Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Arkansas's Republican governor vetoed a ban on puberty blocking drugs and genital mutilating transition therapy. When the similar bill passes in TN, Gov. Lee should sign it.

by Rod Williams- Arkansas Republican governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill that would ban doctors from performing gender transition surgery or offering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to minors. The bill “would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients, and health care experts,” Hutchinson told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human, and ethical issue. This would be, and is, a vast government overreach." (link)

I certainly do not agree with the governor on this issue.  The Republican governor was wrong to veto this bill.  Shame on Governor Hutchinson. Fortunately, the Arkansas legislature can override the governor's veto by a simple majority vote.  They should do so. 

A bill similar to the Arkansas bill is working its way through the Tennessee legislature. The Tennessee legislature does not need to defer this bill.  It is common sense and is needed and needs to pass and when it does pass, Governor Lee needs to sign it.  

If one only reads the news stories about the Arkansas and Tennessee bills, then I am sure some may think that an absolute ban on sexual transition therapy for minors is wrong because there is the rare case of the person born with a ambiguous genitalia. About one in 1,000 babies are born with ambiguous genitalia but true hermaphroditism is rare and occurs only about once in 83,000 births.  Both the Arkansas bill and the Tennessee make exceptions to the ban for special cases where there is a medical need for such medical procedures. Exceptions should be made for one with a rare medial condition that needs treatment, but not for one who is simply experiencing gender dysphoria.

There are lots of young children who may wish they were of the opposite sex at some time in their young childhood. Little boys may want to be like mommy or little girls may want to be like daddy.  Parents should not take them so seriously; after all, they are children.  Administering hormone blocking drugs or performing sex reassignment surgery is not as simply as changing from wearing boy's clothes to wearing girls clothes.  This is radical treatment and risky surgery.  It involves numerous surgeries to make a convincing girl out of a boy and not yet possible to make a convincing boy out of a girl.  And the treatment can never be stopped. And, if one changes their mind after the transition has started, they may be a freak for life. Even hormone blockers and hormone therapy can have a profound impact on one's appearance and size and physical characteristics for the rest of their life.

Some people do start the process of transitioning and then change their mind and attempt to reverse the process.  The term for this is "Desistance."  Desistance rates for adults are relatively low. Desistance rates among young children are much higher. Among children referred to gender clinics for either gender dysphoria or gender non-conformity, most changed their mind by the time they were in their 20's (link).  Some of the changes cannot be undone.  Even in the best of transition cases, there are serious side effects.  Gender reassignment has serious medical consequences and side effects including the risk of death.  

Many people who grew up to be normal males or females, at a young age, thought they were really the opposite sex in the wrong body.  Much of this is the result of media attention to the issue.  Now, that children are giving an option of thinking they may be of the other sex despite their genitalia telling them otherwise, and facing the challenges and confusion of experiencing puberty, some are thinking they may be transsexual.  Previously, they did not even know that was an option. It has been glamorized and people who have switched genders have been portrayed as heroic. 

This phenomena of children claiming to be transsexual and seeking a sex change is growing.  If you normalize and accept any behavior or perversity, you will have more of it.  Data shows that a child is more likely to come out as "trans," if they have a classmate or other acquaintance who has done so. 

Some advocates of sex change therapy will argue that a sex change is the appropriate response to gender dysphoria because people experiencing this condition are subject to a miserable existence and even suicide.   A sex change is not a cure for what ails them.  Even among people who have undergone gender reassignment procedures, suicide rates, psychiatric morbidities, and mortality rates remain markedly elevated above that of the general population.

While adults can weigh the risk and decide for themselves the risk and benefits, society has an obligation to protect children. I am not one who thinks the state should be quick to tell parents how to raise their children.  I would not have the state take the child away from a family because they belonged to a strange religious cult or adhered to a minority political belief system. If they want to raise little Johnny as a Nazi or a Communist or a nudist or a Muslim or a global-warming-denying, evolution-denying Christian fundamentalist and who use corporal punishment to discipline the child, the state should not interfere.  If they want to dress little Johnny as Jennie, and put her in lace and dresses, the state should not consider that any of the state's business.

If, however, a parent denies food and medical care to a child or physically or sexually abuses a child then that is the state's business.  Some of this is a judgment call and the dividing line between where the state does have an interest and where it does not is sometimes a blurred shade of gray.  However, allowing a parent to stop the process of puberty or allow sexual organs to be mutilated is not a judgement call. It is wrong.  Society has an obligation to protect these children.  

Opponents of legislation prohibiting puberty blockers and sexual reassignment surgery for children have portrayed proponents as intolerant, ignorant, transphobic and uncaring.  Popular culture and the mainstream media align with the opponents of these laws.  We should not let the disapproval of the ultrawoke and the glamorous Hollywood elites dissuade us from protecting children. 

The legislature needs to pass HB578 and Gov. Lee needs to sign it. 

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