Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Government officials relied on lies to target trans kids and their parents in Texas. It wasn't the first time.

TX attorney general Ken Paxton issued a transphobic legal opinion which was based on cherry-picked science and misleading claims.

(UPDATE - a judge in Texas has temporarily blocked Gov Abbott's transphobic directive)

I wish I could say that the following released information surprises me. But it doesn't. Nor am I surprised about how it is being pretty much ignored by the media and left to languish.

From The Forth Worth Star-Telegram:

The Texas attorney general’s recent legal opinion that called transgender health care for minors “child abuse” cited sources in a misleading way and drew parallels that researchers say simply do not exist, according to an analysis by the Star-Telegram. 

Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal opinion on Feb. 18, saying that certain types of gender-affirming health care, including puberty blockers and surgery, should be classified as child abuse when used for minors. Several days later, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a letter directing state agencies to investigate transgender health care for youth as abuse.

 In his non-binding opinion, Paxton cites a number of sources, including research articles, to bolster his argument. Researchers say some of these citations were inaccurate. One researcher said Paxton distorted her work for political purposes and that she’s “mortified” her research was included in the opinion. 

 Alexandra Minna Stern, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, studies the history of forced sterilization in the United States. Paxton’s office drew a parallel between forced sterilization and gender affirmation surgeries for minors. “I’m adamantly opposed to this interpretation and it does not align with my research and the conclusions of my research,” she said. “If they knew anything about my scholarship more generally, they would know that I am someone whose research demonstrates the harm of the very types of policies they’re trying to enact on marginalized people.”

Apparently, Professor Stern's information was not the only legitimate science when Paxton distorted. The entire article is worth a good read. Particularly when one takes into account that this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened.

On more than one occasion, conservatives and others on the right have distorted science, relied on cherry-picked science and just out-and-out lied about public controversies to create a groundswell of support for their anti-LGBTQ positions. And to help get anti-LGBTQ legislation passed.

In November of last year, a USA Today article pointed out how conservative and right-wing groups were relying on bad evidence to pass bills keeping trans women and girls from competing in sports. Their "evidence" included claiming that a cisgender girl was transgender simply because she had a short haircut and claiming that cisgender female athletes in general were having scholarships stolen from them without providing any proof that this was taking place.

In 2017, then president Donald Trump announced a ban on trans soldiers in the military. The ban was heavily pushed by Republican  Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo). Hartzler, who has an extensive history of attacking the LGBTQ community, even provided 'evidence' that trans-related healthcare was too expensive for our military to sustain. 

However, CNN found an issue with her 'evidence.'

Hartzler also told  (CNN anchor Wolf) Blitzer . . .  that she had concerns about the cost of medical treatments for transgender service members in the military. “I’ve looked at this issue very, very closely, and this policy is going to cost $1.35 billion over the next 10 years alone, just for sex reassignment surgeries for the transgender members of our service,” Hartzler said. 

 When pressed further by Blitzer about how Hartzler calculated her cost estimates, the Republican lawmaker responded: “Well, our own office did that analysis and we feel very confident in it. There’s one that’s been done by the Family Research Council that says $3.7 billion. So the question is, though, should we be spending any tax dollars to do gender reassignment surgeries when we have soldiers who don’t have body armor or bullets?”

. . . But a 2016 think tank study by the RAND Corporation commissioned by the Department of Defense contradicts Hartzler’s assessments. The study found that the costs of transition-related treatments are “relatively low” with an increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. The study also found that there are between 1,320 to 6,630 active-duty transgender service members, but only a small percentage, between 29 and 129 service members, “will seek transition-related care that could disrupt their ability to deploy.”

And aside from these two examples, there are numerous other examples of conservatives and far right groups distorting science and research to smear the LGBTQ community. The goal is to make the passage of anti-LGBTQ laws and directives - like the recent one in Texas, the bills against trans athletes,  the 'Don't Say Gay' bill in Florida, Trump's ban on trans military members, etc - easier by creating this idea that we are dangerous and 'regular people,' especially children, need to be protected from us.

In 2017, the The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine  (SAHM) called out Dr. Michelle Cretella, the president of the American College of Pediatricians (ACEP), for a piece she wrote which attacked the transgender community. ACEP  is an organization deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for how it attempts to legitimatize anti-LGBTQ lies under the veneer of science. SAHM called out eight errors and distortions  Cretella made in her piece.

In 2012, Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota complained that Rick Fitzgibbons of the NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) misused her work to make the case that children in same sex households are not raised better than children "in stable homes with a mother and a father."

Six researchers of a 1997 Canadian study (Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter), complained in 2001 that religious right groups were distorting their work to claim that gay men have a short life span.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has called out conservative and far right groups for spreading lies and horror stories about LGBTQ people. The organization has designated several of these organizations, like the American College of Pediatricians, as hate groups because of their attacks on the LGBTQ community. 

'Firefighters clap back at homophobic comments in viral TikTok' & other Wed midday news briefs

Firefighters Clap Back at Homophobic Comments in Viral TikTok - Hilarious! Sometimes it's the seemingly small acts of pro-LGBTQ defiance which makes it all better.