Anti-LGBTQ media figures and groups spread lies about trans youth -- including falsely claiming 8-year-old kids are undergoing “sex changes” -- after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden indicated his support for them in a town hall.
During ABC’s October 15 “The Vice President and the People” town hall, Mieke Haeck, the mother of a trans girl, asked Biden how he would reverse the Trump administration’s discriminatory agenda and “ensure that the lives and rights of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law.” He responded, “I will flat out just change the law” and “eliminate those executive orders, number one.”
The questions were notable as LGBTQ issues have not come up in any of the six presidential or vice presidential debates since 2016. This inclusion did not go unnoticed by anti-LGBTQ figures on social media, who responded to Biden’s town hall with baseless myths about trans youth and false defenses of President Donald Trump’s anti-LGBTQ record.
FACT: Trans children are not undergoing “sex changes” or other “life-altering” procedures
The Washington Post has debunked myths that young trans kids undergo affirming medical procedures at young ages. In reality, trans youth would speak to experts and mental health professionals and start “a social transition, which might include changing their clothes, hairstyle or pronouns.” Clinical psychologist Laura Edwards-Leeper told the Post that for trans kids, “gender-affirming care would not include any kind of medical intervention until they hit puberty. Even then, she said, it’s not an automatic procedure.” Those interventions are reversible and responsive to the young person:
For a 7-year-old, that might mean speaking to experts and potentially helping them through a social transition, which might include changing their clothes, hairstyle or pronouns. At around ages 10 to 13, parents, health professionals and the child might decide to take puberty blockers, which delay the development of secondary sex characteristics, like facial hair or breasts. Those can be stopped at any time, and puberty continues as it would normally. “It is only irreversible if the adults in the child’s life make it irreversible,” Edwards-Leeper told The Post. “If the adults can stay open to whatever trajectory the child has, then it’s completely reversible.”
Despite these facts, anti-LGBTQ media and groups responded to Biden’s support for trans youth by falsely claiming that he “explicitly supports sex changes for children,” even though those do not exist. Extreme anti-LGBTQ groups and right-wing media often lie that trans kids are undergoing such procedures at a young age in an attempt to suggest that life-saving, best practice health care is “radical” or “extreme.”
- Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins
- American Principles Project (APP)
- APP's Frank Cannon
- APP’s Jon Schweppe
- Hands Across the Aisle Coalition's Kaeley Triller
FACT: Most trans kids know who they are and continue to identify as trans after puberty
Research shows that trans children sense their gender identities at a young age. According to the American Psychological Association, “children usually have a sense of their gender identity between age 2 to 5 and they typically become cognizant of their sexual orientation around age 9 or 10.”
Dr. Jack Turban, whose “research focuses on the mental health of transgender and gender diverse youth,” wrote in Vox that one large study of trans adolescents showed that “only 1.9 percent of those who hit puberty and start puberty blockers decide to stop treatment.” He also noted that these interventions are “completely safe and reversible.”
What’s more, suggestions that trans kids will outgrow their identity could cause their families to reject them. Numerous studies have shown that trans youth are best able to succeed when their teachers and families accept them and affirm their gender identity. Major medical associations have published guidelines, standards of care, and research that recommend parents affirm their kids’ gender identity.
Despite this, right-wing media figures responding to Biden’s town hall lied that most trans kids “outgrow it by the time they’re adults.”
- One America News Network’s Liz Wheeler
- BlazeTV host Allie Beth Stuckey
FACT: Donald Trump did not support same-sex marriage before he came into office
During the 2016 election, Trump campaigned on overturning marriage equality. Discussing the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision on Fox News Sunday, he commented, “If I'm elected, I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things.” Later that year, during an interview with CBN News, he said that evangelicals “can trust me on traditional marriage.” On Twitter, Trump said that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “is the worst liar, crazy or very dishonest” for suggesting that Trump was in support of same-sex marriage.
Despite his bigoted history and his administration’s countless attacks against the LGBTQ community, conservative advocates and right-wing media have repeatedly spread the bogus claim that “Trump is the most pro-gay president in American history” ahead of the 2020 election.
Following Thursday’s town hall, some right-wing figures responded to Biden’s LGBTQ-affirming remarks by whitewashing Trump’s bigoted record, including demonstrably lying that Trump publicly supported same-sex marriage before Biden did in 2012.
- Trump campaign senior advisor Richard Grenell
- Townhall editor Katie Pavlich
- Pro-gun activist JT Lewis