LGBTQ Activists Criticize Biden Administration After Pivot on 'Gender-Affirming' Surgeries

Person holding sign encouraging use of gender pronouns. (Credit: Unsplash/Alexander Grey.)

The Biden administration has clarified its new position on the use of “gender-affirming” surgeries on children, after announcing its supposed opposition to this practice.

With its new stance, the White House appears to be trying to mitigate its support for “gender-affirming care” being used on minors experiencing gender dysphoria by backing away from one of the more controversial elements of the treatment method.

The criticism the Biden administration is facing over this development highlights the tightrope it is currently walking – especially during an election year. The White House came under fire in June, when it was revealed that it had pressured the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to remove age limits from its guidelines on “gender-affirming” care for minors.

In a statement released to The 19th, the White House asserted that decisions surrounding “gender-affirming” surgery are “deeply personal,” and it believes “these surgeries should be limited to adults."

However, as the administration stated previously, it still supports the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatments for children who are confused about their gender. “We continue to support gender-affirming care for minors, which represents a continuum of care, and respect the role of parents, families, and doctors in these decisions,” the spokesperson said in an email.

The White House also lashed out at states that have passed legislation banning “gender-affirming” treatments on minors.

“As President Biden has repeatedly said, ‘It’s wrong that extreme officials are pushing hateful bills targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors. These are our kids. These are our neighbors. It’s cruel and it’s callous,’” the spokesperson said, quoting a statement that Biden made last summer in response to rising anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“Transgender children have been the victims of unacceptable bullying, hate and partisan laws that target them for who they are,” the spokesperson said.

The White House initially sent a statement outlining its new position on surgeries to The New York Times. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told The Times after the reports of the WPATH debacle surfaced:

“Admn. [Rachel] Levine shared her view with her staff that publishing the proposed lower ages for gender transition surgeries was not supported by science or research, and could lead to an onslaught of attacks on the transgender community.” 

Not surprisingly, the Biden administration’s pivot was met with fierce criticism coming from the pro-trans lobby. One organization referred to the move as “cowardly” and argued that the White House was giving in to pressure coming from the right.

Responding to its opposition to gender-affirming surgeries, the LGBTQ+ nonprofit Campaign for Southern Equality said the statement was “cowardly”.

“It is a troubling concession to the right-wing assault on transgender Americans, falling for their false narratives about surgical care and betraying a commitment to equality and trust in the medical community,” Southern Equality’s Allison Scott said in a statement.

“Let’s be very, very clear: Government has no business inserting itself into private medical decisions that should be exclusively between patients, their providers, and the patients’ parent or guardian.

“It is dangerous to begin endorsing categorical bans or limits on healthcare, and there is no justification for restricting transgender youth’s access to the very same care that many cisgender youth receive every year – that’s literally the definition of discrimination.”

Scott continued by demanding that the Biden administration retract its “thoughtless statement” and “work to undo its damage.”

This is quite a tightrope the Biden administration is walking. On the one hand, it has to appease those who desperately want to trans children. In this vein, the administration has publicly promoted “gender-affirming” care for minors. It even revamped Title IX rules to redefine the definition of “woman.”

Yet, the White House likely knows that its views on transing children are not as popular as the left would have people believe. While the use of puberty blockers and hormones has already been a controversial issue, surgeries have been even more of a problem, which is why the administration is backing away from the practice after having previously supported it.

While “gender-affirming” care is not among the top list of priorities for American voters at the moment, it is still a contentious issue that continues to garner national attention. In light of this, it is not surprising that the White House would try to alter its stance in a way that makes it less incendiary.


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