Linda is facing every parent’s dreaded nightmare: Her daughter has cut her out of her life.
A year ago, her 23-year-old daughter decided she was really a man, changed her name, and began testosterone treatment. One fateful day Linda found a note in her mailbox: “I will not be initiating further contact with you and ask that you respect my wish for no further contact.”
Linda was devastated. “It’s like when your child joins a cult,” she told me.
Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed the deceptively named Equality Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” (shortened to SOGI). The bill is now in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims it will bring the nation “closer to equal liberty and justice for all.”
But will it? SOGI laws already exist on the state and local levels, and their real effect is to impose a radical sexual ideology that delegitimizes parents and tears apart families. To predict the effect of the Equality Act, we need to move beyond political sloganeering and listen to the stories of real people. (All names are pseudonyms, but their stories are real.)
Parents Called Bigots for Trying to Truly Help Their Kids
Transgender activists insist the only acceptable way to treat gender dysphoria is with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery. But is it really good practice to turn children into life-long medical patients? We are talking about powerful drugs that have negative side effects and surgeries that amputate healthy body parts. And in most cases, they are not necessary: Studies show that 80 to 95 percent of children come to accept their biological sex as their hormones change during puberty.
Of course, no medical treatment can actually transform anyone into the opposite sex. Doctors tell us that “every cell has a sex,” and no treatment can change every cell in the human body.
Yet parents who raise questions about the science are denounced as “toxic.” Parents report that they cannot speak out without being attacked by friends, teachers, even their own children.
“Be prepared to be treated by your child as the enemy,” Linda said. “As parents, we face an excruciating choice: We’re told we have to affirm something we don’t think is true, to betray our own convictions—or lose our child.”
Contrary to transgender dogma, questioning an adolescent’s beliefs is not abuse. It is authentic caring. There’s a reason adolescents are not allowed to buy cigarettes or alcohol: they don’t have the capacity to realistically project future consequences. An adolescent’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that makes long-term judgments, is not fully developed. Teens need their parents to communicate the facts of science and guide them toward wise choices. That’s called parenting.
Parents Are Kids’ Natural Protection
Transgender propaganda portrays gender-questioning people as a “vulnerable and marginalized” population who must be protected from bullying. But the climate has shifted so dramatically that, in reality, their interests now trump everyone else’s. A child who identifies as transgender is praised and celebrated in schools, in the media, and online. A study by Lisa Littman at Brown University found that 61 percent of young adults “experienced an increased popularity within their friend group when they announced a transgender-identification.”
For a socially awkward child, that acclaim can be a powerful lure. Barbara’s adolescent daughter was suicidal, had an eating disorder, started self-harming, and isolated herself for hours in her room. She had so much difficulty making friends that she switched schools three times in three years and watched YouTube videos on “How to Be Popular.”
It was by “coming out” as a boy that she finally became popular. Among young people, Barbara says, “Being gay or trans is treated as edgy and creative. You are celebrated, you get a parade.”
Anyone who does not join the parade is “mocked,” or “ridiculed and maligned,” the Brown University study found. Or, as Barbara told me, “It’s the concerned parents who are bullied.” They are pressured to accept without question their children’s self-declared identity—“to follow their lead and let them figure out who they are.”
Yet in no other area of life are parents expected to simply accede to a child’s version of reality. There is no other medical condition that a child can self-diagnose, that has no objective test, and where parents are pushed to blindly allow life-altering medications.
Why Would Someone Keep Parents in the Dark?
Many parents report that their children first decided they were transgender after learning about it at school. Worse, they often found out only after the fact. One parent said, “Although the school knew our daughter was struggling with serious mental health issues, they changed her name and pronouns without our knowledge.”
Some schools even forbid teachers to tell parents which gender identity their children claim in the classroom. Another parent said, “Behind our backs the faculty and staff referred to her by her new name … The school guidance counselor was advising our daughter about half-way houses” because her parents did not agree she was a boy.
The American Journal of Bioethics published an article calling on government to legally mandate that young children “have a right to puberty-blockers” through public schools and state-funded health clinics “even if the parents disapprove.” The message to parents is that they are little more than breeders who are required to hand their children over to schools for sexual and moral indoctrination.
Therapists Refuse to Give Evidence-Based Treatment
In therapy, it is standard protocol to ask questions about possible contributors to a client’s condition. But this high-quality level of care is recast as harmful and abusive if applied to someone who thinks he or she might be transgender.
Studies show that most people with gender distress suffer additional mental health issues, such as autism, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and depression. The Brown study found that 63 percent had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria.
Yet many therapists fast-track young people into transitioning without asking the requisite questions about their medical or mental health history. Susan’s daughter was 20 years old when she announced, “There’s something I have been wanting to tell you. I am a boy.” She visited a gender therapist who spent all of 45 minutes with her, then directed her to a clinic to get testosterone.
Susan said, “The appointment with the therapist amounted to, ‘Congratulations, you’re a boy. Here’s what you should do next.’”
In states and cities that have passed conversion therapy bans, it is actually illegal to help a child explore underlying issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity. And it will become illegal across all the states if Congress passes the misnamed Equality Act. It will be impossible for parents to find therapists who use evidence-based methods to help their children achieve a sense of psycho-physical alignment.
By adding a SOGI clause to our nation’s civil rights laws, which ban discrimination on the basis of race, the Equality Act will treat people as equivalent to racists if they dissent from the state-sanctioned sexual ideology. Parents who just want to help their children learn to live in harmony with their bodies deserve better than to be demonized as racists. Protect parents, protect children. Oppose the Equality Act.