Thursday, February 25, 2021

Rand Paul's attack on HHS nominee Rachel Levine exposes how the religious right needs anti-LGBTQ junk science

Attacks on HHS nominee Rachel Levine reveal how the religious right distorts science against LGBTQ people.

Senator Rand Paul thought he was being cute during a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. 

From Media Matters:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) promoted right-wing media lies about medical care for trans youth during the Senate confirmation hearing for Dr. Rachel Levine, who has been nominated to be the assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Paul lied that Levine supports the “genital mutilation” of trans kids, who do not undergo gender affirmation surgeries. 

 In reality, affirming the gender identity of trans youth is best practice health care and widely supported by medical professionals and research, and it yields long-term mental health benefits and can be lifesaving for young trans people. Furthermore, young trans and gender-diverse children are not undergoing surgery or irreversible treatments; rather, as social work professor Katherine Kuvalanka told The Washington Post, “The only interventions for young children is affirmation and acceptance for who they are.”
Despite these facts, Paul repeatedly and falsely suggested during Levine’s February 25 hearing that trans kids were undergoing “genital mutilation” and lied that Levine supports “surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia.” As PinkNews has noted, these false claims are based on right-wing media lies attacking Levine’s nomination.

Media Matters pointed out that during his questioning, Paul cited bad sources and basic lies to compare confirming gender identity to genital mutilation. You can read the rest of the article here

Paul was widely condemned for his questioning, which is part of an obvious attempt by right-wing and the religious right to derail Dr. Levine's nomination. If she is confirmed, Dr. Levine would become the first openly confirmed transgender official confirmed by the Senate. Anti-LGBTQ groups such as the Family Research Council have already tweeted out the exchange between Paul and Levine, claiming that she dodged his questions. What Levine actually did was not take Paul's bait. She offered to have discussions with him about transgender issues.

As I said before, Paul was heavily condemned by a wide variety of individuals. Many took him to task for his harsh tone against Dr. Levine, while others called out his blatant lies about trans youth. But Paul's behavior spotlights a reality which is rarely mentioned. 

Behind the claims of wanting to adhere to morality or religious tradition,  many groups and personalities opposing LGBTQ rights rely heavily on false information about LGBTQ people.  No matter how tightly groups like the Family Research Council, people like Franklin Graham, or their allies like Sen Paul cling to the Bible and their interpretation of Scripture, they know that religious verses alone aren't enough to create  or pass laws.  So they have worked to demonize  and dehumanize LGBTQ people through a body of work comprised of cherry-picked studies, research taken out of context, junk science and basic lies. In doing so, they are able to control the narrative of this so-called culture war. Also, whenever their veneer is exposed, they are quick to claim that they are victims of religious persecution.

It doesn't matter who in the LGBTQ community is the target because the techniques are always the same. Paul's use of bad scientific sources to denigrate Dr, Levine and the trans community is no different than how the Family Research Council would take scientific information out of context or delete passages from pro-LGBTQ work it cited to give a false impression that homosexuality was somehow dangerous or that homosexuality and pedophilia are connected. No matter how many times it is are called out, FRC continues to repeat its distortions time and time again.

And that group is hardly alone. Since running this blog, I have kept a record of at least 14 times in which religious right groups and figures have passed along bad or cherry-picked science against LGBTQ people.

This is the reality of the opposition to LGBTQ rights and very few people are talking about it. Perhaps it's time to pierce that silence.

'Biden Administration withdraws Fed's support for anti-transgender lawsuit' & other Thur midday news briefs

Biden Admin Withdraws Feds' Support for Anti-Trans Lawsuit - Like I said before, voting matters.