Ed. Note: The following piece originally appeared at National Review.
Gender ideologues have embraced the proposition that any child feeling discomfort with his or her sex must be given immediate, unquestioned, and unimpeded “affirmation” of a new gender identity and access to medical treatment that frequently leads to permanent sterilization, physical mutilation, and a lifetime of regret. And all this must be done even if the child’s parents voice strong concerns about the long-term consequences this imposes on their child.
While that sounds like the premise for a dystopian sci-fi novel, the sad reality is that this radical program is now finding expression in state law.
Elizabeth Guzman, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, announced that she was drafting legislation that would classify as a child abuser any parent who does not promote their child’s “gender identity.” Guzman nonchalantly declared that the intent of the legislation is “educating” benighted parents who fail to grasp the wisdom of rejecting biology and common sense in favor of the faddish recommendations of politicized (and profit-hungry) medical associations. And for those parents who aren’t readily enlightened, Guzman noted that the threat of being charged with child abuse will bring them into line because it will “harm” the employment or educational opportunities of those targeted for investigation.
This sort of government-mandated “education” is more typical of the “re-education” by force imposed by oppressive regimes throughout history. And yet, this brazen proposal is only the latest volley in what has become an all-out war by gender ideologues like Guzman to undermine the right of parents to protect their children from harmful interventions pressed by activists in government and the medical community.
Take, for instance, the “Reproductive Freedom for All” ballot initiative in Michigan that would make access to abortion at any stage of pregnancy and access to “sterilization” procedures a fundamental right under that state’s constitution. That initiative threatens to remove parental-consent requirements for minors to obtain abortion and dangerous gender-transition procedures — which can include everything from cross-sex hormones to surgical interventions.
Local public-school districts are also following suit. In Geary County, Kan., the school district implemented a policy requiring that teachers “affirm” a student’s preferred gender identity upon demand and withhold that information from the student’s parents unless the child gives permission. According to the district’s administrator, it’s not the district’s place to “out” a student to their parents. And the district’s counsel added that “if the home life is such that . . . the student doesn’t want to be out to their parents, it’s not our job to do it.” This position ignores that the vast majority of children who express discomfort with their sex will desist, and avoid life-altering interventions, when not encouraged to socially transition to present as the opposite sex.
Even those parents who live in states that protect parental rights are not assured those rights will be respected. Just last month, California became a “transgender sanctuary state” when Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 107. That law gives California courts power to make custody decisions for children brought to California to obtain “gender affirming health care,” including the power to ignore and override the decisions of courts from sister states. It also blocks out-of-state parents from obtaining their kids’ health-care records from California medical providers who perform damaging procedures on their kids.
This sudden rush to leverage government power to coerce parents to follow elite medical and cultural views on irreversible hormonal and surgical interventions is indicative of the “great crowd derangement” Douglas Murray writes about in his book, The Madness of Crowds. As Murray puts it, the “end-point of trans advocates” — cross-sex hormones followed by surgery — “is permanent and irreversible.” And for that reason, “questions about the age at which people who believe they are in the wrong body should be allowed to access drugs or surgery are worth contesting deeply.”
Those questions can hardly be contested, of course, when government bodies withhold from parents information about whether and when their children struggle with gender-identity issues. Or when government uses the blunt force of criminal penalties to bludgeon parents to submit to the new gender orthodoxy.
Thankfully, not all political leaders have succumbed to crowd derangement. Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin recently announced new model policies for Virginia schools that endorse and bolster parental rights. The policies reaffirm “the right of parents to determine how their children will be raised and educated.” Importantly, the policies place parents squarely at the center of decision-making about how their child will be treated by a school when it comes to the child’s gender identity. The model policies elevate transparency and accountability to parents over the duplicity of policies like those from Geary County, Kan., or the strong-arm tactics of the Guzman bill.
Similarly, Florida surgeon general Joseph Lapado recently recommended against “certain pharmaceutical, non-pharmaceutical, and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria” in children and adolescents due to “the risk for long-term, irreversible harms from these treatments.” And Florida governor Ron DeSantis likewise opposes such treatments for minors.