Dear Michael Hiltzik and the LA Times...
A guest post rebuttal to Michael Hiltzik’s “perspectives” piece in the Sunday, June 5, Los Angeles Times, from a parent of a trans-identified youth.
This is a guest post from a mom of a trans-identifying kid who asked to remain anonymous.
Mr. Hiltzik, your article in the Sunday LA Times caught my eye because of the headline, “DeSantis steps up culture war with transgender policy.” You see, I am the parent of a trans-identified daughter. Like many young women who struggle with dysphoria, she is a smart and empathic individual who cares about the world and its people. She took on a “trans” identity at about age 14, at a time in her life when she was particularly vulnerable to outside influences. You know: those angsty teenage years where kids struggle to fit in and find themselves, which we all lived through, only nowadays kids also have social media to contend with.
Before I began writing this rebuttal, I did a quick Google search of you, Mr. Hiltzik, and was interested to learn that you are a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. As a liberal-minded parent, it is so discouraging to witness liberal media and liberal politicians not using critical thinking skills when it comes to the medicalization of an identity. I was flabbergasted by all the “anti” rhetoric that you included in your piece, and by your superficial and one-sided understanding of the core issues that parents of trans-identified children are currently facing in the so-called “culture war with transgender policy.” I hope my perspective as a liberal and progressive parent in the trenches will offer you a deeper and more nuanced understanding of these issues.
You were once a teen too, and like me, you were a teen before the age of the Internet, where emotions can so easily be stirred and manipulated by bullies and self-serving individuals. Have you seen the movie “The Social Dilemma”? Youth, smart phones and the Internet have created the perfect venue for the spread of this diabolical marketing scheme trying to convince young people that they may have been “born in the wrong body.” (I also recommend you watch the Hulu series “Dopesick” to really understand how the FDA and big pharma act hand in hand in a manner destructive to our society.) For those willing to pay attention, we are witnessing the biggest medical scandal of our time: the unwarranted medical “transition” of children, teenagers and young adults. Our current government and so-called mainstream media are duplicitous and complicit in this unfolding tragedy.
In addition to the article in the Sunday, June 5 print edition of the LA Times titled “DeSantis steps up culture war with transgender policy,” I noticed there was an online version with a different headline, “Florida’s DeSantis launches new attack on his state’s transgender citizens.” Talk about stirring up the “culture wars.” You are perpetuating the idea that this is a political issue when it should not be. What Gov. DeSantis is attempting to do, and frankly what I wish every governor in our country would be brave enough to do regardless of political party, is bring some sanity back into our lives. I may not agree with everything DeSantis says and does, but in three of the areas you write about, he is speaking truths with which most individuals would agree: standing up for the rights of parents, protecting women’s sex-based rights when it comes to sports, and ensuring that children and young adults are not receiving experimental treatments that cause irreversible harm.
I’ll start with the most damaging misrepresentation of the truth in your column. There is nothing “fundamental” about so-called “gender-affirming” care. Do you understand what gender-affirming care is? It is extreme, experimental, unhealthy “care”: the use of puberty blockers (not approved for this purpose), cross-sex hormones, and surgical interventions, all in the name of “affirming” an esoteric, undefinable “gender identity,” based largely on sexist stereotypes. Put bluntly, we are medicalizing children based on such stereotypes, as if there is only one right way to be a boy or a girl, man or woman, male or female. The propaganda machine would have us believe that our sexed bodies are irrelevant, that we are “assigned” a gender a birth. But you and I both know that sex is observed at birth, and as each boy and girl develops, they can be or do just about whatever job or activity they wish (though a girl can’t grow up to be a sperm donor, nor a boy to be a wet nurse), they can wear whatever clothes they like, and love whomever they wish; yet, it is impossible for them to change sex. What these clinicians and surgeons are doing is blocking children’s bodies from going through natural puberty by giving them drugs that chemically castrate them and stunt their bodies, bones, and brains from growing and maturing. By following this up with opposite-sex hormones, these patients become sterile. Beyond that, we have young girls/women getting double mastectomies (aka “top surgery”) and phalloplasties (aka “bottom surgery”), and young boys/men having their penises inverted to make a pseudo-vagina, almost certainly resulting in permanent sexual dysfunction. Is that a life you would wish for anyone?
One does not have to be a “transgender treatment advocate” to understand the truth about this medical scandal. The truth is, there is institutional capture because it is a lucrative operation. These so-called “treatment advocates” – big pharma, medical doctors and surgeons, psychologists and psychotherapists – are making money hand over fist because they are creating medical patients for life. Parents understand this because we are bearing witness to the social contagion happening amongst our sons and daughters at a vulnerable and impressionable time in their lives –childhood/adolescence/young adulthood. These young people shouldn’t be lied to about what it means to be male and female. The researchers cited by the Florida Department of Health, including Dr. James Cantor, are experts in their field, who have spent countless years researching and understanding this issue. I will link your reference here so people can see for themselves.
Your second most blatant disregard for the truth is your reference to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law. You don’t even take the time to call the bill by its rightful name or explain why anyone might think it is an important and necessary piece of legislation. Instead, you perpetuate the rhetoric by describing it as “the notorious bill nicknamed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ by critics,” and you repeat the false name again in the next sentence. That makes me wonder if you even took the time to read the bill or any analysis of the bill. Let me help you with that: here is the actual bill, and here is an article that breaks it down.
The Florida bill protects parents’ rights, provides transparency regarding our children’s education, and protects our children’s psychological development. Every state should strive toward these same protections. As an educator and parent myself, I am astounded that the safeguards in this bill are even considered controversial, given what we understand about child development. Without protections like this, children young enough to still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, or who still think they can become their favorite superhero by just putting on a cape, are being taught that if they “feel like” the opposite sex (whatever that means; none of us can truly know what it “feels like” to be anyone or anything other than who we are), then they may actually “be” a gender (sex) inconsistent with the sex of their bodies and be encouraged down the damaging, generally irreversible, “affirmative care” path described above.
Third, your use of scare quotes when you mention the Florida legislation under which “K-12 and college sports teams must be designated male or female based on ‘biological’ sex” betrays a lack of understanding of “the science.” Most sports – especially those where performance is dependent on size and strength of the participants – are sex-segregated for reasons grounded in biological reality: on the whole, men are larger and stronger than women, and a course of testosterone suppressants cannot level the playing field. While fundamental human decency should indeed keep us all from gratuitously “mocking” others (as DeSantis is alleged to have done to Lia Thomas), it remains clear that allowing individuals like Lia to compete against women is grossly unfair to women who did not go through male puberty and the physiological advantages it confers. Women’s rights are being pushed aside for the rights of men. Men are invading women’s sports to “be happy,” as Lia Thomas said in a recent interview. And, unfortunately, it’s not just women’s sports being colonized by men identifying as women. Such men are making their way into women’s spas, to the shock of female clients. Such men are transferring into women’s prisons, and women are suffering the consequences. Such men are demanding access to women’s rape crisis centers, and the law is not protecting the women looking for shelter from trauma caused by men. When we redefine the meaning of the words “man” and “woman,” we are breaking down fundamental truths about what it is that makes us human. Women deserve safe spaces and the sex-based rights that we have all fought long and hard for. Do you not stand shoulder to shoulder with women?
The medicalization of an identity is a core issue that needs hands across the aisle, because we are talking about protecting vulnerable people from an ideology that promotes iatrogenic harm. I once asked another liberal-minded friend, “Who benefits from all this?”, and it took her less than ten seconds to say, “Big pharma”. This is corporate sponsored propaganda, and Mr. Hiltzik, as a Pulitzer Prize winner, you should be astute enough to do more research instead of simply regurgitating the default talking points on these issues.
More and more young people who have been harmed by “gender affirming” medical practices are stepping forward after being shamed into silence by “trans-rights activists” who would prefer to suppress their voices. They are the desisters and detransitioners who are sounding the alarm, along with learned professionals (links here, here, here and here) who care about the health and well-being of troubled individuals. An avalanche of lawsuits is coming because of the pseudoscientific practices that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the pharmaceutical companies are encouraging and endorsing. It is these very clinicians who are displaying “abject soullessness and moral bankruptcy.” And you, Mr. Hiltzik, along with the LA Times, are now also duplicitous and complicit in the blatant disregard for the health and well-being of children and young adults, for women’s rights, and for the rights of parents.
Photo credit: Markus Winkler