Study names Texas' Greg Abbott the nation's most-transphobic governor

Abbott, who issued a controversial order to investigate parents of trans children, beat out Florida's Ron DeSantis for the dubious distinction.

click to enlarge Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn national criticism for ordering state child welfare officials to investigate parents of transgender youths. - Instagram / govabbott
Instagram / govabbott
Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn national criticism for ordering state child welfare officials to investigate parents of transgender youths.
A new media-analysis study has named Gov. Greg Abbott the nation's most-transphobic governor, beating out Florida's Ron DeSantis. Both GOP governors have been lightning rods for criticism based on their records on LGBTQ+ issues.

The study by reputation-management company Signal AI was released Tuesday, May 17, the International Day Against Transphobia. To conduct its analysis, the tech firm parsed reports from top-tier U.S. media organizations on LGBTQ+ topics from April 1, 2021 to April 30 of this year. It also examined which governors racked up the best and worst sentiments in that coverage.

Abbott topped the list with 210 instances of coverage, of which 209 were negative and only one was positive. DeSantis had 131 negative mentions and 61 positive. The remainder of the governors in the study's top 10, including Arkansas' Asa Hutchinson and South Dakota's Kristi Noem, failed to hit triple digits in their coverage.

The results should come as little surprise since Abbott this spring issued a controversial order for state child welfare officials to investigate parents who help their children obtain gender-affirming care. That directive is now facing a legal challenge from one of the families targeted with a probe.

During the past legislative session, Abbott also championed anti-transgender proposals including a law barring student athletes from playing on sports teams that align to the gender with which they identify.

Florida's Desantis made national headlines for signing that state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, which prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. 

“LGBTQ+ rights is one of the foremost civil rights battles of our time,” Signal AI CEO and founder David Benigson said in a statement. “And with that in mind, we wanted to dig into the media sphere around LGBTQ+ and find out which individuals ... have the biggest negative and positive perception around the topic ahead of this year’s historic International Day Against Transphobia.”

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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