WH Press Secretary: Gender Transition Is for Child, Parents to Decide
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that a minor’s gender transition is “something for a child and their parents to decide” and certainly “not something we believe should be decided by legislators.” Yet a growing number of reports indicate that parents often are either pressured to approve a gender transition or cut out of the process entirely. Such reports have prompted state legislators and other officials to take action.
Jean-Pierre’s statement came in response to a question by Associated Press correspondent Zeke Miller:
“Today Indiana just banned puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and gender transition surgeries for minors. I’m wondering what the president’s reaction is to the Indiana governor signing that bill into law and does the president have a position on at what age these kinds of therapies and surgeries are appropriate?”
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signedSB 480 into law on Wednesday after three-quarters of the Senate and two-thirds of the House approved the bill earlier this year. The act prohibits “a physician or other practitioner” from knowingly providing to a minor “any medical or surgical service … related to gender transition … including puberty blocking drugs, gender transition hormone therapy, or … gender reassignment surgery,” and from aiding or abetting another practitioner from doing so. It also creates a cause of action that allows minors (or their parents, on their behalf) to bring a civil suit for damages if a gender transition procedure is illegally performed.
Jean-Pierre responded to Miller’s question, “That’s something for a child and their parents to decide. It’s not something that we believe should be decided by legislators, so I’ll leave it there.”
Over the past two years, an Indiana family lost custody of their son because they refused to consent to a gender transition, based on their biblical beliefs about sexuality and gender. The state’s Department of Child Services, a trial court, and (as of October) the Court of Appeals of Indiana have all agreed that the parent’s refusal to permit the gender transition constituted grounds to remove the child from their custody.
Josh Hershberger, general counsel of the Indiana Family Institute, addressed this incident in a statement provided to The Washington Stand:
“The implications of this case are broad and chilling. If a child claims that he or she is transgender and Christian parents decline to affirm that child’s transgender ideology, the state can now use this case as a precedent to remove that child from the parents’ custody, bar the parents from speaking to their child about their religious beliefs, and place the child in a home that teaches principles contrary to the parents’ deeply held religious beliefs.”
This is far from the only example of parents being pressured into approving transgender procedures for their children.
On Monday, an independent, liberal outlet called The Free Press, published an account of a mother who took her 14-year-old son to The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. When the psychologist recommended puberty blockers, she resisted, at which point the staff began pressuring her with statistics of suicide and self-harm. “I felt bullied,” she recalled. “I really felt like this is not a meeting for me to get answers to my questions, and for everybody to have equal say. This is like, I’m the last man standing, and now it’s being implied that if I don’t okay this, I don’t care if my kid kills himself.”
Instances like this have provoked state legislators to introduce bills like SB 480 that recognize parental rights over their child’s education, health care, and more. SB 480 joins a growing number of bills enacted this year to protect minors from theharmfuleffects of gender transition procedures.
Jean-Pierre did not quite “leave it there.” She immediately added, “In the past couple of months, we have seen a record number of anti-LGBTQI bills. More than 600 of them have been filed in state houses, and a significant number of them have been anti-trans bills and, you know, targeted at youth.”
Jean-Pierre didn’t define “anti-LGBTQI bills,” but other left-wing groups have. For instance, an ACLU database “tracking 451 anti-LGBTQ bills” this legislative session provides specific examples separated into discrete categories. The bills they consider to be “anti-LGBTQ” include legislation that would prohibit drag shows where children are or may be present, protect student locker rooms and bathrooms from intrusions by the opposite sex, empower parents to object to inappropriate sex-ed curriculum, remove explicit books from school libraries, and recognize the free speech right to use biologically accurate pronouns.
Jean-Pierre’s comments appear to reflect the administration’s new rhetorical framing of state culture war debates. Last month, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times declaring, “Parents don’t want politicians dictating what their children can learn, think and believe.”
By contrast, in 2021, Democratic candidate and former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe lost a gubernatorial race in Virginia, despite leading in polls weeks before the election, after uttering, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” That same year, the DOJ announced it would investigate parents who spoke out at school board meetings as domestic terrorists, only days after colluding with the National School Boards Association to draft a letter to that effect.
There are numerous examples of parents clashing with school districts for control of their child’s education and direction of their child’s health care and identity decisions. Concealing a student’s gender transition from their parents is now explicit school district policy in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools and nearly 6,000 schools nationwide. Earlier this year, Jurupa Unified School District in California fired a Christian teacher because she could not “be dishonest with parents.”
Last year, a Florida school district acted to conceal a 12-year-old girl’s gender transition from her Catholic parents. The secret gender transition led the girl to become suicidal, and she attempted twice to hang herself. The school did not even inform her parents after the first suicide attempt. Only after the second suicide attempt put her in the hospital did the parents begin to discover the truth.
In Maine, a mother is suing Great Salt Bay Community School after school personnel secretly aided her 13-year-old daughter in a social transition to behave as a boy. The mother was unaware until she discovered a chest binder in her daughter’s room. When school officials defended their actions, the mother pulled her daughter out and began to homeschool her. Four days later, the state family services received an anonymous report that the mother was emotionally abusive — a report that a subsequent investigation found no evidence to support.
In the wake of the Nashville shooting, Jean-Pierre said, “We’ve been very clear about these anti-LGBTQ bills that we’re seeing in state legislators, legislatures across the country, in particular, these anti-trans bills as they attack trans kids as they attack trans parents.” She added, “We’re seeing more and more of these hateful, hateful bills. And that’s what Republicans want to spend their time on.”
However, opposition to the transgender agenda has received bipartisan support. Nebraska’s LB574, the “Let Them Grow” Act, overcame a filibuster vote with bipartisan support. The Maine mother bringing the suit in federal court is a Democrat who runs a mental health business.
Jean-Pierre believes these state bills “attack trans kids,” but the state legislators who introduce them believe they are protecting children. Nebraska Senator Kathleen Kauth (R), who sponsored LB574, said, even though one Democrat has determined to filibuster the entire session over her bill, “it’s absolutely worth it to protect kids.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.