How refreshing: an actual debate on transgenderism on Capitol Hill
“I am a detransitioner. Another way to put that would be I used to think I was born in the wrong body, and the adults in my life, whom I trusted, affirmed my belief. And this caused me lifelong, irreversible harm. I speak to you today as the victim of one of the biggest medical scandals in the history of the United States of America. I speak to you in the hope that you will have the courage to bring the scandal to an end and ensure that other vulnerable teenagers, children, and young adults don’t go through what I went through…
“This needs to stop. You alone can stop it. Enough children have already been victimized by this barbaric pseudoscience. Please let me be your final warning.”
These are the words of courageous Californian teenager Chloe Cole, who testified last week during a debate on transgenderism that took place on Capital Hill.
“A debate?” you may ask.
Debates were those old-fashioned, long-form conversations in which two opposing points of view were expressed side-by-side, so that listeners might discern which side presented the stronger case.
They were a favourite format for cable news shows like CNN’s Crossfire, Hannity & Colmes of Fox News, or MSNBC’s The Cycle.
One day in the recent past, however, all of those shows were cancelled and replaced with productions that shunned debate in favour of monologues or conversations with trusted allies.
Shortly after, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also decided debate was no longer allowed. “Content moderation” quickly took its place. Soon, anyone with a heterodox opinion on abortion, homosexuality, Donald Trump, gender, Christianity or even censorship itself was censored — or at least rendered functionally invisible.
In no time at all, the narrative shifted from “censorship is not taking place, you paranoid quack” to “misinformation is dangerous and must not be allowed”.
With this short history lesson in view, it was deeply refreshing to see misinformation — err, debate — allowed to take place at last Thursday’s hearing on The Dangers and Due Process Violations of ‘Gender-Affirming Care’.
Hosted by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, the hearing prompted a two-and-a-half-hour debate between representatives from both the Republican and Democratic sides of the transgender issue.
Besides Chloe Cole, five other witnesses were called to testify, including a former swimmer, a family clinician, a women’s rights solicitor, the mother of a girl who identifies as a boy, and an LGBT rights activist and lawyer.
Like any good debate, both sides of the issue had a chance to present their views. The result was a reminder of why such debates are rarely allowed in public anymore — namely, because the side of sanity effortlessly presented the best case.
Paula Scanlan, a former swim teammate of the infamous Lia Thomas at UPenn, explained how her traumatic past of sexual abuse was resurrected when she was repeatedly forced to change in front of a well-hung man in the women’s locker rooms.
A clinician and director at the Family Research Council, Dr Jennifer Bauwens, warned that so-called “gender-affirming care” lacked a solid evidence base due to its sudden appearance and rise in popularity.
Bauwens said her discipline “is not operating as a helping profession” but “is actively causing harm” for gender-confused children. “We’ve plowed ahead with practices that break ethical research and practice boundaries,” she warned.
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May Mailman, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Law Center, addressed the legal implications of transgender ideology in women’s sports. “Gender ideology destroys women and girls by dissolving legal protections for women in athletics,” she explained.
Mailman cited well-known studies that “make clear that testosterone suppression can never completely eliminate the athletic advantage of males who have experienced puberty”.
A mother, Miriam Reynolds, described how she came to affirm her daughter as a boy. “The signs had been there all along, we just didn’t understand them,” she said, explaining that her daughter had refused to wear pink, was the only girl on the boys football team, and her best friends were all boys. Reynolds recounted the family’s journey to Texas for transgender surgery for their teenager, insisting the process was slow and free of coercion.
Shannon Minter, the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, argued the puberty blockers and hormone treatments used on gender dysphoric children are “safe and effective”, and that “transgender adolescents who receive the care they need have the same mental health outcomes as their non-transgender peers”.
Just as intriguing as the testimony of the six witnesses were the reactions of the Congressional representatives.
Before the hearings even began, Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler decided,
“What we are witnessing today is nothing less than a taxpayer-funded platform for Congressional Republicans to bully transgender kids who are already some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
House Democrats’ chief deputy whip Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas expressed a similar sentiment, apologising to the witnesses “for a hearing that frightens me”.
To the amusement of many, Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen unwittingly re-invented female locker rooms by arguing that women should have their own space within female locker rooms so they are not forced to undress in front of men.
Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen accidentally admits difference between males & females W/ Paula Scanlan— Jimmy Simmons (@ArticulateTHGHT) August 1, 2023
In case you missed it... pic.twitter.com/gyOkh2Xhd6
And Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon was ultimately proven wrong in her early assertion that the hearing was “a callous and reckless misuse of this committee’s time”.
What she meant was that the hearing was a “debate”.
It’s just been a while since she witnessed one.
Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.
Image credit: Pexels
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