A week ago, I spoke at the Republican National Lawyers Association about the impact of gender identity policies on parental rights and the safety of young people, including LGB youth, along with Tom Wheeler, Braden Boucek, and Kimberly Richey.
Prepared remarks below:
Imagine your loving, 14-year-old daughter becomes hateful and angry, and decides that she’s a pansexual male, after several traumatic events and a lot of time on the internet. You take her to mental health professionals, who diagnose her with depression and anxiety. Instead of treating her for these conditions, they work on getting you to accept that she’s your son.
At 16, she runs away and reports you to family services for not calling her by male pronouns. The investigation finds no abuse or neglect in the home, but sends you to counseling so you’ll accept her as male. Behind your back, a pediatric endocrinologist shows her how to shoot up testosterone.
At 17, she runs away again. In Oregon, a court lets her change her name and legal sex records. Oregon’s Medicaid program pays for a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy.
At 19, she’s living in and out of shelters. She has no mental health care. She’s obsessed with planning a phalloplasty on Medicaid
This is the real story of a mother here in the US, and I met her in 2019, at a rally I helped organize between feminists and conservative Christians at the Supreme Court during the Bostock hearing.
I did that in part because I believe these words: “We need not hold to some stereotypes in terms of the adult occupations that boys and girls can aspire to—girls can grow up to be astronauts or truck drivers, and boys can grow up to be nurses or ballet dancers.” That’s a quote from a Family Research Council report written by Peter Sprigg in 2016, and it’s become high heresy on the left, where a boy who wants to be a ballet dancer is going to be under heavy suspicion of really being a girl.
I’m a bisexual woman on the autism spectrum, and I’ve read so many stories of troubled kids that sound in many ways like the young person that I was when I ran away from home at 17. I was a girl who liked dinosaurs, archeology, and Star Trek. I was lonely in school, awkward. Every story about childhood trans-identification I’ve read has been based on sex stereotypes about how children ought to behave.
Does the girl not want to shave her legs, does she like science and math? Boy. Does the boy like pink, is he musical, is Frozen his favorite movie? Girl.
In 2015 I was blacklisted from progressive politics because I wouldn’t support gender identity or legalized prostitution. At that time, women who dissented from gender identity from the left had started hearing about the children getting operated on, and more respectable people dismissed us as paranoid.
Since the first news stories started coming out about child medical transition, gender activists went from denying that it was happening to the Biden administration demanding this week that it be accepted as a human right.
Jazz Jennings’ growth was stunted, and he was sterilized as a child, on national television, as millions of fans cheered themselves for being such good allies. This is how us difficult children are “cured” now.
A child in the US can be convinced by their peers or staff at school, by children or adults online, by YouTube and TikTok videos, that any problem they have is the result of a gender mismatch.
They can then diagnose themselves as transgender, take that self-diagnosis to a cooperative clinic, and demand life-altering hormones and surgeries that have many known long-term health consequences.
In what passes for treatment for gender dysphoria, instead of a licensed practitioner working to help the patient get to the bottom of what’s bothering them, all of society around them are drafted as emotional support humans to affirm the patient’s distress.
Once gender identity is introduced into a patient’s history, a clinic often becomes a mere dispensary. That’s what informed consent means.
What other branch of medicine is run this way?
The parents, if they’re consulted, get to choose between acting delighted over what’s happened to their family, or being accused by their child, school staff, doctors, lots of screaming people on the internet, and perhaps state child welfare agencies, of wanting to see their child dead. I met a lesbian couple who faced this choice when their daughter came home from summer camp convinced she was a boy. The only audience they could get for their story was at a Heritage Foundation event.
A minor self-diagnosed with gender dysphoria will be told that everyone who doesn’t want to agree that their bodies are wrong for their personalities probably hates them and wants to hurt them.
What other mental health conditions are treated by encouraging a sufferer to believe that everyone who disagrees with them probably hates them? What sort of mental health treatment is it to demand agreement for a patient’s self-diagnosis from everyone around them, and insisting that the government enforce this odd prescription by law, running roughshod over everyone else’s rights of freedom of speech and conscience?
Imagine you have a son who comes home from school upset. A girl in his year has started changing with the boys. He doesn’t want to undress in front of a girl or watch a girl undress. He hears some of the other boys’ comments about her. He sees his gym teacher is uncomfortable too. The teacher can’t say anything or he risks his job.
This is a situation that’s bothered some boys, and at least one male gym teacher, enough to speak up and take their case to higher authorities.
Male students and teachers are identifying into staying with girls during overnight trips or camps, and parents aren’t told because it’s considered an invasion of the privacy of the male students and teachers, rather than the privacy of their daughters. A male teacher has sued over being denied use of the girls’ restroom at his school.
Once upon a time, if a boy exposed himself to a girl at school, or snuck into the girls’ locker room, we would have used terms like indecent exposure or voyeurism to describe this. We might have talked about a climate of sexual harassment and intimidation, or the creation of a hostile environment.
Now a boy can call himself a girl, do those same things, and the media calls him brave. School staff and indoctrinated peers will expect the girls to welcome and fawn over him, to celebrate his selfish and indecent behavior. Parents who complain are treated as evil bigots by school boards and staff.
We can see this in the example of Lia Thomas, where Penn’s female collegiate swimmers are being expected to put up with a man undressing in front of them before and after competitions. When you change for swimming it’s hard to hide anything.
Collegiate sports has been one of the most important leadership pipelines for women in business and politics. Idaho State Rep. Barbara Ehardt is a good example. She got her start as a young adult in NCAA basketball, first as a student, then as a coach. In 2020, Ehardt payed forward this opportunity by authoring the nation’s first state law to protect single-sex sports for girls and women from gender policies.
How many girls will skip out on opportunities like Rep. Ehardt had if they have to face a hopeless effort to compete in matches against the male athletes who get to watch them change?
Though also, as someone who remembers a time when people might use the word “queer” as a dangerous insult that came before a beating, I can also speak to the particular dangers to those of us who grow up to call ourselves members of the LGB community.
For one thing, it’s not been that long since we were all assumed to be a danger to children. It’s a serious reputational harm for the political organizations claiming to represent our interests to have become a safeguarding threat for children.
More urgently though, we were all children once. Predatory people are as smart as anyone else, and they’re evenly distributed. They often go after the kids who don’t fit in and are least likely to be believed or to speak up. These kids are now being taught in school and by their peers that they might have gender identities, that most people murderously despise them, and to keep secrets from their parents to protect them from disagreement.
It used to mostly be same-sex attracted boys who had a hard time fitting in with their peers who sought transition. Now it’s mostly the sort of girls who feel crushed under the weight of the pressure to be pretty, or who are struggling for other reasons. The teen support groups for LGBT youth are often led by adult straight men who call themselves lesbians. I hear a lot of bad stories that respectable people dismiss.
It’s hard to think of something more dangerous to teach an awkward kid, who struggles to make friends, than that they should keep secrets from their parents.
And those kids that struggle in school, they’re probably going to have a hard time getting established as young adults. They’re going to need their parents, but this movement teaches them to alienate their families if their gender stories don’t meet total, enthusiastic acceptance. “I’m your mom now,” so-called allies will say to young people, or activist adults will tell children to go find their “glitter family.”
In 2019, a young woman stood up during Q&A at a panel on these issues, and she told us that she was 19. She’d already been taking testosterone for 5 years, and had a double mastectomy. She said she’d realized that she was a lesbian, and not a man, and she’d detransitioned. The point in her story when she broke down was when she told us that after she detransitioned, she’d lost all her friends. She asked us why no one had ever told her she was okay as she was.
Her party was over. Her glitter family had moved on.
Gender identity policies for minors are a war on the bodies and mental health of struggling young people, waged for the benefit of adults who want to make their personal fight against reality into a law that we all must live by. I ask you all, please, help parents find the legal support to shield their children against the onslaught.