By Naveen Athrappully
Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy termed transgenderism a mental health disorder at the second GOP presidential primary debate, calling such affirmations to children “cruelty.”
During the Sept. 27 debate, Fox News host Dana Perino pointed out that over 10.7 million students in more than 18,000 schools nationwide have the ability to change their gender identity without parental notification. The host asked Mr. Ramaswamy whether he would pass a federal law to protect parental rights.
“Transgenderism, especially in kids, is a mental health disorder. We have to acknowledge the truth of that for what it is,” Mr. Ramaswamy said. Ms. Perino interrupted at this point and asked Mr. Ramaswamy to comment on the parental rights angle of the issue.
“Parents have the right to know,” he said. “The very people who say that this increases the risk of suicide are also the ones saying that parents don’t have the right to know about that increased risk of suicide. And I’m sorry, it is not compassionate to affirm a kid’s confusion. That is not compassion. That is cruelty.
“I met two young women, Chloe and Katy, early in this campaign who are in their twenties, now regret getting double mastectomies and hysterectomy. One of them will never have children. And the fact that we allowed that to happen in this country is barbaric,” he said.
“So I will ban genital mutilation or chemical castration, and parents have absolutely the right to know.”
In a Sept. 28 post on X after the debate, Mr. Ramaswamy said that over 50 percent of children with gender dysphoria have considered committing suicide. “And yet, politicians reject a law that would require schools to inform parents if their kids change their gender identity at school.”
“Parents have a right to know about their kids: that shouldn’t be controversial. Ban genital mutilation & puberty blockers before age 18. Treat gender dysphoria as a mental health disorder. Time to empower parents again.”
Mr. Ramaswamy’s comments attracted criticism from LGBT advocates.
Keith Boykin, a former White House aide to Bill Clinton, called Mr. Ramaswamy’s remarks on transgenderism “shameful demagoguery.” During the Clinton administration, Mr. Boykin was the highest-ranked openly gay person in the White House.
“I feel for the transgender children in America who have to listen to Vivek Ramaswamy and the Republican presidential candidates telling them they have a ‘mental disorder’ and don’t know the first thing about their lives,” he said in a Sept. 28 post on X.
The New York Times did a “fact-check” on Mr. Ramaswamy’s claim that transgenderism is a mental health disorder, insisting that the statement “is false.”
“Being transgender is not a mental health disorder,” said NYT reporter Azeen Ghorayashi, who covers the “intersection of sex, gender, and science” for the outlet.
Charlie Kirk, the founder of conservative organization Turning Point USA, refuted the NYT fact check.
“Gender Identity Disorder was listed as a mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 2013. They then reclassified it as Gender Dysphoria to ‘remove the stigma’. Vivek is 100 percent right,” he said in a Sept. 28 post on X.
Parental Rights, Transgender Harms
Mr. Ramaswamy’s comments on parents having the right to know their children’s transgender identity come as many schools have adopted a policy to keep such information a secret, with some institutions even covertly aiding children in transitioning.
In March, advocacy group California Alliance for Education revealed to The Epoch Times that 23 students were secretly transitioned at a local school district without their parents being informed. Eight of the children were of elementary school age.
Organizations like GLSEN are pushing schools to adopt such policies. For instance, GLSEN’s guidelines for schools advise that educators keep the gender identity of students a secret from their parents.
A poll published by parental rights group Parents Defending Education (PDE) in March showed that 71 percent of registered voters support creating legislation that requires schools to inform parents in case their children want to change their gender identity at school.
In addition, 75 percent of voters supported legislation requiring schools to obtain parental consent before transitioning their children.
Transgender treatments can be very harmful to those who are subjected to such procedures. According to one study, individuals receiving “gender-affirmation” hormone replacement therapy are significantly more prone to medical complications like blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
Researchers from Pennsylvania who conducted the study noted that those who were subjected to hormone replacements are nearly seven times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke compared to those who have never undergone such treatment. Ischemic stroke refers to a blockage in a vessel supplying blood to the brain.
In one of the transgender therapy training workshops funded by the state of Pennsylvania, Dr. Zachary McClain, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine, pointed out that puberty blockers can “actually lower your bone mineral density during puberty.” Blockers may also affect cognitive brain development, he said.
Children on puberty blockers may be shorter than their peers, Mr. McClain stated while adding that those who undergo gender treatments have a higher risk of mental health challenges, mood disorders, and more instances of autism compared to the general population.
There are also suicide risks with transgender procedures. A June 2023 Danish study found that transgender individuals are more likely to die of suicide.
Compared to the rest of the people in the study, transgenders were found to be 7.7 times more likely to attempt suicide and 5.5 times more likely to die as a result. Even the non-suicide death rate of transgenders was higher, with the number being 1.9 times higher than non-trans people.