vs. Trans Life w/ Vicky Osterweil"
- Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post, "The Right Exploits Nashville Shooting to Escalate Anti-Trans Rhetoric"
- Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, "Inside the Secret Working Group That Helped Push Anti-Trans Laws Across the Country"
- Thaddeus Morgan, History, "The NRA Supported Gun Control When the Black Panthers Had the Weapons"
Permanent links below...
- Working People Patreon page
- Leave us a voicemail and we might play it on the show!
- Labor Radio / Podcast Network website, Facebook page, and Twitter page
- In These Times website, Facebook page, and Twitter page
- The Real News Network website, YouTube channel, podcast feeds, Facebook page, and Twitter page
Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive: freemusicarchive.org)
Jules Taylor, "Working People Theme Song