The word is used in L.D. 123, An Act to Eliminate the Educational Purposes Exception to the Prohibition on the Dissemination of Obscene Matter to Minors, but the term is not defined within the bill.

This bill has been associated with concerns about the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and its accessibility to students. Parents have said that they believe that educators who may provide this book should be incriminated, even imprisoned, because the coming-of-age memoir discusses gender and sexuality.

L.D. 123 criminalizes librarianship and subjects our communities to costly lawsuits over anything that might be considered “obscene,” from classic literature to an anatomy textbook. After reviewing which books have been deemed obscene in other states with similar bills, one can assume that all literature discussing sexuality and gender is immoral.

This same logic would condemn Anne Frank’s diary, in which Frank writes about puberty, gender and sexuality.

The bill is sponsored by Republican legislator James Libby. Organizations opposed to L.D. 123 include: Maine Library Association, Maine Association of School Libraries, the ACLU of Maine, the Maine Council for English Language Arts, the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association, the Maine Humanities Council, the Maine Chapter of the National Social Workers Association, and the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.


To remove all mention of being gender-nonconforming is to silence all transgender voices. It should be noted that this fear of discussing transgender experiences has nothing to do with protecting children.

If children’s safety is allegedly the intention, the text of the bill – which carves out exceptions for parents, guardians and “any noncommercial distribution or exhibition for purely educational purposes by any library, art gallery, museum, private school or institution of learning” and to “any commercial distribution or exhibition by any art gallery or museum” – does not attempt to make any exception for child marriages.

Why are the supporters of L.D. 123 not challenging the legality of child marriages in our state as loudly as they object to books about transgender people?

Recently, far-right commentator Michael Knowles called for the eradication of “transgenderism.” In his own words, “There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing.”

“Transgenderism” does not exist outside of transgender people, and a person’s existence cannot be debated – at least not without the threat of annihilation. There is no “-ism” to wipe out. Only human beings. If this act were about protecting children, then the Maine GOP would not have any affiliation with the Maine First Project, a far-right organization with a dubious record. None of what this organization has to say is about morality and safety. There is only fear and hatred which will result in the erasure of transgender lives.

For me, a 2021 column by the author Riley Black published by the website Slate says it best.

“All this time spent debating ‘the science’ of where transgender people belong in society only confuses a truth many are struggling to accept,” Black wrote. “It is a distraction no matter which side of the argument you are on, because you are complicating and putting up for debate something that is very simple. Trans men are men. Trans women are women. Nonbinary people are valid. Trans people have always been here. We are here now. We will continue to be.”

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