Elections

Democratic Candidates Are Out of Touch on Gender

Sen. Kamala Harris attends the Pride Parade in San Francisco, Calif., June 30, 2019. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)
A run-down of the Democrats’ LGBT-rights strategy.

Last week’s Democratic debate was nearly three hours long, and candidates answered questions on a range of topics including health care, gun control, civil rights, and education. They did not discuss LGBT issues — which is probably just as well. So far, not a single Democratic presidential candidate has demonstrated an understanding of two basic facts.

First: that each letter of “LGBT,” etc., and the interest group it claims to represent, is distinct. Second: that today’s tirade of alphabet activism is far removed from the historic gay-rights movement which fought for sexual minorities to have access to basic health care, the right to privacy, and equality under the law.

Indeed, only sheer ignorance or reckless disregard can explain why every Democratic presidential candidate has backed the Equality Act. This law, a misnomer, would force women’s spaces (such as battered-women’s shelters) and sports teams (such as the high school girls in Connecticut) to include men. It would also set a dangerous precedent for the medicalization of gender-confused youth through an Orwellian hijacking of the term “conversion therapy.”

It’s worth noting here that, in some states, girls as young as 13 have lost their healthy breasts to this ideology, while children as young as eight have been injected with (sterilizing) cross-sex hormones. And that this new definition of “conversion therapy,” when enshrined in law, renders non-intrusive alternatives to such interventions illegal (with or without parental consent.)

It is also worth noting (as the mainstream U.K. press has done repeatedly) that a significant portion of these effeminate little boys and these boyish little girls undergoing grueling “transitions” would — if treated with watchful waiting — grow up to be gay. To anyone paying attention, then, the real conversion therapy involves not talk therapy for gender-dysphoric youth, but castrating — chemically or surgically — young people who haven’t yet had the opportunity to come to terms with their sexual development and desires.

But there’s no room for nuance in campaign slogans and soundbites, is there?

Here’s what some of the Democratic presidential candidates have said about the gender issue:

Joe Biden
Earlier this year Biden was asked how many genders there are, to which the former vice president replied “there are at least three” and telling his questioner “don’t play games with me, kid.” He has said that the Equality Act would be a No. 1 priority if he were elected.

Cory Booker
Booker was an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act. That says enough.

Kamala Harris
As attorney general of California, Harris oversaw her department’s rejection of requests for state sponsored sex-change surgeries for incarcerated males. However, she is keen to make up for this, now takes “full responsibility” for this presumed injustice, and when asked in April by an ACLU member whether she supports adding a third gender option on federal forms, answered: “sure, absolutely.”

Elizabeth Warren
Warren is modeling the “woke” grandma look, recalling Regina George’s mom from Mean Girls. “I’m not a regular politician, I’m a cool politician!” 

On Twitter, Warren has updated her account to include “she/her” pronouns. On Facebook, she has promised “We will fight with you for equality — on Trans Day of Visibility and every other day.” But what does Ms. Warren mean by “equality” exactly? Does she know?

Perhaps she should speak to this woman, a registered Democrat who emailed me her concerns:

I am a lifelong Democrat, as is my husband. Both of us were raised by Democrat parents. We are pro-LGB; both of us have gay family members who are loved and accepted by our families.

However, I currently will not vote Democrat because very single Democratic candidate I am aware of fails to grasp the dangerous repercussions the Equality Act will bring, because the Act gives gender self-identity the same legal status as sex. Lawmakers are blindly accepting pseudo-science as fact, and in doing so are putting kids and women in danger.

Amy Klobuchar
As well as the usual positions, Klobuchar has said she’ll reverse Trump’s military ban on transgender individuals in her first 100 days in office. But perhaps Klobuchar would be interested in the perspective of James Shupe, who served in the U.S. military for over 17 years, and whose medical records show that he received treatment for gender dysphoria at the Veteran’s Administration mental-health clinic.

Shupe first identified as a transgender woman, then as non-binary, has since detransitioned fully and identifies as a man; he has undergone hormone treatment for his gender dysphoria in the past, which he says only made matters worse. Earlier this year, he wrote “I consider gender dysphoria as a mental illness” — as does the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — “which is why I don’t support people with GD serving in the military. I also think it can be a learned behavior and can afflict anyone of any age.”

Regrettably, what is often lost in the coverage of Trump’s so-called transgender military ban is that it extends only to those with gender dysphoria. The administration has clarified that a self-identified transgender person, who does not require special accommodations, “should be permitted to serve.” As for why gender dysphoria constitutes “special accommodations” (and is therefore disqualifying), Department of Defense data gives an idea. Between October 1, 2015, and October 3, 2017, the 994 active-duty service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria account for 30,000 mental health visits. Service members with gender dysphoria are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than service members as a whole.

Pete Buttigieg
As well as rolling back the so-called transgender military ban, Mayor Pete has said he’d enforce LGBTQ nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which would effectively coerce hospitals and doctors into providing sex-change treatments and therapies. But he should meet yet another “lifelong Democrat” who told me:

The health and safety of my daughter comes first, and I am now politically homeless. How can I vote against the well-being of our teenage daughter?  How can I vote for politicians who would look the other way, and even encourage, the dangerous medicalization of my daughter?

Thanks to trans ideology, conversion therapy bans intended to prohibit protocols attempting to change one’s sexual orientation, have been coopted to mandate the ultimate conversion from one sex to the other (which is never truly possible, only the outward presentation thereof).

Julian Castro
During an earlier debate, Castro championed “reproductive justice” for men, though he later realized his mistake.

Yet another lifelong Democrat told me:

I just switched my affiliation to independent and am hoping there will be a moderate Republican or independent I can vote for in 2020. The reason for my switch is that I believe self-ID is harmful for women.

I have heard in places where self-ID has already passed it is creating dangerous situations for women, in places like prisons and shelters for abuse victims. I am all for equal rights for everyone, but not at the expense of hard won rights for women.

To learn more about what the Democratic candidates think about gender ideology, we can all tune into a CNN’s broadcast of a special town hall LGBT debate on October 10, organized by the Human Rights Campaign, this “Power of Pride” event is so far slated to feature Biden, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, and Warren and likely to resemble an auction, with candidates attempting to outbid one another for the most overreaching policies. Moderate Democrats, take note: “Tickets are invitation only.” How inclusive.

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Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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