During the first night of the 2020 Values Voter Summit, experts warned about the consequences of American society’s embrace of the ideology associated with the transgender movement, specifically regarding children.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, hosted a panel on Tuesday titled, “The Transgender Movement: Indoctrinating and Sterilizing Children.” The first speaker was The Christian Post’s Brandon Showalter, who has reported extensively about the transgender debate.
“We are seeing a growing influence of the transgender movement upon children at a younger and younger age,” Sprigg warned as he kicked off the panel. Sprigg contended that while “the transgender movement presents itself as something scientific,” “there are really profound ideological and philosophical commitments at the heart of it.”
“There’s really nothing scientific about it at all,” Showalter agreed. “The core claim of the transgender movement is that it’s actually possible to be born in the wrong body. This is essentially neo-Gnosticism … the idea that somehow your body itself, as a sexed entity, is somehow wrong.”
“The transgender movement seeks to deconstruct the human person at its most basic biological level,” he added. Showalter went on to describe the transgender movement as a “corporate coup” that “normalizes body dissociation for profit because once you get people to believe that you can be born in the wrong body, there’s a whole cottage industry of medical practices and drugs that enrich a lot of very already fabulously wealthy people.”
“It’s quite a predatory gender industry, and that’s not overstating it,” he asserted.
Sprigg asked Showalter to weigh in on the characterization of the transgender movement as a cult because of “the way that it alienates children … from their parents and their families” and the way “people in schools and even in the healthcare professions have been contributing to that.”
“It’s quite shocking the level at which parents have been deemed the bad guys in these kinds of situations,” he responded. Showalter mentioned a lawsuit taking place in Madison, Wisconsin, over a school district policy that enables children to identify as the opposite sex without their parents’ knowledge. “Parents are kept in the dark about what may be going on psychologically about their child.”
“The same thing is occurring in the healthcare profession,” Showalter said. He proceeded to detail an exchange that a girl who experienced same-sex attraction had with her doctor.
“The doctor started asking all these invasive questions. … The doctor made the mother leave the room and then started to poke and prod and ask all these inappropriate questions about … ‘Are you sure you were born in the right body? Would you like a referral to the trans counselor?’ And it really rattled this girl, who was just same-sex attracted.”
Showalter held up that exchange as an example of the “professional usurpation of the parental figure who … just wants the best for their kid.” He proclaimed that the transgender movement, aided by schools and medical professionals, is “breaking down those family boundaries.”
“This notion of a gender identity that is apart from a biological sex has been invented out of whole cloth and that has become the policy throughout many institutions,” he proclaimed.
Asked by Sprigg to discuss the impact of the transgender movement on women’s sports, Showalter described “watching biological male track athletes win races against girls” as “one of the most surreal things to watch and report on.”
“We all know that male puberty confers numerous physiological advantages that even a woman at an Olympic-trained level would never achieve just because of human physiology, the body is different.” Showalter cited women’s sports as “one of the most visible areas where we see the inequality that transgender policies cause.”
“Boys are just breaking these girls’ records, they’re taking away scholarship opportunities (and) taking titles,” he said. Showalter brought up Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which enabled women to have equal opportunities in sports and education, and contended that the transgender movement was undercutting women’s equality and opportunities.
Sprigg added that “it’s ironic that people who identify themselves as progressive for years have said that they want to increase opportunities for girls and for women and now these policies are taking them away."
“Women’s rights will utterly disappear if this becomes a nationwide policy, which it could if the Equality Act ever passes,” Showalter warned. The Equality Act is a bill passed by the House of Representatives last year that contains a provision allowing males who identify as females to compete in women’s sports.
As their discussion concluded, Sprigg asked Showalter to explain how “the response to this transgender issue is creating some odd coalitions that sort of cross the normal ideological lines.”
“I hear, in my reporting, from a lot of people on the left — people who normally don’t associate with Christians who are conservative-leaning — gays and lesbians as well, because if there’s no such thing as biological sex, there’s no such thing as same-sex attraction,” Showalter added.
The second speaker, Dr. Andre Van Mol, addressed the medical aspects of the transgender debate. According to Van Mol, there are four types of “procedures that are being done on children” who identify as the opposite sex.
“Social transitioning” is where a child changes their name and pronoun to match with their gender identity, often with the affirmation of the adults and authority figures in their lives. Van Mol also mentioned puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgery.
While Van Mol explained that most medical professionals claim that they only perform such surgeries on adults, “a study right out of Children’s Hospital LA from 2018” showed “teens as young as 13, girls were getting ‘tops surgeries,’ mastectomies.” “Those are organs they can’t get back. Mistakes are being made here,” he stressed.
Van Mol proceeded to discuss the side effects of the aforementioned procedures. “Transition-affirming therapy permanently medicalizes a child on the basis of a self-diagnosis for a condition that usually goes away by adulthood, conservatively, 85% of the time.”
Van Mol listed the side effects of puberty blockers, which include mood swings and depression. “A 2018 study on puberty-blocking agents showed that the majority of the subjects reported long-term side effects and that a third of them reported irreversible side effects even years after stopping.”
According to Van Mol, the side effects of giving females testosterone include “heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, uterine and breast cancer, possible liver dysfunction, high blood pressure, and a case report this year of liver cancer.” The side effects of giving males estrogen include “cholesterol elevation, blood clots, heart attack risks, stroke, breast and uterine cancer.” He also listed the side effects of gender reassignment surgery, which creates “poorly functional pseudo-genitalia” and guarantees sterility.
After pushing back on the idea that gender reassignment surgery improves mental health, Van Mol promoted “watchful waiting,” where both children and parents seek psychological treatment for the underlying issues that cause children to identify as the opposite sex. He also urged people to resist “the cult of affirmation.”
Sprigg also spoke with Abigail Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Shrier discussed the explosion of gender dysphoria, the “profound discomfort in one’s biological sex” in teenage girls over the past decade. She attributed this phenomenon to “peer contagion,” where girls go on social media and convince each other “that the source of their profound discomfort is actually their biological sex and that they’re really supposed to be a boy.”
Echoing the arguments made by Showalter, Shrier explained that “doctors and scientists and therapists have basically become activists.” She also asserted that parents have “been undermined in the school system, which has been pushing radical gender ideology not only in sex-ed classes but in all classes.”
Shrier urged parents to "oppose gender ideology in the school system."
"There is no reason we can’t show compassion to transgender children or transgender-identified children without indoctrinating an entire student body in gender confusion,” she added.
“You’re there to be a reality check and put the brakes on your daughter, not to go along with every identity proclamation she comes up with, especially when you think this one might be harmful,” Shrier advised parents.
When asked by Sprigg what parents should “be teaching girls about what it means to be a girl,” Shrier responded: “We’ve stopped teaching them how wonderful it is to be a woman today. We’ve bought into this lie that it’s somehow an oppressive thing to be a woman in America. There is no greater time to be a woman in America than it is right now.”
“Girls need to know that,” she stressed. “They need to know how much there is to look forward to. That marriage is not inherently oppressive and that having children is a wonderful experience. And if they rush to testosterone, they may just foreclose that.”
The final speaker on the panel, Erin Brewer, the co-founder of the Compassion Coalition, emotionally recalled how she identified as a boy in first grade shortly after she was sexually assaulted. “I blamed myself for it and thought if I was a boy that it wouldn’t have happened.”
“I’ve talked to lots of other people who have detransitioned who also developed a trans identity as a coping mechanism because they thought it would keep them safe,” she said. Brewer proceeded to push back against a claim touted by transgender activists that “there’s really no harm done if you affirm a kid like me.”
“In my case, if I had been affirmed, I would have been allowed to go into boys’ bathrooms and men’s bathrooms and that would have put me at an increased risk of future sexual assault. ... It would have denied me the opportunity to seek treatment for the trauma that had caused me to dissociate from myself in the first place,” Brewer explained.
“If we affirm children who have gender dysphoria and tell them that in fact they’re born in the wrong body, we’re telling up to 94%, and maybe even more, that their bodies are flawed, that there’s something wrong with them, and the only way to address that is to transition, which means harming their healthy bodies with these interventions that are incredibly damaging.”