Op-ed: Stop Pretending that Trans Persecution is Helping Kids

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2021/06/27: (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

By Alice Wade

January 30, 2024

The following excerpts are from an online discussion between Michigan and Ohio representatives discussing how to further anti-trans policies in their states.

“In terms of endgame, why are we allowing these practices for anyone? Why would we stop this for anyone under 18, but not apply this for anyone over 18? It’s harmful across the board, and I think that’s something that we need to take into consideration in terms of the endgame,” said Michigan Representative Josh Shriver.

Ohio Representative Gary Click, whose legislation would prevent transgender athletes from playing women’s sports, called Schriver’s comment a “very smart thought” and added advice for Republican lawmakers looking to outlaw gender-affirming care.

“Reuters asked me one time when they said, do you feel bad because all of these states that are now blocking the procedures for children are having to close down their gender clinics and now adults can’t get care? And I said no, I don’t feel bad. We have to take one bite at a time, do it incrementally.”

Never before have legislators so blatantly spelled out the strategy for all to see. Start with bite-sized pieces, ban trans women from sports, prevent minors from getting life-saving healthcare, prevent LGBTQ+ from being discussed in schools, and eventually they’ll make it to the ‘endgame’.

That endgame is to prevent all trans people from receiving healthcare, persecute them for wanting to exist in a body that’s comfortable for them, and force them back into the closet where anti-transgender politicians think we belong.

And yet the argument goes that these discriminatory laws are meant to help children. 23 states and counting have gone against the recommendations of every major medical association and banned all forms of gender-affirming healthcare for minors. 

Parents desperate for their children to receive care have had to flee their home state. And even that may not be safe anymore since Texas has recently sued hospitals providing gender-affirming care in other states to try and gain private medical records.

Recently in New Hampshire, HB 619 was voted on in the House, a bill that prevents trans adolescents from receiving gender-affirming bottom surgery in the state. It passed, not just with Republican votes, but with 12 Democratic votes. Why? Because Representative Jonah Wheeler (D-Hillsborough) spoke right before the vote was held, and this is what he said.

“The only argument against [this bill] being the amendment specifically opens the door to other bad trans bills, but the slippery slope fallacy I don’t think applies here.”

I could almost forgive his naivety if it weren’t for the non-stop attacks on trans rights happening here and all around the country. 

How many bills have been drafted attacking trans rights here in New Hampshire just this year? 17. That’s 17 bills entirely dedicated to banning trans healthcare, trans participation in sports, rolling back transgender non-discrimination protections, forcing teachers to ‘out’ students to their parents, book bans, and more.

The healthcare these politicians are banning saves lives, including mine, 5 years ago. And yet, a small but loud number of anti-trans lawmakers consistently overblow the amount of transition-related regret. They lie and fearmonger for cheap political wins by claiming that lots of people regret transitioning. 

Here are some brief statistics to show how patently false that narrative is. While studies on detransitioning are few, the average ranges between 0.3% for people who have undergone bottom surgery and 2.5% for children who identified as transgender 5 years later. 

And of that small percentage, a vast majority of them detransitioned because they faced external societal, family, or financial pressure that made it unfeasible for them to continue. Not because they no longer considered themselves transgender.

It’s unfathomable to me that the regret of a cisgender person is more valuable to these people than the life of a transgender person.

I recently testified during a hearing on SB 562 which would ban trans people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. One person said she didn’t believe that trans people attempt suicide at a much higher rate, or “the trans suicide myth” as she put it. Another person described gender-affirming bottom surgery as ‘butchering’ right in front of me. I don’t have the words to describe how hurtful that was to hear.

These anti-trans bills aren’t meant to help kids, they’re preventing kids who need the care from getting it. And they won’t stop at banning healthcare for trans youth or banning schools from discussing LGBTQ+ topics. The goal is to stigmatize and spread misinformation, which is why we need to stop all of these bills in their tracks. 

If you understand the need to protect trans rights here in New Hampshire, please join us at the state house to show that our freedoms can’t be taken away. Our lives and livelihoods are at stake in this fight. Please call your state representatives to tell them you oppose anti-trans legislation, and tell Governor Sununu to veto these bills if they ever reach his desk.

Author

  • Alice Wade

    Alice Wade is an aerospace engineer from Dover, NH who sits on the board of 603 Equality, a statewide NH advocacy group for LGBTQ+ rights. In her free time she enjoys high-powered rocketry, building aquariums, and writing historical fiction.

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