GOP Sen. Rick Scott has a terrifying plan to drive transgender people from public life
Scott's "11 Point Plan to Rescue America" includes a number of scary proposals to effectively eradicate trans people. Let's talk about it.
Hello, readers. Here’s hoping you had a pleasant weekend! I’ve got a lot to say, so let’s get right to it.
Last Tuesday, Politico published an article about Florida Senator and head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Rick Scott’s “11 Point Plan to Rescue America: What Americans Must Do to Save This Country.” Scott’s 31-page document is a far-right wish list with a bunch of vague promises like “Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them” and “We are Americans, not globalists.” It is, as Scott writes in the file’s opening letter, a document that “will be ridiculed by the ‘woke’ left, mocked by Washington insiders, and strike fear in the heart of some Republicans.”
So, you know, mission accomplished, I guess?
I feel compelled to address one bullet point that has not exactly gotten a lot of press in the aftermath of publication.
“Point Nine: Gender, Life, Science” deals with abortion and transgender rights. Here’s how it reads:
“Men and women are biologically different, ‘male and female He created them,” it begins, quoting Genesis 1:27.1 And while there’s a lot to say about the abortion rhetoric2, I want to focus for a moment on the trans aspects of this because I fear that a lot of this is whooshing by unnoticed. Let’s review:
“No government forms will include questions about ‘gender identity’ or ‘sexual preference.’”
At first glance, it might be easy to read this as little more than a decision not to include questions about LGBTQ identity on things like the Census3, but it would be foolish to think that’s the end of it.
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And while there are plenty of reasons why that would be bad enough, their plan goes beyond this. If you exclude questions about “‘gender identity’ or ‘sexual preference’”4 from government documents, that likely means that trans people would no longer be allowed to update their passports5 to accurately reflect who they are. To change this would cause chaos in trans people’s lives, making it impossible to travel to certain countries, and being forced to out themselves as trans whenever they showed it.
As I mentioned in last week’s recap, not having consistent and identity-accurate documents can put trans people in a precarious position. As I think this story is so important, I’m again reprinting it below to show how inconsistent documents can unnecessarily out trans people, cost them their jobs, and so on. Luckily for the woman in the story below, it worked out. From the ACLU in 2018:
Stacie Ray knows firsthand how dangerous it can be to have ID documents that don’t reflect who she is, especially when they out you as transgender to other people.
For instance, in 2016 Stacie attended a new job orientation along with 10 other new employees, and they were all required to present their birth certificates. When a human resources staffer called Stacie up in front of all the other new employees and examined her documents, the staffer said, “Why doesn’t your gender match?” That’s because while Stacie is a woman, she was assigned male at birth, and her Ohio birth certificate still says she’s male. Ohio is one of just three states, plus Puerto Rico, that refuse to update the gender marker on birth certificates, at any time, for any reason.
The consequences for Stacie were severe: She was outed to her co-workers as transgender and they started calling her “the freak of the company.” Another female co-worker told Stacie that if she ever encountered Stacie in the women’s room, she would “beat [her] ass.” The intense shunning and harassment led Stacie to quit that job just two weeks later.
The following year, Stacie was working as a truck driver and sought a higher paying job that required a hazardous materials endorsement for her commercial driver’s license. That endorsement in turn required a background check from the Transportation Safety Administration. At the first appointment for getting the background check, Stacie gave the TSA both her Ohio driver’s license, which correctly showed her as female, and her Ohio birth certificate, which still said male. The TSA not only told her it wouldn’t do the background check because of the discrepancy in the gender markers on her Ohio documents, but it also outed her as transgender to others in the waiting area.
Humiliated and in tears, Stacie drove directly to the Ohio Board of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, which handles birth certificates, explained what she had just been through, and asked for a corrected birth certificate. They said, “We will never change it.”
To prevent trans people from updating their identifying documents6 would be to adopt the same policy as the authoritarian government of Hungary, which human rights groups have condemned. On to the next point…
“Humans are born male and female, there are two genders, and to deny that is to deny science.”
That’s just flat-out false. Even if you want to say that to take a swipe at trans people, that ignores the fact that intersex people exist and don’t always comfortably fit within the male/female binary. A 2015 lawsuit from an intersex person finally resulted in a change at the State Department in 2021, allowing them to obtain a passport with an “X” in the “sex” field.7
So setting aside trans people entirely (some trans people are also intersex, some intersex people are also trans, but many fall into one category or the other), the very existence of intersex people is evidence that no, it’s not as simple as putting people in one of two clear-cut categories.8 So no, acknowledging that there is more than just “male” and “female” is not “to deny science.” Okay, next bullet point…
“No doctor will be allowed to perform irreversible surgical or gender-altering procedures on any minor child. Once they become adults, they can do what they wish.”
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care document has a lot to say about transgender youth.
On “physical interventions for adolescents”:
Before any physical interventions are considered for adolescents, extensive exploration of psychological, family, and social issues should be undertaken, as outlined above. The duration of this exploration may vary considerably depending on the complexity of the situation.
Physical interventions should be addressed in the context of adolescent development. Some identity beliefs in adolescents may become firmly held and strongly expressed, giving a false impression of irreversibility. An adolescent’s shift towards gender conformity can occur primarily to please the parents and may not persist or reflect a permanent change in gender dysphoria.
On the types of physical interventions available:
Physical interventions for adolescents fall into three categories or stages (Hembree et al., 2009):
Fully reversible interventions. These involve the use of GnRH analogues to suppress estrogen or testosterone production and consequently delay the physical changes of puberty. Alternative treatment options include progestins (most commonly medroxyprogesterone) or other medications (such as spironolactone) that decrease the effects of androgens secreted by the testicles of adolescents who are not receiving GnRH analogues. Continuous oral contraceptives (or depot medroxyprogesterone) may be used to suppress menses.
Partially reversible interventions. These include hormone therapy to masculinize or feminize the body. Some hormone-induced changes may need reconstructive surgery to reverse the effect (e.g., gynaecomastia caused by estrogens), while other changes are not reversible (e.g., deepening of the voice caused by testosterone.).
Irreversible interventions. These are surgical procedures.
A staged process is recommended to keep options open through the first two stages. Moving from one stage to another should not occur until there has been adequate time for adolescents and their parents to assimilate fully the effects of earlier interventions.
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.
On puberty-suppressing hormones:
Two goals justify intervention with puberty-suppressing hormones: (i) their use gives adolescents more time to explore their gender nonconformity and other developmental issues; and (ii) their use may facilitate transition by preventing the development of sex characteristics that are difficult or impossible to reverse if adolescents continue on to pursue sex reassignment.
Puberty suppression may continue for a few years, at which time a decision is made to either discontinue all hormone therapy or transition to a feminizing/masculinizing hormone regimen. Pubertal suppression does not inevitably lead to social transition or to sex reassignment.
Neither puberty suppression nor allowing puberty to occur is a neutral act. On one hand, functioning in later life can be compromised by the development of irreversible secondary sex characteristics during puberty and by years spent experiencing intense gender dysphoria. On the other hand, there are concerns about negative physical side effects of GnRH analogue use (e.g., on bone development and height). Although the very first results of this approached (as assessed for adolescents followed over 10 years) are promising (Cohen-Kettenis et al., 2011; Delmarre-van de Waal & Cohen-Kettenis, 2006), the long-term effects can only be determined when the earliest-treated patients reach the approximate age.
On risks of withholding medical treatment for adolescents:
Refusing timely medical interventions for adolescents might prolong gender dysphoria and contribute to an appearance that could provoke abuse and stigmatization. As the level of gender-related abuse is strongly associated with the degree of psychiatric distress during adolescence (Nuttbrock et al., 2010), withholding puberty suppression and subsequent feminizing or masculinizing hormone therapy is not a neutral option for adolescents.
There’s a lot more in WPATH’s document, which is backed up by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and, well… pretty much every medical group worth a damn. The idea that children are being pushed to take irreversible steps is utter nonsense. The process is slow and deliberate. As Republicans have pushed to ban medical treatment for trans kids, they’ve created a vision in which children are being put through irreversible surgeries and pumped full of hormones. They’ve conveniently lumped reversible interventions like puberty-suppressing medications (which have been used in non-trans kids, as well!) in with surgery.
When Texas Gov. Greg Abbot directed his state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate trans children, he hyped up surgeries (which are extremely, extremely rare), while also going after puberty-suppressing medications. The goal in this and with all “once they become adults, they can do as they wish” (to quote Rick Scott) policies is to force trans people to go through their body’s naturally-occurring puberty. As someone who didn’t transition until after puberty, I really do not think I can properly articulate the kind of anguish and permanent damage to my overall well-being that puberty had on me. Another goal of the right in doing this is to ensure that trans people are easy to spot.9
And, finally, on to the last point…
“We will protect women’s sports by banning biological males from competing. It is hugely unfair and would erase many of the gains women have made in athletics over the last 50 years.”
This has become the latest hobbyhorse of the right, but it serves the same purpose as the other anti-trans talking points: to stigmatize and exclude trans people from public life and from being recognized for who they are.
After years of struggling to pass laws that would make it effectively illegal for trans people to use public restrooms10 on the debunked premise that allowing trans people to use the restroom matching their gender identity would lead to an uptick in bathroom-related assaults, they’ve shifted their target and now pretend that they’re actually just big fans of women’s sports.
My take on this issue: it’s complicated. I’ve written a lot about it in the past, but plan to devote a full newsletter to the topic either this week or next. The tl;dr is that whether trans girls and trans women have advantages in sports is entirely dependent on a number of factors (what sport are we talking about? how old are the competitors? how long has the trans woman in question been on hormones? did the trans woman in question go through testosterone-driven puberty or not?) that Republicans refuse to acknowledge exist. By not doing so, by simply insisting on blanket bans on trans people from participating in sports with others, forcing them to compete with whatever it says on their birth certificate (which, as I mentioned earlier, Republicans are also trying to make impossible to change), they’re showing their hand: they just don’t want us to exist publicly.
There’s a lot more to say about this topic, and while I genuinely hate having to write follow-ups to things I wrote nearly a decade ago, it seems that this is going to be the wedge issue that Republicans choose to run on in 2022 and 2024.
Thanks for sticking around and reading! I appreciate all the support and I want to send a heartfelt thank you to new subscribers. Just… thank you. So much. That’s all for now.
Setting aside the gigantic issues with quoting the Bible while talking about belief in science, the “them” who is “male and female” being referred to in Genesis 1:27 is Adam, just a single person. It’s not until Genesis 2:21-23 that Eve is created from one of Adam’s ribs. So even if you’re one to point to the Bible for this kind of stuff, this isn’t the slam-dunk argument against the validity of trans people or their identities that you think it is.
It’s terrible. It equates abortion with murder, a point of argument that has been a popular stance on the right for some time. The end goal of this is, ostensibly, to be able to charge abortion providers with murder (if not the people seeking abortions themselves).
The Trump administration had questions related to LGBTQ identity removed from the 2020 Census. Here's a piece worth checking out for more info on why this was a terrible decision.
There’s no reason for those words to be in quotes in Scott’s document other than to cast doubt on their legitimacy.
GOP-led legislatures have introduced bill after bill at the state level, making it impossible to update identifying documents.
The ruling from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals includes a memorable line: “The State Department acknowledges that some individuals are born neither male nor female. Forcing these individuals to pick a gender thus injects inaccuracy into the data. A chef might label a jar of salt a jar of sugar, but the label does not make the salt any sweeter. Nor does requiring intersex people to mark ‘male’ or ‘female’ on an application make the passport more accurate.”
Anti-LGBTQI groups like the Family Research Council try to dismiss this by saying that it’s “misleading” because only “a tiny percentage of people suffer from disorders of sexual development (DSD), sometimes referred to as an intersex condition (or as hermaphroditism). True hermaphrodites — those in whom sexual anatomy is ambiguous or clearly conflicts with their chromosomal make-up — are rare, estimated by one expert as “occurring in fewer than 2 out of every 10,000 live births.” So what they’re saying is that yes, they are wrong, but because it’s such a small portion of the population, they shouldn’t have to count them. The “2 out of every 10,000 live births” line is dubious. Also, don’t call people “hermaphrodites.”
There are lots of “hurr-hurr look at the big burly man in a dress” type of comments out there, and Republicans are doing everything they can to ensure that this stereotype lives on (at least until we’re all but wiped out from public life entirely). I don’t want future generations to have to endure what I did.