Adolescent Gender-Affirming Care

Right now you can make comments on the “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance” proposed rule by the Education Department until 09/12/2022. (There is not much time left to comment.)  It sounds not so bad from the title until you realize that “Sex” includes the LGBTQ+ protections with an expanded definition of harassment. For parents, it may not be possible for them to take part in their child’s transgender decisions if they disapprove of the child’s chosen gender identity.  My comment addresses the dangers of “gender-affirming care” and I now realize does not directly address the issues of discrimination in Title IX, but I was rushed to post it before the deadline and to let you have the opportunity to post too. Here is my comment.

Docket ID: ED-2021-OCR-0166

I am concerned with these Title IX rule revisions.  I have many concerns about the rule revisions but my biggest concern is transgender adolescents getting gender-affirming medical care, that is using puberty blockers and then cross-sex hormones and finally surgery. It is dangerous and does not address their psychological issues that often accompany their desire to change gender.  

The FDA has recently added a warning to the “puberty blockers”, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which may cause brain swelling and vision loss in some children.  Sweden and Finland have reversed course and now ban the puberty blockers and hormone treatment in almost all cases of youth transgenderism.  Why?  They say the evidence is lacking and as a result of their study they now assert that the risks of hormonal treatment outweigh the benefits for most transgender youth. Their first treatment now is to deal with the psychological issues that these youth are facing.  There tend to be other issues besides gender dysphoria (transgenderism).  And in the vast majority of cases adolescent gender dysphoria resolves itself during puberty without any medical treatment.  We should follow the example of Sweden and Finland and not go down the hormone treatment route. These treatments can cause irreversible damage to the youth, including permanent sterilization.   Parents need to and must play a role in this too, because in most cases they know their child better than most, so do not allow schools to hide the treatment from the parents. 

I believe these rules will create more problems than they solve.  This can be seen in the UK where they shut down the largest gender-affirming care facility in the country and have removed gender-affirming care from the “affirmative care” model. And they are now facing lawsuits from 1000 families.  Sweden, Finland, and the UK all have reconsidered gender-affirming medical care for adolescents.  America should not make the same mistake and should not allow gender-affirming medical care for adolescents.  The science is not there.  The risks of the treatment outweigh the benefits.

That is my comment to the Federal Register. You can make a comment too before 09/12/2022.  Some more information is available.  (Be sure to include ‘Docket ID: ED-2021-OCR-0166’.)

Puberty is a time of big change.  It is not only a time of physical change but it is also a time where the youth becomes more independent.  I once heard that the teenage years are like “having a car with the brakes on backorder”.  Looking back at my life, puberty was a time of uncertainty.  Parental involvement is needed to provide stability for a teenager. The teenager should not be making life changing irreversible decisions about one’s gender.

If you are thinking that the idea of choosing your gender is crazy, you are not alone but this is where the emerging culture has taken us. Biologically we are binary, male and female, and yet the idea that you can look inside yourself and find the real sexual you is popular.  Reality is in love God made you.  He did not make any mistakes in choosing your sex.  Because of this broken world and our sinful nature, you may feel out of place but know that God has your best interests at heart.  You are loved and he is there for you.  Let Jesus be your Lord and Savior. Turn to him and let him lead.

The Wings of Politics

American Flag Photo by Lisa Setrini-Espinosa

On American Independence Day, I am going to speculate on our two parties and their wings.  Note most of these thoughts are purely my opinions based on what I have observed.  I may be wrong, but hear me out. The Republican Party has its right wing, the far right,  and the Democratic Party has its left wing, the far left.  I believe those two wings drive much of the politics today and the change in politics today.  I believe much of the division in our country comes from the two wings affecting the politics of each party.  The Republicans seem to be more conservative than before and the Democrats seem to be more liberal or progressive than before.  As I write this, voting for the Colorado primaries has just happened, and during the run up to the primaries, I saw Republicans touting who was more conservative, and at the same time Democrats touting who was more progressive.  According to politics today, it is good to be a more strident conservative or a more progressive liberal.  And I believe this drift to the extremes is dividing the country.

There are two interesting surveys that have taken the political pulse of America. The Pew Research Center’s Political Topology Poll and “The Hidden Tribes of America” Poll.  The Pew poll divides up America into 9 groups and the Tribes poll divides America into 7 groups.  Looking at the wings, the Pew poll has Progressive Left with 6% of Americans, and the Faith and Flag Conservatives at 10%.  The wings for the Tribes poll are the Progressive Activists with 8% of Americans and Devoted Conservatives at 6%.  You can see some variation in the numbers depending on the survey, but the point is the percentages are small and yet I believe they have a large influence on where the country is headed (depending on who is in office).

And from a past post, you know that I am an Independent.  Neither party shares the values I have well enough for me to set my party affiliation.  As an Independent, I want valid information on the candidates.  I want to see TV ads where the candidate shares what they stand for.  Instead I see TV ads and mailings sharing how extreme their opponents are, and sadly most of the time the TV ads and mailings are sharing at best half truths.  I have voted against candidates because of continuous single issue attacks against their opponents.  I wonder if candidates are afraid to share the truth, because of these political wings.  They are forced to take extreme positions in the primaries and then forced to be more moderate in their positions for the general election.  So where do they really stand?  Many times, it is hard to tell, because they want to appeal to the general public and at the same time keep the political wing of their party happy. That is what I think is happening.

Today it seems that the parties are only concerned with appealing to their members, especially to the political wings.  They want to get their members out to vote and not the other party members. Their goal seems to be getting their candidates elected or reelected at all costs.  In Colorado, before the primaries, Democrats spent millions of dollars on TV ads saying this Republican primary candidate was “Too Conservative for Colorado”.  Until now, I had never seen the opposing party interfering in the other party’s primary. Political commentators agreed that the Democratic Party was thinking that Republicans would vote for the more conservative candidate and thus make it easier for Democratic candidates to win.  The funny thing is those more conservative candidates were also given the first spot on the primary ballot set by the Colorado Republican convention.  With primary results now in, it appears that the TV ads worked better than expected.  Those more conservative candidates did not win the primary.  If the political commentators were right, it backfired for the Democratic Party.  I think what happened is that in Colorado the independents had a chance to vote in one or the other party’s primaries and since there were few contests in the Democratic Primary more independents voted in the Republican Primary.  This meant the more conservative candidates did not win, even though both parties wanted them to win.  I also think that the right wing of the Republican party dominated the convention and put out candidates that were more conservative than the average rank and file Republican in Colorado. That also made a difference in the results.  Note I think those TV ads were pure politics of the worst kind.  Let the candidates win on their merits.

Why do these political wings have such a large influence? I think there are several reasons. One reason is that these wings appeal to the sense that one needs to have a consistent stand for the values of the party and to take those values to the next level.  Another reason is a sense of loyalty to those in the party which causes a positive spin to be put on those who extend the values into something that is not so positive.  You support those in the party even if you disagree. And a third reason is the effect of social media.  Social media plays a role because social media will put out in front the extreme statements and downplay the more reasonable and factual statements because they will allow more ads to be viewed.  This means you see the extreme viewpoints and not as much the more reasonable statements. So you may start wondering if the extreme is true since it seems like everyone on social media is saying that.  And you never hear the other side because social media has decided which group you belong to inorder to keep you engaged and seeing ads.  I believe these things have divided the country.

Consider how you have been influenced by the right and left wings of America’s parties.  One check is to ask, do you see the radical left wing as including most all Democrats, or the radical right wing as including most all Republicans?  If so, you have been influenced by the Republican right wing or the Democratic left wing. By my figuring the left and right wings of American politics are not that large and should not have as large of an influence as the wings do have.  Do not give the wings undue influence.  We are not enemies of each other.  We are all Americans that need to work together to help make a better America for all.  We can do it.  Let us try to avoid being divisive.

Let me give an example.  Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in America.  In Colorado, you can get an abortion at any point in a pregnancy.  Over the years, several attempts to limit abortion have failed.  Perhaps those who are pro-life could work with those who are pro-choice at making abortion rare.  (The national platform for Democratic Party until recently was that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”. Unfortunately the party has dropped the rare part. I believe this was due to the influence of that left wing of the party.)  I believe one way to help make abortion rare is to deal with the poverty of those seeking abortions. Three quarters of the women getting an abortion are poor.  Financial concerns must be a major factor in abortions, so dealing with their poverty and creating financial security for them could help reduce abortions.  This example is one of many ways where we can work together to make a better America for all.


Newspaper Boxes (photo by David Resseguie)

It seems like there is a lot of distrust in America these days. In my conversations, I have been surprised at how much distrust there is.  There is a lot of distrust on both sides of the political divide, and I believe distrust is tearing the country apart.  From my perspective, there are a lot of reasons to trust societal authorities, the government, police, journalists, etc.  So my default mode is to trust, not distrust, the authorities. This post is about why I trust, and not distrust, societal authorities even though they all have their problems. 

I believe behind much of this distrust is today’s Postmodern culture.  The culture makes us suspicious of the facts because we recognize that there is always a bias (no matter how small) in how the facts are presented.  Unfortunately, we have a tendency to believe only the stories that we want to agree with. We are not properly discerning the facts and are falling prey to the spin that promotes our preferred perspective on how things are.  There is no self correction, because we, as autonomous individuals, make ourselves out to be the only authority.  We alone can discern the truth.  All other authorities are suspect, spinning the facts to put their perspective out front. (And today’s culture also allows us to spin the facts the way we want.)

Is it true that the government, police, journalists, churches, etc. put a spin on the facts?  Yes, everyone has a bias.  That includes you and me, but I believe that American society has built in safeguards to hold people accountable for falsehoods.  It does not always work but in general I believe we can trust the societal authorities.  There  is no need for the institutional disrespect we see today.  Yes, we need to hold people and institutions accountable, and there may be biases that need to be dealt with, but in general I believe we should trust our societal institutions.

Let us first take a look at  journalists.  Their job is to report the news.  I believe conspiracy theories are due to not trusting the journalists and the news sources.  A  journalist would win a Pulitzer Prize if they could prove one of the conspiracy theories to be true.  It is that motivation and competition that keeps the journalists honest.  So whether the conspiracy theory is one of the 9/11 conspiracy theories or the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theory or a different conspiracy theory, the likelihood that the theory is true is very unlikely.  The “what if” possibilities in the conspiracy theories are not evidence of facts.  You may want it to be true but it does not make it so.  I believe it is the distrust of societal institutions and the journalists reporting that allows these conspiracy theories to flourish.  Journalists and the institutions supplying them with information are not perfect, but in America the journalists do a pretty good job.  There are biases of varying degrees, but you need to discern those biases.  I  find the Reuters news service to be pretty unbiased.

(Yes, many of you believe the “Stop the Steal” story, but why were almost all the lawsuits dismissed and why did the Attorney General William Barr say “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election” if the “Stop the Steal” story is true? Maybe you want it to be true, but I believe it is not.)

Many people distrust the police.  Some would want to ban police departments, or cut the funding for the police way back.  I believe that the vast majority of police officers are good and honest.  There are few bad apples that need to be removed, and some department policies need to be reworked so that accountability can be enforced, but in general the American police are in good shape.  What happens if there are no police?  We have an example from Seattle, WA, June 2020, where for 23 days protestors occupied a few blocks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.  The police vacated the area, leaving their precinct station.  The protestors started with high hopes.  It was to be a police-free, self-governing utopia. Seattle’s mayor Jenny Durkan said the zone could herald a “summer of love”. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be an utopia, and after 23 days and two deaths later, Seattle’s mayor called in the police to end this utopian experiment.  The problem as I see it is that we all are sinners and we need the police to enforce some boundaries (i.e. laws) for our good.  The police are a necessary part of society. We need them but we also must hold them accountable.

There is a lot of distrust of the government, whether it be federal, state or local.  Again, like the police, I believe the vast majority of them are good honest officials, and worthy of our trust, even if we disagree with their policies.  Again there are just a few that are “bad apples”.  We need to find and remove those.  Those who distrust the government, many times say that the deep state or civil servants are hindering government change.  Both Trump and Obama supporters have been concerned about deep state interference.  My take is the federal government is a huge organization and I see making change to be like trying to quickly turn a massive oil tanker.  It will take time.

And today, churches tend to be ignored more than being distrusted.  However the sexual abuse scandals have affected the trust in churches. Again I believe the vast majority of clergy and church workers are good and honest, but churches are human institutions, and all humans are sinful so it is no surprise that scandals also are found in churches.  And yet we can put our trust in God.  He is the trustworthy one, a solid rock that can not be moved, and his love is amazing!

These societal institutions are not perfect, but in America I believe they are worthy of our trust.  They do need to be held accountable for their failings.  In America, one should default to trusting the authorities.  That is where I stand.  As a Christian, I take comfort that God has all this in his control.  Bad things may happen because of our sin but in the end God will fix all the brokenness.

The Newest Social Contagion

Have you ever noticed how an idea, attitude, or behavior will sweep over a group (or society) changing it?  It may be a good change or a bad change.  That is what is known as a social or behavioral contagion.  It behaves like an infection. People will see some behavior, think it to be cool, and then adopt that behavior or attitude. It is not necessarily rational.  It is similar to peer pressure.  It used to be that smoking was a social contagion. 

A brand new survey was released by Gallup makes me think that a new social contagion has swept across the country.  The survey counted the number of LGBTQ people there were.  In the youngest generation of adults, Gen Z (ages 18-23), the percentage of LGBTQ people was 16%.  That is about 1 in every 6 Gen Z persons.  It was 9% for the Millennial Generation (ages 24-40). And then it drops to 4% for Gen X, 2% for Baby Boomers, and 1% for those older.  

Most of the LGBTQ people (55%) consider themselves to be bisexual.  Of the Gen Z LGBTQ people, 72% of them consider to be bisexual, and 54% of LGBTQ Millennials are bisexual. (The percentage then drops off for the older generations.) Women are more likely to consider themselves to be LGBTQ than men, and LGBTQ women are more likely to be bisexual than LGBTQ men.

What can we say about this bisexual trend? Well many of the young actresses that were on the Disney Channel are now LGBTQ.  (In this article I count 10 actresses.)  Those ladies by their celebrity status promote the LGBTQ lifestyle, making it a cool thing. So I wonder if many of these bisexuals are really bi-curious (heterosexuals curious about same-sex sexual experiences, or vice versa). They also could just be avoiding the label of transphobic (having a prejudice against transsexual or transgender people).  I also wonder what is the influence of internet porn on their choices and lifestyle.  As you can tell I am having a hard time accepting this LGBTQ social contagion.    Maybe it really is a cool thing to be in today’s society, but I am concerned.  I can not dismiss it for the LGBTQ community is a powerful force in society today.

I am concerned for the LGBTQ people because I believe their lifestyle is not healthy,  They tend to have many sexual partners.  (That can be true of heterosexuals too.) There are about 50 STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and they all can be found in the LGBTQ community.   LGBTQ people also have high murder rate. Lesbians have a higher rate of physical violence and sucide  than a heterosexual females.  Gay men also have a higher sucide rate.  Gay men tend to have a median life span that is about 20 years (maybe 30 years) less than an average heterosexual. It is similar for lesbians. Though HIV plays a role in the reduced lifespan, it is not the defining factor.  It is a sad situation and one needs to be concerned about it.

And now the LGBTQ community is seeking special protected status in Congress with the Equality Act. It is, for the most part, the “Civil Rights Act” for LGBTQ people. (The act also would affect the abortion debate.)  I agree that every person needs to be treated with dignity and respect, but I doubt they need special protection since gay men and lesbian women are making “significantly more” money than their straight counterparts. The Equality Act would create a host of major legal changes that would cause a lot of problems for religious schools, religious organizations, women’s shelters, women’s sports, sex-specific facilities, and many more.  So I do not think that this act is needed since many of them are financially doing very well, and the LGBTQ community is already a powerful force in society today.  This social contagion has already swept the country.  I do not think it has been a change for the better. 

More information on the Equality Act from a conservative Christian perspective can be found here.

PS  The Equality Act (H.R. 5) has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.  You can contact your senators and let them know how you feel about this bill.

American Third Parties

American Flag Photo by Lisa Setrini-Espinosa

America has an ingrained two party system.  Third parties (or minor parties) seldom make a difference in presidential elections.  The largest third party is the Libertarian Party with a membership of about 0.65 million.  Compared to the Democratic Party (47 million) and the Republican Party (35 million), the Libertarian Party is small potatoes.  Its presidential candidate  did take 1.77% of the presidential vote in 2020.  Yet it is big compared to the next largest party, the Green Party, which has a membership of 0.25 million and took 0.255% of the presidential vote.

I think it makes sense that the Libertarian Party is the largest third party.  Right now the guiding concept for many Americans is individual rights. And that is what defines the Libertarian Party.  The Libertarian Party ideology is to let the individual (or corporation) do what they want without any government interference.  They want a small government that leaves the individual (or corporation) alone. They are more like the Democrats with liberal social policies, and more like the Republicans with the economic and business policies.

The last third party to take a significant portion of the presidential vote was the Reform Party.  In 1992, Ross Perot took 19% of the presidential vote, and in 1996 he took 8% of the vote.  Since then no third party has taken 5% of the vote or more.  Ross Perot was a character, a maverick, and he had money.  I think those two things set him apart to allow him to be noticed by the voting public.  It may be that character and money is what the next third party presidential candidate needs to have to collect a significant percentage of the vote.

So what good are third parties?  I think they tell the two major parties what people are thinking.  If the third party gets a significant percentage of the vote, the Democrats and Republicans need to take a look and see what was the reason behind the third party receiving a significant number of votes and then adjust their policies to reflect the needs of the people.

I am an Independent.  I am not a member of any party.  There are some ideas I like from the Democrats and some ideas I like from the Republicans.  I am a social conservative which means on those issues I lean Republican.  I believe in a good social safety net so on those issues I lean Democratic.  I am also a fiscal conservative. Neither party has been good at attempting to balance the budget.  The Republicans have been good at talking the talk but poor at walking the walk.  Actually I think Democrats may be better at paying for what they spend. I took a survey which told me how much of a Democrat or Republican I am.  I pretty much ended up in the center, neither left nor right.  (The questions asked by these surveys are always frustrating because it is never as black and white as the question indicates.  The “center” ranking was correct, I think, but the characteristics of the group I was placed in seemed wrong for me.)

This last election I took a closer look at several third parties. I found one that for the most part fit my political beliefs.  I don’t fully agree with the party platform but it seems to come the closest to what I believe politically.  So for the 2020 presidential election I voted for Brian Carroll of the American Solidarity Party.  The platform espouses the political ideology called Christian democracy.  I would place it as center-right for social issues and center-left for economic and environmental issues.

So did I throw away my vote on someone who will never be elected?  No, I instead made a statement of what I want both parties and the new administration to consider.  Living in Colorado, I knew that the state was clearly going Democratic for president, so the Electoral College votes were set.  If I was living in one of the purple swing states, I would have considered that my vote could have made a difference in the outcome, and I may have voted for one of the two major party candidates.  So if you are not in a purple swing state in 2024 and you feel that the two major parties don’t fit with what your political beliefs are, I would check out the third party platforms and choose a third party that best fits your political beliefs.  Here are the platforms of the four third parties that “The Gospel Coalition” covered this last fall.

PS Yes, posting this post might have been better before the election instead of after the election. I have been thinking about this post for 6 months now.  It is just that I was not ready to write the post until now.