Steve Deace Writer Freaks Out About Register’s Trans Athlete Profile

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Todd Erzen. Photo: Twitter

To its great credit, the Des Moines Register recently began publishing a reporting project called “Trans in Iowa: Fighting for Visibility” that documents the struggles and triumphs of members of the state’s transgender community. The latest story in the series, about Ben Christiason, an 18-year-old man who’s the state’s first trans high school athlete, features a photo of him running shirtless with female-to-male chest scars visible.

That was apparently too much to handle for Todd Erzen, a writer for the website of right-wing Iowa radio host Steve Deace, whose motto is “Fear God. Tell the truth. Make money.”

On Thursday, in reaction to the article, Erzen shot off a couple transphobic tweets:

Bigotry against the trans community is nothing new for Deace and his posse. After Human Rights Campaign national press secretary Sarah McBride spoke at this year’s Democratic National Convention, becoming the first transgender person to speak at a national political party’s convention, Deace lost it on his radio show:

We got some of the Democrats’ freak show because they can’t help themselves, because they are a freak show. They can’t help but show it to us. You had like the transgender, well, really, cross dresser, there’s no such thing as transgender, it’s a scam. So the cross-dressing dude spoke at like 6:00 eastern and nobody watches, but he got his nice, little turn for that victim class, so they can, you know, feel like they are a part of the club. But they didn’t put the freak show on when 30 million people are going to watch. He spoke at 6:00, when you and I are having dinner and didn’t care.

In Iowa, most conservatives still staunchly oppose trans rights. Earlier this year, only one GOP state senator voted in favor of extending hate crime protections to transgender people. Congressman Steve King recently attempted to ban trans people from using federal restrooms matching their gender identity. And anti-gay Des Moines pastor Mike Demastus is suing the state in an effort to prevent trans people from doing the same in his church.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.