Child Protection Bills Need Unyielding Clarity to Truly Succeed
As state legislatures draft bills to protect children from the harms of medical experimentation in the form of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and radical, surgical modification of healthy body parts, drafters inadvertently validate the very ideas they seek to oppose. While we applaud any legislative effort to protect children and minors from experimental treatments in the name of “gender,” we are concerned that misleading and vague terms have found their way into the language used in the proposed legislation.
“Gender identity,” “biological female,” “identification with biological sex,” “genital gender reassignment,” and “gender transition” – these rote phrases are found in many child protection bills, but what do they really mean?
Bills often refer to a child’s “distress at identifying with their biological sex” and state that such children “come to identify with their biological sex in adolescence or adulthood, thereby rendering most medical health care interventions unnecessary.” While it may be simple to glance over such a provision quickly and accept its validity, it is essential to demand that all terms be clearly defined.
These bills do not define or even describe what it means to “identify with” one’s biological sex. Repeated references to “children who experience distress at identifying with their biological sex” legitimize the idea that a child can identify as something they are not, and that the locus of their distress has been accurately determined to be their “identification” with their sex. However, it is not evident that the distress these children are experiencing is related to “identity” at all. “Identity” is a vague buzzword and it is often left undefined in the text of child protection bills.
PEC asserts that identity extends from material reality. One cannot identify as something or someone they are not. If an individual experiences distress due to the material reality of their sex, then surgery, hormones, and amputation cannot be offered as treatments in an ethical society. Perhaps “experiences distress related to a fixation on the reality of their sex” would be more apt. Clarity requires precision in language, and that may mean more verbosity in the text of child protection bills. As we are currently in a period of history where objective reality is objectionable to many, we may need to sacrifice brevity for the sake of such precision.
The implicit legitimization of so-called “transition” procedures often appears in multiple provisions of a single act. Take, for example, a provision such as this: “Individuals should be encouraged to seek mental health care services before undertaking any hormonal or surgical intervention.” This provision implicitly suggests that these predatory interventions would be necessary for individuals whose “distress at identifying with their biological sex” persists into adolescence and adulthood. PEC categorically opposes the idea that these interventions are in any way legitimate health care. Certainly these individuals should be encouraged to seek mental health care, but “hormonal or surgical intervention” should not be entertained as any kind of possible remedy.
Bills use the phrases “biological males” and “biological females” to describe what could simply be called “males” and “females.” Use of the word “biological” implies that there are other kinds of males and females. This unnecessary inclusion legitimizes the idea that the basis of being male or female is not always biological and could be avoided by providing definitions of “male” and “female” in the definitions sections of the bills.
Bills refer to medical “transition” surgeries as “genital gender reassignment” surgeries. These surgeries could be more aptly described as “genital modification,” “genital amputation,” or “genital mutilation” surgeries, rather than “genital reassignment,” as it is impossible to “reassign” one’s genitals.
Bills sometimes define “gender transition” as “the process in which a person goes from identifying with and living as a gender that corresponds to his or her biological sex to identifying with and living as a gender different from his or her biological sex.” What does it mean to “identify with” a gender? What does it mean to “live as” a gender? PEC asserts there is no material basis for "gender." The idea of "gender" is just that: an idea; one that is more appropriately relegated to a sociology classroom than state legislation. There is only biological sex and personality, and the word "gender" should be removed from all legislation, as it is an inherently vague and ill-defined word. Like gender ideology itself, the language of many child protection bills is confused, vague, and inaccurate.