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Mike Pence Shifts to ‘Gender Ideology’ When Asked About Anti-Trans Violence

Mike Pence Shifts to ‘Gender Ideology’ When Asked About Anti-Trans Violence

Mike Pence and an Iowa mother

For Republicans, everything about the existence of transgender people is framed as “woke” or “gender ideology.”

Mike Pence, the former vice president running a long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination, could not answer questions about protecting transgender lives from violence during a televised town hall event on News Nation Wednesday. Instead, he pivoted to invalidating transgender kids’ experiences, saying that it was important for lawmakers to protect them from making decisions about their futures.

Responding to a question about parental rights pertaining to children’s education, Pence pivoted to the current Republican culture war issue: transgender rights.

“We have got to recognize that there’s a radical gender ideology that’s taken hold in many of our schools around the country,” Pence claimed, bringing up his criticism of an Iowa school district regarding its transgender-inclusive policies.

“I actually got involved,” Pence boasted. “The Linn-Marr Community Schools in Iowa. Here was the policy: You had to have a note from your parents to get a Tylenol from the school nurse, but you could get a gender transition plan from the health department at the Linn-Mar Schools without ever telling your family. That’s not bad policy. That’s crazy!”

He said that, not as a former vice president but “as a father and as a grandfather,” it was his position that “It’s just totally unacceptable. And we’ve got to protect our kids from this radical gender ideology.”

In February, before Iowa passed some anti-trans legislation, Pence railed against the Linn-Marr Community School District for its support of transgender students. The schools didn't offer, by any means, transition plans that included medical procedures, but it merely allowed trans and gender-nonconforming students to use the restrooms and changing rooms of their choice, stated that school staff would respect their identities (including their pronouns), and not disclose their status to parents or guardians without their consent. The district had to revoke the restroom policy after the state passed a law saying students in public schools had to use the facilities for the gender they were assigned at birth.

During the News Nation town hall, Pence also took the opportunity to grandstand against gender-affirming care access for minors suffering from gender dysphoria, a medically recognized condition that Republicans don’t believe is real.

Mike Pence town hall on NewsNation: Watch the full

“I’ve made it very clear [that] as president of the United States, I will seek measures, if needs be nationally, to ban chemical or surgical transition procedures on anyone under the age of 18. We just got to protect our kids from this,” he said.

He added, “We’ve got to give parents the right to choose where their kids go to school so that they’re not subject to the liberal ideology that we’ve seen take hold in many public schools.”

Next, responding to the parent of a transgender child who asked, through tears, about what he would do to protect the lives of transgender women, particularly trans women of color, from violence, Pence pivoted back to health care for kids.

He said that as a “Bible-believing Christian,” he believes in the protection “of every American to live, to work, to worship according to their conscience.”

Then he shifted the conversation, claiming, “What adults do in their lives, decisions that they make, including transgender adults, is one thing.”

He said that for those under 18, restrictions on tattoos, and for those under 21, restrictions on alcohol exist, oddly adding, “There’s a reason why we don’t let you drive until you’re 16 in the state of Indiana.”

He said, “Kids don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions.”

Experts on human development say children develop a sense of gender identity between the third and fifth years of life.

Pence said he opposed “gender ideology” and “surgical or chemical procedures” for kids.

Prepubertal children aren’t treated with any medications or hormones, and kids entering puberty may be treated with safe and reversible medicines that delay the process.

“I really believe that we’ve got to protect our kids from decisions that will affect them the rest of their lives while at the same time saying that adults can make decisions according to the dictates of their own conscience,” Pence asserted.

After the moderator asked Pence under which circumstances parents should have access to tools to help their struggling children, the former vice president had no answer.

“I would just tell you, and having been married to an elementary school teacher all these years, I just think we’ve got to protect our kids,” he said. “The idea that we are telling young, impressionable kids, that little boys that they can become girls, or little girls that they can become boys, I just think is wrong.”

Pence, having just said that transgender people do not exist, added, “I’d like to put my arm around any one of those young people and just say, we love ya, but wait. Wait until you reach the age of majority. Wait until you have a better idea of who you are, and then live the life that you want to live in this free country.”

Pictured: Mike Pence and an Iowa mother

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