Cathy Ruse

The Prince William County School Board implemented a transgender accommodations policy and that is unsettling for religious conservatives. Ms. Ruse works for the hate group, Family Research Council.

Ruse’s claim is that, prior to the vote, the school board stacked the deck by selecting proponents to speak instead of following the order of requests to speak as required. The evidence in support of her claim is text messages obtained via a FOIA process. Let us assume, for the moment, that Ruse’s claim is correct. Later on in her post she asks “If the transgender agenda is so appealing, why do you need to rig a meeting to get it passed?”

That is a question that I would like answer (more verbosely than the question).

Even some progressives have a hard time with transgender issues. Assuming that the process was unfair, it pales in comparison to the unfairness that transgender and gender nonconforming students face on a daily basis. Yet few people fully appreciate their plight.

  • Irrespective of religious teachings which represent the thinking of theologians, gender dysphoria is a scientific reality for a small percentage of the population.
  • Gender dysphoria causes discomfort ranging from irrelevant to life function to extreme. It produces stress and depression. The combination explains the high suicide rate.
  • There is no medical intervention known to medical science that “cures” gender dysphoria. There is no talk therapy solution to reverse or reduce the discomfort. None.
  • There exists scientific proof that gender affirmation (addressing the symptoms) dramatically reduces, and often eliminates, both the stress and the depression. Thus, it reduces, or eliminates, the potential for self-harm.
  • The school board took steps to reduce, or eliminate, the stress that students with gender dysphoria face at school. Doing so saves lives
  • It would be inexcusable for the school to act in accordance with religious dogma because it makes no sense at all. It dismisses the overwhelming consensus of medical science while offering no solutions. Transgender people do exist because people with gender dysphoria do exist.

The religious right has a history of ginning up unfounded fears surrounding this issue. At their core, they claim that boys will pretend to be transgender in order to prey on girls. It is something that never happens. They also claim that privacy is compromised which is only true if one completely dismisses the concept of gender. A trans girl is, for all intents and purposes, a girl notwithstanding the fact that she has male genitalia.

And, yes, I have read everything that Paul McHugh has written on this subject and he offers no real solutions. If and when he and his co-authors submit an article for peer review to be published in a respected scholarly journal I might have some respect. Absent that I will maintain that McHugh is a crackpot in defense of the faith. He and his co-authors are at odds with all of their peer organizations; the entire alphabet soup including the AMA, both APAs the AAP, etc.

Accommodating trans and gender nonconforming students may not be popular in the Commonwealth of Virginia but it is essential. Their parents do not need to listen to religious conservatives express their bigotry towards their children at a hearing. Nor would that have affected the vote by the school board.

I am kind of a stickler for rules and process. If the school board broke the rules then there should be redress. However, I would hope that the board would continue to be guided by medical and counseling professionals and reach the same conclusion.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.