Sunday, May 21, 2023

AP - Anti-trans bills are 'ready-made' products of far-right groups, critics complain about how they deliberately distort science

While they certainly took their sweet time doing it, the national media is finally putting an in-depth focus on these bills and the parties behind them.

And it shouldn't be surprising to a lot of us what they found. The Associated Press recently published an article, Many transgender health bills came from a handful of far-right interest groups, AP finds, detailing the following:

At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though judges have temporarily blocked their enforcement in some, including Arkansas. An Associated Press analysis found that often those bills sprang not from grassroots or constituent demand, but from the pens of a handful of conservative interest groups. 

 Many of the proposals, as introduced or passed, are identical or very similar to some model legislation, the AP found. Those ready-made bills have been used in statehouses for decades, often with criticisms of carpetbagging by out-of-state interests. In the case of restrictions on gender-affirming care for youths, they allow a handful of far-right groups to spread a false narrative based on distorted science, critics say.

 . . . The AP obtained the texts of more than 130 bills in 40 state legislatures from Plural, a public policy software company, and analyzed them for similarities to model bills peddled by the conservative groups Do No Harm, which also criticizes efforts to diversify staffing in medicine, and the Family Research Council, which has long been involved in abortion restrictions. One of the clearest examples is in Montana, where nearly all the language in at least one bill can be found in Do No Harm’s model.  . . .  

 . . . Do No Harm’s model and the 2021 Arkansas bill endorsed as a model by the Family Research Council also have many similarities, including the assertion — rebutted by major medical organizations — that the risks of gender-affirming care outweigh its benefits. 

 . . . Such bills often distort valid science that supports gender-affirming care for youths, said Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University who edited the section about gender dysphoria in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual. Do No Harm cites the manual in its model bill. 

 “These bills are not at all interested in patient care,” Drescher said.  “These bills are designed to inflame.” 

 It’s problematic “any time policymakers are cherry-picking isolated studies or scientific research that arrives upon a different conclusion than the rest of the community or that relies upon studies without having that expertise,” said Marty P. Jordan, an assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University. “It’s problematic for the individuals that the legislation could impact. It’s problematic for the larger public, and problematic for democracy writ large.”