State Treasurer Repudiates Parental and Women’s Rights

Chris Powell


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According to state Treasurer Erick Russell, a wave of fascism is sweeping over Connecticut. 

In an essay in the Hartford Courant last week, Russell wrote that several state legislators have “proposed legislation targeting transgender children,” legislation signifying “fanaticism” and an “extreme vision” that would deny rights to people. 

What exactly is the legislation’s tyranny? It would require schools to notify parents if their children manifest gender dysphoria and prohibit boys who impersonate girls from participating in girls’ competitive sports.

There is nothing extraordinary about these proposals. Schools always have been expected to notify parents if their children suffer some injury or ailment in school, even a minor one. Gender dysphoria is a life-changing mental disorder. If parents aren’t entitled to know about that, they are hardly parents at all.

That children afflicted with gender dysphoria might not want their parents to know is no excuse. Children also might not want their parents to know about their grades or misbehavior in school. But children are not in charge. The law long has held that they are not fit to make important decisions — for example, to make contracts, to buy alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and guns, to get tattoos, and to drive before they are 16.

All precedent in law and custom supports the right of parents to know what schools know about their children. Connecticut law is not explicit about this in regard to gender dysphoria particularly, but in light of precedent and custom it shouldn’t have to be, even as some school systems have adopted policies to conceal a student’s gender dysphoria from parents. 

Hence the proposed legislation. Contrary to Treasurer Russell, it doesn’t “target transgender children” or deny them any rights they already have. It just confirms parental responsibility. The fanatics and extremists here are those who, like Russell, would destroy parental responsibility.

As for the proposal to prevent boys who impersonate girls from participating in girls’ scholastic sports, it only reflects the longstanding premise of federal civil rights law requiring equal opportunity for girls and women. Since boys and men are generally bigger and stronger, girls and women can’t have equal opportunity if boys and men are allowed in competitive sports with girls.

Again, the fanaticism and extremism here belong to those who, like Russell, reject the longstanding premise of civil rights law. It’s not as if separating males from females in competitive sports denies opportunity to anyone. Boys and men remain free to compete against boys and men. Preserving the rights of girls and women requires the separation. Russell would revoke their rights.

But even as Russell, with his essay, joined the aggressors in the culture war, he posed as a victim of society because he is Black.

“Growing up in New Haven,” Russell wrote, “it was unimaginable that someone from my community could become state treasurer. We had no reason to think that was possible. There were no examples around us to demonstrate that successful careers in the fields of finance, government, or law were within our reach.”

Really? Connecticut’s treasurer’s office has been held by a Black man or woman for 52 of the last 61 years. For 11 of those years, 1975 to 1986, the office was held by a Black political leader from Russell’s hometown, New Haven: Henry E. Parker. 

Russell’s office has refused to respond to repeated inquiries about his age, but he seems to be about 35, which would put his birthdate in 1988 — when Francisco L. Borges, a Black political leader from Hartford, was treasurer. Since then for all but four of Russell’s estimated 35 years, Connecticut’s treasurer has been Black.

That’s because the state’s majority political party, the Democratic Party, in its accelerating descent into tribalism, has enthusiastically reverted to the primitive political tactic of “balancing” its state ticket by race and ethnicity, reserving its treasurer nomination for a Black candidate, a tactic that was in effect long before Russell was born and one that now gives him extraordinary privilege even as he falsifies history so he can pose as having triumphed over oppression.


Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years. (