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Tucker Carlson props up Arkansas’ extreme anti-trans law with lies about medical care for trans youth

Carlson’s misinformation and the right-wing media’s lies fuel extreme measures

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WASHINGTON – On April 6, Arkansas became the first state in the country to ban best practice medical care for transgender youth in a move advocates have called “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.” That evening, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson — a serial misinformer on the subject — dedicated a 10-minute segment of his show to lying about such care, including the effects of puberty blockers

In reality, such necessary care for trans youth is accepted as a safe, effective, and lifesaving treatment that is widely supported by medical professionals and yields long-term mental health benefits. The Washington Post’s Samantha Schmidt explained:

Medical guidelines do not recommend performing gender-affirming genital surgeries on transgender people before they turn 18. They also do not recommend any medical interventions before a child reaches puberty. But once transgender children reach the early stages of puberty, medical guidelines say they can consider puberty blockers, which are reversible treatments that pause puberty and give children time to decide what to do next. Later in their teenage years, transgender adolescents can consider hormone replacement therapies, such as estrogen for trans girls and testosterone for trans boys, which create more permanent changes to their bodies.

Despite the well-documented importance of providing best practice medical care for trans youth, Carlson repeatedly claimed that trans kids receiving such care experience poor mental health side effects, falsely stating that “the depression and the urge to self-harm and suicide is a component, is a side effect of taking these hormones.” He later lied that “there is not a single study that I’m aware of that shows an improvement in the mental health of children who take puberty blockers who are chemically castrated.” Carlson repeatedly and falsely referred to such treatments as “chemical castration,” a popular myth pushed by right-wing and anti-LGBTQ media. (Notably, Carlson admitted earlier this year that “most people, including me, have very little idea of what it means, medically” to transition.)

Carlson berated his guest, Arkansas’ Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, for vetoing the original bill (the state’s legislature then overturned his veto, passing the new anti-trans law on April 6). Hutchinson pushed back on some of Carlson’s false claims about health care for trans youth during the episode, yet he has signed other extreme anti-trans bills into law this year, including one banning trans athletes from competing and another allowing medical providers to refuse service to LGBTQ people.

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Asa Hutchinson is the governor of Arkansas and he joins us to talk about this story. Governor, thanks so much for coming on. I really appreciate it in the middle of all this. Now I think of you as a conservative; here you’ve come out publicly as pro-choice on the question of chemical castration of children. What changed?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, your teaser as you led in to this program did not accurately represent the bill.

CARLSON: If I could just correct you for a second. This is chemical castration, of course; if you stop puberty and suppress the sex hormones, you are chemically castrating someone. So, our description was correct. … Why do you think it’s important for conservatives to make certain that children can block their puberty, be chemically castrated? Why is that a conservative value, if you would tell us?

CARLSON: So you believe it’s health care. How much — how deeply have you studied this topic? With respect, it doesn’t seem like you’ve studied it very deeply. I mean, this is an emerging field. There’s not a lot of research, but the research that exists suggests that the depression and the urge to self-harm and suicide is a component, is a side effect of taking these hormones. A study in the U.K. showed the overwhelming majority of kids, of children on puberty-blocking hormones had the urge to hurt themselves. Why is that responsible medicine to do that to children? Why would you support something like that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I actually reviewed some of that study. I reviewed the high court decision there, and I think they are different than what you are talking about here. Sure, there’s a lot of unknowns here. I studied this bill and in contrast to what you just said, I spent a lot of time reviewing cases, meeting with people, listening to the experts as well as to faith leaders as well. And I’m a person of faith, but at the same time, I’m a person of limited role of government. I signed pro-life bills. I signed many bills that would be looked at as very conservative, but this is one that crosses the line. There is no need for it. And it doesn’t justify itself.

CARLSON: I’m sorry, but hold on. You just said that you have seen research that shows the mental health of children who received puberty blocking drugs improves? What is that research exactly?

HUTCHINSON: Well, the research that I’ve seen shows that these troubled youth, these ones that have gender dysphoria, that they also have depression. They have suicidal tendencies. It’s a higher suicide rate than others, and they go to their parents, the parents go to doctors, and they try to deal with this very difficult issue. I don’t think we should deny them health care.

Carlson is part of a greater right-wing media ecosystem that regularly disinforms about best practice medical care for trans youth

Last month, Carlson similarly used his Fox prime-time show to attack South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem for not supporting her state’s bill to ban trans kids from competing in sports, despite her commitment to prohibiting trans athletes via other measures. 

In lashing out at GOP figures like Noem and Hutchinson for rejecting some anti-trans measures while supporting others, right-wing media figures including Carlson demonstrate an unwillingness to accept anything but the most extreme anti-trans policies from leaders on the right. 

And Carlson’s anti-trans lies do not exist in a vacuum; right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ figures obsessively fearmonger and spread disinformation about best practice medical care for trans youth, and they have recently amplified this harmful rhetoric to attack the Equality Act. 

Moreover, right-wing content about trans kids’ health care often earns high engagement on social media and skews the public’s understanding of the issue. A Media Matters study of Facebook content about trans topics earning at least 100,000 interactions (likes, comments, and shares) during a one-year time period found that content about trans issues from right-leaning sources “earned nearly two times the engagement of all other sources combined.” Overall, 12% of such content was from right-leaning sources writing about medical care for trans youth, receiving a total of 8.31 million Facebook interactions. 

Carlson’s misinformation and the right-wing media’s lies fuel extreme measures like Arkansas’ new law

Arkansas is just one of many states around the country advancing measures to ban and criminalize best practice care for transgender youth. In at least two states, doctors could face criminal penalties for providing lifesaving care for children (Missouri’s legislation further “includes parents who help or support their children in undergoing these medical treatments, requiring that they be reported to the state children’s division”), and in at least one, care would be banned for trans people up to age 21. Similar efforts in the past were fueled by the misinformation spread by right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ groups.

Trans advocate and American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chase Strangio has described such measures as “forcing young people already receiving treatment off of it and removing them from care that has allowed them to manage distress and embrace their own, individual processes of learning about and celebrating their bodies and identities.” Vox writer and trans journalist Katelyn Burns has explained the long-term impacts of these bills:

But this approach would force trans girls into male puberty and trans boys into female puberty without their consent, and brings along its own permanent changes, which could only partially be reversed through painful and expensive medical treatments in adulthood. Trans women forced through male puberty would then have to undergo painful and expensive electrolysis to remove facial hair and may be left with a body frame (shoulder and hip width) that would be unchangeable by any surgeries. Trans men would have to have surgery to remove their breasts and, like their trans female counterparts, be forced to live in an unwanted body frame for their entire lives.

As states consider the fate of trans youth whose physical and mental well-being are on the line, the public must not fall for lies and misinformation about best practice medical care from Tucker Carlson and other right-wing media.

Brianna January is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters. Brianna holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and has a background in LGBTQ human rights and advocacy.  

The preceding piece was originally published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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Homophobia wins in the Puerto Rico Senate

Bill to ban conversion therapy died in committee

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[Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By Alberto J. Valentín | It is a sad day for Puerto Rico, and it is a sad day for human rights on the Caribbean island.

Last Thursday, 11 senators decided to turn their backs on children and human rights in Puerto Rico. A new Senate majority proved to be weak and on the wrong side of history, again. Eight senators from the legislative committee reviewing Senate Bill 184 to ban conversation therapy on the island voted against the bill’s report.

Today, thanks to these senators, any mental health professional can freely charge a father for “curing” his son of homosexuality or of a gender identity/expression that does not conform to social standards of “normality.” Although there has been an executive order in Puerto Rico banning conversation therapy since 2018, this order is only applicable to health institutions that have a specific connection with the government. Executive orders state mandatory requirements for the Executive Branch and have the effect of law; however, any governor can revoke them.

Senators received scientific evidence and several testimonies from LGBTQIA people who testified during public hearings. These senators also received evidence of permanent depression and suicide attempts caused by conversion therapy. However, 11 senators decided to condone hate and the intolerance towards the LGBTQIA youth on the island. One of these senators, Wanda Soto, said during one of the public hearings that “… with love anything is possible … ” in reference to her belief that kids’ sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed or cured. This senator even compared a bad personal experience with a dentist she had when she was a kid with LGBTQIA opponents’ testimonies of their experiences of going through conversion therapy.

Suicide and depression rates among LGBTQIA youth are staggering and are the highest in the entire United States compared to other reasons. These indices are a direct consequence of the intolerance, discrimination and lack of validation that our society perpetuates. LGBTQIA youth go through difficult times in their lives, including personal and family acceptance that trigger years of depression and anxiety among LGBTQIA people.

Today again, hatred wins. Today, Puerto Rico demonstrates why it is the number one jurisdiction for hate crimes in the entire United States. Today again, these 11 senators make evident why gender-based crimes continue to dominate local headlines. Today these senators are an example of the ignorance and lack of cultural competence that persist in our island. Today, these senators will be responsible for the depression and the stigma that the LGBTQIA community will continue to suffer. Today these senators are responsible for perpetuating intolerance. We take a step back as a society, demonstrating again that we cannot tolerate those who are different and who do not meet our standards of normality.

Neither the tears of Gustavo nor Elvin or Caleb, who presented their testimonies before the Puerto Rico Senate, were enough to move the hearts of these senators. The hypocritical hugs and words of support that some senators gave to these LGBTQIA people after their testimony and personally meeting them make it much harder to understand how they turned their backs on our children. Today these 11 senators are responsible for perpetuating hate crimes on the island and make our path to be a more inclusive society even harder.

Homophobia won in the Puerto Rico Senate last Thursday. There was no difference when the pro-statehood Senate majority defeated SB 1000 (banning conversion therapy) back in 2018 and now with a new majority lead by the Popular Democratic Party. Different senators, different bills, same result, but the same homophobia. Many Puerto Rican voters believed that furthering human rights would be easier to achieve on the island with a new majority in the legislature. Unfortunately, the reality is that our legislature is just a mirror of our society, and the lack of cultural competence persists among us. But we will keep fighting; this is a single lost battle, a battle among many others yet to come.

These are the 11 senators who voted against SB 184 or didn’t vote:

  1. Sen. Rubén Soto – Against
  2. Sen. Ramón Ruiz – Against
  3. Sen. Albert Torres – Against
  4. Sen. Ada García – Against
  5. Sen. Wanda Soto – Against
  6. Sen. Marissa Jimenez – Against
  7. Sen. Joanne Rodríguez – Against
  8. Sen. Thomas Rivera – Against
  9. Sen. José L. Dalmau – Absent
  10. Sen. Marially González – Absent
  11. Sen. Javier Aponte – Absent
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Happy Mother’s Day

The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wishes all of the mother’s a very happy mother’s day and thank you for all that you do.

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The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wishes all of the mother’s a very happy mother’s day and thank you for all that you do.

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Rich privilege on full display- Hannity interviews Jenner and it wasn’t pretty

Vox journalist Aaron Rupar live tweeted the show, capturing some of the arguably worst of the discourse with Jenner.

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LOS ANGELES – Fox News pundit and anchor Sean Hannity interviewed realty television star Caitlyn Jenner on his show Wednesday evening and it frankly was a hot mess.

Jenner, who announced a week ago that she’s running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the likely recall election this Fall, gave Hannity her take on issues that was Trumpian and clueless to outright enraging at times.

Vox journalist Aaron Rupar live tweeted the show, capturing some of the arguably worst of the discourse with Jenner pontificating on subject matters that she clearly doesn’t have a firm grasp of.

For instance, on California’s homeless crisis: Jenner said: “My friends are leaving California. My hangar, [ Jenner is a pilot and has her own aircraft ] the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, where are you going? And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless'”

Jenner again disparages Trans youth athletes: Jenner explains that she’s opposed to transgender girls playing sports against other girls. But then in the next breath she says she wants to be a role model for transgender girls.

“Forest management is extremely important” Jenner’s comments about wildfires reminded Rupar of former President Trump’s clueless remarks.

Next she claims, well take a listen yourself:

This next part is rich. “You’re pro *legal* immigration” — Sean Hannity puts words in Caitlyn Jenner’s mouth when she talks about immigration. Jenner responds by saying, “sorry, did I miss the legal part? Thanks for catching me. You’ve got my back, Sean, I appreciate that.”

Then there’s her take on trains. Jenner wonders why high speed rail is needed between LA and SF since people can just fly

Then she muses that Trump did a better job than Biden is doing which is completely vapid and devoid of substance

Mercifully it ended…

I reached out to a Trans activist of note for comments on the Hannity interview, who angrily asked why I would consider giving Jenner any more oxygen.

I explained that sadly in the toxic world of Republican politics circa 2021 in a post-Trump presidency world there are those right wing extremists who will hold Jenner up as an ‘authority-figure’ and as a spokesperson for Trans people, and worse will cite Jenner as an example.

Jenner needs to be marginalized, people need to hear loudly and clearly that she absolutely does not speak for the LGBTQ+ community and that her bigotry towards young Trans people is harmful and dangerous.

While Jenner’s candidacy and ‘policy’ positions may well be perceived as a joke, what does need to be taken seriously is her ongoing attacks on the Trans youth who just want to participate in sports.

Electing not to comment the activist agreed.

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