Adapted from remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council
to World Congress of Families – Chisinau, Moldova
(Panel Discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses”)
Friday, September 14, 2018
I want to share with you today five myths about “gender identity.”
These are five things that are believed and taught by transgender activists, which simply are not true.
1. If the mind is in conflict with the body, the mind is right.
This is the most fundamental belief of the transgender movement. If a person is biologically male, but that person feels or believes that he is a woman, then he is female. And if a biological female believes she is male, then she is male.
But why should anyone believe that?
Contrary to the claims of the transgender activists, this belief is not “scientific.” In fact, since science deals with an examination of the physical world, the rejection of the physical body is anti-scientific.
The belief that the mind is right and the body wrong when they conflict is a philosophical—almost a religious—viewpoint. It has nothing to do with science.
It is bad enough when adults are deceived in this way—but it is tragic when it happens to children. Certainly, some children, even from a very young age, engage in behaviors that do not conform to the typical expectations for their sex.
However, myth number two is:
2. Gender non-conforming children will always grow up to be transgender adults.
Actually, there is much evidence that the vast majority of such children, if left to themselves, eventually accept their biological sex. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anywhere from 70 to 97.8 percent of gender non-conforming boys, and 50 to 88 percent of gender non-conforming girls, will not become transgender. However, if they are encouraged by adults to make a social transition, and they receive hormones that prevent normal puberty from occurring, they may be locked in to a path that leads to great suffering.
3. Gender transition (hormones and surgery) is “medically necessary.”
This is the claim that transgender activists make in order to justify forcing government health programs and private health insurance companies to pay for these expensive procedures.
This claim has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with medicine.
The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are physically normal, physically healthy people. Hormones and surgery do not help their bodies work better—instead, they destroy healthy body systems and healthy body parts.
The claim is that hormones and surgery are “necessary” to improve the mental health of transgender people, not their physical health. Has evidence proven this? No.
In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees two of the largest federal health care programs, refused to order routine coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They said:
- “[T]here is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.”
- “Overall, the quality and strength of evidence were low.”
- The four best studies “did not demonstrate clinically significant changes” for the better.
One of the best studies, out of Sweden, showed the following about patients after they had gender reassignment surgery. Compared to the general Swedish population, they were:
- 2.8 times as likely to have died of any causes;
- 2.8 times as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization;
- 4.9 times as likely to attempt suicide;
- 19.1 times as likely to die by suicide.
This sounds medically dangerous—not “medically necessary.”
4. “Gender identity” discrimination is a form of “sex discrimination.”
In the United States, the majority of states have not added “gender identity” as a protected category in laws against discrimination, nor has the U.S. Congress.
Therefore, transgender activists have begun urging courts to interpret laws against “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity.” Since our federal law against sex discrimination in employment and in education were passed in 1964 and in 1972, it is unlikely that legislators intended “sex” to mean anything other than being biologically male or female.
A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision included a passing comment that “gender stereotyping”—for example, telling a woman she is not feminine enough—could be a form of “sex discrimination.” But even that case does not stand for the proposition that a man can become a woman, or a woman can become a man.
5. The transgender movement is a progressive movement.
This may be the most surprising for me to list as a “myth.”
Although we speak about the “LGBT movement,” there are many “LG”—self-identified lesbians and gays—who are concerned about the “T” (those who identify as transgender). They are not happy that masculine girls and feminine boys—who at one time might have grown up to identify as lesbians or as gay men—are now being told that they are actually the opposite sex.
Meanwhile, some feminists point out that transgender activists often are not trying to overcome gender stereotypes. Instead, they are trying to conform to rigid stereotypes—but of the opposite sex.
It would seem more “progressive” to simply say that there are different ways to be a boy or a man, and different ways to be a girl or a woman—and none of them require changing your gender or mutilating your body.