MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a sweeping new report that details how pseudoscience has become a tool of the far right to manipulate public opinion and advance legislation and legal action targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
“Disinformation from junk science is dangerous,” said Rachel Carroll Rivas, deputy director of research, reporting and analysis for SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “When anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience turns into policy, it has real-life, often life-threatening consequences for trans and nonbinary people.”
The report, Combating Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Through Accessible Informative Narratives, also known as Project CAPTAIN, unpacks the proliferation of biased and misleading information used — under the guise of science — in state and federal legislation and litigation over the last decade and exposes the far right and far-reaching network behind it.
Researchers from the SPLC’s Intelligence Project identify a network of over 60 groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom, the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine and Genspect, with nearly 1,000 shared connections that have mobilized their efforts to challenge the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) standards, advance the so-called “Women’s Bill of Rights” and recruit for Project 2025. Project CAPTAIN lists the 100 commonly cited sources used by anti-LGBTQ+ actors to make junk science claims, including research papers and letters to the editor, that attack the scientific consensus of gender-affirming care, defend conversion therapy and generate moral panic over trans people.
“We show how this network of anti-LGBTQ+ actors have built a political and PR machine that twists data and opinion from a very small minority of the medical community and positions it as mainstream,” said R.G. Cravens, senior research analyst for SPLC’s Intelligence Project.
Weaponizing science is not a new phenomenon. It is a longstanding practice, rooted in white supremacy, that disguises biases and myths using familiar scientific terms and language with the goal of limiting bodily autonomy and eliminating basic rights of LGBTQ+ people through legislative and legal campaigns.
“Each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of disinformation and building resilience against supremacist ideologies and narratives,” said Emerson Hodges, research analyst for SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “This report affirms LGBTQ+ peoples’ existence and offers tools for our lawmakers, doctors, educators and media organizations to identify and directly challenge the false narratives that attempt to erase LGBTQ+ identities — especially as we enter state legislative sessions and the 2024 election cycle.”
Read the full Project CAPTAIN report HERE.