GOP invites anti-trans activists who push fake science to testify against Equality Act

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Abigail Shrier and Mary Rice Hasson have a long history of working against transgender rights.

Two people known for fighting against transgender rights have been invited by GOP lawmakers to speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on the Equality Act Wednesday morning, a federal bill that would clearly prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination in a number of areas, including in health care, housing, and jury service.

The bill passed the House on Feb. 25. Only three Republicans voted for it. Now, it needs 60 votes to in order to survive the legislative filibuster and pass the Senate.

The hearing will two feature witnesses for the Republican side: Abigail Shrier, author of "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters," and Mary Rice Hasson, a Kate O'Beirne fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank that describes itself as "dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy."

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign; Stella Keating a transgender student from Tacoma, Washington; Dr. Edith Guffey, who works for the United Church of Christ; and several Democratic lawmakers will speak in favor of the bill.

Hasson wrote a 2018 book, "Get Out Now: Why You Should Pull your Child from Public School Before It's Too Late," that claimed public schools across the nation had become "morally toxic" due to students coming out as transgender, among other things.

"Immersing impressionable children in an imaginary world sanctioned by authoritative adults that pretends boys can become girls, girls can become boys, and some children are neither or both is a serious distortion of reality," she wrote.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, meanwhile, has said that "variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity, and binary definitions of gender do not always reflect emerging gender identities."

Speaking at a 2019 event hosted by the Archdiocese of Newark Catholic Women's Commission, Hasson also asserted that transgender women were trying to undermine cisgender women.

"That’s the undercurrent in this entire gender revolution. Women are losing that sense that there is something distinctive and good about being a woman, that somebody else can’t come in and claim that and take that just by saying they’re a woman," she said. 

Hasson has opposed Biden's executive order implementing the 2020 Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, which prohibits anti-LGBTQ discrimination across all federal agencies. She told a Catholic news site, Angelus, that Biden's decision was "based on a lie" because she doesn't believe gender identity "enables a male person to 'be' a woman.”

And in a February opinion piece for Newsweek, Hasson claimed falsely that the Equality Act would mean "there will be no safe spaces left for females" and that "we will no longer be able to say out loud that a person is male or female."

Shrier, for her part, has written a book about transgender youth that falsely claims children are being pushed into believing they are transgender through social pressure by "trans-influencers" or trans-affirming schools. Experts have thoroughly debunked many of the assertions she makes in the book.

She has pushed the idea of "rapid-onset gender dysphoria," the concept that transgender kids aren't really trans and are susceptible to outside influences, which first started spreading in anti-trans blogs around 2016, according to Media Matters. Those arguments are not based in fact.

Schrier's social media presence has been hostile to transgender equality as well. This year, after the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted, "On International Women's Day, here's your reminder that trans women are women," Shrier responded in a quote-tweet, "Please keep your phony, passive-aggressive 'reminders' to yourself. No one asked you. Sincerely, women."

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty law Center has called an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has supported Shrier's book. So has the Family Policy Alliance, which opposes bans on so-called "conversion therapy," a harmful practice that attempts to change a person's gender or sexual orientation. The Heritage Foundation, which has fought LGBTQ equality for many years, has also supported her, and hosted a virtual event last year that included her as a speaker.

All of these groups are part of the coalition Promise to America's Children, which engages in fear-mongering about the safety and well-being of children in trans-affirming schools and families. The coalition provides model legislation for lawmakers as states pursue a record number of anti-trans bills.

All of the arguments advanced by Shrier and Hasson fit the narrative pushed by these groups, which is that transgender equality is a threat to women and children and that the right needs to quash it through opposition to the Equality Act and through legislation preventing minors from accessing necessary health care and playing on the sports teams that correspond with their gender.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.