Thursday, December 10, 2020

Heritage Foundation's Anti-Trans Twinkies

Heritage Foundation's three little anti-trans twinkies. (L-R) Nicole Russell, Lauren Evans and Virginia Allen.
Images via Twitter
At war with medical science because it conflicts with religious doctrine. But they will persist over and over again that they actually give a shit about kids who have a medical condition that they disapprove of.
Some years ago I was reading Linda Ellerbee's autobiography, “And So it Goes.” Therein, she introduced me to the term “twinkie.” It can be used to describe airheaded men and women equally.

Thursday, Heritage Foundation's Virginia Allen, Nicole Russell and Lauren Evans have a scripted conversation in order to produce a podcast. Their dishonesty is a source of irritation. Their dialog is titled: Problematic Women: America’s Transgender Craze Should Take a Cue From UK.

Like most tirades directed at transgender youth and their parents it is cloaked in phony concern for the wellbeing of minors. The reality is that Ms. Allen and Ms. Evans couldn't care less about the kids. They are concerned with defending scripture. Their dishonesty is dishonest bigotry.

One of the problems with people in the employ of conservative Christian organizations like Heritage is that they are never forced to defend their views. Nor do they even face due criticism because they live in an impenetrable bubble.

Denizens of that bubble do not appreciate the benefit of criticism. Critical thinkers learn a great deal from people with whom they disagree. Furthermore, were they intellectually curious they might not utter the spectacularly stupid and ignorant things that flows from them with great confidence.

At the outset, their title is dishonest. There is no transgender “craze.” People who in past decades would have transitioned later in life are transitioning as children. They do so because the best available medical science supports pediatric transition.

When Allen and Evans have some competing science published to reputable, peer-reviewed academic journals; when they can responsibly cite that research, then they might emerge from twinkie status. Alas, they are stuck in twinkiedom In the runup to the coloquay:
A high court in the United Kingdom recently ruled that children 16 years old and younger cannot be treated with puberty-blocking hormone drugs, unless a court specifically rules otherwise.
I have been in communication with the clinic that was the defendant in this case. The ruling is being appealed and, at a minimum, it requires clarification. The Court ruled that a minor under 16 years of age cannot provide informed medical consent. I tend to agree but it will vary among individuals.

What the Court failed to address is the fact that the parents of those minors are capable of providing informed consent. Therefore, it is quite possible, if not probable, that U.K. law now simply aligns with U.S. law. An emancipated minor can petition the court for consent when parental consent is unavailable.

Another issue that the Court failed to address was the status of minors currently receiving puberty blockers or hormones. The sudden withdrawal of that support could be devastating

Expert testimony in the UK came from an individual well known to Heritage Foundation: Paul Hruz. Hruz is a religious crackpot who has never treated a child with gender dysphoria. I wonder who paid his fee plus expenses.
Selected parts of an exchange of scripted gossip
Russell: … So, in the U.K., there is a gender clinic called the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. They’re the only clinic in the U.K. that facilitates transitions, I guess you could call them, to another gender.
People who understand the basics of gender incongruence read the above nonsense and shake their heads in astonishment. “I guess you could call” Ms. Russell is an ignoramus. Science: Gender and natal sex are separate constructs. When the two to not align, gender prevails. Transition conforms to the person's gender not to “another gender.”

It's bad enough that Russell has no clue. What makes it all the more obnoxious is that she is attempting to sound authoritative. Because she does not understand the nature of natal sex and gender, she is unable to offer anything of value.
Allen: … It’s definitely incredible to see the U.K. make this decision. And I really hope that the U.S. is paying attention because in some states in America, kids can start receiving these drugs without parental consent, as young as 15, even 13 years old. They can begin taking these drugs that will literally alter their body potentially for forever, do irreversible damage.
The above is factually incorrect. The age of medical consent varies from state to state and most states have a bifurcated system which allows for an emancipated minor to make medical decisions younger in age than a dependent minor. No state allows a 13 year old to make medical decisions.

Adding to the factual inaccuracy is the intentional simplification. It's not as simple as Allen suggests:
  1. Prepubescent children receive no medications.
  2. After entering puberty an adolescent might receive puberty blockers. According to the Pediatric Endocrine Society, these are fully reversible.
  3. In late teens, an adolescent might receive cross-sex hormones. Those do come with potential consequences.
Let us consider, for a moment, youth receiving hormones:
  • They are probably 16 years of age or older.
  • They are likely being treated by behavioral health clinicians.
  • To receive the hormones they are being treated by an endocrinologist with specific expertise in gender dysphoria who adheres to the clinical practice guidelines of the Endocrine Society.
  • Unless emancipated, they have parental consent.
The point is that a 16 year old (who would not be affected by the UK ruling) does not present himself or herself to a clinic and get hormones on request. In fact Planned Parenthood will not provide hormones to anyone under the age of 18.

My description of clinic processes is far too complex to be understood by the professional Christians at Heritage Foundation.

The chat goes progressively downhill:
Russell: Yes. It’s been really frustrating to observe. The transgender movement as a whole first began, I think, just as a frustration maybe among adults, and you watched adults transition slowly. And I think now it really has moved to teenagers and it has become, as Abigail Shrier talks about in her book, kind of a contagion.
“It’s been really frustrating to observe” the abject stupidity of religious conservatives. As I wrote previously, people are transitioning at a younger age as medical science has progressed. There is no evidence to support the idea that they would not have transitioned later in life. In all likelihood they would have.

They would because persistence of the condition is a function of severity. Those who transition tend to be in severe distress.

There is no such thing as a “transgender movement.” It is a response to a medical condition. The stupidity is comparable to things like: The hearing aid movement. The kidney dialysis movement. The pregnancy movement; and so on. They make no sense.

Abigail Shrier wrote a book to make money. Shrier is not a medical professional and possesses no expertise regarding trans youth or the underlying gender incongruence. A book is not research. It is not peer reviewed and it is not published to a reputable academic journal.

Gender dysphoria is not contagious. Nor is being transgender. There is no evidence to support a contagion hypothesis. The Littman study — on which much of Shrier's book is based — was corrected by the publisher to reflect the substantial limitations of the study subjects which did not include any transgender adolescents and was largely anonymous.

Russell continues:
It’s really spread almost as like the cool thing to do. And so teenagers are making these choices and doctors are often letting them make decisions to change their bodily chemistry in a way that can’t be undone.
No one thinks that being transgender is “the cool thing to do.” It is obtuse to suggest so. Transgender people face enormous obstacles, tremendous intolerance and continuous ridicule. Volunteers are unlikely.
There’s hundreds and hundreds of detransitioners out there. In fact, there was a piece in a London newspaper a few weeks ago, maybe a few months ago, about detransitioners who have decided, “We tried to transition and we realized it was a mistake,” and now their body is somewhere between male and female. And so I think in the United States, it’s definitely something we want to look for.
Detransitioners do exist but the percentages are minuscule. The most common reason cited for detransitioning is family pressure which means that someone must live in misery from a medical condition because their ignorant family does not approve of the means of mitigation. Ms. Russell and Ms. Allen prove that, while being transgender is not contagious, ignorance is an aerosol virus.

There are also people who should not have transitioned in the first place. That usually correlates to the quality of medical care. There is no therapy than can talk people out of their gender dysphoria. However therapy for people who are not in severe distress can help them determine which is better. Transitioning or living with some discomfort?

Furthermore, quality behavioral health care tracks people over time. Clinicians also help family members understand a youth's condition from a scientific perspective. Gender diversity is not a philosophy or doctrine.

Russell continues as if she is in possession of some special expertise:
I know there’s been legislation put forth to try to put caps on at least these age ranges so that we can protect minors from doing something they will regret, because we’ve found as we’ve researched this and as time has gone on that often, teenagers, if they receive therapy and if they just don’t do any of the transitioning, the medical transitions, that they often sort of come out of this phase and they realize in their 20s, OK, they don’t want to live like that anymore.
Every attempt at legislating restrictions on gender-affirming care has failed. They fail because a state legislator, who might be a farmer or owner of a plumbing supply, is not in a position to substitute his judgment for that of a youth, their parents and their doctors.

Again, as a reminder: None of this has anything to do with the best interests of minors. This is about literalist Christians, their scripture and the politicians who pander to them.

Russell refers to research which she conveniently fails to cite. That is because there does not exist research to support the idea that forcing youth not to transition can cause them to desist. Quite the contrary. As Dr. Jack Turban (now a fellow at Stanford via Harvard) so eloquently explained:
[Ten years ago] The hope was that early treatment would “diminish the risk of a continuation of gender identity disorder into adulthood” — in other words, make children stop being transgender. Transgender youth during this time suffered high rates of depression and anxiety. By young adulthood, nearly half had attempted suicide.
In other words, Russell's uninformed bullshit has the potential to kill kids were parents to believe that Russell actually knows something. Conservative Christians have adopted the phrase “watchful waiting.” They attempt to dishonestly pass this off as medical advice. It is based on religious dogma. Not science.

What erudition does Nicole Russell have that allows her to contest the clinical practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics? Those guidelines have now been in place for over two years. Seriously. Who in hell are the three twinkies to assert that they are authoritative?
Allen: … And you mentioned Abigail Shrier. We had her on this podcast back in July. …
Russell: Mm-hmm. Yes, absolutely. I think that is a really powerful connection. And I think in terms of parenting, something that all parents of teenagers and especially teenage girls need to just keep an eye on is who are they talking to, what are they doing online?
I have no issue with parents monitoring the Internet activity of their children within reason. However, Russell is trying to convince people that gender dysphoria is a social contagion with no supporting scientific evidence. The woman has no training or expertise to spout off.
Russell: And so I think it is something for parents to consider working through … in therapy, but not necessarily going as far as the actual transitions. And I think the real problem is it feels like doctors or even just parents should be aware of that and they should know that, but for some reason on this issue, everybody tends to give in.
The imbecile is actually spouting medical advice and she is claiming to know more than the doctors who treat the condition. People don't “give in” to some evil credo. They, hopefully, follow the best available medical science which is something that the three twinkies do not want people to do because it conflicts with religious dogma.
Russell: There are a few people in the medical industry that are willing to hold the line and say, “Look, if your arm was hurting, you wouldn’t chop it off.” But when a teenage girl comes to a doctor and says, “I just feel like I want to be a boy,” they’re like, “OK, let’s do a mastectomy.”
Right. Just like that doctors are chopping off breasts. Moron! A teen requires parental consent. WPATH guideline are for surgical patients to be in their majority. Surgeons insist on two behavior health evaluations.
Russell: It’s so extreme and it’s so traumatic. And I can really pin it back to this whole concept of kind of this craze being accepted societally and with the progressive media and with Hollywood, and it’s made it really difficult to combat.
Nice try. What they are trying to “combat” is medical science because it conflicts with religious doctrine. But they will persist over and over again that they actually give a shit about kids who have a medical condition that they disapprove of.
Allen: Yeah. So I guess that then kind of raises the question, whose responsibility is it to kind of, I guess, bring people back to earth on this issue, to bring some common sense back to this discussion?

I mean, I guess in some ways, it’s all of our responsibility …
No. It is not your responsibility to play doctor. And don't dare call it common sense! Common sense, when it comes to the medical care of children, is to be guided by medical science. This is just religious propaganda. I see through it but Heritage has an incurious constituency.

At this point I probably glow in the dark:
Russell: Yeah. That’s a really good question. I do really wish the medical community would just observe what they’ve seen as professionals and really just gather up their own courage and start to just be the voice of reason because I do think some people would listen to that.
Of course. The practice of medicine should be guided by superstition. Doing so is not “courageous.” It is reckless, moronic and a violation of their oath. Fuck the researchers! What do they know that the three twinkies do not know?

Later on:
Russell: So, like, English, science, history, those are subjects that if you happened to live in a really liberal area or sort of progressive part of the country, teachers could easily sneak in books and textbooks and movies that kind of touch on this and make it normal, make it feel like it’s normalized.
So, like (I can hear the gum snapping), being transgender is not normal. Great lesson for children. Dumb them down and make them evil little bigots.

Heritage gives credit to Lauren Evans for this piece. She is not quoted. Perhaps she directed or edited this awful mess.

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