|Conservatives like Ben Shapiro (top photo) are helping religious right sites like LifeSiteNews (bottom photo) convert their formula of anti-gay junk science to anti-transgender junk science. With the help of amplification.|
On Thursday, via Media Matters, we learned that conservatives and the religious right teamed up to spread a lie about health care among trans youth:
Major right-wing and anti-LGBTQ outlets, in particular Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, posted content based on misconstrued data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to falsely suggest that drugs used to delay puberty are deadly for trans teens. The story -- which began with debunked reporting from a U.K. tabloid -- received high engagement on social media after right-wing and evangelical media apparatus boosted it.
. . . Content pushing this anti-trans misinformation have accumulated at least 165,000 interactions in total, and anti-trans group The Kelsey Coalition is leveraging the same misconstrued data to fearmonger about gender-affirming medical care. In its September 27 report, NBC News noted that evangelical and right-wing outlets helped the story go viral, and the outlet debunked several of their claims.
NBC News said the following:
A recent article published by Catholic news outlet LifeSiteNews alleged that the drugs used to treat gender dysphoria in some transgender children are linked to “thousands” of deaths.
. . . The problem is: the “thousands” of people who die while taking these drugs are likely the terminally ill cancer patients who receive hormone blockers to fight hormone-sensitive cancers, like prostate cancer, according to experts.
Joshua Safer, a professor of medicine and the executive director of the Mt. Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, said Lupron, or leoprolide acetate, is used for treating precocious puberty, infertility and certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is worsened by the presence of certain hormones, so people fighting this disease are sometimes given hormone blockers — puberty blockers — to slow the cancer’s progression.
“I think all they did is went into the FDA database and looked at reports,” Safer said. “There’s no study here, that’s just a big smorgasbord of reports and so the problem with that is you don't even know that those deaths are connected to the agent they are reported to be connected to.”
This distortion of science by conservatives and the religious right isn't new. A while back, some of the same parties used this tactic to attack gays and lesbian community - junk science mixed with cherry-picked science and amplified. I've covered this "formula" on several occasions and thus have many examples of it:
1. Distortion - Lesbian and gay relationships are generally violent:
A study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined conflict and violence in lesbian relationships. The researchers found that 90 percent of the lesbians surveyed had been recipients of one or more acts of verbal aggression from their intimate partners during the year prior to this study, with 31 percent reporting one or more incidents of physical abuse.” - Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples, Family Research Council
There is a higher rate of violence in lesbian and homosexual relationships than in married, heterosexual relationships. A study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined conflict and violence in lesbian relationships. The researchers found that 90% of the lesbians surveyed had been recipients of one or more acts of verbal aggression from their intimate partners during the year prior to this study, with 31% reporting one or more incidents of physical abuse. - Same-Sex Parenting is Harmful to Children Says REAL Women of Canada, Lifesite News
Truth - According to the Journal of Interpersonal Violence’s own web page:
The Journal of Interpersonal Violence offers the most up-to-date information on domestic violence, rape, child sexual abuse and other violent crimes . . . Focusing on both victims and perpetrators, the journal examines theoretical links between all types of interpersonal violence, exploring the similarities and differences between these types of crimes.
In other words, the Journal of Interpersonal Violence tracks domestic violence, as well as other violent crimes. Those surveyed in journal articles are the victims of violence, verbal or otherwise, because this is what the journal is designed to track. However, what religious right groups are doing here is the equivalent of taking a study of domestic violence in the African-American community published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence and using it to allege that black relationships are indicative of violent behavior.
2. Distortion - Homosexuals have a lot of sex partners and their relationships do not last:
Studies indicate that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime, a lifestyle that is difficult for even "committed" homosexuals to break free of and which is not conducive to a healthy and wholesome atmosphere for the raising of children. A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with five hundred or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sex partners - Homosexuality, Placing Children at Risk, Family Research Council
Truth - Bell and Weinberg’s study was compiled in the 1970s. They used the study to write the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity among Men and Women. In Homosexualities is this statement:
“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.”
3. Distortion - Gays have a short life span
“In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age twenty for gay and bisexual men is eight to twenty years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged twenty years will not reach their sixty-fifth birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.” - Getting it Straight, Family Research Council
One epidemiological study found that “gay” men lose 8-20 years off their lifespan. - Several reasons to oppose same sex marriage, Concerned Women for America
According to a study that appeared in the International Journal of Epidemiology, homosexual behavior risks cutting years off the lives of “gay” men. Examining the homosexual community in Vancouver, Canada, the study said: “In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. . .” - Sexual suicide, The American Family Association
Truth - In 2001, the researchers of this study complained about how it was being misused. They explained what they actually meant and how it is not feasible to use their work to claim that gay men have a "short life span."
It used to be that these lies told about gays and lesbians were simply cited by anti-LGBTQ talking heads in the media and their allies in statewide anti-LGBTQ groups and members of various legislative bodies when they attempted to kill various pro-LGBTQ bills. Things have definitely changed. Not the lies, mind you, but the amplification of the lies. The ability of conservatives and the religious right to amplify these lies via their networks give their reach more power. It also makes it more difficult for us to refute the lies before they do our community major damage. Media Matters pointed out the trajectory of the fake story about puberty blockers:
Right-wing outlet Daily Mail published misleading information on puberty blockers that earned low Facebook engagement
Conservative outlet National Catholic Register picked up the story and earned over 8,400 Facebook interactions
Led by LifeSiteNews, evangelical right-wing outlets boosted the story
The Daily Wire picked up the story, and its network of right-wing Facebook pages helped it earn more than 165,000 interactions
Anti-trans group the Kelsey Coalition leveraged the same misconstrued data as part of a new campaign
Clearly, the religious right and their conservative allies can't rely on the truth to attack the LGBTQ community. So, unfortunately, they are relying on amplification and repetition of lies to beat us down.