Joseph Backholm

Joseph Backholm (Family Policy Institute of Washington) is a Christian supremacist. He desperately wants the world to conform to his specific ideology. Backholm’s familiar contortions preclude him from separating his belief system from evidentiary science.

Backholm has sent out an email Friday with the subject: “The Problem of Highly Rejecting Parents.”

Are you a Highly Rejecting Parent?

A lot of people are concerned about new policies being adopted in schools around the country dealing with gender.

As gender hysteria continues its lap around the track, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that some people don’t want their kids being told that there is an infinite number of genders and they can pick anyone <sic> they want.

Gender hysteria most definitely exists. It is present among conservative Christians. As slaves to those ancient chronicles they are unable to process the concept of gender, particularly when gender is incongruent with natal sex. That is why Backholm must pose an intellectually dishonest understanding of trans and gender nonconforming kids in our public schools.

Children may realize that there is another child in their school who is transgender or gender nonconforming. The presence of a trans kid in school does not influence the gender of any other child. The notion that a child is provided with a number of genders to choose from is preposterous. Children do not choose to have gender that is inconsistent with their sex. No one wants to have gender dysphoria. Common sense should inform Backholm that gender is not a choice. Apparently common sense fails to prevail.

There are more transgender kids in our schools than there were ten years ago. The reason for that is a change in the way that medical professionals treat children with gender dysphoria. Ten years ago, the prevailing premise was that kids grow out of it. Therefore, they should be prevented from becoming transgender.

We now know that kids do not grow out of it. Children are permitted to find their own place in the gender continuum. If they are suffering with anxiety and depression due to gender dysphoria and find relief through transition then they will become trans. This approach dramatically reduces the potential for self-harm.

Backholm fails to consider the obvious. No child would ever volunteer to be transgender! Why sign up to be an object of scorn and ridicule (something  that Backholm promotes). Backholm also fails to accept that there is no known medical intervention that addresses gender dysphoria. Understanding that simple fact requires more curiosity than exists throughout fundamental Christendom.

The presence of more trans children in schools and the need to protect them from harm has caused hysteria among those same fundamentalists. It conflicts with their ideology.

Backholm is particularly unsettled by a Massachusetts policy. Yet again, Christians are victims of something:

It is also true that schools are making plans to deal with uncooperative parents and, for the most part, parents have no idea.

With respect to a student who wants to change their gender, this policy from Massachusetts says:

In some cases, however, notifying parents carries risks for the student. Prior to notification of any parent or guardian regarding the transition process, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the guardian will be involved in the process and must consider the physical and mental health, well-being, and safety of the transitioning student.”

As a society we should approach this problem with education so that there are fewer parents like Backholm who might pose a danger to a child due to gender. Of course Mr. Backholm sees it differently:

That’s right, if your child is dealing with serious emotional and psychological issues at school, they’re going to consult with your child to determine whether you should be alerted.

The term they use for the wrong kind of parents? “Highly rejecting” parents.

First of all the link that Backholm provides is to a draft policy from Westford Public Schools. It is provided by a Massachusetts anti-LGBT group. Nowhere in the draft is there the word “rejecting” so I have no idea where that came from. Perhaps someone’s rear orifice.

The school district seems to have explained that they are not going to endanger a student. That should be easy to understand and appreciate. Furthermore, students have a right to privacy; something that the school district also explains in the same draft:

All persons, including students, have a right to privacy, and this includes the right to keep one’s transgender
status private at school. Protecting the privacy of transgender and gender nonconforming students must be
a top priority for staff. Information about a student’s transgender status, legal name, or gender assigned at
birth may constitute confidential medical information. Disclosing this information to other students, the
student’s parents, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, such as the federal Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act.

Backholm ends up in the weeds:

We’ll start with the fact that the fact that the lefts <sic> own literature shows that somewhere between 60 and 97 percent of minors who experience gender dysphoria will ultimately outgrow it.

If it’s likely a temporary phenomenon, why make permanent, physical or social changes? Do we really want to give puberty blockers to an 11-year-old when in all probability their feelings of gender dysphoria are temporary?

Backholm does not understand his own cite. An article published in the journal of the German Medical Association does not represent an American political constituency. That;s just silly. Moreover, it is a literature review from 2008. The vintage of  the reviewed material is unknown. Furthermore it correctly makes a distinction between gender dysphoria and being transgender. Backholm doesn’t consider the difference.

Dr. Kristina Olson at University of Washington has studied desistance. In short strokes, almost all desistance  statistics can be traced back to the 40-year-old Sissy Boy study. More importantly, desistance occurs prior to transitioning. Transgender kids almost never revert. In fact, if you read the German study in some detail, its findings are not at odds with Olson’s. Backholm is actually correct about the potential for temporary feelings of gender dysphoria. What we are dealing with, however, is suffering children for whom the dysphoria is not transient but persistent. The only relief that these kids find is through gender affirmation.

That brings us back to the original question. How should these children, who constitute a very small minority, be treated in school and should their privacy be protected?

Backholm provides no answers when it comes to the real issues. The obligatory “be afraid and be angry” follows:

Beyond that, however, this development reinforces the need for families to reassert the truth that children belong to their parents, not the government.

I know we’re all busy, but parents need to acknowledge that schools across the country are plotting how to keep parents in the dark about what is happening in their child’s life.

Is it happening at your child’s school?

No one says that children belong to the government. In fact, most privacy issues relate to the fact that they do not. In this country we respect the privacy of students. We cannot assume that a school’s revelation to parents would not endanger the child. There are still ignorant parents in this country who kick their LGBT kids out of the house or beat them as “tough love.” That is premised on false notions of choice in sexuality; something Backholm promotes in defiance of science.

The ironic thing is that Christian fundamentalists are responsible for creating the climate that necessitates student privacy. Less ignorance might yield more disclosure.

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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.