Emily Kao (Heritage Foundation) has the intellectual curiosity of a salami.
Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao recites and recycles the religiously inspired anti-transgender talking points proving her lack of curiosity and the mediocrity of her intellect.

Emilie Kao has taken Ryan T. Anderson’s slot at Heritage Foundation. Kao has a list of problems associated with children and adolescents who transition.

I’l get to her list in a moment. First we must recognize the extreme dishonesty of all this noise. If Ms. Kao really gave a crap about kids that would be one thing. However, this endless and bigoted campaign has only one objective: Defending Scripture.

Come to think of it, if Kao cared about kids she would not be doing this. Furthermore, Emilie Kao has neither the training nor experience to oppose the clinical practice standards of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Moreover, the defense of ancient texts causes Kao to ignore a mountain of peer-reviewed research.

The list:

Here’s what (and who) ’60 Minutes+’ didn’t show you.Extensive drivelectomy applied. Ms. Kao is painfully verbose. If a talking point exists she feels compelled to offer it.

1. Kids who “detransitioned” and desisted because their underlying distress was not relieved by hormones and surgeries.

Much of the piece focused on the story of Dylan, a 15-year-old girl who “identifies” as a boy, takes testosterone, and finds it helpful. During the interview, I told “60 Minutes+” correspondent Seth Doane that the United Kingdom had banned hormones to treat children under 16 for gender dysphoria based on the finding that they are not capable of giving informed consent.

That is untrue. The UK High Court did ban the use of puberty blockers and hormones for adolescents under 16. However, the Court reversed itself only weeks thereafter. The law in the UK is identical to U.S. law. Minors require parental consent.

Furthermore, no one denies the fact that some children detransition. It is irrelevant for two reasons:

  1. Puberty blockers are fully reversible.
  2. The fact that gender-affirming care does not work for some children (a tiny minority of those affected) does not mean that gender-affirming care is wrong for all children.

“I have yet to identify a physician opposing the AAP standards who does not have a religious objection to those standards.”

2. Parents who don’t want their children to be transitioned, but are ignored by counselors and doctors.

The “60 Minutes+” piece featured two mothers of transgender-identifying kids who want their children to continue receiving experimental hormones. Although we gave the producers contact information for parents who want their children to accept their bodies, they declined to interview them.

First of all, children are not “transitioned” which suggests that some nefarious force is doing something sinister. Children transition because doing so provides relief from their condition.

Secondly, parents who object to transitioning are not “ignored by counselors and doctors.” Interventions require parental consent.

3. Doctors who question the efficacy of the transgender movement’s recommendations and warn of the long-term dangers to children.

The “60 Minutes+” report highlighted the recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health that children receive hormones and, in some cases, surgeries. Yet the World Professional Association for Transgender Health is not an association of medical professionals. It’s an association of professionals in fields, including anthropology and sexology, that seeks to influence standards of care in medicine.

First of all, that is another lie. WPATH is quite clear that minors are not candidates for surgery. (See text below.)

Secondly I have yet to identify a physician opposing the AAP standards who does not have a religious objection to those standards. After citing some preposterous conspiracy theory about DSM-5 Kao goes on to lie:

But gender dysphoria is not a physiological issue. The premise of “gender-affirming care” is that changing the cosmetic appearance of a child’s body to resemble the opposite sex will alleviate his or her underlying mental and emotional distress.

But not a single study has demonstrated any mental health benefits.

“The doctors who treat pediatric gender dysphoria are highly trained and dedicated professionals.”

First of all, gender dysphoria has a durable biological underpinning.

Secondly, there are numerous studies supporting gender-affirmation which were taken into consideration by the AAP. The one that immediately comes to mind is Mental Health of Transgender Children Who Are Supported in Their Identities.

To support her claim, Kao links to an idiotic blog post by Ryan T. Anderson. Now where was I? Oh, the next bit of crackpottery of course.

4. The pharmaceutical companies that are making millions from “transgender medicine.”

I have no way of knowing what the gross receipts are and neither does Kao. More importantly, it is irrelevant. Profits have no bearing on effectiveness or pervasiveness of use. Moreover, pediatric endocrinologists are not “Dr. Feelgood” prescribing oxycontin.

The doctors who treat pediatric gender dysphoria are highly trained and dedicated professionals. Most kids are referred by a primary care physician or a mental health clinician with parental consent.

“60 Minutes+” interviewed Dr. Michele Hutchison, who testified against the SAFE Act and joined the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit to block the law from going into effect. She says that “watchful waiting” is dangerous for children—even though 88% of girls and 98% of boys accept their bodies after puberty, according to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”

“Ms. Kao should bother to read the WPATH guidelines to prevent looking like a moron.”

No matter how many times the talking point is debunked, the religious right insists on repeating it. In simplest terms: Children whose gender dysphoria resolves almost never transition in the first place. Persistence of the condition correlates to its severity. Only those most acutely affected will transition.

5. The lawmakers who are banning counseling that would help children accept their own bodies.

Parents who find their sons and daughters struggling with their own bodies want to find counselors who will diagnose underlying conditions related to gender dysphoria, such as autism, trauma, anxiety, and stress. Yet in 24 states, this counseling is banned.

There is no evidence that someone can be talked out of their gender dysphoria. However there is evidence that gender identity conversion efforts lead to a lifetime of adverse mental health consequences.

Furthermore, through extensive professional counseling kids do explore their sexuality. They are able to determine what their gender identity is. That is far different from a parent marching a kid into some counselor’s office and saying “fix him.”

As Crystal, the mother of a gender-dysphoric son, writes, “The only speech New Jersey allows is promoting ‘sex transition’ to children and youth … . Transitioning to the opposite sex is biologically impossible … . Children and youth struggling with their gender identity should be allowed to discuss ‘why’ they feel uncomfortable in their bodies.”

“Crystal” is the pseudonym of a mother who cannot accept her gender-diverse son – Now daughter. Furthermore, her daughter transitioned as an adult. “Crystal” is seemingly a religious nutter.

Ms. Kao should bother to read the WPATH guidelines to prevent looking like a moron:

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s “Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People” recommends that youths with gender dysphoria be treated with hormones and surgeries. It doesn’t recommend that for those who identify as transgender.

The lack of proper word-wrap in the original indicates that Kao did a cut and paste.

First of all:

Genital surgery should not be carried out until (i) patients reach the legal age of majority to give consent for medical procedures in a given country, and (ii) patients have lived continuously for at least 12 months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity. The age threshold should be seen as a minimum criterion and not an indication in and of itself for active intervention.

Secondly, the statement “It doesn’t recommend that for those who identify as transgender” makes no sense whatsoever. Obviously, the standards of care apply to transgender persons.

“Good faith is shattered when religious conservatives argue from scripture while pretending to present secular reasoning.”

Emilie Kao also left out this part:

Fully Reversible Interventions

Adolescents may be eligible for puberty-suppressing hormones as soon as pubertal changes have begun. In order for adolescents and their parents to make an informed decision about pubertal delay, it is recommended that adolescents experience the onset of puberty to at least Tanner Stage 2. …

Furthermore, the yellow highlighting in the Standards of Care is by WPATH:

Ryan T. Anderson is no longer with Heritage Foundation. However, he left a legacy of bigotry, ignorance and intentional incuriosity. Emilie Kao repeats her false talking point about the UK and then says something curious:

Since at least one country’s highest court has ruled that children are unable to give informed consent to those procedures, and other medical organizations in both the U.S. and abroad are raising similar concerns, America should have an open and honest debate about these grave matters.

Unfortunately, “60 Minutes+” showed only one side of these debates. For the sake of children, Americans need to see and hear both sides of the debates to judge for themselves.

There is no debate. At least not in the mainstream medical community. Nor, for that matter, are there two sides. Just as there are no debates or sides to things like the Holocaust or Evolution. Religious conservatives often manufacture supposed debate and multiple sides to emphasize uncertainty.

Legitimate debate occurs when there are responsible competing points of view based on a common set of facts. These are then debated by people with applicable training and experience. There is also the assumption of good faith.

Good faith is shattered when religious conservatives argue from scripture while pretending to present secular reasoning. Then they indulge in selective observation while misstating the facts and the evidence. Mendacity is unacceptable in a serious discussion.

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.