Affirm Child’s Biological Sex, Don’t Attempt to Convert It, Says Pediatric Expert
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday afternoon directing executive agencies to counter state laws protecting children from gender transition procedures, and “advance” such procedures instead — under the name of “equality.” The executive order assigns responsibilities in advancing the “LGBTQI+” agenda across a wide swath of the federal bureaucracy, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Education, the Federal Trade Commission, the Treasury Department, the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Office of Management and Budget.
Biden said the executive order targeted “300 discriminatory bills introduced in states across this country.” In recent years, state legislators have acted to counter the LGBT movement’s increasing political aggression, introducing — and passing — bills ranging from women’s sports protections to protections for bathrooms, locker rooms, shelters, and other private facilities, to defending children from premature permanent procedures designed to medically or surgically alter a person’s apparent gender.
In one section, the executive order takes aim at this last category, directing the HHS Secretary to “protect LGBTQI+ individuals’ access to medically necessary care from harmful state and local laws and practices, and shall promote the adoption of promising policies and practices to support health equity, including in the area of mental health care, for LGBTQI+ youth and adults.”
FRC’s Director of Federal Affairs for Family and Religious Liberty Mary Beth Waddell, remarked, “It’s a direct attack on the SAFE Acts.” The Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act was first enacted in Arkansas in April 2021 and has been introduced in 13 other states in 2022. It addresses “unscientific, destructive gender transition procedures” and is actively recommended and supported by Family Research Council.
President Biden claimed the order would “use the full force of the federal government to prevent inhumane practices of conversion therapy” (a dysphemism for counseling). American College of Pediatricians President Dr. Quentin Van Meter said the truth is “exactly the opposite.” Biden “is actually condoning a conversion,” he argued, of “children who have an incongruence of gender with their biological sex.” So-called gender transition procedures are “attempting to convert their sex to the opposite sex, which is medically impossible.”
By contrast, Van Meter said the right approach is “to take care of their mental health and the deep dimensions that cause these problems.” The goal is “affirming their biologic sex within their body and letting them live a life of happiness and contentedness and good health … and decreasing the likelihood that they will take their lives in abject depression.” Van Meter protested that those who want to place children on puberty blockers or other gender transition procedures are simply “giving in to the emotional whim of the child. … They’re calling that affirmation … when it is truly conversion.”
“We know the adverse effects of the ‘affirmation,’” said Van Meter. “It’s already been documented over the past 30 years, and it’s being ignored by the ideologues that are currently in power and getting the ear of the president.” The White House released a “Fact Sheet” ahead of the executive order, which claimed to provide scientific support for gender transition procedures, but Van Meter said their studies were “very poorly done,” featuring biased sampling and retrospective data collection, but “no longitudinal study.” What’s more, added Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, “They’re not going on to tell the rest of the story. Having these hormone therapies and surgeries does not take away that depression, nor that tendency towards suicide.” Van Meter agreed, citing “a very recent study that actually shows the increase in suicide completions over the long run of patients that have had puberty blockers.”
Research that has studied individuals with gender dysphoria over the long-term, the past 30 years, shows a different picture, Van Meter explained. “It’s kind of like there’s a journey across an unknown plain,” he began. Counselors have “traversed across the plain very carefully, very deliberately, and have come out at the end with people who are emotionally stable and live a very happy life as adults.” Van Meter compared Biden’s conversion strategy as “trying … to send everybody over a waterfall. That’s maybe a shortcut past that long journey,” but a “shortcut which has rapids.”
Biden’s shortcut has already been explored, and “There are plenty of wrecks that have happened along that way,” warned Van Meter. “We already know about people who have come back from those efforts … to change their persona. And it has wrecked their lives. They are crawling back off the rocks, screaming at everyone, ‘Don’t go this way! Don’t go this way, please! It’s a bad way to go.’ And [Biden’s] putting the full force of government to push everybody over the waterfall.”
Van Meter condemned the “severe bullying” of those pushing gender transition procedures, who tell parents, “If you don’t make [your] child the sex identity that they want to become, they’re going to kill themselves, and it will be your fault.” That frightening contention he called “absolutely unsubstantiated,” “a statistical lie,” “a lie on so many levels,” “just an ideology,” and “not based on any kind of science.” Perkins agreed. “It really is sad what they’re doing to children leading them down this path, all for a political agenda and ideology.”
In response to the White House’s claim that all the major medical associations support gender transition procedures, Van Meter insisted that, too, was false. “That’s the ideologues who run the committees that design these guidelines, and that’s all they are. They do not represent the majority of the membership.” One reason for that is “They have never convened a broad-based board to begin establishing a standard of care,” said Van Meter. They only give a platform to one side, “eliminated all opponents … and they publish it as if it belongs to everybody.” Even advocates who identify as transgender aren’t all on the same page. Last year, a psychologist who identifies as transgender resigned from the board of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health because he objected to the group pushing surgery on children at increasingly younger ages.
“When you’re born a male, you are biologically a male for every day of your life,” said Van Meter. “The ‘full force of the government’ should protect children from being converted from their biological sex into a sort of a persona that is incongruent with their sex.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.