Laws Protecting Minors in Gender Debate Likely Headed for Supreme Court: 'I Feel Like a Monster'
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The battle over transgender medical procedures on children is becoming a top issue nationwide. Trans activists are challenging state bans on gender-altering efforts in federal courts across the country. If these courts reach different conclusions, the U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately have to weigh in.
Kristie Sisson recalled the emotional pain she felt when her college daughter decided she wanted to become a man.
"She started taking testosterone and within six months her voice dropped," Sisson told CBN News. "She started growing facial hair."
Eventually, her daughter chose to undergo a double mastectomy.
A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows transgender surgeries nearly tripled in the U.S. between 2016 and 2019, rising from about 4,500 to an astounding 13,000, although researchers estimate those numbers may be even higher.
And almost eight percent of those patients were children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.
Nineteen-year-old Chloe Cole says she lived as a transgender boy for years before returning to her female identity. She recently testified at a congressional hearing on gender-altering procedures for children.
"The gender specialist I was taken to see told my parents that I needed to be put on puberty-blocking drugs right away," said Cole. "They asked my parents a simple question, 'Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living transgender son.'"
"The choice was enough for my parents to let their guard down," Cole told lawmakers.
After taking puberty blockers and testosterone, Cole, who is suing Kaiser Permanente for providing gender-transitioning treatment and surgery when she was just 15, now lives with regret.
"I look in the mirror sometimes and I feel like a monster," she said.
Sisson blames some in the medical field for the pain.
"The medical professionals are pushing this because once the kids start taking hormones, they're on them for the rest of their lives," Sisson explained. "So, this is a big money maker for the medical community."
Mary Rice Hasson, an attorney and policy expert at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. agrees with that sentiment.
"Putting minors on puberty suppressant drugs and putting them on what are called cross hormones which are really toxic doses, high doses of hormones, testosterone or estrogen and then often times leading towards surgery, and once a kid goes down this path they become a medical customer for life," Rice Hasson said in an interview with CBN News.
Despite the trend, there is a growing resistance.
More than 20 Republican-led states have adopted laws restricting medical intervention for children with gender dysphoria.
A newly enacted law in Missouri bans trans surgery for children and prohibits prescribing puberty blockers or hormones to patients under the age of 18.
That is also the law in North Carolina where GOP lawmakers overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of several bills banning medical care for transgender minors.
Sisson, who resides in the Tarheel state applauded the move.
"I'm thankful that the legislators here in NC have acted on their conscience and have done what they could to protect youth from these awful drugs that are being given to children," she said. "Thankfully the conservative majority made it happen."
In Missouri and Texas, judges have allowed the ban to go forward while an Arkansas judge ruled against that state's legislation that banned gender-altering procedures for minors.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued over restrictions in Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Montana, Idaho, Kentucky and Arizona, and has pledged to challenge similar legislation in other states.
With many of these laws facing such lawsuits and higher courts disagreeing, Hasson and other legal experts believe the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately need to weigh in.
"So even though you have those states doing that good work, we have an equal number of states unfortunately that have become very aggressive where the attorneys general of those particular states are saying no we think parents should be able to choose this 'gender affirming' care and so they're trying to wrap it up in parental rights," Hasson explained.
She is looking for the high court to decide in those states' favor.
"What I'm hoping the Supreme Court will do when this lands again in their lap is to underscore the reality of sex - male or female - it's determined at conception. It can't change," she said.
Meanwhile, nations in Europe have been halting "trans-affirming care" for minors in an effort to safeguard children.
Norway has now joined Finland and Sweden in adopting or changing policies that signal rejection of transgender ideology.
And one of Australia's largest medical insurers is now refusing to cover private practitioners who are prescribing gender-transitioning procedures.
"In those countries, over time, the evidence began to accumulate that this was not only not reaping the benefits that were expected - that this was causing really irreversible damage, significant harm to children," said Hasson. "So, in the face of that, these countries one by one have done the right thing. They've said let's look at that evidence and let's make our policy decisions in light of that evidence."
In the U.S., the pressure to evaluate the science or lack thereof, is building. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently asked an outside commission to review the medical evidence for transgender medical treatments for children.
Still, Hasson is suspicious because of the Academy's current policy.
"I'm not very confident simply because they, from the same time they're saying they're going to do this evidence review, they came out and said 'well we're supporting the policy as is and our purpose in doing this is so we can push back on any limits,' any limits to protect children from these interventions that have lifelong, irreversible consequences," said Hasson.
Meanwhile, as the battles wage on, Hasson says protecting the hearts, bodies, and minds of the nation's youth is worth the fight.
"It's gonna take a lot of work, a lot of people having the courage of their conviction speaking the truth, reaching out to those who have been led down a false path, and reaching out with love and compassion but a willingness to speak the truth," Hasson said.
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