Fox News host Laura Ingraham interviewed a member of anti-trans group the Kelsey Coalition in the most high-profile right-wing media coverage of the group yet. The Kelsey Coalition's membership primarily includes parents of transgender youth who reject their children’s gender identity and recommend that others do the same, despite overwhelming research that parental affirmation of trans youth's gender identities is crucial for their safety and well-being.
The Kelsey Coalition’s Fox News debut comes after months of promotion in right-wing and evangelical media that eventually landed the group an op-ed in USA Today. Just as that op-ed represented a dangerous foray into the mainstream, Ingraham’s promotion of the organization in Fox’s prime-time lineup marks a significant boost in the anti-trans group’s right-wing media profile.
The Kelsey Coalition was launched in March by parents who do not accept their children as trans and who claim that their “transgender-identifying children have been harmed by physicians, therapists, and clinics throughout the US.” That same month, Kelsey Coalition co-founder Katherine Cave appeared on a Heritage Foundation panel to oppose affirming the gender identities of transgender youth. (Heritage is a conservative, anti-LGBTQ think tank which shares a cozy relationship with Fox, where its staff and other associated figures have made frequent appearances to spread anti-trans misinformation -- Media Matters analysis found that Heritage employees have appeared on Fox at least 39 times in 2019.)
During the August 19 episode of The Ingraham Angle, Kelsey Coalition parent Crystal Lopez -- who uses a pseudonym and has previously created a video for the group -- promoted the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy for trans youth, which she lamented is “illegal in New Jersey.” During the segment, Lopez repeatedly denied her child's gender identity, which goes against the large body of research that shows that transgender youth are best able to succeed when their families accept them. By hosting Lopez, Fox and Ingraham set a dangerous example for the network's large, national viewership; as National Center for Transgender Equality’s Gillian Branstetter wrote, “Fox is knowingly teaching parents how to increase their trans child's chances for poverty, homelessness, violence, and suicide.”
Lopez also insinuated that her child came out as trans due to “watching hours of YouTube videos and talking to people that encourage him.” Ingraham echoed this statement, saying that “a lot of parents are writing to us saying that their children's identity is being formed for them in some circumstances.” Lopez and Ingraham’s suggestions that being transgender is contagious invoke the flawed concept of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” or ROGD, which suggests that trans teens are coming out because of social influences. After research claiming to support the concept was reevaluated in March, the academic journal that first published a report on ROGD issued an apology and noted that the concept is “not a clinically validated phenomenon or a diagnostic guideline.” Unfortunately, that reevaluation has not stopped anti-trans groups from widely promoting the concept.