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Republican Spanish-language anti-trans misinformation targets Latino communities

Anti-transgender postcards are being sent to homes in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in western Colorado.
A lone voter cast her ballot at the Summit County Historic Courthouse in Breckenridge, Colorado on November 6, 2018. - Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's presidency, with control of Congress at stake.
A voter casts her ballot at the Summit County Historic Courthouse in Breckenridge, Colo., on Nov. 6, 2018.Jason Connolly / AFP via Getty Images file

Spanish-speaking communities are being targeted with anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender messages ahead of the midterm elections.

A double-sided postcard is being sent to homes in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in western Colorado. "Joe Biden and his political allies are indoctrinating your children," the flier, which NBC News reviewed, says in bold red letters translated from Spanish.

"Radical and irreversible gender experiments on children," the other side says in bold pink text, falsely claiming the Biden administration is "pushing" for the treatments by blocking puberty and removing genitalia.

An image of the highest-ranking openly transgender government official, Rachel Levine, the Department of Health and Human Services’ assistant secretary for health, is also featured on the postcard with Sam Brinton, an Energy Department official who is the first openly gender-fluid official in the federal government. A caption says Levine is promoting the "castration of boys and girls."

Alex Sánchez, the founder and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montánas and Voces Unidas Action Fund, a nonprofit Latino advocacy group in Colorado’s central mountain region, said it vilifies transgender Americans, "many of which are Latina and Latino."

"The primary motive behind that is to suppress Latino voters," he said. "It is wrong. It is both awful and cruel, and it’s also racist."

The mailers, as well as radio ads with the same message that have aired in several cities, are by the America First Legal Foundation, an organization founded by former Trump aide Stephen Miller, who is its president.

Miller is known for shaping the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy on immigration, which separated children from their parents at the border, shut down Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and restricted entry to the U.S. by Muslims.

While the extent of the reach of the postcards is unknown, they have been reported in Colorado's newly redrawn congressional districts 3 and 8, said Ruby Lopez, the programming and Spanish access coordinator for queer and trans people of color for Out Boulder County, an LGBTQ advocacy group based in Boulder.

"If this persuades even just 5, 10 percent of potential voters from going to vote or from voting in the way that they would normally have, that can be very significant," Lopez said.

Latinos are 39% of the population of the 8th Congressional District, which is made up of parts of Denver's northeast suburbs, the city of Greeley and other smaller towns.

The district is expected to be a toss-up between Democrat Yadira Caraveo, who would be the first Latina elected to Congress from the state, and Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer. The Latino vote could be a factor in the outcome.

Sánchez said other disinformation messages in smaller regions, such as Eagle County, are being spread by text messages to unaffiliated voters, including messages saying they should wait to mail their ballots until Election Day.

Citizens for Sanity, a group associated with America First Legal, has also recently broadcast anti-immigration ads in California and Arizona.

As a 501(c)(3) group, America First Legal doesn't have to reveal its donors. As a nonprofit group, it shouldn't suggest which candidates or political party people should vote for.

López said the mailers are "getting as close to electioneering as possible without it actually being technically considered electioneering."

Gender-affirming care has been proven to improve mental health and the overall well-being of gender-diverse children and adolescents, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Population Affairs.

"It saves lives," said Lopez, who is a trans woman. "Putting this out there could prevent a kid from receiving help that could prevent them from going down a darker path."

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