by Leor Sapir
Friday, 22
April 2022
Explainer
15:15

Florida fights back against Biden’s trans agenda

The state has issued sensible advice on gender-related distress in minors
by Leor Sapir
Credit: Getty

The United States is fast becoming an outlier in paediatric gender medicine. Whereas medical authorities in Sweden, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom have recognised that evidence for the mental health benefits of paediatric transition is weak while evidence for its risks and harms is stronger, the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now committed itself to promoting the “affirming” model of care.

This model argues that puberty blockers are relatively risk-free, fully reversible, and merely provide users a “window of time” in which to reflect on their identity and decide on next steps. More importantly, it trades on the transition-or-suicide narrative, which suggests that if young people are not allowed to undergo full medical transition, they will be at an extraordinarily high risk for anxiety, depression, and most worryingly, suicide.

Both claims are wrong or at least misleading, but progressive activists and Democratic party leaders seem unable or unwilling to resist them. Thankfully, Florida’s Department of Health just issued a guidance document this week that is meant to be a rebuke to the one issued by HHS. Unlike the HHS document, the Florida guidance is based on a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence, and it more or less aligns with the direction Sweden, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom have been taking on this matter. When it comes to treating gender-related distress in minors, the American Republican Party is much closer to progressive Western democracies, while the Democratic Party, which supports transitioning youth who exhibit proto-gay/lesbian feelings and behaviours, is taking radical steps.

Take the President himself. Addressing “parents of transgender children” earlier this month, President Biden said that “affirming your child’s identity is one of the most powerful things you can do to keep them safe and healthy.” At the heart of this approach is the idea that transgender identity is no less natural or healthy than “cisgender” identity, and that any form of psychological prescreening for hormones assumes that, all things considered, it is better for someone to be cisgender than transgender.

The president’s remarks, which came with no qualifications, are wildly irresponsible and demonstrate the administration’s commitment to gender ideology over science, reason, and common sense. With even leading proponents of paediatric gender transition, including the Dutch researchers who developed the protocol, raising alarm bells about its excesses and dangers, there is simply no excuse for the most powerful man in the world using the most prominent stage in the world to spout pseudoscience.

A number of Republican states like Florida have begun to take matters into their own hands, proposing and in some cases passing bans on paediatric transition. There is a legitimate debate to be had about whether these bans sweep too broadly; according to some researchers, a tiny subset of the population — natal males whose gender distress appears prior to and persists into puberty—can reap long-term mental health benefits from puberty suppression and hormone therapy.

But most minors seeking medical intervention these days are not of this subgroup. Rather, they are mostly teenage girls with no prior history of dysphoria and arrive at gender clinics after prolonged periods of social isolation and exposure to social media.

In March, the DeSantis administration passed the Parental Rights in Education Law. Despite being cynically mischaracterised by progressive activists as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, the bill recognises that transgender “inclusive” and “affirming” policies have concrete and deeply disturbing medical and developmental consequences for children and teenagers.

Assuming it is not held up in the courts (a common fate for legislatures willing to stand up to powerful trans activist groups), the Florida law will probably do more to protect gay and (especially) lesbian students from harm than any law or court ruling in the United States over the past two decades. Florida’s new health guidelines along with its limitation of sex and gender indoctrination in the classroom underscore its emerging status as a leader in the fight to put science and common sense above ideology.

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Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
2 months ago

I’ve no doubt that Joe Biden hasn’t the slightest understanding of trans and other ‘progressive’ shibboleths but is simply mouthing the words given to him by his advisers or the Canadian ambassador … which in a way makes this worse.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Yes, where is Canada in this piece? My limited reading has lead me to believe Canada is as bad as the US.

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
2 months ago

Worse, under Trudeau. Hence my comment.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 months ago

Although this may be the most important bit for protecting young kids, a lot of states have been pushing back against the transgender fad (because for most that’s what it is). One of the more common forms of pushback is states passing legislation that athletes compete by their birth gender, not their identity. At least early on the NCAA–the main organization for college sports, for those not familiar–was threatening not to allow any of its major sporting events to take place in states that passed such laws. I actually haven’t followed if it is still making those threats. If so it may be getting to a short list of venues as more states enact these laws.
And then of course there was the international incident when NC made a law that people have to use public restrooms based on their birth sex, not identity. This actually didn’t apply to ‘public’ restrooms in private businesses, so Target could still let people toss a coin before choosing which restroom to use if they wanted to. So Cirque du Soleil (probably misspelled, but I don’t care enough to google it) announced they would no longer perform in that state. How will they get by without artsy French performers? Also, how does any of that relate to anything those French performers do, which is to wonder why they cared?
The attitudes of people like Biden and his enablers were amply summed up last year in the scandal that blew up in Virginia when it came out that a boy who claimed to be transgender had sexually assaulted two girls in school bathrooms. The school had attempted to cover it up, it became national news when the dad of one of those two girls confronted the school board about it at a meeting and was arrested for doing so (yet the school board was not arrested for covering up rape of a minor….odd). Anyway, a lot of news services were trying to claim this was a ‘fake controversy.’ Yes, the same news services who were cheering on #metoo claims by celebrities for such things as not being asked which kind of wine they preferred. But sexual assault of young girls and school officials covering it up is nothing to get upset over, the peasants need to get their priorities straight.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  Sean Penley

This disgraceful episode reminds me of how the police and prosecution services in the UK spent decades protecting Pakistani paedophile grooming gangs because they “didn’t want to upset race relations”.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Sean Penley

You missed the bit where USA school boards connived with the Democrat government to have a national policy that labelled parents as domestic terrorists when voicing their concerns at school board meetings. Fortunately this policy was thrown out and didn’t get implemented.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Good point. I have heard that a LOT of school boards dropped out of that National School Board Association as a result of that policy. Some perhaps through genuine disagreement, quite likely others for fear of getting voted out if they were soon to be in agreement with it.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago

Democrats, the party of “science”

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

*Democrats, the party of “the” science

Matt M
Matt M
2 months ago

Surely DeSantis is now a shoo-in for 2024.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Hopefully.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

He should be. I still know some Trumpets – not sure why they would prefer a man that lost to a creapy crooked senile old man. The best thing about DeSantis is that he has taken the fight to the groomers like Disney and is playing on their side of the field.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

I’m not sure about a shoo-in, but he has much for credibility now. Conservatives have been on defense for 50 years in the culture war. Desantis just fired an offensive shot. That gives him real cred in my book.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago

Of course the Department of Health and Human Services are behind it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/19/rachel-levine-transgender-biden-hhs-pick/

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Wasn’t this person in transport or something like that before?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago

Probably. It says something about a country when an obese person who doesn’t know the difference between a man and a woman is made Health Secretary.

Eliza Mann
Eliza Mann
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Please don’t insult an entire country over the folly of its leader! Biden appointed Levine, so perhaps one can blame the 53% or so who voted for Biden. However, many of them regret their choice, and it’s not like the alternative was better–just bad in a different way, in my opinion.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 months ago

“…and that any form of psychological prescreening for hormones assumes that, all things considered, it is better for someone to be cisgender than transgender.”

Well, it is. It’s better to be relatively comfortable in your own skin than to be tied to a lifetime of dangerous synthetic hormone analogues and surgeries.

“… a tiny subset of the population — natal males whose gender distress appears prior to and persists into puberty—can reap long-term mental health benefits from puberty suppression and hormone therapy.”

I have my doubts about that, as a male that doesn’t go through puberty doesn’t develop the needed amount of genital material for the usual form of ‘bottom surgery’. They remain sexless and stuck halfway, as it were.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
2 months ago

Fine. But what’s this “natal” male business? This superfluous adjective implies that there is such a thing as “non-natal” males, i.e., females who have changed sex.

Amanda Marks
Amanda Marks
2 months ago

Make no mistake, Republican bans on pediatric transition have nothing to do with their having a more nuanced, sophisticated, or European understanding of the issue. They think it’s a winner at the polls with their most conservative voters who just think trans is weird and wrong full-stop.
Because the Republicans are so anti-LGBTQ anything, the Dems reflexivly stake out the opposite stance without reflection… and usually it works out b/c the less hateful stance tends to be the best policy.  Just not in this case, so, as a result, there is little to no discussion on the left about the problems with affirmative care. Likely that conversation will take place in 10+ years after a generation of the incorrectly affirmed hit different stages of their lives.
I hope Oprah is still around and can moderates. In fact, the more I think about it, if her show were still on, we could perhaps be having a more sophisticated conversation.

Last edited 2 months ago by Amanda Marks