Editor's note - Probably a first for this blog. I am going to re-run a post I published on Wednesday. The post, Sterilization, irreversible surgeries and chemical castrations - How religious right lies corrupts the conversation about trans children, is probably one of the most important pieces I've written in a long time. The religious right have declared war on our transgender children by pushing bills across the nation targeting them and particularly the affirming healthcare they need. And as usual when the religious right declares war on our community, they knowingly tell lies. But there is something exceedingly awful about this time. They know that their lies are specifically hurting transgender children but they simply do NOT care. This is easily the worst thing groups like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom has ever done. To undermine LGBTQ rights and health is one thing. But to deliberately harm children is simply vile.
This post will run all weekend. Please read and share if you can.
This week, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed
the bill which would outlaw transgender healthcare for minors. And then by a simple majority, the state legislature overrode
the veto, making Arkansas the first state to outlaw affirming healthcare for transgender children.
The Family Research Council sent out a press release
celebrating what the Arkansas legislature did:
Today, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to enact legislation that prohibits gender transition procedures on minors, prevents taxpayer funds or medical insurance mandates to pay for them, and provides legal remedies for minors who have been permanently disfigured and/or sterilized by them.
On Tuesday afternoon, in quick succession the Arkansas House (72-25) and Senate (25-8) overrode the governor's veto of the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act. Family Research Council praised the state legislature for its effort to protect minors.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement: "The SAFE Act's successful passage into law is a victory for children and their health and safety. The state of Arkansas has taken the lead in the race to protect children from a political movement that advocates for using off-label drugs and experimental procedures on minors.
"As the name implies, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act protects minors from unscientific, experimental, and destructive gender transition procedures that interrupt their natural development and irreversibly alter their bodies. As a growing number of individuals come forward to share their stories of being permanently disfigured and/or sterilized, there is a growing and urgent need for other states to follow Arkansas' lead by protecting minors from life-altering procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries.
The consistent repetition of phrases like "life altering procedures" and "irreversible surgeries" and words like "disfigurement" and "sterilization" in FRC's press release isn't happenstance. It has been part of a deliberate attempt to "nauseate" instead of "educate" and exploit unfounded fears for a cynical purpose. By conjuring up false images of minors being forced to undergo surgeries altering their gender and given drugs which would permanently damage their health, those who have been pushing these anti-trans bills - like FRC - have been deliberately appealing to hysteria in a somewhat successful attempt to drown out the voices of the medical professionals who know better and the transgender youth who they falsely claim that they want to protect.
It's an old but highly successful tactic.
In the past, religious right groups claimed that marriage equality would "corrupt the innocence" of children. Or that any pro-LGBTQ legislation would be make it easier for gays to "recruit children" because apparently we need to "refreshen our ranks." They know what they say are lies but they don't care as long as it gives them attention and an advantage, no matter how insane the claims sound.
For example, this is what FRC said in another press release
defending Fox News personality Tucker Carlson's lie about transgender healthcare when Governor Hutchinson defended his veto on Carlson's show:
The governor also said he would have supported the bill if it was simply limited to banning castration. But as Carlson pointed out, "This is chemical castration... If you stop puberty and suppress the sex hormones, you're chemically castrating someone." And he wasn't wrong: Like many other "gender clinics" for children, the Arkansas Children's Hospital web site acknowledges on page 2 of this "FAQ for Youth" that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are "irreversible."
In attempting to defend Carlson, FRC told a huge lie. The link the organization cited does not say that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are "irreversible." The following is the quote FRC distorts:
What is transition and how do I know if it’s right for me? - social transition is changing your outward appearance (hairstyle, clothing, gender expression) along with your name and pronouns. It is completely reversible. ~medical transition alters physical and sexual characteristics of the body. This can include hormone therapy and surgery, and is not reversible. Medical transition can only happen if your parents/guardians and doctors agree this is right for you.
And guess what? The chemical castration claim is also a lie. It is yet another way of bombarding people with horror stories which appeal to their fears instead of their intelligence. In truth, the following facts about healthcare as it relates to trans youth are so easy to find. And - further surprise - it has nothing to do with "irreversible surgeries" or castrations:
Reuters - As reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Feb. 2020, a global rise in the number of teenagers seeking to go through gender reassignment has spurred a series of court cases around the age at which young people are able to choose to transition – and who has the final word. Gender reassignment surgery is widely restricted to adults over the age of 18 (here).
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) standards of care here
, explain the three categories of physical interventions for adolescents. These consist of fully reversible interventions such as hormone suppression to delay puberty, partially reversible interventions such as hormone therapy, and irreversible interventions such as surgical procedures. The association advises that “moving from one stage to another should not occur until there has been adequate time for adolescents and their parents to assimilate fully the effects of earlier interventions.”
Genital surgery should not happen until the individual reaches the age of majority to give consent in a given country and have lived continuously for at least 12 months in their gender identity, according to the association. Puberty-suppressing medications are reversible, as explained in a 2016 report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics here . The report categorizes hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries for “older adolescents” and “adults”, not children.
Mayo Clinic - Use of GnRH analogues doesn't cause permanent changes in an adolescent's body. Instead, it pauses puberty, providing time to determine if a child's gender identity is long lasting. It also gives children and their families time to think about or plan for the psychological, medical, developmental, social and legal issues ahead. If an adolescent child stops taking GnRH analogues, puberty will resume.
Seriously, this entire attack on transgender children and their healthcare was totally unnecessary if wanting to protect children was the goal. There was no need for legislation or talking points if wanting to protect children was the goal. There was no need for lies and horror stories if wanting to protect children was the goal. There is enough experts out there and enough information for anyone who truly cared about trans children.
But here is the problem. Those pushing these bills blocking affirming healthcare for trans youth simply don't care. They claim that they want to protect children but to some of them, it's all about their own definition of a world in which children fit their narrow construct. To others, it's another notch in their belt for the 'culture war.'
To both parties, transgender children are simply collateral damage.