There is a sort of hysteria about transgender people that has gripped the minds of (mostly) Republican legislators. They claim that teachers are “grooming” children to be gay or transgender. We used to think of the word “groom” to refer to a male who was getting married and the word “grooming” as a description of one’s manner of dress (“good grooming” or “bad grooming”). Now the word has a sinister connotation, as rightwing zealots like Christopher Rufo and Moms for Liberty accuse the nation’s teachers of conspiring to turn their students gay or transgender.

The Williams Institute at the School of Law at UCLA developed an estimate of the number of transgender people in the U.S. population. The estimate is that transgender people are 0.06%, or about 1.4 million people. Unless my math is off, that is six people out of every 10,000 people identify as transgender.

I have not seen any evidence that children were turned gay or transgender because of what their teachers did in school. It seems to be a decision that is never taken easily or lightly because there is so much social opprobrium attached to being transgender.

The issue has been dormant until recently, when a transgender woman (formerly male) swimmer won national competitions. So, now, the issue has become a matter of “protecting women’s sports.” No one worries about a transgender man (formerly female) competing in men’s sports, but they believe that a transgender woman has biological advantages that make the competition unfair.

I won’t share my views because frankly I am conflicted. The only thing I can say with conviction is that a problem that affects a very tiny number of people has been cynically turned into a culture war issue.