Far-right conservative Matt Walsh stokes anti-trans hysteria over gender-affirming care in Tennessee

Walsh, a far-right podcaster who has gone viral over his nefarious picture book comparing being trans to wanting to be a walrus, claimed that the facility can now “castrate, sterilize, and mutilate minors as well as adults” and suggested the health care provider takes “steps to hide” this from the public. He also suggested a peer support group at the clinic, the Trans Buddy program, is somehow nefarious. He even alleged the staff drug and sterilize minors for money. 

Vanderbilt has, unsurprisingly, denied these bizarre allegations. Among other things, Vanderbilt clarifies it requires parental consent for gender-affirming health care treatments for trans youth. In a statement, the institution also clarified that employees are not forced to provide such care if they have moral objections to doing so, such as their personal or religious beliefs.

“We have been and will continue to be committed to providing family-centered care to all adolescents in compliance with state law and in line with professional practice standards and guidance established by medical specialty societies,” the statement reads in part, per WPLN

Sadly, Republicans in power are taking Walsh’s outrageous claims seriously. Republican Gov. Bill Lee, for example, issued a statement per WSMV saying the clinic raises “serious moral, ethical, and legal concerns.” Lee, who has already signed anti-trans bills into law, said “we should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children” or “policies” that “suppress religious liberties.” 

Again: Employees aren’t forced to provide this specific type of care. And parents are involved in all related decisions for minors. And not all gender-affirming care is “permanent” or “life-altering.” It can be as simple—but as meaningful—as encouraging pronoun use, using a different name, or providing support for gender expression through clothing and personal style. Yes, sometimes it includes things like puberty blockers. But the idea that kids are just signing themselves up for surgeries is fundamentally outrageous and incorrect. It is quite literally not happening.

Research shows that gender-affirming care is lifesaving care. Research also shows that trans youth are disproportionately survivors of abuse, harassment, and bullying while at school, and that trans youth are more likely than their cisgender peers to miss school and even drop out without receiving a diploma. They’re also more likely to be homeless. Trans adults report higher rates of discrimination in employment, housing, and health care than cisgender adults, and these numbers are especially high when we look at trans folks of color and trans sex workers. 

Everyone deserves safe, accessible health care—especially when our society is still so deeply entrenched in values and rules that aim to oppress, isolate, and disparage an already marginalized population.

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