Telling The Truth About The War On Trans Children

Indiana isn’t the only state waging war on trans children, their parents and the medical providers trying to help them. At a time America (and the whole world, for that matter) is facing innumerable challenges–climate change, Putin’s war in Ukraine, a re-ordering of world power generally, etc.–today’s GOP has fixated on the “threat” posed by defenseless children.

About those claims that Republicans are defending “parental rights”– it seems the GOP only defends parents who share their constipated views of the world.

Want to ban some books? Make life difficult for LGBTQ children? The GOP will empower you! Want to allow educators and librarians to share books that other parents consider appropriate? Want to be supportive of your child struggling with gender dysphoria? Not so fast!

In Red Texas, being supportive of your child’s transition has actually been defined as child abuse.

Kentucky recently passed a bill not unlike a handful of hateful measures on their way to passing in Indiana. The bill limits medical care related to gender transition services for minors and punishes providers who assist their minor patients. It also prohibits “a public school counselor, school-based mental health services provider, or another public employee from aiding or assisting in the provision of gender transition services for a person under the age of 18 years.”

During the debate preceding Kentucky legislators’ lopsided vote to make life more difficult for trans children, a state representative named Pamela Stevenson gave an impassioned speech in which she told the ugly–but undeniable– truth.

 “I’m not even sure how we got here, but as a 27-year military veteran, I fought so that all people could have freedoms, not just the ones I liked,” said Stevenson, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.

When a co-sponsor of the bill said she’d written it to “protect children from irreparable damage,” Stevenson had a withering response.

“Don’t tell me it’s about irreparable harm because you’re not doing anything for the children that are hungry,” Stevenson said.

“You’re not doing anything for the children that are in foster care being abused. You’re not doing what needs to be done for the little black kids who are experiencing racism every day. It is not for irreparable harm. It’s because they are not like you. And as a mother, how dare you interfere with one of the most intimate relationships.”…

If you were really, really concerned about children, I could give you 100 other things you could do to make sure that every kid in Kentucky thrives. Let’s try giving them water out in the rural areas, potable water. Let’s try Medicare and Medicaid, so they can go to the doctor. Let’s try getting the kids off the street that are homeless and sleeping with snow as a blanket. I was born at night, but not last night. This is not about what you say it is.”

What I find so depressing about these attacks on vulnerable children is the likely reason for this particular culture-war focus: America’s current acceptance of LGBTQ+ citizens and same-sex marriage. Polling regularly confirms that acceptance; Gallup fielded a 2022 poll that showed 71% of Americans agreeing that same-sex marriages should enjoy the same rights as opposite-sex ones.(That’s a staggering figure: These days, seventy-one percent of Americans probably don’t agree that the Earth is round.)

Since gay folks came out of the closet, most Americans have discovered that they know gay people and that they aren’t any different from the rest of us. Trans people, however, are rarer and still considered “exotic”–or in Republican-speak, fair game.

We no longer live in the “good old days” when Republicans could generate turnout with hysterical warnings about same-sex marriage or other attacks on LGBTQ folks generally–these days, such broad-based attacks are too likely to create backlash. But the GOP isn’t going to abandon its most effective strategy–generating fear and hatred of the “other”–so the party has narrowed its focus to Drag Queens and trans Americans.

Human Rights Watch  is just one of the organizations that has documented the extent of discrimination and violence experienced by the trans community. Those reports are depressing and sobering, but the viciousness of the attacks on children is particularly disgusting.

As Axios has explained, these bills are part of a larger, “carefully coordinated campaign by the far right and religious conservatives to attack trans people in the wake of their failures to stop marriage equality and pass anti-trans bathroom bills over the past decade.”

After all, if a few kids kill themselves as a result–tough. All’s fair in politics and culture war.


  1. Othering is a political tool that guarantees a headline at the expense of the most vulnerable.

  2. For someone so involved in this already, it’s worse than Sheila writes. Let’s go beyond soil contamination to the forever chemicals, how they get into our soil, and who is responsible.

    We all know it’s about money…Some readers say, “No, this is about moral issues.”

    These trans kids are impacted by the poisons in our air and water etc. The same people ridiculing them are supporting the companies dumping this toxic trash and lining the pockets of these oligarchs while ridiculing the byproducts. Let’s follow the science…

  3. A major development occurred which doesn’t seem to have gotten much press yet: the former Ohio speaker of the House of Representatives and Republican Party chief were found guilty yesterday by a federal jury of racketeering.

    How does this relate to today’s essay? Part of the illegal scheme involved millions of 501 (c)(4) “dark-money” dollars going to TV ad buys selling, among other things, preposterous lies to support a $1.3 billion utility bailout. The utility funded ads that screamed xenophobic claims that China was trying to take over Ohio’s utilities. In other words, they were playing on voters xenophobia. That’s what’s going on with the attacks on gay and trans children: playing on fears of an “other” group.

    The trial also presents an object lesson in the power of dark money that today floods US politics.

  4. I agree that the bill definitely doesn’t support parents rights as to their children.

    But is it truly such a horrible position that people who are less than 18 should wait until the age of adult-decision making before making irreparable changes to their bodies? I think the reflex reaction on the left is to assume that position is borne out of bigotry, and for some it is, but there are plenty of people in the middle who think these bills reflect a very reasonable position.

  5. The Christ said “suffer not the little children”. Somehow these “Christians” running the Greedy Old People party think he said “let the little children suffer”.

  6. I’m 78 years old and the mother of a married lesbian. We live in Florida, my daughter was born here as was her father before her. I fear for them each and every day. I try to encourage them to move away to a more friendly state or country. I am afraid.

  7. Paul: your opening statement is correct; then you go on to explain why it’s wrong. Your opening statement is correct.

  8. Paul – there is absolutely NO valid reason whatsoever for members of any legislative body to think they should have the right to Force their unreasonable fears and opinions onto the children who Know they were born in the wrong body. Parents don’t just wake up one day and flippantly decide to put their children through surgical and hormonal procedures to change their sex.

  9. Paul, if we require everyone to wait until they are 18 to address this health care issue, why not wait on other health care issues as well. If it won’t kill them, they can wait to get treatment for a number of conditions, right? We don’t begin addressing sexuality issues at age 18. These aren’t kids who just want to play dress up. They are kids whose genetic differences we’ve only recently defined, and frankly we still don’t altogether understand. Making them wait to address their differences will only increase their psychological problems. We have to begin giving needed care, when the child becomes aware that he or she is different.

    Yesterday, we dealt with the death of satire. Today we deal with the death of sanity.

  10. LGBTQ citizens should not be expected to pay one cent of taxes to any government entity until they legally have all of the same civil rights the rest of us enjoy.

  11. I agree that gender identity is something that the gov’t should stay out of but as a female athlete, trans women have a physical advantage and need to stay out of women’s sports. Also, sex hormones are cancer fertilizer – it does not matter whether they are birth control pill, something to treat erectile dysfunction, or transitioning to another gender. I would not pay for my son or daughter to raise their cancer risk as a child with therapy to transition. If they are an adult and are ok with dying of cancer, that is their business. Smokers have been making that decision for centuries.

  12. I once saw a bumper sticker that read “I don’t mind that you’re straight, but please act gay in public”, thus pointing out the unreasonableness of expecting someone to be ok with denying their most fundamental identity. The people who thought that now think it’s reasonable to expect trans children to go through years of suffering before getting help. It is not reasonable, it is cruel. What Peggy said hits the nail on the head.

  13. “But is it truly such a horrible position that people who are less than 18 should wait until the age of adult-decision making before making irreparable changes to their bodies?”

    What “irreparable changes” are you referring to? Puberty blockers are reversible – stop taking them. However, puberty is not. The State, by banning this, is causing these children to face much more extensive physical changes when they are older to overcome the changes to their bodies that puberty caused.

    What other decision to you approve the State taking from the parent? (besides what books kids can read in the library?)

  14. Republicans want to control anyone not in their base because they remember being privileged like that by authoritarianism until the ‘60s.

    They organize that effort hierarchically with wealthy donors at the peak of the pyramid, below them Republican politicians, next are professional entertainer/propagandist and finally a base of Republican voters. The eye at the top of the pyramid as on our money is Donald Trump who now owns the pyramid.

  15. When are we going to stand up and demand that the republicans stop practicing medicine without a license!? Let the science decide!

    My goodness, I developed a huge chest in less than a year when I was 13. If I thought I was a male, can you imagine the mental anguish seeing my breasts grow that fast? I would have wanted to stop it!

    I remember a journalist asking Cher about her daughter that transitioned. The reporter asked, what if you sincerely believed you woke up as another gender? Cher answered that she’d want out of that body as soon as possible! Leave those poor souls alone. I know a couple of humans that transitioned. One was a male colleague back in the early ‘00 that transitioned to female. She was in her mid20s. Another is a teen in Az that wanted to become male. Unfortunately, her grandmother died a couple of years ago that I was acquainted with so I don’t know when or if she transitioned. Her grandmother grew up in Indiana and just didn’t know what to think. She sought professionals to explain it to her and she accepted her changing.

  16. Born in the early 60’s until about the 80’s I never even aware I met a gay person. Being labeled gay in high school was the ultimate in bullying. By the time I was in my 20’s I worked with a gay man and it was eye opening to find out he was a real person. I moved downtown in the late 80’s just 2 blocks from a gay bar that I didn’t know was a gay bar until years later, but in that time I had met at least two gay couples that were in committed, happy, and stable relationships and that was a hard thing to do then because of the stigma that was still attached to the label of being gay. The forced “in the closet” lifestyle that prejudice and laws created was exposed with the AIDs epidemic. The AIDs epidemic also exposed on a national level the fact that sex and attraction was a lot more complicated than just a man and women, especially when it was discovered that AIDs didn’t care if you were gay.

    Because of the hate, stigma, and laws against non-traditional sexual orientation, I also know a few gay men that “used to be straight” and have families with now ex-wives. but are now living either on their own or with new partners and their lives are much happier and stable now.

    So I have seen first hand in just my lifetime the unhappiness of forced gender roles have on people and families. I think that the attack on transgender children is just because it is a small seemingly meaningless target to attack and will rile up emotional responses in an ignorant and biased voter base.

    If you think about it, Republicans used this same tactic for years because any abortion attack was DOA as long as Roe V. Wade stood because their attacks were seemingly meaningless. It played well with the hardcore base and it didn’t make any difference, until it did. With the fall of Roe V Wade, those attacks have become a real liability for many voters.

    However, the anti-LGBTQ issues might be a real winner for the GOP because the target they have chosen to “protect” is not half the population like abortion was and when it is criminalized, most voters won’t care because it doesn’t effect them. This will play well for their bigoted base. Plus, these lawmakers don’t care if we loose a few teens to suicide. These Republicans will “win” at the voting booth and that’s all that matters to them and to h3ll with small government and fewer regulations.

  17. An adult acquaintance who lives in one of the states that just pass legislation that criminalizes gender transitions is currently in the process of moving to a state where they will be safer and have access to the necessary medical treatment to complete their transition. They and their partner are smart, productive taxpayers, taking their talents and creativity to a place that will not only value them but allow them the thrive as who they truly are.
    The GOP follows the same playbook over and over, attacking the weakest, least empowered and most socially vulnerable. They are cowards and bullies.

  18. Puberty itself is an irreparable change, or at least one that isn’t easy to reverse once it’s gotten significantly underway. It’s hard enough to endure when it’s at least going PROPERLY. When it is only taking you further and further away from your core self-image, unimaginably worse. Puberty blockers can be stopped, if the decisions is made. To force a kid through the wrong puberty before transitioning later is to give them two kinds of traumatic experiences: one, the feeling of having been disfigured and developing flaws in their presentation which can scarcely be erased as well by transitioning later, and two, having others notice those same flaws in their presentation which they themselves hate so much, and then deciding to make their lives difficult on top of that.

    To be in a body that isn’t properly your own is the stuff of literal nightmares

  19. Our new state senator in NE Indiana wrote the horrendous bill for this session. He is an emergency room physician who was vocal in opposition to masking and vaccinations. I get thank you for “sharing thoughts” replies to my emails. Tomorrow I will join others throughout the state in rallies for Stop the Hate in our State.

  20. Lots of lovely comments today. I feel better about the world after reading them. (Dan M and Jane, I liked yours particularly, although many were just excellent.)

    I recently found myself in a youtube-comment-section debate about trans people. (In my defense, I’d made a post defending trans rights many months ago, and someone recently chose to ridicule me about it. I thought I’d take a shot at educating them.) The person on the other side insisted on describing gender dysphoria as an illness, and those suffering as “unstable” and “to be avoided”. Via argument, I was able to make him understand that he was causing pain and suffering to trans people. But, although he acknowledged his bigotry and the result of it emotionally, he just didn’t care, and planned to continue “speaking the truth”.

    I can have no sympathy for any person who purposefully causes pain to another, especially a child. The Republicans pushing these bills are the worst sort of bullies. It’s plainly emotional child abuse, and apparently, that’s the point. It makes me furious.

  21. This piece reminds me of an experience I had when I was 10 years old. For grades 1-4, my parents sent me to a Roman Catholic private school. This was not because they were religious, although my father was nominally RC. It was because the local public school expected children, no matter how young, who lived within a mile of the school to go home to lunch. I wasn’t allowed to bring my new lunch box and eat in the cafeteria. Mom was outraged and so I was transferred to the all-white St. Paul’s School.

    While there I was taught that anyone who wasn’t RC would go to hell. I was taught that anyone who wasn’t RC was actively doing evil in the world. I have to say that I was impressionable enough to believe it. So you can only imagine how horrified I was when my parents bought a house and I was transferred from St. Paul’s to Littlebrook School, away from the safe haven of Roman Catholics and now exposed to all the damned kids.

    On my first day there, I discovered that my classroom contained Black kids, not that we called them that in 1960 but I won’t repeat what we did, and various POC, not that we called them that but I won’t repeat what we did. There were Jewish kids, which was just awful because I had been taught that Jews were responsible for the Crucixtion. The thing that overwhelmed me, that bludgeoned me over the head is that they were just kids just like me with the same concerns, desires, issues, problems, etc, all of us trying to make sense of the world we landed in.

    That is exactly what I see happening in the Party Of Death, formerly known to me as the GOIP, the Grand Old Insurrectionist Party, formerly known as the Republican Party. They are demonizing trans kids exactly the way the nuns demonized all non-Roman Catholics.

    The thing that is clear to me is that all this fuss and nonsense about trans kids, drag queens, LGBTIA+? people, books, and these are all smoke screen distractions from the evil they are doing that is not covered in the media because they are doing evil on the sly. They can rely on the politicians in the basket of deplorables to continue to distract people.

    I believe with all my heart that there are more decent Americans out there than otherwise. Due to physical limitations, I try in my small way to assist the light to pierce and shatter the darkness of their evil with my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff. I would love to know how others are assisting the light, if you care to share.

  22. Care??? About kids? No way do they!
    The former party of Law and Order (?) has become, no, has come out its own closet and is showing its real face,
    that of the party of intolerance, hate and greed. Householder, and Borges are guilty of racketeering conspiracy, in Ohio,
    Trump, McConnell and Murdoch worked to screw the country over, and no one on the right is complaining, right?
    The only war the GOP, and minions, are waging is one against Democracy and justice for any…even themselves,
    as there can be no justice that is only a select few.

  23. Triggernometry on youtube gives a full discussion on this subject.
    Transgender dysphoria is real. It is a condition that many mainline psychiatrists believe will sort itself out over time. If that person passed 18 wants to transition at this tome it is warranted at this time.
    Puberty blockers are FDA approved for those going thru puberty too soon. It is a delaying drug to allow children to go thru puberty at a later time allowing their brain to also develop thru puberty. When these drugs are being used for transitioning that stops the brain from developing thru puberty. New data shows that doctors who are using these drugs to transition are causing the brain not to develop properly.
    Many who have transitioned as teens are finding their results as destructive as they wish they hadn’t transitioned. Young girls who think transitioning is the right thing to do can go and have gone thru breast surgery then on month later change their minds and want their breasts reattached.
    Parents should seek and can seek books that introduce transitioning. But parents are letting school officials that this new approach of introducing this subject and then not letting a parent know their child is being taught this and keeping the identity of their child from them is not acceptable. Its being done in Indiana as professional teachers are admitting that administrators have done this already. Parents are withdrawing kids from their schools. This is giving ammunition to privatizing schools by parents.
    last year a teen who transitioned with help of the UKs Healthcare system sued and won in UKs highest court on the grounds that he as a teen should bot have been allowed to transition.

  24. Radicals like Stevenson regularly use the tactic that if you haven’t solved the worlds problems in the way I see fit then you cant possibly care or know how to solve this issue. It is an illogical over abundantly used emotional approach.

  25. Whenever someone transitions, big pharma wins. Hundreds if thousands of dollars are spent by one individual throughout their lifetime. The doctors who perform these surgeries may be letting the huge amounts of money sway their decisions in their “allowing a teenager” to transition.
    Bills are being seen as protecting children as many who have transitioned are bringing this to the forefront. No hate here. Should they sue their doctors and those that allow children to be used?

  26. John S – as a trans adult who started transitioning at 45 years old, I can tell you definitively that your “Big pharma” theory on how much money we spend is way off base. Our hormones cost about 1/10 as much lifetime as is spent by one person on erectile disfunction meds comparatively. And there aren’t huge figures in surgeries if we are allowed to transition in the correct way during puberty. The costliest surgeries are to undo the secondary characteristics of going through puberty the wrong direction, which is exactly why us adults who transitioned later in life are such fierce advocates for trans young people. Going through puberty wrong is a living nightmare – a horror show you don’t realize you can wake up from until someone points out to you can. When you learn that, wrenching open that door and walking through it, or dying trying to, is inevitable. Denying us the opportunity is to do that is to lock people into the nightmare on purpose. There is no greater cruelty than that.

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