Margaret Clarke

This content was last updated Nov. 17, 2023, 9:24 p.m. UTC

Margaret Clarke is an American attorney, Christian right activist, and the volunteer general counsel for anti-transgender conservative interest advocacy group Eagle Forum. She is one of several anti-transgender activists whose work with lawmakers to coordinate anti-transgender legislation in multiple states was exposed through emails leaked by Elisa Rae Shupe.

Your courage to confront this growing abomination in spite of the attacks has fortified many other witnesses and legislative sponsors who have been attached knowing that you have gone before us. And, most importantly you connected us all to each other. This is just the beginning.

Clarke, in an email to Fred Deutsch, 19 March 2020

Work and Education

Clarke studied at the University of Florida and the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. She was first licensed to practice law with the Florida Bar in 1985, and has been licensed to practice law with the Alabama Bar since 1992. Her Florida Bar profile lists her as retired and ineligible to practice law in the state of Florida.

In 2020, Clarke attended Eagle Forum’s Eagle Council event as a speaker, alongside peers anti-transgender attorney Vernadette Broyles and anti-LGBTQ+ hate group American College of Pediatricians’ (ACPeds) former president Michelle Cretella. She spoke about her anti-transgender work group’s efforts to introduce legislation to ban transgender youth healthcare in 13 states, and guided Eagle Council attendees in looking up transgender informed consent clinics in their state, encouraging them to form a plan of attack against these clinics.

Alabama Lawsuit and DOJ Subpoena

In April of 2022, Eagle Forum and Clarke were instrumental in passing two Alabama bills, the “Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” that would ban medical transition for transgender people under 19 and force transgender youth in schools to use the bathroom that aligns with their assigned gender at birth. The bills also disallowed affirmation of transgender youth’s feelings and beliefs by school employees, and demanded that teachers and other workers notify the parents of any child that disclosed that they experienced gender dysphoria or were transgender.

After the parents of four transgender minors filed a lawsuit against the state regarding the act, a federal judge paused some components of the bills, pointing out that 22 major medical associations supported the plantiffs’ case, and that the state had failed to provide evidence that gender affirming care was in any way experimental or harmful. Though the bill’s ban of gender affirming surgery for minors would stand, the ban on hormone blockers and hormone medication would not.

In preparation for an expedited court case regarding the plaintiffs’ suit, the Department of Justice issued a subpoena to Eagle Forum in September of 2022 requesting five years’ worth of correspondence and documentation relating to the group’s support of the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act. Clarke stated in court that she believed the Department of Justice’s subpoena to be a violation of their constitutional right to free speech, and political harassment, and filed a motion to deny the request. The Department of Justice later withdrew their subpoena.

Elisa Rae Shupe leaks

In March of 2023, former detransitioner Elisa Rae Shupe retransitioned, disavowed the anti-transgender groups she had worked with in the past, and released a collection of emails showcasing correspondence between herself and several anti-transgender activists, medical professionals and politicians. The emails serve as proof of a concerted effort by anti-transgender activists to collude behind the scenes to introduce legislation in multiple states that would ban transgender health care, both for minors and adults.

Correspondence from Clarke was featured in the leak. In these emails, Clarke helped coordinate the timing of anti-transgender legislation in Alabama, praised God for the passing of an anti-transgender bill that banned birth certificate sex marker changes in Idaho, lamented a lack of viable detransitioners in the state of Alabama to prop up their healthcare bans with, and admitted to being coached by Michelle Cretella and State Representative Fred Deutsch in championing a transgender healthcare ban bill in Alabama to match Deutsch’s failed bill in South Dakota.

When Deutsch’s bill did not pass through South Dakota’s House of Representatives, Clarke consoled him by pointing out that he had coached many anti-transgender activists behind the scenes to push copycat bills in their own states, established a list of testimony experts to be used in anti-transgender court cases across the country, and brought together countless anti-transgender activists in the pursuit of organized legislative abuse. In this email she referred to transgender people as an “abomination.”

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