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I recently gave a presentation on transgenderism to a group of suburban Minnesotans. After my talk, an operating room nurse who had been paying close attention raised her hand. Every week, she said, she is responsible for prepping two or more young women who claim a male “gender identity” for double mastectomies. At least once, her patient was a minor girl.

Hiding behind the label of “gender identity” is a public health epidemic that’s disproportionately affecting girls, same-sex attracted young people, and kids with mental health struggles. But that reality doesn’t seem to matter to the authors or supporters of the “Fairness For All Act” (FFA), misnamed legislation introduced last week by Republican Congressman Chris Stewart. The FFA would amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and “gender identity,” and claims to provide exemptions from these new LGBT rights provisions for religious individuals and institutions. 

Supporters of the FFA include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. They have been touting the bill as a “balanced approach that fosters greater fairness for all,” as “honoring God and loving our neighbor,” and as underscoring “that all persons are created in the image of God, implying dignity, value, and worth.” While it may be true that the FFA’s supporters want to find a compromise between the clashing interests of religious believers and those who identify as LGBT, their remarks reveal a dangerous naivete. The very legislation they tout as fair and balanced  would—to name just one of the ways in which it is dangerous—further entrench the practice of surgically reshaping and sterilizing the bodies of vulnerable young people. 

The Minnesota nurse’s story isn’t unique. All over the U.S., young adults and even minors are having body parts surgically removed as an “affirmation” of their “gender identity.” Los Angeles gender doctor Johanna Olson-Kennedy recently testified under oath that she’s referred “about 200” male-identifying girls for mastectomies. The world watched as 17-year-old reality TV star Jazz Jennings consulted with surgeons for his sex reassignment in 2018, a procedure which required three surgeons and left Jazz with what he termed a “Franken-vagina.” GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website, has an entire page devoted to transition-related fundraising, and searching the site for “top surgery” (transgender mastectomy) fundraisers yields a jaw-dropping 26,496 results. 

The incredible popularity of “gender affirmative” medicine is obvious to anyone capable of a perfunctory Google search, calling into question why the authors of FFA didn’t include conscience protections for doctors who refuse to violate their oath to “do no harm.” Instead, the FFA actually forces health care providers to participate in these destructive procedures. Under FFA, if a surgeon—of any faith or no faith at all—performs hysterectomies for cancer, then that same surgeon will be required to offer hysterectomies for the patient who requests it as an affirmation of her “gender identity.” To refuse to participate would be an act of discrimination. 

That’s terrible news for the young adults who have been sold down the river Trans. Detransitioners—people who medically transitioned and then later came to accept their sex—are coming forward in droves to tell their stories of regret. “Lou” shared her heartbreaking story on a BBC documentary: “The darkest moment was when I realized that I had actually looked normal for a girl, that I had actually been slim and pretty. That my body hadn’t been grotesque in the way I thought it was. Now I will always have a flat chest and a beard, and there’s nothing I can do about that.” Legislation that brands the refusal of needless experimental surgeries and high-dose cross sex hormones as discriminatory is legislation that is blind to the “dignity, value, and worth” of the human person. 

Vulnerable children in the foster care system don’t get a piece of the fairness pie either. The FFA requires that children in the custody of the state be “affirmed” in their “gender identity,” meaning that trans-identifying foster children would be left without an opportunity to seek out exploratory therapy or other non-invasive treatments. 

Again, the authors of the FFA managed to miss solid data coming from universal observations of trans-identifying children. Studies of youth being treated at gender clinics show that rates of autism, ADHD, and severe depression and anxiety are far higher among gender clinic youth than the general population. In addition, multiple studies of pre-pubescent children diagnosed with gender dysphoria have shown that the majority of these children will later experience same-sex attraction—meaning the very legislation intended to be “inclusive” of the same-sex attracted will put these individuals at particular risk of irreversible bodily harm. The irony in this seems to be lost on FFA proponents. 

The authors of the FFA should have heeded the advice of Pope Francis, who says that “realities are greater than ideas” and as a result, there has to be “continuous dialogue between the two, lest ideas become detached from realities.” “Gender identity,” a conception of human identity as sexless and self-chosen, can only exist in the realm of ideas. Its existence is assured only by subordinating everything in its vicinity. Gender identity will overpower legal protections based on sex, medical ethics, traditional religious belief, and even “LGB” status, because all of these categories make reference to the reality of the human body. 

The misguided Fairness For All Act should not become law. If religious leaders and conservative legislators are serious about securing true fairness for everyone, they might want to start by acknowledging the destructive—and very real—consequences of “gender identity.”

Emily Zinos is the Project Coordinator for Ask Me First MN and a member of the Hands Across the Aisle Coalition.

Photo by Steven Pisano via Creative Commons. Image cropped. 

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