A campaign fundraising message from a Republican congressional candidate in Michigan baselessly accuses President Joe Biden of “forcing” young children to learn about “gender reassignment surgeries,” directing text message recipients to an appointment confirmation for “your child” to receive a “gender reassignment surgery tomorrow at 9am.”
The message from the campaign of state Senator Tom Barrett – who is seeking the GOP nomination in the state’s 7th congressional district race for the US House of Representatives – asks recipients whether they wish to “CANCEL this appointment because you do not believe in teaching young children about dangerous transgender ideologies” by filling out a fundraising form.
The campaign message – first reported by Michigan Advance – comes just days after another GOP legislator in the state accused a Democratic state senator of supporting attempts to “groom” and “sexualize” children in a campaign fundraising email.
The message from Mr Barrett’s campaign reads “STOP BIDEN FROM DOING THIS TO OUR KIDS!”
“Democrats are HELLBENT on destroying our faith, removing God from the center of our nation, and pushing transgender ideology on young children,” the campaign message claims.
Following a wave of legislation that opponents have called “Don’t Say Gay” bills and measures criminalizing transgender healthcare and banning transgender student athletes from school sports, right-wing media figures and Republican officials across the US have accelerated fear-mongering rhetoric and characterised. opposition to their agenda as “groomers” or pedophiles.
“Grooming” typically refers to the emotional manipulation of a child for sexual abuse, though the latest wave of allegations have attacked LGBT+ teachers, the parents of transgender children, and opponents of legislation that LGBT+ advocates have warned will cause widespread harm.
Analysts told The Independent that such weaponized rhetoric seeks to target a marginalized group to legitimize violence and abuse against them.
When asked what prompted the spurious claims, a statement from Mr Barrett’s campaign to The Independent pointed to the Biden administration’s guidelines for gender-affirming care for transgender youth and congressional testimony from Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra affirming support for gender-affirming care.
Federal guidelines contend that “medical and psychosocial gender affirming healthcare practices have been demonstrated to yield lower rates of adverse mental health outcomes, build self-esteem, and improve overall quality of life for transgender and gender diverse youth.”
That guidance is echoed by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Gender-affirming care encompasses an array of services, including support for social transitioning (such as name and pronoun changes), mental health care, hormone therapy, and surgeries, which physicians largely do not recommend for people under 18 years old.
The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement refuting “disturbing” messages from Michigan Republicans, stressing that transgender children are not undergoing irreversible medical procedures.
“This is a fundamental misunderstanding about what transition looks like for kids, which is primarily about providing social support, using the right name and pronouns, and allowing them to present in a way that is consistent with their gender identity,” the organization said.
The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that only one in three young transgender people consider their home to be gender-affirming.
Another report from the organisation, published in Transgender Healthfound that acceptance of one’s gender identity from their parents was associated with 4 per cent lower odds of attempting suicide among transgender and nonbinary youth.
This week, Florida’s Health Department issued its own state guidelines banning all forms of gender-affirming care for minors, including social transitioning support.
In a recent email soliciting donations to her campaign, Michigan state Senator Lana Theis listed similar, exaggerated claims that are dominating GOP campaigns in 2022, alleging that “our children are under assault in our schools” from “gender-bending indoctrination” and “race -based education” promoted by their political opponents.
She also named her colleage, Democratic state Senator Mallory McMorrow, claiming she is among a group of “progressive social media trolls” who are “outraged they can’t teach, can’t groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year-olds are responsible for slavery,” without pointing to any such evidence.
The campaign message prompted a response from Senator McMorrow on the floor of the state senate with press coverage of her powerful remarks on national media outlets.
“Hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen,” she said in her remarks. “I know who I am. I know what faith and service means, and what it calls for in this moment. We will not let hate win.”
In a statement to The IndependentSenator Theis defended the campaign message, saying that while Senator McMorrow “is on MSNBC preaching to her choir, I’ll keep my focus on Michigan parents, who Democrats are seeking to undermine as the primary decision-makers in the education of their children .”
Mr Barrett, a frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the congressional race, is likely to face Democratic incumbent Elissa Slotkin.
“In the spirit of basic decency, we should all agree to keep our kids out of nasty political tactics and fundraising,” she said on 22 April. “Let’s call these tactics what they are: cynical attempts to dial up hate and division in order to raise money. This is why people can’t stand politicians.”
She added: “Meanwhile, our kids, including our LGBTQ kids, are watching and learning from this behavior. Real leaders focus on uniting people, even when we don’t always agree – not turning us against each other.”