Tate Reeves Shows Governors the Way, Stands for Protecting Kids from Dangerous Transgender Ideology
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) didn’t just sign a bill on Tuesday protecting children from harmful drugs and surgeries that accompany a gender transition. He also offered a lengthy, well-reasoned defense of the legislation and then competently defended his conservative position against the media’s attacks.
In doing so, Reeves broke the mold of previous red-state governors who have been given a chance to sign robust protections against gender transition procedures for minors. Arkansas’s Asa Hutchinson vetoed the nation’s very first SAFE Act in 2021. South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, closely allied to a hospital system that performs gender transition procedures on minors, did sign a “Help Not Harm” bill last month, but only after facing down conservative outrage over her 2022 veto of a women’s sports bill and a massive public pressure campaign that culminated in the bill garnering a veto-proof majority in the legislature.
By contrast, Reeves was neither hostile nor reluctant, but he forthrightly championed the conservative, commonsense principles embodied by a bill to protect children from bearing the lifelong pain and scars of an immature infatuation with the transgender ideology.
Reeves framed the debate in terms of an ideological battle over objective truth and basic biology. One side affirms young people in their own bodies, he said, while the other side promises to make kids happy by cutting them up. He called out gender transition procedures for the brutal distortions they are, and he did not shrink back from condemning the lies and censorship of the activists and media that euphemize them. He exposed the scientific poverty behind gender transition procedures, including a lack of FDA approval, a host of side effects, the weaknesses of supporting medical studies, and the recent about-face progressive European countries have taken. He pointed out the illogic of making irreversible decisions based upon the feelings of individuals afflicted by the confusion of puberty and the presence of other mental health struggles, particularly when so many other major decisions are age-restricted.
Reeves then defended this nuanced, well-researched speech against an array of media questions, many trying to establish a hostile narrative. When questioners demanded evidence that gender transition procedures were happening in Mississippi, Reeves turned the tables by noting the media’s narrative shift from “this bill will cause children to die” to “this bill bans a non-existent practice,” which he pointed out was contradictory. When the press tried to draw him off topic by suggesting the bill might negatively affect other forms of health care, he didn’t take the bait. When asked how this bill fit together with his other social conservative commitments, such as parental rights and pro-life positions, he eloquently explained how protecting children is the root tying all these policies together. He even explained reasonably why this procedure is banned for children, but not for adults, despite his deep personal opposition.
Reeves built a playbook that other conservative governors can use to great effect in advancing similar legislation to protect children. It covers all the bases — scientific, philosophical, intellectual, political. After this fantastic example, it’s clear that there is a right way to protect minors from puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or gender transition surgeries. From now on, if conservative governors won’t support such commonsense legislation, it indicates that they don’t want to, not that they don’t know how.
With that, here is a transcript of Reeves’ speech, and his response to questions.
Reeves: “There is a dangerous movement sweeping across America today. It is advancing under the guise of a false ideology and pseudoscience. It’s being pushed on our children through radical activists, social media, and online influencers. And it’s trying to convince our children that they are in the wrong body. This dangerous movement attempts to convince these children that they’re just a surgery away from happiness. It threatens our children’s innocence, and it threatens their health.
“I stand before you to today to sign legislation that puts a stop to this in Mississippi and protects our kids.
“House Bill 1125 bans gender transition procedures, both drugs and surgeries, for those under the age of 18. It also prevents public funds from supporting prohibited gender transition procedures, stops Medicaid from covering gender transition procedures on kids under 18, and it establishes penalties for those who violate this law.
“Due to the rise of those trying to influence young, impressionable children, and the negative health effects and health consequences that come with their influence, this legislation is more necessary today than ever before, and I am proud to stand before you and sign it.
“You know, it’s almost unimaginable that this is where we are in today’s America. Having to protect our kids from those pushing chemicals and castration? I honestly never thought I’d see this day. But yet here we are.
“Thanks to these activists, our kids are now, in many ways, their guinea pigs. To them, I say, not in Mississippi.
“When it comes to how these drugs, surgeries, and procedures are really impacting our kids, most of the time, we’re just not getting the truth. We’re told over, and over, and over again by those on the far Left that their safe. We’re told, ‘Don’t worry, the kids will be fine, and the potential side effects are, at worst, minimal.’ And if you stand up and ask questions, well, you’re unfairly labeled as intolerant or transphobic, and you’re attacked and censored.
“So today, let me be clear: In a world that’s upside down when it comes to doing right by our kids, Mississippi will once again fight to keep our state right-side-up. And that’s why Mississippi will also once again follow the science and keep our kids safe.
“To the Mississippians watching today, here are just some of the indisputable facts by those looking to experiment on our children. First, the FDA has not approved puberty blockers for stopping normally timed puberty in youth experiencing gender dysphoria. Second, despite what some claim, these non-FDA-approved drugs can lead to a range of potential side effects including: low bone density, altered adult height, and impaired special memory. These types of experiments often lead to a disruption of basic reproductive functions and ultimately infertility.
“This is truly scary stuff that’s being pushed upon our kids and, yes, their loving parents. They’re being taken advantage of, all so some can push their warped views on gender or appear to be woke for their friends. On top of the very sick things they’re pushing on our kids, they’re also actively twisting medical studies, reporting findings out of context and overemphasizing results while ignoring important fine print that comes along with them.
“There’s really no other way to say this. The very foundation their arguments depend upon are simply not true, and many members of the media are either unwilling or afraid to tell you what the real situation is. Well, I’m not afraid to tell you.
“Here’s the real situation: Of the relatively few studies that exist that claim some benefit for children, their flaws, as often recognized by the authors, are profound. The potential benefits are totally unclear, but the negative impacts are obvious. That’s why I believe it’s so important for Mississippians to understand that the so-called benefits being parroted by radical activists do not have adequate, long-term studies to back up their claims.
“As a father of three, this issue is too important to sit down and stay quiet. I’m not going to be silent, nor am I going to be censored on this issue.
“Health care is about healing, not hurting. The principle of ‘do no harm’ should never be forgotten. And that’s why I’m thankful for the many parents and medical professional who are loudly speaking out on this issue.
“As I said just a few weeks ago in my State of the State, we don’t let 11-year-olds enter an R-rated movie alone. Nor do we let them drive. Nor do we let them get a tattoo. Yet some would have us believe that we should push permanent, body-altering surgeries at such a young age.
“Puberty is complicated enough without online personalities telling young girls and boys that the challenging feelings they’re experiencing are the result of being born in the wrong body. It’s all the more disturbing when we realize how studies have revealed the shockingly high rates of anxiety, depression, autism, and other mental issues that exist within the population of children who have fallen prey to this ideology.
“While some in America carve out a truly delusional position on this issue, countries all over the world are moving in the exact opposite direction. Even liberal darlings like Finland, and Denmark, and Sweden don’t allow these surgeries to be performed on kids who are under the age of 18.
“Fundamentally, this is a war on objective scientific truth, and it’s a fight over basic biology. Today, far too many people are fearful of the online, woke mob, which demands complete and total acquiescence on this issue. It attempts to tell parents that they’re not allowed to question their children or the origin of these feelings. Yet, the loud and emerging voice of the many kids who are and have destransitioned are clear. They needed somebody to listen to them, to love them, and they needed help to sort through their problems, not to blindly affirm their beliefs.
“At the end of the day, there are only two positions here. One tells children that they’re beautiful, just the way that they are, that they can find happiness in their own bodies. The other tells them that they should take drugs and cut themselves up with expensive and experimental procedures in order to find freedom from depression. I know which side I’m on.
“No child in Mississippi will have these drugs or surgeries pushed upon them. This stops today. We are taking a stand for all of our children.”
[At this point, Reeves stepped to the table to sign H.B. 1125.]
Reeves: “House Bill 1125 is now law.”
[Here Reeves introduced conservative activist Matt Walsh, who produced the 2022 documentary, “What Is a Woman?” Walsh gave remarks, and then yielded the lectern back to Reeves.]
Reeves: “… I would like to echo what Matt has said, in that I hope this legislation can inspire other states to take a stand on behalf of our nation’s kids. Mississippi is not the first to pass this bill, but we are among the first, including Alabama, and Arkansas, and Tennessee, and Utah, and several others.
“But I want to thank Representative Gene Newman, who is here today, for filing this bill. [I’m thankful] for Nick Bain, the chairman who presented it onto the floor of the House, who is also here today, and we’ll take some pictures in just a few minutes. I also want to thank Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, who is here with us today, and also Joey Fillingane, who presented this bill on the floor of the Mississippi Senate. I want to personally thank each and every one of those individuals for taking a stand to help protect our children. And now it is all of us, as adults — our responsibility to be there for our kids and show them love and responsibility and work through whatever challenges may be in their lives.
“So, with that, we will never tire, and we will never cease when it comes to protecting and defending the health, and safety, and well-being of Mississippi’s kids.”
[At this point, Reeves took questions from press in attendance. The first question focused on how the law would impact rural hospitals.]
Reeves: “Well, I’ll tell you that this bill that I just signed into law — its entire focus is on helping Mississippi kids. It’s not about helping institutions. It’s not about helping entities. It’s about helping Mississippi kids and protecting them from making decisions that they are not old enough and responsible enough to make on their own —and protecting them. And I really don’t think that it has anything to do with the post-partum Medicare issue, nor do I think it has anything to do with the plight of health care institutions around the state.”
Question: “Governor, doctors in the state say that these surgeries are not being performed in Mississippi. Is this a preventative action? Or are you under the belief that they are happening?”
Reeves: “You know, it’s interesting to me because we’ve had a lot of different arguments made about this particular bill over the last six weeks. And, if we want to take the position that we’re just doing this on a preventative basis because we don’t want it to happen in this state, then that’s fine for us to say that. And I’m willing to take this as a victory if that’s the case.
“But what’s been ironic to me is that, over the last six weeks, the opponents of this legislation started by saying, ‘If we pass this bill, young children are going to die.’ Over the last few days, the argument has shifted, and opponents are saying, ‘Well this hadn’t been happening anyway. So, why on earth would you pass a bill to prevent something that hasn’t happened anyway?’ The fact is, you can believe one of those two things, but you can’t believe both.
“What I can tell you is, going forward, if any of these procedures were to occur on a kid that’s under the age of 18, they are violating the law.
Question: “What do you say to opponents of 1125 that say it seems to them to be a disconnect between your support of parental rights and this cutting off of their parental medical decision making?”
Reeves: “What I would tell you is, I do not believe that kids under the age of 18 should be allowed to enter into surgeries that are, in essence, mutilation. I don’t believe that kids under the age of 18 should be allowed to have these puberty-blocking drugs. Because, I think, what we’re ultimately going to find, as was mentioned earlier, is that the long-term consequences and the long-term effects of those kids doing that are going to be far greater than any short-term effects of, what some may argue, are positives — but I see no argument for that.”
Question: “I spoke to some people outside today who opposed this law. And they said, they framed it as, politicians versus doctors, parents, and transgender people. What makes you think that these politicians have the expertise or the authority to sort of overrule a parent, a child, and their medical professional?”
Reeves: “Well, what I would tell you is, the argument that you just made is certainly valid — if you’re talking about adults, 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds. I am highly against 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds getting these types of surgeries. But the libertarian in me kinda says, ‘If that’s what you want to do to your body, okay.’ But not to children. This law forbids any of these activities for kids under the age of 18.
“And, you know, I know what the next question is going to be, by the way. ‘Oh yeah, if you say that an individual wants to do this to their own body, then why are you pro-life, and why are you against abortion, and why don’t you let women make their own decisions?’ Because — the answer to that is simple — because there’s an unborn child, when it comes to the pro-life discussion. There’s an unborn child at play. … And just like us politicians should stand up for the rights of unborn children, in this instance we should also stand up for the rights of those that are 18 years and younger to protect them.”
Question: “How will a doctor know they’re providing puberty blockers to trans or nontrans children for lawful purposes under this law? Are all doctors now taking a risk prescribing puberty blockers simply because they could be giving it to a trans child?”
Reeves: “I’m hopeful that every physician in the state that prescribes medicine knows their patient.”
Question: “Could you talk in more detail about the evidence you have that gender-affirming care is harming children in the state of Mississippi?”
Reeves: “Again, I think I answered this question earlier. Those who oppose what we have done here today, two weeks ago, were very adamant about the fact that this was going to harm Mississippi children, that this would lead to more suicides. In fact, the question’s already been asked today if this would lead to more suicides. But now that the bill has passed, that I’ve signed it into law, the argument from the Left — and in some instances from the media — has shifted to now, ‘This care wasn’t being provided to kids anyway, so, it’s not going to have any impact.’ It can’t be both. It can be one, or it can be the other. But it can’t be both.
“So, I would just say, I think, that if your notion is that these types of surgeries were not occurring, and if it is your contention that the drugs were not being prescribed and not being given to people under the age of 18 — if you believe that, well then that’s fine. What I can tell you now is that, in the future, it will continue to not be allowed in Mississippi because now it is against the law.”
Question: “I wanted to follow up more specifically. Have you talked to a child in Mississippi or a family of a trans child in Mississippi, or even a provider in Mississippi who has said, ‘I have seen gender affirming care harm this kid’? And if so can you please tell us in more detail?”
Reeves: “I’m not going to reveal private conversations I’ve had. But I will tell you that I don’t have to — I think it’s just intuitive to know that it’s happening here. And if you listen to some of these children that allowed themselves to go through this and talk to them five years later, talk to them 10 years later, what you’re going to find is, it has been harmful to them in ways — and there are people all over the country that are giving speeches to this effect right now. And I don’t want that to happen to any Mississippi kid, period.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.