SPLC Demonizes Opposition to Trans Orthodoxy as ‘Pseudoscience,’ Tool of ‘White Supremacy’ and ‘Theocracy’
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a scandal-plagued far-left smear factory notorious for putting mainstream conservative and Christian organizations on a “hate map” with KKK chapters, released a new report demonizing opposition to gender ideology as “pseudoscience” and a tool of “white supremacy” and “theocracy.”
“The controversy over trans health care is manufactured to reinforce both white supremacy and the political goals of the Christian Right,” R.G. Cravens, senior research analyst lead at the SPLC’s Intelligence Project — the outfit that releases the “hate map” — says in a video explaining what the SPLC calls the CAPTAIN report, released Tuesday. (The acronym stands for Combatting Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Through Accessible Information Narratives.)
One of the CAPTAIN report’s essays claims that the “anti-LGBTQ+ movement” has hatched a plan to “erect a theocracy built on a right to discriminate against people who do not hold conservative white Christian beliefs.” The essay argues that the evil white supremacist theocrats have secretly recruited lesbian, gay, and bisexual allies to speak out against transgender orthodoxy, and that any opposition to the transgender movement is fueled by animus and a lust for power, not genuine concern.
This report echoes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s longstanding modus operandi — to demonize its ideological opponents by accusing them of spreading hate, rather than engaging with their criticisms of the far-left agenda supported by the SPLC itself.
As I wrote in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC has leveraged its track record of suing Ku Klux Klan groups into bankruptcy to develop the “hate map” it uses to smear enemies. In 2010, the SPLC placed conservative Christian groups on the map, branding them “anti-LGBT hate groups,” and earlier this year, it placed parental rights organizations on the map, branding them “anti-student inclusion antigovernment extremist groups.”
In 2012, a terrorist used the SPLC’s map to target the Family Research Council for a mass shooting in Washington, D.C. The SPLC condemned the attack but kept the conservative organization on its map — and it repeatedly attacked FRC in the CAPTAIN report.
Despite a sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder in 2019, and a former employee revealing the SPLC’s “hate” accusations as a “highly profitable scam,” many on the Left continue to use the SPLC as a political and ideological weapon to silence their opponents.
This CAPTAIN “pseudoscience” report sets out to answer a “major question:” “How did the anti-transgender pseudoscience movement achieve success so quickly?” The report seems oblivious to the far more surprising development — how the medical establishment rushed to adopt the idea that a person’s claimed gender identity outweighs his or her biological sex, such that it is considered healthy to place that person on experimental cross-sex hormones and use surgery to make their body resemble a person of the opposite sex.
The SPLC report also ignores questions about why so much of society, from Hollywood to big corporations to universities and the rest of the liberal elite, has rushed to embrace transgender orthodoxy wholesale — a rush that has confused and alienated many self-described liberals and centrists of many faiths, not just conservatives and Christians.
The SPLC cites moderates’ and liberals’ opposition to transgender orthodoxy as an example of the “anti-LGBTQ+ movement” trying to “isolate trans people from their allies,” rather than considering whether any concerns might be genuine.
The SPLC report proceeds on the assumption that the pro-transgender trend in the American medical establishment is neither surprising nor interesting, but a natural development of science, and that any opposition to it derives from “pseudoscience” based in hatred and oppression.
The report dismisses the massive increase in children and teens diagnosed with gender dysphoria and identifying as transgender or nonbinary, attributing this change to more “acceptance,” without acknowledging that the social trend toward “acceptance” might have encouraged teens — notorious for following social fads — to claim a transgender identity.
“Researchers seem to agree that trans people have felt more comfortable coming out in recent years, but far-right and anti-trans researchers have taken control of that narrative, like ‘rapid onset gender dysphoria’ and the idea of identity as a social contagion,” Cravens says in the video. “The far Right translated old and new pseudoscience about LGBTQ+ identity into gender ideology as a talking point to claim that any positive representation of LGBTQ+ people was a method of creating new trans kids.”
Yet the report doesn’t prove that the “anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience” is actually pseudoscience, nor that the horrific medical interventions that the SPLC euphemistically refers to as “gender-affirming care” are actually better for people in the long run. The SPLC dismisses the vocal detransitioners — people who formerly identified as transgender but later rejected that identity and returned to accept the truth of their biological sex — as frauds and unrepresentative of most detransitioners.
“Most trans people who stop social or medical transitioning do so because of barriers to accessing care and because they experience rejection, not because they stop identifying as trans,” the report claims. That would be news to Cathy Grace Duncan, Prisha Mosley, Kayla Lovdahl, Chloe Cole, Luka Hein, Walt Heyer, Ted Halley, Billy Burleigh, and scores of others. Many of these people underwent permanent chemical and surgical alterations in pursuit of a gender identity they now say was always false, and they warn others against undergoing these invasive treatments. Some have sued their doctors for medical malpractice.
The Southern Poverty Law Center acts as though these people don’t exist, but it also demonizes the group Genspect for attempting to “recruit detransitioners to write for their blog.”
The SPLC also demonizes the many doctors who grew to reject gender ideology and “gender-affirming care.” It condemns their work as “pseudoscience” not because it is baseless but because it is inconvenient for the SPLC’s narrative.
Throughout the CAPTAIN report, the SPLC demonizes as “conversion therapy” any attempt to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria through mainstream talk therapy. The report claims that the Christian Right’s initial plan “was to focus on transgender people, reestablish conversion therapy as a legitimate therapeutic practice and undermine the affirming care model.”
The report uses the term “conversion therapy” to conflate modern talk therapy with versions of shock therapy that mainstream therapists rightly abhor. By using this term, the SPLC renders unthinkable the suggestion that a child or teen who suffers from a persistent identifying with the gender opposite his or her biological sex can resolve underlying psychological issues through therapy rather than hormones or surgery. The CAPTAIN report brands this commonsense idea a form of “conversion therapy” and “pseudoscience” on the level of forced shock therapy to make a gay or lesbian person straight.
Some feminists have opposed “gender-affirming care” as a form of “conversion therapy” on the grounds that it may convince a lesbian that she is really male and, therefore, straight. The SPLC makes no attempt to respond to such an argument.
This should not be surprising, as the SPLC used the same legal arguments it deployed to bankrupt KKK groups against the conservative biblical crowdfunding site Funding Morality. It accused Arthur Goldberg, a Jewish man and founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, of violating consumer fraud laws by promising that men and women who suffer from unwanted same-sex attraction may overcome their struggles through therapy. Goldberg told PJ Media that JONAH never promised clients it would change their sexual orientation, but the SPLC brought a case that shut down the organization anyway.
When Goldberg founded a new organization disconnected from JONAH’s previous work, the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, the SPLC revived claims that Goldberg promoted “conversion therapy,” and a judge ordered his new organization to close. The new organization ran Funding Morality, which helped raise money for Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh’s high school friend, and Father Paul John Kalchik, a Roman Catholic priest forced into hiding after burning an LGBT cross flag.
As ex-gay rights leader Christopher Doyle explains in his book “The War on Psychotherapy,” “One of the strategies that far-left advocacy and gay activist organizations use to smear professional psychotherapists assisting clients distressed by sexual and gender identity conflicts is to intentionally conflate professional therapy with religious practice and/or unlicensed, unregulated counseling. They do this by labeling all efforts — therapeutic, religious, or otherwise — to help clients distressed by sexual and gender identity conflicts [as] ‘conversion therapy.’”
The SPLC’s CAPTAIN report aims to launch this strategy on a larger scale and use it to demonize opposition to the transgender movement. It attacks doctors who oppose “gender-affirming care,” activists such as the Manhattan Institute’s Chris Rufo and the Family Research Council’s Meg Kilgannon, organizations such as the religious liberty nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom and the American College of Pediatricians, and even The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
As with so much of the SPLC’s work, the CAPTAIN report represents another attempt to smear the Left’s critics — conservative, moderate, and liberal — as motivated by hatred without addressing the serious concerns we raise about controversial issues like “gender-affirming care.” Others on the Left use the SPLC as its attack dog, overlooking its scandals because it is a useful political weapon.
Only die-hard believers would accept the SPLC’s conclusion, for example, that opposition to the transgender movement will “make society less democratic, less free and less safe,” or that the SPLC’s opponents are abetting “white, heterosexual, cisgender supremacy” because a slightly larger sliver of the Latino population identifies as transgender (1.8%) than the tiny sliver of the white population that does so (1.3%).
The Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t intend the massive report — which clocks in at over 41,000 words — for mass consumption, but as a tool for its allies to smear its opponents and to marginalize anyone who dissents from their narrative. These allies will claim the SPLC report “discredits” opposition to “gender-affirming care,” but it does no such thing.
This report aims to gaslight Americans into thinking that the explosion of the transgender movement into society is not radical, bizarre, or extreme. This transparent attempt at deception should fall on deaf ears, but too many elites may parrot the SPLC’s claims.
The Daily Signal will stay alert to call out media outlets, companies, and government agencies that use this smear factory to silence dissent from the Left’s narrative.
Tyler O’Neil serves as managing editor for The Daily Signal.
This article originally appeared in The Daily Signal.