The panel consisted of Jay Richards, William E. Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family; Dr. Miriam Grossman, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist; Kelsey Bolar, Senior Policy Analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum; and Terry Schilling, President of the American Principles Project.
Speaking first was Richards, who described to the crowd exactly what gender ideology is.
Richards said that half of his job is persuading people that "it really is as awful and as crazy as it seems to be."
"Gender ideology is so extreme, so anti-human… anti-biology, that people tend to think I must be misunderstanding or this must just be something that happens in California and it’s never gonna meet me."
"Here’s the important thing to understand is that there has been a thing that we could call gender dysphoria for a long time, but until very, very recently, gender dysphoria — so this idea of a subjective impression of a feeling of alienation toward your sexed body. Think of it as that kind of sensation," said Richards.
Richards said that this medical phenomenon had previously been noted mostly in young, prepubescent boys, or 40, 50, or 60-year-old men, noting the example of Caitlyn Jenner.
"If you actually look at this, this is probably the result of something called autogynephilia," said Richards, noting that the phenomenon is "the result of a kink turned in upon itself."
"A man first finds himself sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing, underwear, and dresses, and then eventually become sexually aroused by the thought of him having a women’s body."
Richards noted a shift in society that occurred around the year 2015, when Caitlyn Jenner was named "Woman of the Year."
"These were ideas that had been percolating for a very long time, it’s just that this broke out into public consciousness," said Richards, who added that it was "a very coordinated campaign."
Richards continued on to note a researcher at Brown University that coined the term "rapid onset gender dysphoria" in 2017, which describes "this phenomenon of kids who presented no symptoms of gender dysphoria, and then suddenly" began presenting symptoms.
In a single decade, from between 2009 to 2019, Tavistock, the now defunct UK gender clinic, saw the number of patients coming in with these symptoms increase by 4,400 percent, Richards said.
"We’re clearly dealing with some kind of profound social contagion, and it’s affecting children, and it’s coming at them in two directions," Richards said, saying that it's coming from authority figures like teachers and school counselors, and from social media.
"What I want you to notice is that we have moved from a very rare psychological symptom that we could call gender dysphoria to a social phenomenon that is fed by a particular ideology, and is fed by educational institutions and then enabled by technology that we talked about before. And those things together I think those are sort of create the tipping point in which we have this social contagion," said Richards.
Richards continued on to note the shift in society from using the term sex, to the divergence of sex and gender to describe biology and identity.
"So then sex as male and female is something that’s a fact about nature, right, that you discover is replaced with something that’s entirely internal and psychological and immaterial and subjective."
To describe the differences between these two words to children, Richards noted the widespread usage of the "gender-bread person," or the "gender unicorn."
Concluding, Richards said that the concept of gender ideology is "fundamentally anti-lift and anti-human."
Speaking next was Dr. Grossman, who stressed her experiences as a medical doctor on the subject, and noted the Dutch protocol that seems to have been thrown out the window.
"I’m a medical doctor who’s in the trenches, helping families with children who believe their bodies are terrible mistakes," said Grossman.
Grossman noted patients that she’s seen, including biologically female teens that wear binders to give their chests a masculine appearance, and a teenage male that engaged in the activity of tucking to "create a flat, feminine crotch."
"My patients have gender dysphoria. They are dissociated from their bodies. They have trauma, depression, anxiety, autism, eating disorders, and other mental health problems. Their suffering is intense, and they're convinced that relief will come only from testosterone shots, estrogen patches, and a surgeon's scalpel," said Grossman.
Grossman continued on to describe the Dutch protocol, a carefully selected program regarding the gender transitioning of children.
"This is a complicated subject, but here's what you need to know. Until the ’90s, gender transition was only performed on adults, mostly on men in their 30s and 40s. The cosmetic results were not good because they already gone through puberty, and they looked masculine. After transition their mental health was poor, and suicide rates are high," said Grossman.
"A team of Dutch researchers thought if they could intervene before puberty and prevent masculinization, these individuals would be able to pass as women, and their mental health would improve. So they very carefully, keyword carefully, picked a group of kids who are likely to identify as transgender for the rest of their lives."
"They only chose kids who had severe gender dysphoria since childhood. And they couldn't have any serious mental health issues. And they were very strict about this.
"At age 12, puberty was blocked. At 16, either estrogen or testosterone were given to simulate the puberty of the opposite sex, and then at 18 surgery was available.
"This is called the Dutch protocol. Many find it problematic for different reasons, but let's just put that aside," she continued.
Grossman said that after a year and a half, patients reported that their feelings of gender dysphoria had decreased.
She continued on to slam how this strict protocol has been thrown to the wind.
"Right now, nearly all kids that are being seen are victims of a social contagion called rapid onset gender dysphoria. They develop their symptoms in adolescence, not as children, and the creation of their new identities is fueled by friends, pornography, and influencers on the internet," said Grossman.
Grossman noted that many of these patients are girls that have other psychiatric diagnoses, kids that would have been excluded from the Dutch study.
"The young people at today’s gender clinics and hospitals are a completely different group of children," Grossman said, noting that treatment for these kids and teens should be different, equating it to treating knee pain coming from different diagnoses.
"The Dutch discouraged social transition. Gender-affirming care supports socially transitioning at very early ages, even in three and four-year-olds. Medical interventions in the United States are available earlier than in the Dutch study. Kids can get puberty blockers as young as eight, and they can get cross-sex hormones at 14, and surgery, well, who knows?"
Grossman noted that the Dutch study provided mental health support for the patients, "whereas now at Planned Parenthood and other places, prescriptions are handed out for hormones after one short meeting, and there's no mental health evaluation whatsoever."
"These concerns have been raised by the Dutch researchers themselves, those researchers that the protocol, the Dutch protocol, that was their invention. And they have said what are you doing? Why are you adopting our model to this new presentation of gender dysphoria? We need more research about this new population. They are different," Grossman said, noting the same level of caution taken in other European nations.
Grossman then pivoted to talking about the ramifications and side effects of gender-affirming surgeries, noting how more side effects of heart attacks, strokes, early menopause, and sexual dysfunction.
She read out the experiences of one woman who destransitioned, who expressed deep sorrow at going through with various medications and surgeries to become a man.
"I have to accept the scraps of the life I could have had," Grossman read, later noting that this woman’s suffering was "100 percent avoidable."
"Teaching children to deny biology is maddening. Telling them they get to choose if you're a girl or boy, or both or neither, because they may have been incorrectly assigned an identity at birth, that's a man-made idea. Making dangerous hormones and surgeries available without proper mental health evaluation and treatment, turning this into a civil rights issue, silencing and intimidating detransitioners and doctors like me who believe our patients will improve and that approach is now deemed unethical," Grossman concluded.
Speaking next was Bolar, who spoke about her experiences in creating the series "Identity Crisis," in which she spoke with families of transgender children and to destransitioners.
Bolar spoke of the most recent episode, which centered around a mother who said: "gender ideology drove her autistic gender confused daughter into a catastrophic mental breakdown."
The daughter, which had a number of mental health disorders, went to a therapist who Bolar said was only interested in treating the girl’s gender dysphoria, not potential underlying issues.
Another story Bolar recounted was one of a Chicago mother who lost custody of her daughter after they began identifying as transgender.
Bolar also recounted the story of a Seattle mother, who discovered her daughter’s transgender identity after receiving an email from the school using her daughter’s chosen name.
"Every one of these mothers’ stories are different. They’re all uniquely horrifying," said Bolar.
"All of them have a common theme. A very deep sense of betrayal. These parents, most of them lifelong Democrats, feel betrayed by politicians. They spent a lifetime supporting politicians who've chosen to affirm a toxic ideology that exploits vulnerable children, most of them struggling with serious mental health issues. These parents are sick and betrayed by public school educators and administrators who are changing their children's names and pronouns in secret behind their backs. They're sickened and betrayed by a legal system that was designed to protect children, but is using gender ideology as a weapon to sever the most fundamental bond in life," said Bolar.
Speaking last was Schilling, who touched on how Americans can fight back against the spread of this ideology.
"Through politics is how we change this," said Schilling.
"The first step in winning any political battle is to take a sober look at the reality of your situation. And the reality ion pour situation is that almost all of America’s elite institutions are completely against us.
"The professional associations, academia, hospitals, NGOs… all are opposed to our goals. Our strongest grounds, in fact are with the American people, also those voters, the vast majority of which oppose the tenets of transgenderism and their goals and other policies."
Citing polling from his organization, Schilling said, "there is one group where we have a fighting chance, our elected officials."
Schilling said that Republicans are "beginning to see the political advantages of fighting the trans agenda."
"Politics is the most important fight to engage in not just because it's where our best opportunity lies, but because right now our own government is abusing the full force of civil rights law to enforce transgenderism on America in schools, workplaces, Military Health System, and everywhere else.
Schilling noted four issues that are "crucial to building a winning coalition:" the protection of women’s sports, the mutilation of children through gender-affirming surgeries, teaching children about sexual matters in schools, and passing legislation to protect these kids.
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