Correction: An earlier version of this post inaccurately stated that most women support restroom equality for transgender people. In fact, the majority of women support separate transgender bathrooms; more women than men support allowing transgender people in the restroom of their choice but they still represent a minority of women. This article has been corrected accordingly.
Think Progress and others are taking down the American College of Pediatricians-not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics-a shady, anti-LGBT group currently enjoying some Internet success with pseudo-medical publications warning against all things transgender.
Of course, the Academy is a sham organization. It argues that gay marriage harms children (an argument one would think is a bit beyond a responsible medical group’s area of focus) and supports conversion therapy for gay youth, which has been linked to suicidal ideation and rests on the belief that being gay is a mental illness. The College split from the Academy over the Academy’s support for LGBT rights; the two organizations’ names sound so similar that, predictably, ACP’s hateful message has been spread across the internet and social media by people who can’t be bothered to confirm the group’s legitimacy. (The real medical group, American Academy of Pediatrics, advises parents to have serious conversations with young people questioning their gender identity and to support reassignment if the youth has consistently requested the change.)
ACP proved that masquerading as a legitimate clinical group can be effective, however- so it should come as no surprise that a new sham organization, Youth Trans Critical Professionals, has shown up on the scene. YTCP claims to be:
[A] community of professionals thinking critically about the youth transgender movement psychologists, social workers, doctors, medical ethicists, and academics.We tend to be left-leaning, open-minded, and pro-gay rights. However, we are concerned about the current trend to quickly diagnose and affirm young people as transgender, often setting them down a path toward medical transition.
However, one thing you quickly notice from purusing their website is that they don’t identify a single one of these “professionals”-they just make statements and tell readers to take the credentials of the website’s contributors on faith. When confronted about this via online comment a person writing for YTCP said: “Given the current climate, it doesn’t feel safe to speak on this issue using names at this time. I can say that I am a psychotherapist with 20 years experience.” (The commentor replied, “On the Internet, many people can say they are psychotherapists with 20 years experience”).
The site just started on March 14, according to their internet domain information, but at least one parent with a transgender child has already thanked the site’s owners for providing a “great comfort.” And predictably, the site is starting to pick up momentum on Twitter.
The retweets from groups like @RadFemCollectiv highlight an issue that unfortunately can’t be ignored by anyone concerned about transgender rights. A radical subgroup within the feminist movement known as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) are aggressively intolerant towards the tran community. Many of their arguments seem to boil down to a belief that male-to-female (MTF) transgender people are, in their eyes, men masquerading as women and seeking access to safe spaces like women’s bathrooms. I can’t speak to what it feels like to be a woman, trans or cis, but much of their rhetoric is barbaric and involves painting all transgender women (male-to-female) as opportunistic, cross-dressing rapists.
I mention this here because Youth Trans Critical Professionals links to only four outside websites, and one of them is a feminist blog called 4th Wave Now (none of the four sites are for medical or psychological organizations, if that tells you anything). One of 4th Wave Now’s latest posts argues for conversion “therapy” for transgender children, denying that this procedure has any resemblance to conversation therapy for gay youth.
YTCP may well have been created by hard-core TERPs; at the very least groups like YTCP, TERFs and social conservatives will continue to benefit from this kind of cross-pollination.
By the way, as a white cis man I’m all too aware that it’s uncomfortable to call out TERFs for being bigots. Many will reflexively claim male (including transgender male) critics are men’s rights activists. But they don’t own this debate, and they don’t have an exclusive right to talk about the trans community. And they don’t represent mainstream feminism or women; the National Organization for Women, other feminist groups, and plenty of cis women embrace transgender people.