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Gender-Affirming Care Bans Often Modeled by Anti-LGBTQ+ Groups: Report

Gender-Affirming Care Bans Often Modeled by Anti-LGBTQ+ Groups: Report

Montana state capitol

Their language is identical or similar to that endorsed by the Family Research Council and a newer group called Do No Harm.

Several of the proposed and enacted state bans on gender-affirming care for transgender minors take their language directly from model legislation crafted by anti-LGBTQ+ groups, an Associated Press analysis has found.

Using a program from Plural, which specializes in public policy-related software, the AP obtained the text of more than 130 bills that have been introduced in 40 states this year. Numerous pieces of legislation “are identical or very similar to” models supplied by a group called Do No Harm and the infamously homophobic and transphobic Family Research Council, the news service reports.

While the FRC has been around for years and is well known, Do No Harm is relatively new. Launched in April 2022, it bills itself online as “a diverse group of physicians, healthcare professionals, medical students, patients, and policymakers united by a moral mission: Protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology.” This includes opposing critical race theory and other anti-racism efforts, such as affirmative action, and “protecting minors from gender ideology,” according to its website.

The site calls gender-affirming care an “unscientific and individually harmful practice” and says it “is based on the dangerous premise that any child who has distress that he or she thinks is related to their sex should automatically be treated with social transition to the sex of their choice followed by hormonal interventions and then possibly surgery to remove healthy body parts. Underlying mental health problems are usually not addressed.”

In reality, such care is undertaken only after careful consideration by young people and their parents in consultation with medical professionals, including mental health therapists. And far from being “unscientific,” it is endorsed by every major U.S. medical association.

“Some statehouse bills share similarities with Do No Harm’s model legislation and a 2021 Arkansas bill endorsed as a model by the Family Research Council,” the AP reports. “The model bills have similar preambles, including the assertion — rebutted by major medical organizations — that the risks of gender-affirming care outweigh its benefits.”

In Montana, for instance, the Senate bill that passed this year “retained much” of the language from a Do No Harm model, the AP notes. Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a ban on gender-affirming care for trans minors into law after both houses of the legislature approved it.

Bills that have become law in Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, and West Virginia contain language similar to that of models from either or both groups, as does a bill introduced but stalled in New Hampshire, according to the AP. That result came up even though the news service hasn’t analyzed every bill it obtained, so there may well be more that reflect the models.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a retired kidney specialist and former professor and associate dean at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, is the founder of Do No Harm and chairs its board. He is author of the book Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors Into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine. He wrote a column along similar lines for The Wall Street Journal in 2019, for which he was criticized in a letter signed by more than 150 alumni of Penn’s medical school, the AP notes.

“Last year, he was the target of an online petition after he reacted to an article in a scientific journal about the academic success rates of medical residency students of color at several institutions by suggesting in a tweet that ‘Could it be they were just less good at being residents?’” according to an AP story published in May.

The Do No Harm staff also includes Chloe Cole, who has testified in several state legislatures about transition regret. She is listed as a patient advocate on the Do No Harm website. The group’s executive director is Kristina Rasmussen, who was previously chief of staff to former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, and president of the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian think tank.

In an interview for the May story, Dr. Meredithe McNamara, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, told the AP that “every single line” of Do No Harm’s model legislation “contains some sort of falsehood.”

“My overall takeaway from this is that there are a lot of recycled false claims about gender dysphoria, standards of care, safety, evidence, and medical authority, which seems like it’s right out of the disinformation playbook,” she added.

Twenty states have banned some or all gender-affirming care for trans minors. Laws to this effect have been blocked or struck down by courts in Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida, and court challenges are proceeding in several other states. In Oklahoma, lawyers for the state and those who sued to block the law agreed that it will not be enforced while the lawsuit is heard.

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