Protecting Transgender Kentuckians and the Drag Community





With multiple attorneys on standby in central and southern Kentucky, the following is for immediate release.

(STATEMENT FROM JORDAN PALMER) March 16, 2023 — Drag is at the forefront of a growing effort to eradicate public and even medical expressions of transgender identity in Kentucky and across the United States. The attack on drag queens comes in coordination with bans on gender-affirming care that extends into the endlessly reactionary state of Mississippi, into the adult years of transgender Kentuckians. Kentucky drag queens (and kings) express LGBTI+ joy and represent Kentucky’s best-known iteration of gender-bending.

Republicans are trying to criminalize as much transgender identity as possible. Transgender Kentuckians are human beings entitled to their pursuit of happiness without interference from the Kentucky House and Senate, overriding guidelines established by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Endocrine Society.

Jordan Palmer ActivistThe attack against the transgender community, should it become law, is a death penalty for trans youth, and the Republican-controlled House and Senate will bear the responsibility for their deaths. I have serious doubts that any of these laws can withstand judicial review. If the Kentucky House and Senate perform so miracle and pass House Bill 470, Senate Bill 115, or Senate Bill 150, the Kentucky Equality Federation will sue, just as we did for marriage equality, and removing bibles from public classrooms, the moment we receive a complaint.

  • House Bill 470 seeks to permit the Commonwealth to overrule parents’ decisions to obtain certain healthcare services for their transgender children.
  • Senate Bill 115 launches an attack on businesses that rely on revenue from drag performers and criminalizes the performers personally.
  • Senate Bill 150 would not require educators to use pronouns aligned with a student’s gender identity.


Speaking from personal experience, growing up gay in Appalachia is difficult enough without banning books that have been on shelves for decades and attacking drag queens and transgender Kentuckians. Growing up, I attempted suicide multiple times because I was rejected by my (biological) preacher dad, because it was apparent I was gay, even at an early age. A member of that family also molested me for years, something I had put behind me, but finally acknowledged in therapy only a couple of years ago. The only salvation I found was in books.

Children often feel abhorrence toward themselves because growing up is a complex process for all children, and it follows you well in your teenage years and, for some, a lifetime. When you add growing up LGBTI+ to that equation, the chances of suicide are astonishing, with members of our community often sequestering themselves as much as possible to avoid being bullied and harassed, just as I did. Children and teenagers in this group are also prime targets for predators because our self-worth is nearly nonexistent.

This is yet another example of Kent Ostrander and Martin Cothran with the Family Foundation of Kentucky attempting to cloak so-called family values with ignorance and contempt. In 2007, I called them the ‘KKK with Church Clothes On‘ which drew an immediate response from their spokesperson, Martin Cothran. But, the very definition of what a KKK member is, still fits them best today, “an American white supremacist, right-wing terrorist, and hate group whose primary targets are Black people, Jewish people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, as well as immigrants, leftists, homosexuals, Muslims, and abortion providers.”

It says a lot that the first state to ban drag and gender-affirming care for transgender youth is also the state the KKK was founded in 1865 by former Confederate army officers.

When fighting Prop 8 in California, on the board of directors and vice president of development with Marriage Equality USA, I never thought our society would be this close to destroying itself. I long for a society of people willing and determined enough to stand firm against every act intended to eradicate the foundation upon which our Union was founded. Yes, we still had a lot of growing up to do in 1776, but we evolved. But this is not evolution, it is regression. We need people who show up when it matters to stop the malicious destruction of a culture that was once the world’s envy. We need people who celebrate diversity and do not place judgment on people because they are different.

As Holly McCall, an author with the Tennessee Lookout, pointed out:

In 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was asked for his definition of obscenity during arguments in Jacobellis v. Ohio, the case in which a movie theater owner was charged with obscenity for showing a French film depicting the story of a woman who committed adultery.

Potter famously said: “I know it when I see it,” a non-definition that contains wisdom beyond what Potter may have intended.

Lawmakers are targeting one group — in this case, Tennesseans who aren’t straight, white men in drag — and singling it out for criminal prosecution, saying “it’s about the children,” while turning a collective blind eye to hungry children, children in inadequate state care, and kids failing school.

That’s obscene. And I know it when I see it.

Register to Vote!As a citizen, I believe the time of our lawmakers should instead focus on preventing gun violence, improving health care and access to free healthcare, improving the Kentucky foster care system, fighting obesity, and having licensed life coaches or therapists in schools to help children across the Commonwealth. I have never understood why mental health is ignored in public schools. If we can have pep rallies, homecoming, and sports events, we can find the time and money for mental health to be a primary concern, something that will last a lifetime and possibility curb domestic violence, drug abuse, school bullying, and suicide.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester,For the record, I think Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers would look as dashing as Tennessee Governor Bill Lee does in drag.

It is time for a political revolution in Kentucky. We need to take control of our lives and those who represent us. Click here to register to vote! If you live outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky, click here to register to vote!

Click here to submit a complaint to the Kentucky Equality Federation.

Attachment: Gender-Affirming Care and Young People (U.S. Department for Health and Human Services)

File: Drag Queens Transgender Kentuckians