The Moon Is an Adult Trans Person (and the GOP is Coming for It)

Don’t shoot for the moon, please

Tucker Lieberman

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Yesterday, January 26, Republican leaders from Ohio and Michigan had a call about what they plan to do to transgender people. They seemed to have intended to keep the details private.

The fact that the call was happening wasn’t a secret. Prisha Mosley posted on X:

Jan 26, 2024 tweet by Prisha Mosley: The meeting with state representatives from Michigan and Ohio is tonight at 6EST. I am truly excited to try to get the ball rolling for a Michigan bill and to be part of a space where experiences are shared for this purpose. I am grateful to the representatives willing to attend, learn, and teach. I am grateful to be heard.

But it doesn’t seem they meant for the audio to be released. Well, it was.

Erin Reed broke the news in her story “Ohio, Michigan Republicans In Released Audio: ‘Endgame’ Is To Ban Trans Care ‘For Everyone’.” She also shared the 24-minute original audio on YouTube.

Though Reed has explained it already, I want to amplify this news, so I’m making my own unpaywalled story. I don’t make money from this one.

This is what I hear when I listen to this audio.

The GOP’s Endgame

Michigan Representative Josh Schriver proposed an “endgame” of banning gender transition at all ages. Gender transition is “harmful” for everyone, he said, so why set an age threshold at which it’s allowed?

Ohio Representative Gary Click said that was “a very smart thought there.” But, pragmatically, he said, this legislation must work by “small bites.”

Click acknowledged that “there is something to be said for adults being able to weigh the pros and the cons” of their own gender transition. He said the brain continues to develop until age 24, perhaps implying that he might want to ban gender transition under age 24.

(Or maybe he was adjusting to the fact that Mosley is 25 and detransitioned about a year ago. Intentionally or not, by specifying 24 as the minimum age of rational thought about gender, he carved out space to include Mosley’s opinions and to exclude those of anyone younger.)

A Tactic: Make Gender-Affirming Care Inaccessible

Click praised Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for “put[ting] back in a couple things that I had to negotiate out” of the Ohio de facto ban on gender transition: these two elements were mandatory data-reporting from gender clinics and preventing adults from getting hormones at clinics like Planned Parenthood or from online providers.

Click went on: “At least slow down the game. Most people, if they take their time, they won’t do this,” i.e., trans people will give up seeking gender-affirming care if the system makes their healthcare complicated enough.

Yes, he referred to people’s genders and bodies as “the game.”

GOP Narrative: Kids Aren’t Really Trans Until You Give Them Puberty Blockers

Click then repeated a widely debunked statistic that the vast majority of kids who have gender dysphoria will grow out of it, but only if they’re allowed to go through puberty (“the natural cure”), not if they take puberty blockers.

PSA on that statistic: In the study, the children who didn’t receive puberty blockers included kids with any gender-nonconforming behavior, and these kids were incorrectly labeled as having “dysphoria”; if they never had dysphoria to begin with, this would explain why they didn’t report it at the time of follow-up. Also, some trans kids who aren’t allowed to transition go back in the closet and don’t figure out or accept that they’re transgender until much later in life; this doesn’t mean that going through puberty has “cured” them.

They Tell Themselves That All the Science is on Their Side

Click also claimed that there are no “long-term,” “high-quality” studies that support gender-affirming care for children; there are only studies that “support what we say.” He says that medical associations are blocking further study “because they don’t want to know, they just want to tell you what they think. It is very political in the medical world.”

There are, in fact, relevant scientific studies about gender transition.

Schriver and Click are Still on Their ‘Endgame’ for Us

Schriver repeated: “Moreover…we have to be looking at the endgame simultaneously, maybe even using that as a way to move the window,” and to ban gender transition not just for minors but for people of all ages. “This is wrong for everyone,” he said, “and we should not be allowing this to happen.”

He compared consenting to gender-affirming care with consenting to “self-harm” or euthanasia.

Click said that reporters once asked him about gender clinics that were closing entirely as a result of banning gender-affirming care for minors, with the results that adults couldn’t get care either. Click said he told them: “I don’t feel bad at all, if they’re trying to fund this off of the children, no, I’m actually pretty happy about it.” He added: “I don’t think they ever printed what I said.” He reminded Schriver of the concept of incremental change. Do a “bite-sized portion,” he said, and hope for “future consequences.”

Future consequences, i.e., adults losing their healthcare and having their genders delegitimized. Hope for that, he says.

GOP: At Any Age, Gender Transition is ‘A Lie’

Click said that, in the recent Ohio initiative, he had participated in discussions about a “parental rights” rule so that schools couldn’t “do a social transition with your children without you knowing about it. They couldn’t conceal your child’s secret gender identity.” (Here, social transition means simply recognizing the child as a boy or girl.) “We just took that portion out of the SAFE Act,” Click brags, and moved it to another bill to avoid political opposition.

Prisha Mosley, an anti-trans activist, expressed agreement. She added that, even if someone is a “mentally well adult,” they still shouldn’t be allowed to consent to gender-affirming care, because “no one can consent to a lie.”

Mosley said: “Most of these doctors are straight-up lying about the effects, saying it’ll magically cure every bad feeling you’ve ever had and that you can actually change sex.”

(No doctor ever says that any treatment magically cures all your ills. I don’t mean to go “no true Scotsman” on that; rather, I mean that, if your doctor does say they have a magic omni-cure, there’s a problem with your doctor and it isn’t whether they’re gender-affirming.)

(Also, when you take a hormone or get a surgery, the hormone or surgery has a real effect on your body, so if that’s what “chang[ing] sex” means to you, then yes, the procedure actually does the thing, which is why you go to the doctor to get it. It also helps explain why the GOP is trying to ban it; they’re seeking to ban a thing rather than a non-thing.)

She added that the remainder of the doctors “just don’t know…because we don’t know.” That is, she says, no one knows anything about trans people. And so, because trans people cannot be known, we must be stopped.

Big Pharma? Big Tech?

Michigan Representative Brad Paquette said “our role” ought to be to implement a “health policy of ‘Do no harm’…and then we allow the data…to be seen and then not censored.” Currently, he alleged, “Big Pharma” has a stake in gender-affirming care.

(Of course, all healthcare costs money.)

Also, “Big Tech” is censoring data, “which is another aspect for us to act on.”

(Meaning, Republicans could use transgender people as a pretext to make demands of tech companies, perhaps starting with accessing data about everyone’s sexuality.)

So, he said, “it would resolve itself with the adults down the road.”

(Adults would, or wouldn’t, be allowed to receive gender-affirming care?)

Filter Every Issue Through the ‘Lens’ of Reducing Kids’ Queerness

Michigan Senator Jonathan Lindsey lauded the group: “If you guys think that what you did in Ohio is a ‘small step,’ that is very encouraging, because to me it looks like you climbed a mountain, and God bless.”

He recommended that they “put almost every piece of legislation through the lens of saying ‘How are they trying to use this to separate children from their parents so that they can do these things that they want to do?’” For example, some people want to “coach kids” in “school-based health clinics” (whatever that means), while doctors try to encourage medical privacy for teenagers. The GOP is concerned that parental authority will be reduced, you see, and probably also upset that teenagers have health needs related to their sexuality.

Given a bill for “homeless and runaway youth,” Lindsey wanted to shine a light on how it would “extend the amount of time that these children can be away without parental notification and can go to these centers,” and he alleged that the centers are “trying to exploit children” rather than help them. So: “We’ve really got to do our duty to keep an eye out for this”—that is, for transgender kids — “on all fronts” — meaning, even if they must interfere with legislation on normally unrelated topics. If a trans kid might get help at a homeless shelter, the GOP will restrict the shelter’s capacity to operate.

GOP: All Trans People ‘Lie’ All the Time (Unless They’re Republican ‘Assets’)

Click chimed in: “Everything they say is a lie. Literally everything they say on the other side.” He claimed that one hospital “had a plan to get the kids into counseling, gender counseling, without telling the parents.” He insisted: “We are the ones who are advocating for the parents.” He said he expected that “the majority of people” oppose gender-affirming care for teenagers, so applying “shame” to legislators might be politically effective. He quoted the Bible: “God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.” When he took a stand, he said, “It was God who did this in me.” But, he said, it shouldn’t be “a religious issue.” Rather, “the victims” should do the talking.

He referred to anti-trans activist detransitioners Prisha Mosley and Chloe Cole as “assets,” then added, “we have a trans individual that is still trans,” momentarily forgetting her name. (Corinna Cohn, if you want to know.)

So according to Click, if you’re a trans/detrans person, you’re an “asset” if you help the GOP’s anti-trans agenda, and otherwise, your body is the site of a “game” to be won. He talks about us like we’re chess pieces. Remember this when the GOP says they’re concerned about trans people’s welfare. They’re not. They’re not listening to any individual about what makes our lives better. They’re scheming against us in a black-and-white way.

In response to a question, Click said that Michigan had some initiatives before he arrived in the legislature, and he began work on this in “the Spring of ’21.” He assures us he’s knowledgeable, with nearly three years of experience from a politician’s perspective: “I took a lot of time to study and know what I was talking about before I ever introduced the bill.”

If You Get Hormones From a Pill Packet, You’re a ‘Medical Patient’

Michigan Senator Lana Theis said: “Sometimes you can’t detransition. Sometimes you’ve gone so far…you’re always going to be a medical patient for the rest of your life.”

I think she means that some people might not produce their own sex hormones anymore and might have to get those hormones from a pharmacy. Yes, and? Millions of women take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. Lots of men take extra testosterone. Filling a prescription doesn’t make anyone a “medical patient.” This language (specifically its pejorative use) is meant to characterize trans people as freakish just because we swipe our cards at a pharmacy and check in with our doctors once in a while, like virtually everyone else.

Theis characterized parents of trans kids as either “complicit” or “victims,” insofar as “they’re being told by the experts that this is the solution.”

The State Will Send You to Get Your Head Checked

Theis complained there isn’t a “law” to require a psychological evaluation before gender transition.

(Perhaps not, but transgender people have very much historically been required to have psychological evaluations; those rules have been set by psychological and medical professions, not imposed by legislators.)

She claimed it’s currently illegal to try to convert a trans kid. As she phrased it, that would be done by taking this approach with the child: “You were born in the correct body, you were perfect the way you were born, and let’s help you get comfortable with it.” If the criminalization of such conversion efforts “doesn’t set off alarms with you,” she said, “then I have questions about your humanity.” She added: “The other side is really mean.”

(Personally, I’d feel squicky hearing any professional tell a child, Let’s help you get comfortable with the sexual parts of your body. The anti-trans team may need to workshop that line a bit more, but I won’t help them do it, because I’m mean.)

Paquette referred to the topic as “an issue that’s not going to go away anytime soon. It’s only going to increase in intensity and, yeah, preying upon our most vulnerable young people. It’s definitely something that needs to be boldly opposed.”

His language: Trans people are “an issue.” We are intense, we are predators, we must be opposed. His language.

If you’re new to this sort of rhetoric, you might think they intend to distinguish the allegedly predatory system and the individuals it supposedly wounds. However, in the wider universe of this rhetoric as we’ve long known it, the distinction collapses. The posited dynamic has only two roles (predator and victim), and anyone on the sidelines is “complicit” (Theis’s word). To them, it’s a battle of good vs. evil. A trans person who doesn’t identify as a victim and renounce transness is interpreted as having sided with the predators. This decades-old rhetoric says that our doctors are vampires, and if we’re unrepentant, we’ve become vampires too.

Aim for the Moon, Shoot a Trans Person There

Schriver chimed in yet again, insisting that incrementalism is the wrong approach:

“Keep your mind open to banning this for all people. This is something that is harmful whether you’re 18, 19, 20, or older…If we aim for the moon, we’ll land in the stars. If we try to ban it for everyone, we should easily ban this for kids.”

This is what the GOP discusses:

The moon is an adult trans person, and if you shoot at it, you might nail a minor star instead.

illustration: someone sits on a park bench at night and shoots the crescent moon with an arrow-tipped string
Moon by Syaibatul Hamdi from Pixabay

One Takeaway

Twitter Spaces aren’t private.

Two Takeaway

Don’t be an eliminationist toward any group of people. Let people exist.

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Tucker Lieberman

Editor for Prism & Pen. Author of the novel "Most Famous Short Film of All Time." https://tuckerlieberman.com/