The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor recently accused a children's hospital of abuse for providing gender-affirming care.
Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor, may be best known for his election denialism. He has promoted the lie that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, and he attended the violent insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Mastriano, a member of the Pennsylvania state Senate who is running against Democratic nominee and current state attorney general Josh Shapiro, has also made attacking LGBTQ rights a cornerstone of his campaign. The Human Rights Campaign dubbed Mastriano "one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ major party nominees on the national scene in decades."
Mastriano has said he believes same-sex marriage should be illegal. In a 2018 interview with News Talk 103.7 FM, a Pennsylvania conservative talk radio station, an interviewer asks Mastriano, "Should gay marriage be legal?"
"Absolutely not. I'm for traditional marriage, and I am not a hater for saying that," Mastriano says. "It's been like that for 6,000 years. It was the first institution founded by God in Genesis, and it needs to stay that way."
Mastriano supports banning transgender women from women's sports. In the most recent session of the Pennsylvania Senate, he co-sponsored a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. He also supports banning teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation in elementary schools, saying on a conservative radio show on Oct. 4 that there is too much "transgender pronoun confusion" in schools.
"On day one, no more pronoun and gender games in our schools, there's no place for that," Mastriano said at a Fulton County Republican dinner on Oct. 8. "We ain't got no time for that. That ends on day one."
"Children should be free to learn without indoctrination, and our daughters should be free to compete in sports not dominated by men," Mastriano tweeted in August.
Mastriano vowed in his primary night victory speech to ban transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, saying that if he is elected, "on day one, you can only use the bathroom that your biology, anatomy says."
Mastriano also wants to prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
"I've already introduced legislation to prohibit gender reassignment surgery for anyone 18 and under. As governor, on day one, I'll be signing an executive order and then codifying that into law in the General Assembly," Mastriano told a Newsmax radio host in September.
He attacked the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for caring for transgender patients. On Oct. 7, Mastriano claimed without evidence that children are being "preyed upon by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and elsewhere." During a fundraising event a week and a half later, he accused the hospital of "rounding up kids off the streets, kids that have been brutalized in foster care. Obviously, they have some — they need counseling. And so they're vulnerable and they're bringing them into the CHOPS for gender transition, something that can't be reversed. That's child abuse as well. Who — that this is happening in Pennsylvania. Darkness is set upon the land."
In response to attacks on LGBTQ rights from Mastriano and other Republican candidates, a group of LGBTQ officeholders and other Democrats in September created Agenda PAC, a political action committee. Its chair, Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, told NBC News: "We are going after the beatable bigots. Sometimes those beatable bigots are running against incredible LGBTQ candidates. And sometimes they’re running against folks who are allies to our community."
Agenda PAC is running ads against Mastriano: "Nationally, Mastriano is one of, if not the worst, statewide candidate when it comes to LGBTQ-plus issues," Ted Bordelon, the PAC's executive director, said.
Democratic nominee Shapiro was endorsed in June by the Human Rights Campaign, which called him "a reliable and passionate ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community."
Shapiro has said that if elected, he will work to establish "comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and/or gender identity" in Pennsylvania.
"As Governor, Josh will put his full capital behind the effort to finally ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in Pennsylvania so that LGBTQ+ community can work, attend school, and seek housing under the same rights as everyone else in the Commonwealth," Shapiro's campaign website reads.
Polls currently show Shapiro with a comfortable lead, with the FiveThirtyEight average showing Shapiro up 9.5% over Mastriano.
Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political forecasting outlet, rates the race "Lean Democratic."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.