After a spate of vicious antigay attacks - and now murders - in Ireland, some are asking how did it come to this?

But if you have to ask, you haven't been paying attention.

When, over the past few years, the rights and dignity of transgender people came under relentless attack from journalists and lawmakers in the U.S. and the U.K. many of us looked the other way. 

After the joyous Marriage Equality Vote in Ireland in 2015 and the world-changing Supreme Court ruling in that same year, too many people convinced themselves that LGBT rights had been secured and that LGBT people had, at last, become full citizens. 

May 23, 2015: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Getty Images)

May 23, 2015: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Getty Images)

But social conservatives do not believe in the precedents that they don't write, so they simply bided their time and found other more amenable and vulnerable targets to pick off in the interim.

Recall now that when the attacks on trans people began, some in the progressive community counseled that it was not our fight, but veteran LGBT rights campaigners correctly gauged the wider danger.

This is a new front in the culture wars, they warned us. It's all starting up again. It's being led by the conservative press marching in lockstep with their allies in the political parties. In fact, it's already here. 

So why are transgender people being relentlessly attacked in the press, you ask? Because they are a minority within a minority, meaning few take their part, meaning they make easy pickings. The concerted attack on them is simply a Trojan horse from which to launch the wider attack on the worldwide LGBT community.

Don't think that's hyperbole, by the way. From Mississippi to Moscow, the far-right are increasingly desperate to reverse the spectacular gains made by LGBT rights organizations and activists and it's increasingly clear that they will stop at nothing to do it, no matter who they dehumanize, and no matter who gets hurt.

That's why everything is suddenly back on the table again, all the old hateful libels that now absurdly equate the Walt Disney Company with child predators, that falsely suggest that trans women are a menace to cisgender women, that bizarrely claim trans women will overrun cisgender women's sports, that cruelly insist gay parents are everywhere and always unfit parents, cynically using children in the same way they use transgender people - to launch the larger attack on LGBT rights.

The real reason the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bills here were crafted was not to “protect” kids from learning that gay people exist, but rather to suggest that being gay is so bad, so literally unspeakable, that you can not talk about it without incurring a public fine or worse. It's an erasure in law for an erasure they seek in life. 

But these potent and damaging ideas have been broadcast not just here but across the world, of course, where American news stories make headlines and often set the terms of the global cultural debate.

In this way, a vocal and extreme minority has amplified their voice and views to a watching world again. The American far-right is getting a dramatic assist in their anti-gay aims from unlikely people they find common ground with, like Vladimir Putin.

Putin finds that scaremongering about gender and sexual orientation is useful because it presents him with handy, hated scapegoats to explain why his soldiers have invaded a peaceful, prosperous sovereign nation, shooting men, women, and children and subjecting the latter to documented cases of torture and rape.

This is for your own good, he has told the people of Ukraine, using classic abuser logic. You made me do it, he continued, again echoing an abuser's reasoning. You are all Nazis and homos and transgenders. You forced me to invade, he continued, you left me no other choice. 

Vladimir Putin, pictured here in 2016. (Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin, pictured here in 2016. (Getty Images)

Structural transphobia and homophobia are two sides of one ugly coin, of course. As Ames Simmons, a Duke law senior lecturing fellow, told NPR this week: "What is truly concerning is that these anti-LGBTQ bills have been coupled with legislative proposals that forbid teaching about structural racism and slavery, and patriarchy and sexism, on the grounds that these concepts make others uncomfortable."

If gays, Blacks, or feminists make other people periodically uncomfortable, that is regrettable but is not sufficient grounds to attempt to erase them or their lived reality from public life, as these silencing bills desperately try to.

Meanwhile, the toxic message that the far right has been sending – that some people must be completely legislated out of existence – is being broadcast far and wide and eagerly received by tens of millions daily. It's a curtain-raiser for a more literal erasure.

So given the shocking levels of hostility, libel, and erasure being pursued, can anyone claim to be surprised when these efforts lead on to violence? Isn't their mere existence a form of violence in itself?