The Conservative Case for Transgender Surgery on Children

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

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It seems that no matter the issue, someone, somewhere, will try to convince conservative readers that their experience and intuition are wrong and the most odious practices known to humanity are actually very conservative in nature.


In February of last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to “conduct prompt and thorough investigations” of any reports of minors subjected to medical transitioning.

This is common sense.

Logic tells you that a child should not be surgically mutilated and subjected to a lifelong regime of hormonal treatment, the outcome of which we haven’t begun to understand. I don’t think adults should do it either, but someone who can’t buy a beer or a pistol is not mentally competent to make life-altering decisions. Any parent who would go along with surgically mutilating their child should probably stop being a parent.

No matter your feelings on transgenderism or your politics, we should be able to agree that a child who can’t get a tattoo can’t consent to have their bodies hacked up by the latter-day Mengeles who work at “gender affirming” medical facilities. Well, apparently, we can’t. Enter the New York Times’s latest house conservative, David French, in an op-ed titled Don’t Let the Culture War Degrade the Constitution.

State attacks on civil liberties are even affecting our most valued relationships: the bonds between parent and child. In January, The Times reported on how public schools sometimes withhold from parents information about a child’s gender transition, even in the absence of any evidence of parental abuse. California has enacted a statute that grants the state broad authority to permit children to receive “gender-affirming health care” there, even potentially over the objection of a custodial parent.

For example, Section 7 of the law states that California courts won’t weigh as a factor against a petitioner seeking California court jurisdiction if the person took a child “from the person who has legal custody” in order to obtain “gender-affirming health care” and that care is limited by the law or policy of another state.

And because every culture war action against civil liberties has its mirror image on the other side, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued a directive to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate as “abuse” both surgical and pharmaceutical interventions for transgender children, regardless of the good faith and desires of the parents, children and caregivers involved.


I couldn’t go on without mentioning the reception French got. I only do it because, as Jack McCoy is so fond of saying on Law & Order, “it speaks to character.”

Two quick things to notice here. First, equal weight is given to surgical mutilation and the prevention of surgical mutilation; to the performance of evil and the prevention of evil. Somehow the Constitution prohibits all action by the state from promoting justice. By way of comparison, this is the state of play on the issue of female genital mutilation.


Credit: AHA Foundation

Search the article for any mention of these laws. Whether or not you support FGM, you have to admit that it is an ancient practice and closely tied to religious devotion and social acceptance within the cultures that practice it. Trans-mutilation has no basis in history and damned little in empirical medicine. If you are going to be upset about the state banning one of these procedures, you need to be up in arms about banning the one that seems to have a traditional basis.

The two things are not the same. The state has a duty to intervene when a parent makes decisions materially harmful to a child. In the California case, the state is intervening to punish a failure to have a child who cannot give informed consent undergo medical malpractice. And to be fair, Texas is only intervening in cases of medical procedures. If you still want to dress your son as a girl and get him a job at the New York Times, you can do so.

Second, taken to its logical conclusion, this theory would mean that a state can’t prevent truancy, child marriage, or incest because, as the article goes on:

To understand the gravity of the state interference with parental authority, it’s worth remembering the words of Chief Justice Warren Burger in the 1972 case Wisconsin v. Yoder, in which he wrote that the “primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.”

Finding a Constitutional issue in every societal aberration is what got us Roe vs. Wade. If a state can act to force a Jehovah’s Witness family to allow a blood transfusion to a child, it can act to prevent surgical mutilation until the child reaches adulthood and can give consent.


Falling back on the “oh, I would never permit my child to medically “transition,” but you be you” is just like the same tired old corrupt argument pro-aborts used while pretending to be pro-life, “I oppose abortion personally, but I could never tell anyone else not to have one.” I can hear these same people 175 years ago saying, “I’d never own a slave, but who am I to judge what you do.” I can’t imagine what India would be like if General Sir Charles Napier, when confronted with the horrific practice of suttee, had said, “I don’t like it, but it would be wrong for the government to interfere because of my deeply held beliefs in personal autonomy. By the way, who’s got the Zippo?”

There are monstrous evils afoot in our culture. Transgenderism is, in my view, one of the worst because it seeks to normalize and mainstream an irreversible medical procedure performed on persons with a DSM5 diagnosable mental illness and then demand that sane people treat it as unremarkable. Even worse, there are cases of confused youngsters being bullied into transgenderism by evil teachers and even more evil school systems. If you’ve lost the ability to say something is wrong and that it has no place in civilized society, then you’ve surrendered. You are now promoting, by acquiescence, a material evil. If you are arguing that the US Constitution forbids government action to address great wrongs in private relationships, then I don’t know what to tell you.



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