Kelly Craft escalates anti-trans rhetoric, calls for excluding ‘transgenders’ from Ky. schools
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft made sweeping, explicit anti-transgender remarks at a virtual town hall on Monday, escalating her transphobic rhetoric in the lead-up to the primary election.
Craft, a former ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, said Kentucky would “not have transgenders in our school system” if she were elected governor, according to a transcript of the town hall reported by the Lexington Herald Leader.
Weston Loyd, communications director for Craft’s campaign, said Craft was referring to “ideologies.”
“Of course Kelly [Craft] was referring to the woke ideologies being pushed in our schools,” Loyd said. “She has been advocating for the best for all children this entire campaign.”
But Craft’s statement that transgender students should not exist in Kentucky schools goes beyond even her previous anti-trans stances throughout her campaign, such as her opposition to trans athletes competing in women’s sports and support of a sweeping new law, sponsored by her running mate, that bans gender affirming medical care for minors.
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, said he wasn’t surprised by Craft’s comments in light of her previous anti-trans remarks and legislative agendas.
“You cannot force or legislate trans kids out of existence. You can’t push them back into the closet,” Hartman said. “Trans kids exist. They will always exist, and they will always be in Kentucky schools, no matter what Kelly Craft and Max Wise have to say about it.”
GOP state Sen. Max Wise, Craft's running mate, sponsored Senate Bill 150, one of the strictest anti-trans laws in the country, which passed in the Kentucky Legislature this year. It bans gender-affirming medical care for transgender kids and imposes rules on public schools that negatively affect trans students.
The ACLU of Kentucky filed a lawsuit last week challenging parts of SB 150 that ban trans kids from receiving gender affirming care like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the bill, though the GOP-led legislature easily overrode him. In his veto message, Beshear wrote that SB 150 “allows too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”
Hartman said anti-trans rhetoric is taking a toll on trans kids’ mental health – and it’s coming from politicians and legislatures across the country, not just from Craft. The ACLU identified nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills in the United States in just the 2023 legislative session.
“I don’t believe that kids are hearing Kelly Craft’s words any louder than they are hearing the state legislatures all across the United States, and the coordinated national efforts to eradicate transgender kids for the cheapest political points,” Hartman said.
Kentucky’s primary elections are on May 16. There are 12 candidates running to be the Republican nominee for governor. Incumbent Beshear has two minor challengers.