Three influential American medical groups are urging the U.S. Department of Justice to “investigate and prosecute all organizations, individuals, and entities” that share information deemed to be false about transgender medical treatments for minors.
The Oct. 3 letter, sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, represents the latest salvo in a fierce national debate.
In the letter, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association, and the Children’s Hospital Association are insisting that “disinformation” must be blocked and people who spread it should be prosecuted, adding that their words foment threats, intimidation, and violence against medical professionals.
Detractors interpret the letter as an attempt to squelch opposition to the lucrative medical procedures and to shift the focus away from rising concerns over the safety, effectiveness, and ethics of such interventions. They note the letter comes just days in advance of the AAP’s convention in Anaheim, California, where critics of the treatments plan a “First Do No Harm” unity rally on Oct. 8.
Won’t Be Silenced
In response to the letter, Scott Newgent, a biological woman who deeply regrets medically transitioning to appear male at age 42 after giving birth to two children, said in a text to The Epoch Times: “This was made to silence me and others like me.”
Newgent refuses to stop his advocacy, saying that he, too, has been subjected to threats for vociferously opposing medical gender transition for minors. Newgent’s medical transition inflicted lifelong complications and he is passionate about “saving kids” from similar consequences. Newgent’s advocacy group, TreVoices.org, declares: “Medical transition is no place for a child!”
Newgent plans to participate in the Anaheim protest this weekend and in “The Rally to End Child Mutilation,” set for Oct. 21 at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. There, lawmakers have been expressing dismay over a Vanderbilt University Medical Center video that surfaced in which a doctor described transgender surgery as a “big moneymaker.” Conservative commentator Matt Walsh was first to draw attention to the video.
Feud Over ‘Gender-Affirming Care’
People on both sides of the debate agree on one thing: Increasing numbers of young people are being diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” a strong, persistent conflict between a person’s biological sex and self-perception of gender. The trend’s origins and the best ways to help young sufferers are hotly contested, along with virtually every other facet of this topic.
Opponents accuse “gender-affirming” proponents of fast-tracking minors along a course of puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and body-altering surgery, denouncing the process as “child abuse.” Supporters call the procedures “medically necessary” for the patients’ overall wellbeing.
Some supporters of the “gender-affirming” model opine that questioning minors’ uncertainty about their gender smacks of “conversion therapy,” a process that aims to switch someone’s same-sex attraction to that of the opposite sex.
People like Newgent counter that many youths who “transition” are actually same-sex-attracted, rather than transgender. A number of gay-rights advocacy groups oppose the “gender-affirming” treatments.
Lawmakers nationwide are responding to public outcry over the procedures in various ways. Last week, California became a “sanctuary state,” welcoming people to travel there from states that have banned or restricted the treatments for minors. On Oct. 17, a battle over the nation’s first law banning the procedures for minors goes to trial in an Arkansas federal court.
Medical Groups Allege ‘Campaign of Disinformation’
Proponents of the “gender-affirming care” model include the trio of groups that wrote to Garland urging “swift action” against a rising tide of “coordinated attacks” against medical professionals who provide the controversial medical interventions.
Some medical professionals and patients involved with other types of medical care have been caught in the crossfire, the groups say. “In one hospital, a new mother was prevented from being with her preterm infant,” the groups’ letter said, because the neonatal intensive care unit allowed no one in or out due to a bomb threat.
In addition, people who work at medical centers have been subjected to harassing social media messages, telephone calls, and protests, the letter said, alleging that “the attacks are rooted in an intentional campaign of disinformation, where a few high-profile users on social media share false and misleading information,” fomenting threats and violence.
Besides seeking intervention from the Department of Justice, the medical groups are also marshaling “Twitter, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram … to take bolder action when false information is shared about specific institutions and physicians,” an AAP news release said.
Because of the threats, medical professionals now are fearful of providing “evidence-based, gender-affirming health care” for children, the letters state.
Attempts to Electronically Muzzle Opponents Failing, Activist Says
In social media posts reacting to the letter, a number of ordinary citizens expressed concern about the groups’ apparent attempt to censor and persecute opponents. They also denounced violence but supported opponents’ rights to express concerns over the medical procedures. Some questioned the authenticity of the letter, noting it didn’t appear on the group’s official letterhead and bore no signatures—just three typewritten names of the organizations. However, the letter was posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, accompanied by a news release that quoted leaders of all three groups.
In a text to The Epoch Times, Newgent, who calls himself a “transman,” said Big Tech has repeatedly censored his messages on social media; the same thing has happened to others who share his views. Newgent noted that, within hours of the letter being sent to Garland, all of his media accounts came up with warnings. He sent The Epoch Times a screenshot of a “critical security alert” on his email account.
Despite apparent attempts to electronically muzzle those messages, Newgent thinks that cries for level-headed, non-medical solutions for gender-dysphoric teens have grown louder.
“People are listening … Shadow bans on social media did not stop me,” Newgent texted. “It keeps getting bigger because I’m right.” He said the truth about medical transitioning for children has been withheld from parents, and that many parents are pressured and misled into providing consent.
Do 270,000 Professionals Agree?
Although the three associations that sent the letter to Garland say they represent a total of 270,000 U.S. medical professionals, the groups’ leaders do not necessarily speak for the rank-and-file. Group members who doubt or question the “gender-affirming” model often remain silent due to fear that dissenting would kill their careers, whistleblowers have said.
Advocates for the treatments assert they are “life-saving,” because gender-dysphoric young people often threaten or attempt suicide. But transgender adults also have high suicide rates, even after undergoing the procedures.
Critics of the procedures also say there are no long-term, robust studies convincing them that the treatments do more good than harm for young people. Supporters accuse those people of ignoring recent findings suggesting that the procedures improve the suffering teens’ mental health and happiness.
Alejandra Caraballo, a trans-rights supporter with nearly 50,000 followers on Twitter, cited outcry over a recent grant for a study and wrote on Twitter: “It’s never enough for them. They say gender-affirming care doesn’t have enough evidence or studies. When doctors conduct studies, they say it’s activism. It’s not in good faith, they simply just don’t want trans people to exist.”
Matt Walsh, a podcaster and columnist who featured Newgent’s story of regret in his documentary earlier this year, “What is a Woman?” reacted to the doctors’ letter in a tweet to his 1 million followers: “Some of the biggest and most powerful medical organizations in the country are now calling on the federal government to prosecute and imprison those of us who criticize their medical practices. We are entering a very dark time. I’m ready.”
In the AAP news release, Children’s Hospital Association President Amy Wimpey Knight called for a return to “civil dialogue” amid the emotionally charged debate.