Colorful crayons and a symbol of a transgender
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The Bottom Line Let’s Stop Calling It Gender-Affirming Care

Originally published at The Epoch Times

Twenty-two states have passed laws restricting in varying degrees the practice of the grossly inaccurately termed “gender-affirming care” for minors. The majority of those states did so in 2023. Additional bills aimed at protecting children from irreversible physical harm are being put forward this legislative cycle in states with Republican majority legislatures.

But even in deep blue states, a growing number of concerned parents and citizens want to protect children from these procedures. In California, signatures are currently being collected for a statewide ballot initiative that will prevent the “sterilization of children by prohibiting the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, mastectomies and genital surgeries for minors.”

The reason for their concern should be obvious. Children’s brains are not fully developed, and they are not deemed old enough to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol. Furthermore, these minors cannot consent to sex. Without question, they should not be able to consent to drugs or surgeries that cause damage to their bodies and sexual function.

Democratic lawmakers, on the other hand, in lockstep with Big Pharma, the entertainment industry, and government agencies, insist children — often in secret from dads and moms — be encouraged and legally allowed to alter their bodies with experimental drugs and surgeries.

Let’s take an active role by committing to stop referring to this grotesque mutilation and castration as “gender-affirming care.” We must speak the truth and call this intentionally damaging harm by its rightful name — “child abuse.”

Keri D. Ingraham

It is past due time to stop calling puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries that remove the breasts and genitalia of minor-aged children “care.” Affirming mental illness or the rejection of biological reality in any individual, let alone a minor is the opposite of care. Consider that therapists and medical professionals do not affirm and advise self-harm with other mental illness conditions. For example, people struggling with anorexia are not affirmed in their false thinking that they are overweight. Mental and healthcare professionals do not advise behaviors, drugs, or procedures — such as reducing calorie intake, prescribing diet pills, or conducting surgeries to remove body fat — that would aid in further self-harm.

Yet with gender confusion, these providers are almost entirely skipping over talk therapy, removing the minor from the environment (school, social media, etc.) contributing toward the illness, or waiting for the child to outgrow the confusion — all of which have high success rates. For example, a dozen different studies support the claim that four out of five children who question their gender “eventually accept their bodies if no medical interventions are carried out.”

Too often, those who should be helping instead resort to a manipulation game, telling parents that if their minor-aged child does not “transition,” that child will likely commit suicide. This ignores the reality that the vast majority of those seeking “transition” had preexisting conditions of mental illness and depression, and that there are no statistically significant studies that confirm an increased suicide rate among those who do not “transition.” On the contrary, according to a study in Sweden extending over 30 years, “Ten to 15 years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to 20 times that of comparable peers.” Also, a 2022 study found that “easier access to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones by minors actually exacerbated suicide rates.”

Rather than helping put the brakes on a harmful social contagion, schools, libraries, and the entertainment industry throw gas on the fire by exposing children to radical gender ideology that defies the biological reality of male and female and seeks to breed confusion concerning a child’s basic identity.

Alarmingly, what starts as promoting social “transition” (the individual changing name and pronouns, cross-dressing, and using the bathroom of the opposite biological sex) almost inevitably leads to seeking harmful medical interventions, including irreversible castrating surgeries.

Legal bans on these practices are needed to protect children. Healthcare providers, be warned. Medical malpractice lawsuits will grow rapidly in the coming years as more parents and individuals who have “de-transitioned” (many of whom have experienced irreversible physical damage) courageously take a stand. Lawsuits aimed at therapists, counselors, and school personnel who have encouraged children and teens toward social and medical “transitioning” at odds with, or in secret from, parents and legal guardians are also coming.

For the rest of us not involved with guiding children and adolescents toward this harmful attack on their basic identity, let’s take an active role by committing to stop referring to this grotesque mutilation and castration as “gender-affirming care.” We must speak the truth and call this intentionally damaging harm by its rightful name — “child abuse.”

Keri D. Ingraham

Senior Fellow and Director, American Center for Transforming Education
Dr. Keri D. Ingraham is a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute and Director of the Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education. She is also a Senior Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum. Dr. Ingraham has been a guest on Fox News multiple times. Her articles have been published by The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Federalist, Real Clear Education, The Washington Times, The Epoch Times, Washington Examiner, National Review, The American Spectator, Daily Caller, The Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal, The Daily Signal, and a host of other media outlets. Fox News has featured her work. Prior to joining Discovery Institute, she spent nearly two decades leading within the field of education as a national consultant, requested conference speaker, head of school, virtual and hybrid academy director, administrator, classroom teacher, and athletic coach. She authored multiple chapters for the book, Sketching a New Conservative Education Agenda, published in 2022. In 2019, she was invited as a contributing author for the book, MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education and co-authored “From Gutenberg to 5G.” Dr. Ingraham was awarded the George W. Selig Doctoral Fellowship in 2013. The following year she received the “World Changer in the Field of Education” award from Regent University.
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