Culture Wars/Current Controversies

‘I Want the Bloody Hands Recorded,’

In February, Nebraska state senator Machaela Cavanaugh embarked on a monthslong filibuster as a last-ditch effort to stop a bill that would prohibit health care for transgender people under the age of 19. For eight hours a day, she took up time on the debate floor, refusing to allow any bills to pass. It was a remarkable thing to witness in a Republican state where her chances of success were low (19 states controlled by Republicans have passed similar laws). In April, New York’s Lila Shapiro spent a few days in Nebraska with Cavanaugh and her colleagues, and the resulting report, which we published over the weekend, is a revelatory window into how this sort of legislation gets passed across the country: the backroom deals, the bubbling resentment between legislators, and the complete bewilderment of some as to why they were even talking about it. “I don’t watch the news or get the newspaper,” one Republican senator who later voted for the bill told Shapiro. “Is there anything going on I should be aware of?”

—Gazelle Emami, culture editor, New York

‘I Want the Bloody Hands Recorded’ Machaela Cavanaugh’s tear-and-rage-filled filibuster of the anti-trans bill she knew would probably pass anyway.

Photo: Hugo Yu

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