America is no stranger to culture wars. After all, right-wing politicians have a long history of revving up their party's base by fear-mongering about the social issue du jour.
Donald Trump did it by creating fear around immigration and changing demographics. George W. Bush did it in by framing marriage equality as something that in and of itself had the power to collapse the foundations of western society.
It's no surprise that with the increasing visibility of transgender people in the United States, that trans people would become the latest wedge issue du jour. However, what started as a pushback against trans adults, has turned into something far more disgusting.
Assaults on trans children.
Perhaps one of the most nefarious things about the attack on trans children is that it cloaks itself in a veneer of respectability by claiming it's about the protection of children's welfare. The argument goes, "we're not transphobic, but children shouldn't be allowed to mutilate their bodies before they're old enough to understand their identities."
In his rant, Carlson said:
"Across the country, many small children are being given puberty blockers and irreversibly damaging their bodies."
He went on to parrot this popular right-wing talking point which paints transphobes as the true victims:
"Of course some of them later regret it. It's grotesque. If you say that out loud, you're punished. Target will ban your book. You'll have trouble getting a job."
And he ended withthis coup de grace—comparing parents supporting gender diverse children to child abusers and acting like transness is a communicable disease:
"This isn't just one parent abusing a child on TV, this is a nationwide epidemic and everyone is too embarrassed to mention it. You're not allowed to say so."
It's a classic straw-man argument, because it rests in a scenario that doesn't exist.
For one, transition regret is exceedingly rare. Even when it does happen, the most commonly stated reason is lack of support and societal discrimination. Meaning, their gender identity didn't change, the world just made it too hard for them to live authentically.
Perhaps the most nefarious part of the trans children fear-mongering Carlson parroted is claiming trans children are undergoing any kind of irreversible treatment. The most invasive intervention that will ever be given to a trans child is being prescribed puberty blockers, which, you guessed it, simply block puberty.
As the Mayo Clinic states:
"Use of GnRH analogues doesn't cause permanent changes in an adolescent's body. Instead, it pauses puberty, providing time to determine if a child's gender identity is long lasting. It also gives children and their families time to think about or plan for the psychological, medical, developmental, social and legal issues ahead."
But they do not block puberty irreversibly.
They block puberty for as long as the patient undergoes treatment. In the rare case a patient changes their mind, all they would have to do is go off of the blockers and the puberty that corresponds with whatever sex they were assigned at birth would proceed as normal.
Numerous studies have shown for people with gender dysphoria, going through the wrong puberty is psychologically traumatic. Allowing trans children who understand their gender identity at a young age to avoid that trauma and avoid their body changing in irreversible ways that are against who they know themselves to be, is not child abuse.
It's being a good parent. It's helping your child avoid unnecessary traumatic pain. What's abusive is forcing trans children to undergo a psychological trauma that could be easily avoided.
Luckily, there are many people who understand this fact.
Others pointed out the life or death need for supporting trans children.
If you are a trans child or the parent of a trans child, know that you are loved and supported.
If you are a trans person who is struggling, visit Trans Lifeline for support.