What the hell is going on in America? That’s the central question in this feature from Der Spiegel, which illuminates the right-wing extremism sweeping the country and introduces readers to some of the people fighting against the tide—or, at the very least, fighting not to drown:

The right to abortion long served as the largest slice of “red meat” in Missouri, a perfect windmill for Republicans to tilt at, particularly because there were no consequences for doing so. The right to abortion, after all, was protected by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, which was applicable to the entire country. That changed in June 2022, when the court’s new, conservative majority overthrew the ruling almost 50 years after it was originally passed. Today, Missouri has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the entire country, not even allowing for exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Republicans celebrated passage of the law like it was an epochal victory, but it proved to be a double-edged sword: Where was the red meat to come from now?

Their gaze fell on families like Daniel Bogard’s. He and his wife have twins, and Bogard realized early on that one of them wasn’t entirely comfortable with their biological gender. Ever since his child was able to choose what clothing to wear, they would always go into their older brother’s room to borrow his clothes, Bogard says. When he was taking his child to bed one evening, they asked: “Can God make me over again as a boy?”—at age four, maybe five Bogard recalls.

Bogard is rather progressive, but it took quite some time before he could accept his child’s new identity. He loved the long hair, but his child kept asking to have it cut shorter and shorter, first to the shoulders, then to the chin and then over the ears. At some point came the request for a new name, a boy’s name. It was a huge step, but Bogard was relieved. “It shook me when he said it because it was so much better.”

Bogard’s son is receiving medical care from doctors in Missouri, but the father says he doesn’t know what will happen now. The next step would likely be the prescription of puberty blockers to prevent female gender attributes from developing. But the therapy will be banned once the new law goes into effect in late August.