Tag Archive for: mental health

Two Out of Three Kids Will No Longer Identify as Transgender by Adulthood, Massive Study Finds

The vast majority of children who experience gender dysphoria will embrace their biological sex by adulthood, according to a sweeping national study that monitored children for 15 years.

Roughly two out of every three children who identify as transgender will embrace their birth sex by their mid-20s, the study found. People most likely to continue to identify as transgender have low self-esteem and other mental health challenges, researchers found.

A study of children in the Netherlands tracked 2,772 adolescents from the age of 11 to 26, asking them to rate their mental and physical health every three years for 15 years. The Youth and Adult Self-Report (YSR) asked participants to assess how much they agree with the statement, “I wish to be of the opposite sex.” A team of researchers then pored over the data from the Tracking Adolescent’s Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS) to measure “gender non-contentedness.”

The vast majority (78%) of people never felt any feelings of gender dysphoria, researchers noted. “In early adolescence, 11% of participants reported gender non-contentedness,” wrote researchers in the study, published in February in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior. “The prevalence decreased with age and was 4% at the last follow-up (around age 26)” — a desistance rate of 64%.

Researchers also found that adolescents were 950% more likely to feel better about their sex than to feel worse: 19% of participants felt decreased “gender non-contentedness,” as compared with only 2% whose feelings deepened over time. Participants whose gender confusion worsened over the years “more often were female,” researchers noted.

Feeling more severe gender dysphoria as an adult is also “associated with a lower [overall] self-worth, more behavioral and emotional problems, and a non-heterosexual sexual” preference.

“Gender non-contentedness, while being relatively common during early adolescence, in general decreases with age and appears to be associated with a poorer self-concept and mental health throughout development,” they concluded.

Experts felt vindicated by the latest research. “This new study simply confirms what has been known for over a decade,” Jay Richards, Ph.D., told The Washington Stand. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) “noted that most kids who experience distress with their sexed bodies resolve those feelings after they pass through natural puberty,” Richards — who serves as director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation — told TWS.

The Dutch study acknowledges it did not break new ground. Although few studies follow the same cohort for such a long period of time, the analysts admitted their findings fell in line with the best available literature. “The few longitudinal studies that have been conducted in a clinical setting found low persistence rates of early childhood gender dysphoric feelings into adolescence and adulthood,” wrote the researchers, linking to studies from 2016 and 2021. The latter found, “Boys clinic-referred for gender identity concerns in childhood had a high rate of desistance.”

Yet this and other studies reveal that “minors who are put on puberty blockers for the purposes of ‘gender affirmation’ are extremely likely to go on to take cross-hormones” such as estrogen and testosterone, Richards told TWS. Studies show up to 93% of children who begin on puberty blockers will go on to receive cross-sex hormone injections. Experts say the transgender industry’s early medical intervention actually deepens and prolongs feelings of gender dysphoria that would otherwise go away on their own. “This is what makes ‘gender-affirming’ (that is, sex-denying) medical interventions on minors such a medical atrocity. These interventions fast track troubled kids onto a path to sterilization and lifelong medical problems,” explained Richards.

The harm goes beyond lost fertility. “There is no research into long-term harms, but some evidence suggests decreased IQ and brittle bones. Permanent sterility is guaranteed for minors who go through full hormonal “transition.” Sexual dysfunction appears to be extremely common as well,” wrote Leor Sapir, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, at The Hill. So-called “gender-affirming hormonal treatment” (GAHT) causes “permanent physical changes including excruciating genital growthvaginal atrophy and tearing and much higher risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.”

The authors of the new study said they hope their findings will “help adolescents to realize that it is normal to have some doubts about one’s identity and one’s gender identity during this age period and that this is also relatively common.” It should “provide some perspective to clinicians primarily seeing individuals with intense gender dysphoric feelings.”

This study, and others like it, prove that “children need time, not gender-‘affirming’ medical mutilation,” said Sarah Parshall Perry of the Heritage Foundation.

A growing number of young people subjected to transgender ideology at pediatric gender clinics say they wish they had known how common, and fleeting, feelings of transgenderism can be. “Young people, particularly young women, are very susceptible to social contagion. They are the most susceptible demographic,” Prisha Mosley, a detransitioner who now works with the Independent Women’s Forum, told Laura Ingraham Thursday evening. “And as for the 1% who continues to feel that way, they deserve ethical and data-based mental health care.”

She noted how easily she received transgender injections and procedures, as compared to treatment for her bona fide mental health issues. “I had actually been seeking mental health care and services for trauma and other mental illnesses that were diagnosed prior to my gender dysphoria diagnosis for several years. But as soon as I heard about gender ideology online and expressed to my doctors that I felt I was born in the wrong body, I was immediately fast-tracked,” Mosley told Ingraham on Fox News. She said it took her “almost 10 years after getting my diagnosis for Borderline Personality Disorder to find a dialectical behavioral therapist to treat it, but it was less than two years to go from hormones to a double mastectomy and transition.”

Mosley urged parents to guard their children against the predatory transgender industry, cautioning them to be cognizant of “the way people are manipulating and breaking down language” on the issue of gender. “And then do your best to prepare your children for that. Maybe tell them that there are tricky people out there who will twist language and manipulate them, because unfortunately, it’s true.”

“Sometimes these predators — these people — they’ll wear pins that say, ‘You’re safe with me,’ and all of that, but that can oftentimes be a signal that you’re not safe,” warned Mosley.

“This new Dutch study reminds us that children are being subjected to experimental medical interventions to treat what, in most cases, is a temporary psychological state,” Richards told TWS. “This is a grotesque perversion of the medical maxim to ‘first, do no harm.’”

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Florida Weighs Allowing Chaplains in Public Schools

The Sunshine State is considering giving students access to chaplains in public schools. On Tuesday, the Florida State Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Education voted to approve Senate Bill 1044, which would allow chaplains to volunteer to offer counseling at public and charter schools.

The text of the bill states, “Each school district or charter school may adopt a policy to authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide supports, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board.” The bill would require volunteer chaplains to pass a background check and would further require school administrators to publicize any chaplain’s religious affiliation and obtain parental consent before a student begins counseling.

Similar bills have been advanced in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas over the past year, facing backlash from Democrats but also some criticism from conservatives and Christians, who fear that the lax requirements around the volunteer chaplain position may allow for atheists, Satanists, and others to present themselves to children as chaplains.

Pastor Jay Johnston, Family Research Council’s chaplain and National Prayer Director, told The Washington Stand, “In speaking with church and ministry leaders about this opportunity to place chaplains in schools, it is suitable from my view if churches who adhere to biblical instruction could commission chaplains and send them to schools — if they have chaplains who know Jesus and have a pastoral heart to minister and bring forth spiritual guidance as they speak life, hope, and encouragement to students, faculty, and parents.”

“However, there is a downside to this,” he continued. “If church and ministry leaders don’t seize the opportunity and chaplains take up positions in schools that are without Christ or associated with a cult, it could give the enemy a foothold and expose the student body to spiritual darkness.”

Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, also commented on the good that school chaplains could achieve. “The specifics of the Florida bill may not be perfect,” she told TWS, “but the need that Florida legislators are seeking to address is very real. As a general matter, as long as the chaplain is actually a pastor who has theological training and ministry experience, I think school chaplains would be a blessing to everyone in the school: students, faculty, staff, and parents.”

However, she also warned, “But when I think of my own public school system where I live, I can easily imagine the approval by school officials of a chaplain in drag, an atheist chaplain, and worse. And that is obviously worse than no chaplain.”

A spokeswoman for the Florida Catholic Conference explained to TWS that although the state’s Catholic bishops have not taken an official stance on the legislation, “We recognize the good that chaplains can do in schools by helping students to address their spiritual and emotional needs. We are pleased that parents will determine the services their children will receive as well in districts that choose to establish chaplaincy programs.”

Reverend James Golden, pastor of Mt. Zion AME Church and the co-founder of Pastors for Florida Children, was among those critical of the bill’s lax qualification requirements. He told lawmakers on Tuesday, “We cannot reduce this important job to somebody who is just able to pass a level two background check.” Golden’s comments echo complaints voiced by a coalition of 100 active chaplains in Texas when the Lone Star State advanced similar legislation last year. In a letter, the chaplains wrote that the Texas bill “allows a school district to give any employee or volunteer who can pass a background check the title of ‘chaplain.’ This is simply not enough. Professional chaplains have specific education and expertise to fulfill our role in helping others engage their own religious practices and traditions.”

The Texas chaplains also wrote, “As trained chaplains, we strongly caution against the government assertion of authority for the spiritual development and formation of our public school children. We would never provide spiritual care to someone without their consent. And when children are involved, parental consent is necessary.” Florida’s new legislation, however, specifically addresses this concern.

The Sunshine State’s bill also addresses another concern raised in Texas last year. The Texas chaplains made it clear, “Because of our training and experience, we know that chaplains are not a replacement for school counselors or safety measures in our public schools… We cooperate with mental health counselors — we do not compete with them.” While the Texas bill specified that “a school district may employ a chaplain instead of a school counselor to perform the duties required of a school counselor” (emphasis added), Florida’s bill does not replace counselors but simply adds chaplains.

Florida Senate Bill 1044 is now being reviewed by the State Senate’s Rules Committee. If approved by the state legislature, it will go into effect July 1.

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Henry Blackaby — Experiencing God Face to Face

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘The Lost Boys’: Documentary Looks at Impact of Transgenderism on Young Men

A new documentary is exposing the horrors that the transgender movement wreaks upon men, as well as the social and medical-industrial conditions that have led to those horrors. The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network released “The Lost Boys: Searching for Manhood” this week, featuring interviews with numerous men in both the U.S. and the U.K. who have undergone gender transition procedures, in addition to leading psychologists in the field of gender dysphoria.

The documentary examines the key common factors that lead young men to question their biological sex and seek gender transitions — namely, pornography, grooming, and the latent cultural detritus of feminism. It also explores how the medical industry promotes transgenderism, and how the young men wounded by transgenderism seek recovery and healing.

Some young men begin to question their biological sex during puberty, according to the documentary. One of the chief reasons behind this is the socially prevalent claim that men are inherently dangerous or toxic. “I think the messaging these boys have heard throughout their childhoods about ‘toxic masculinity’ has instilled a sense of shame, shame about being male,” explained clinical psychotherapist Dr. Joe Burgo. “And when puberty hits, that shame is deeply intensified because they don’t know how to process this sexual drive that they’ve got, which is often — I wouldn’t say ‘violent,’ but forceful. It’s fueled also by pornography that’s online.”

Pornography seemed to be a key factor for the young men interviewed in “The Lost Boys.” A man named Brian explained that he discovered pornography at a very young age and quickly became addicted, progressing from gay porn to transgender to what he called “this bizarre subgenre of pornography called sissy hypnosis porn.” Brian said, “I was able to sort of keep a lid on it while I was going to college. When I graduated college, that’s when I spiraled out of control.”

Another young man, Ritchie, explained that he became heavily involved in online forums, where he was groomed by older men in transgender chat rooms. He said he went to these websites seeking answers and advice from men who he presumed had transitioned genders. Most of those men turned out to be homosexual, not transgender, and convinced Ritchie to self-manufacture and distribute child pornography. Other men told Ritchie how freeing and liberating it was to transition and encouraged him to start. “The way I see it specifically in the actual sense of grooming is, say, a trans-identified boy has assignations online with older men who encourage him to dress up in female clothing and they give him lots of praise,” Burgo commented. “They’re predatory men, there’s no other word for them. There’s a whole predatory group of men out there who are exploiting the insecurities and the shame of these young men.”

Ritchie also explained that he was told by older men online that his testosterone made him “toxic.” He said he was told that “testosterone is poison.” Another young man interviewed, Torren, also talked of the influence that social media and online chat rooms had on him. “I keep hearing the messages, from media, reddit and Instagram being big things, and you see all of these people transitioning and they just seem happy. You see them on social media, they seem like they’re just saying like it solved all their problems,” he said. “I think I knew that it was too good to be true, but I struggled with it.”

Graham Linehan, an Irish comedy writer who was largely blackballed for speaking out against the transgender agenda, stated, “There is obviously a problem with young men.” He explained, “Part of the problem is that they are — the things they naturally find funny, the things they naturally find interesting, the things they naturally find sexy have all been problematized — they’re being made to feel like there’s something wrong with all these things, these very natural things they’re feeling.” Linehan added, “On top of that, you have an increasingly censorious kind of atmosphere where they really can’t say what they want to say.”

Burgo agreed, saying, “Pretty much all the messaging they’ve been given — during grade school and growing up, in media, from their families, from their teachers, everywhere — is that men, traditional men are really bad and that men need to be more like women.” He further noted, “I mean, if you look at the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for working with men and boys, they basically pathologize traditional masculinity. These boys grow up feeling like being a man is awful.”

Dr. Az Hakeem, who is billed as the U.K.’s top gender expert, explained that another key factor is mental health conditions that pro-transgenderism medical professionals often overlook. He stated that all of the male patients he has worked with over the past 23 years have been on the autism spectrum. “The thing about the autistic mind is it’s very ‘black and white,’ it loves categories, it loves rules,” Hazeem said. “And what I was hearing from my male patients were, ‘Well, to be male you have to be like this, this, this, and this. I’m not like this, therefore I’m other, I’m non-male, therefore I must be female.’” Burgo explained that young men on the autism spectrum tend to be “very dissociated from and uncomfortable with their bodies and the sensory world, they don’t like touch. And the emergence of sexuality and all the sensations it’s provoked is deeply disturbing and often dissociative.”

Yet medical professionals don’t seek to help autistic young men uncomfortable in their bodies find ways to fit in and accept themselves as they are: they rush to promote gender transition procedures without even diagnosing any other condition. Ritchie described how he was put on a regimen of hormone drugs, approved by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), and began seeing a “gender therapist.” He said, “The first question I got asked by the NHS psychiatrist was, ‘Do you want genital reassignment surgery?’ And that was my very first psychiatric session at the NHS and I was like, ‘I don’t think so. I think I want therapy to be honest…’”

But his doctor kept asking Ritchie if he wanted surgery. “It was just all the time, constant, constant, constant, ‘Do you want surgery? Do you want surgery? Do you want surgery?” he said. Ritchie responded that he wanted to know what the risks are and wanted to give the procedure careful thought, afraid that he might regret it. He even brought his mother with him to the doctor, and she expressed concern over how the estrogen drugs he was taking were reacting with his antidepressants and how surgery might affect that. Ritchie said the doctor “did his best to shut my mother down and make her believe that if she said anything else [against surgery] it would drive us to suicide.”

A young Norwegian man, Alexander, explained that psychotherapy in Norway is rare, and very serious conditions must be met before an individual may be assigned a therapist. So Alexander “exaggerated” and pretended to be suicidal in order to get an appointment with a therapist who would prescribe him estrogen drugs. After beginning his hormone battery, Alexander talked to his therapist only three times before being given a letter of recommendation for genital surgery. “How can you come to a conclusion that this kind of surgery, life-changing surgery, is the best choice for the patient after talking to the patient three times?” he asked.

All of the young men interviewed talked about the effects estrogen had on them, particularly noting a “brain fog” resulting from the drug. “I never really felt suicidal or anything until I took estrogen. It didn’t make my life any better — in fact, it made my life worse, because I started to feel really depressed,” Brian explained. Estrogen decreases testosterone, and as testosterone decreases in men, they become depressed, lethargic, and unmotivated. As estrogen increases in men, it worsens those issues, impairs memory and attention span, and clouds reasoning and judgement. Both Ritchie and Alexander explained that they likely would have decided against surgery if they hadn’t been placed on estrogen.

“Medical professionals really led me astray with this,” Brian said. “Some people are now messed up for life — I’ll never be able to have kids, my rugged masculinity is never gonna come back. It’s all patient-led, it’s patient-led. ‘I wanna do hormones and I wanna have this surgery.’” He explained, “A good therapist, I think, would have said, ‘Well, maybe you’re transgender, who knows? But let’s get sober for a while and then let’s revisit this topic.’ But that’s not what happened.” Hakeem added, “Parents have bought into it, they’re being fed all this propaganda, like if you don’t let your child do this they’ll kill themselves. There’s no evidence to suggest that’s true.”

By the documentary’s end, everyone agreed that men cannot become women — that the chief claim of transgenderism is a lie. “Gender ideology does not believe that there’s biological sex, it believes that ‘felt gender’ has replaced biological sex, it believes that there are a hundred genders. And I think it’s nonsense. There’s biological sex. You’re male, you’re female, and a very tiny proportion of the people are intersex,” Hakeem explained. Burgo said, “I do not believe that anyone is born in the wrong body nor do I believe that anyone has an innate ‘gender identity’ that might be out of alignment with their sexed body. We are lying to children, I think we need to stop lying to children.”

Ritchie said he started a recovery group for young men who have gone through gender transition procedures. “We’ve all opted for something we call ‘recovery’ rather than ‘detransition,’” he explained. “Because there was no transition, I never went to female, and I’m not going back to male. I never left.” Alexander said, “I’m at peace that I’m a man, that I cannot change that, and I think of it as a biological reality. In Norway we don’t have a word for ‘detransitioner.’ We have a word that can be loosely translated to ‘a regretter.’” Torren stated that he has accepted who he is, saying, “I … realized that all these steps that I was taking to try to somehow ‘be my true self’ were actually taking me away from my true self, were actually taking me away from who I was.”

The Lost Boys” is currently available for free on YouTube.

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Christian Teachers Reinstated as Lawsuit over Transgender Policy Continues

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Top 10 Underreported Stories of 2023

Although the legacy media lift up non-stories every year, they offset the spilled ink by underreporting stories of great national importance. Here are 10 of the most significant stories ignored by the legacy media in 2023.

1. The Nashville Shooter’s Manifesto

On March 27, Audrey Elizabeth Hale entered Nashville’s Covenant School and murdered six innocent people: three nine-year-old children and three adults. Although school shootings have become distressingly commonplace, elements of this atrocity set it apart from other mass shootings: Hale identified as a transgender male named “Aiden,” and her target was a Christian school.

“One day, this will make more sense,” Hale texted her former middle school basketball teammate, Averianna Patton, on the morning of the shooting. “I’ve left plenty of evidence behind.”

Yet the government-media industrial complex has assured that day has not come. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has continued to withhold Hale’s manifesto nine months after the shooting — and the legacy media largely ignored leaked pages of Hale’s diary, posted on social media by talk show host Steven Crowder on November 6.

Crowder obtained only three pages of Hale’s diary, but reading Hale’s words, it’s easy to see why the media suppressed them: They shatter the media narrative about mass shooters. “Wanna kill all you little crackers” with “your white privileges,” wrote Hale. “I hope I have a high death count.”

“God let my wrath take over my anxiety,” she mock-prayed.

The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on the leaked diary pages — without quoting a single word of their content. (The Post story quoted the manifesto … of Payton Gendron, a teenage white supremacist who targeted black shoppers in a supermarket in Buffalo in 2022.) NBC News covered the police investigation into the leak, not Hale’s words. When news leaks thwart conservative aims, they’re news; when leaks harm liberal causes, they’re prosecutions. (See Daleiden, David.)

What’s more, the media know the profound pain their silence has caused the people of Nashville. “Spiritually it’s eating me, it’s eating me alive right now right now [sic], because I’m trying to make God help me wrap my mind around what, what is this God?” said Patton shortly after Hale’s rampage. The media could have answered her question and assuaged her existential angst, but they let her suffer for political ends.

2. Studies Show the Dangers of Transgender Surgeries and the LGBTQ Lifestyle

When historians look back, they may say 2023 marked a turning point when the harms of transgender surgeries became public knowledge. Several studies this year revealed the dangers of the LGBT lifestyle.

Perhaps most dramatically, the chair of a transgender surgery department found that people who have transgender surgeries are lonelier and more depressed than those who do nothing — as are trans-identified people who play on sports teams of the opposite sex. “[H]igher loneliness levels were significantly associated with … already having a gender reassignment surgery [and] more than 4 [hours] a week of sports activities,” as “compared to no sports activity,” said a study by Dr. Marco Blessmann, the founding chair of University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf’s plastic surgery department. The German facility carries out such common transgender procedures as “labiaplasty” and “breast augmentation,” as well as “other surgical services,” and has every financial incentive to come to different conclusions, yet its peer-reviewed studies detail the harm its own procedures cause.

A different study found a majority (55%) of women who had vaginoplasty experienced pain, sometimes for years after the procedure, and one in three has difficulty urinating and having sex. The data come from a study of patients who underwent “bottom surgery” from the Postoperative Care Clinic at the Women’s College Hospital (WCH) in Ontario between 2018 and 2020. Media reported the study, sparsely, in January.

Among the unlikely sources contradicting the LGBTQ narrative that all lifestyles are equally healthy, the Biden administration noted the deep ties between identifying as LGBT and mental illness. As this author reported:

“‘Female students, LGBQ+ students, and students who had any same-sex partners were more likely than their peers to experience poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors,’ said a Biden administration report released in February by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Teenagers who identified as LGBTQ were twice as likely to report ‘poor mental health’ as those who identified as heterosexual, three times as likely to have ‘seriously considered attempting suicide’ or ‘made a suicide plan,’ and 366.6% more likely to have attempted suicide. Not only do they contemplate suicide more frequently, but they are 700% more likely to have injured themselves in a suicide attempt. While only three out of every 100 straight students have been injured in a suicide attempt, the number soars to one out of every seven teens who identifies as LGBTQ.

“‘Nearly 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness … and more than 20% of LGBQ+ students attempted suicide,’ said the CDC report.”

3. Who Leaked the Dobbs Decision?

Weeks before the Supreme Court acted to right a legal and historical wrong by overturning Roe v. Wade, something truly unprecedented happened: Someone leaked a draft copy of the decision in the case — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — to Politico. The activist Left exploded in rage. A year-long campaign of violence targeted pro-life churches and pregnancy resource centers, while an armed man traveled to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home intent on shooting him. The Supreme Court launched an investigation but officially announced in January that it could not determine who leaked the report.

“I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody,” said Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the Dobbs decision, in April. (The International Business Times has noted many conservatives believe the leaker is Amit Jain, a clerk for Sonia Sotomayor with a history of contacting Politico.) But to their shame, the media — which took pains to identify every individual within miles of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 — did not pursue the story doggedly, because it did not fit their narrative.

Another honorable mention in this category is, “Who brought cocaine to the White House?” Like the leaked Dobbs decision, the identity of the individual who left a bag of cocaine in the West Wing this July remains officially unsolved.

4. Our Open Border Transforms America

Joe Biden has set a number of records; unfortunately, they are all for new national humiliations. Among his worst failures is the open U.S. border with Mexico, where illegal immigration has broken all U.S. records each successive year of the Biden administration. In all, a reported 10 million illegal entries have taken place since Biden took office — and they have radically and deliberately transformed the nation we live in, against the will of the American people.

Thanks to this influx, the United States now has the largest number and percentage of foreign-born residents in American history: 49.5 million people, or 15% of the U.S. population. The illegal population grew so precipitously in part, because the Biden administration has failed to remove 99% of the illegal immigrants released into the United States. Among these illegals is a record number of border-crossers whose names are on the terrorist watchlist. Yet the Biden administration has reduced criminal alien deportations.

The problem has finally reached America’s “sanctuary cities,” as Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) sent busloads of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Chicago, Los Angles, and the Big Apple. New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) has said the problem will “destroy” his city and implored the Biden administration to send illegal immigrants to every city, town, and village in America. (Which, for all we know, the administration is already doing.) No one knows where the planeloads of illegal immigrants Biden flies around the country are going.

The Left plans to withhold border security until Republicans give in and approve another 1986-style amnesty plan, which will transform the electorate into what SEIU and socialist organizer Eliseo Medina called “a governing coalition for the long-term.” (See my previous writing on the topic — which includes Democrats discussing their plans to win by relying on voting demographics as far back as 2002 — in this article.) If the corporate GOP rewards the Democrats’ lawless behavior, it will assure America’s permanent transformation.

5. The LGBT Agenda Is Losing Support

Although the legacy media give the LGBTQ political agenda uniformly positive coverage and focus on the group far out of proportion to that demographic’s share of the population, this year they omitted several salient stories: Multiple polls found the LGBTQ cause has lost political support in 2023, even among its most supportive generation.

Among Americans born since 1997, known as Gen Z, support for same-sex marriage fell by a whopping 11 percentage points since 2021, according to a study released in November by AEI’s Survey Center on American Life. Broadly, the percentage of Americans who believe same-sexual relationships are “morally acceptable” fell by 7% this year, the largest decrease of any of the moral issues posed by Gallup pollsters in their annual Values and Beliefs poll, released in June. Most Americans do not see “a married gay or lesbian couple raising children together” as “completely acceptable” (47% do), and even fewer believe an unmarried same-sex couple should raise a child (41%), the Pew Research Center found in September.

Even the Biden administration’s U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) admitted people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are far more likely to suffer from major depression, abuse illegal drugs, and are up to six times as likely to attempt suicide. Transgender ideology also lost support, with a 55% majority of Americans saying “changing one’s gender” is morally wrong, according to a Gallup poll in June — a 4% increase in two years. Transgender extremism was one of the major issues that brought down the leader of Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in February.

These results may seem counterintuitive, since Americans said to identify as LGBTQ more than ever, according to the same polling firms. It could be polling agencies, which are masters at manipulating results, wish to create a sense of complacency in the midst of a social revolution. Or something more ominous may be occurring: Americans may be moving in both directions at the same time. It could be that more young people are caving to social pressure to identify as LGBTQ, while older people (and members of Gen Z who do not buy in to the latest trends) resist the bandwagon effect, which they see will harm themselves and their loved ones.

6. Biden Family Corruption

Even as much as conservative media reported the ever-growing evidence that Joe Biden and his family prospered from deals intended to influence The Big Guy, the broader media have presented the story as a vengeful, political witch hunt waged without evidence. Yet the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability’s wealth of evidence has earned a dearth of coverage, often being falsely presented as “debunked” and “refuted.”

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) has noted that Biden made Ukraine’s firing of prosecutor Viktor Shokin a U.S. priority only after receiving a pay-off. Even the first U.S. hostage released by Hamas had a relative who bought Hunter Biden’s artwork. Biden seems to have used the resources of the U.S. government to further an influence-peddling scheme. As Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden sent thousands of pseudonymous emails under such names as Robert Peters, including informing Hunter Biden about news regarding nations his son was doing business with.

Like Hunter, Joe’s brother Frank Biden also interrupted calls with VIPs to take calls from then-Vice President Joe Biden, referring to the veep as “The Big Guy.” Frank Biden exploited his surname to take a position promoting Mavericks In Education, a charter school chain intended to cater to at-risk students, but which was accused of lying about membership to increase taxpayer funding. He reportedly did this again while taking a job at Berman Law Firm. James Biden has reportedly traded on his brother’s name since the 1970s to gain everything from a night club to foreign deals to legally dubious schemes involving health care companies treating cancer patients. (Note: Many of these stories were originally reported by the legacy media … during the 2020 Democratic primaries. After clinching the nomination, the Biden stories seemed to dry up.) Biden family corruption allegations have led the House to an impeachment inquiry. (For an hour-long discussion of the proof in the Biden family’s scandals, listen to this episode of the “Outstanding” podcast.)

7. The Biden Administration Tells Title X Recipients to Talk to Minors about Sex Behind Their Parents’ Backs

Biden doesn’t simply seek to corrupt his own family; his administration would like to corrupt yours, as well. Taxpayer-funded guidelines encourage Title X providers — those who dole out contraception to those who ask at taxpayer expense — to talk about sex with minors behind their parents’ back, even describing ways to get their parents out of the room. As The Washington Stand reported exclusively:

“Federally-funded guidelines instruct adults to pause before discussing sex with minors and to ask, ‘Are you alone in the room?’ These instructions specify tactics to follow ‘if you’re really having a hard time getting a parent’ to leave the room during the sex talk. They suggest children as young as 13 discuss sex with groups like Planned Parenthood in a parked car or communicate in writing, so their parents cannot hear the adults’ side of the conversation. And they encourage offices to have vans roam neighborhoods giving minors federally funded contraceptives; to mail birth control to adolescents in ‘plain, unmarked packaging’; and/or to have teenagers receive contraceptives at public meet-up places.”

Protecting children against the mental and physical harms of early sexual initiation is hard enough for parents without their government undermining parents’ authority — and forcing them to pay for it.

8. Churchgoers and Married People are Happier

Despite an endless barrage of negative media about the drudgeries of married life and the pointlessness of faith, multiple studies this year verified the benefits of both. Americans who believe in God and value marriage are more likely to be “very happy” than non-believers and single people, according to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll taken in March. Practicing Christians who regularly read the Bible report a higher score on the Human Flourishing Index — which measures “happiness & life satisfaction,” “mental & physical health,” “meaning & purpose,” “character & virtue,” “close societal relationships” and “financial & material stability.”

Active Christians score 7.8, compared to 6.9 for inactive Christians and 6.7 for religious unaffiliated, according to an American Bible Society report released this June. The biggest difference between active Christians and non-Christians came in “meaning & purpose.” (They’re also far more likely to vote Republican.) The aforementioned AEI study also found that “Overall, religious Americans tend to believe their life is meaningful more often than do those who are not religious.” Evangelical Christians are 33% more likely than unbelievers to say their actions matter in the grand scheme of things.

Even the Biden administration issued a warning this year saying Americans’ health may be undermined by not attending church. A report from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, which was released in May, says loneliness harms physical health “even greater than [the risk] associated with obesity and physical inactivity” and is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“Religious or faith-based groups can be a source for regular social contact, serve as a community of support, provide meaning and purpose, create a sense of belonging around shared values and beliefs, and are associated with reduced risk-taking behaviors,” Murthy writes. “As a consequence of this decline in participation, individuals’ health may be undermined.”

When a Balaam like Biden blesses church attendance, Christians should listen.

9. COVID-19 Lockdowns Are Still Hurting America

Locking down the entire population over a virus with a near-100% survival rate may prove to be the most misguided decision in 21st century domestic policy — an arena with stiff competitors. To this day, Americans of all ages continue to pay the price for this policy error, chief among them children.

An analysis from the Associated Press found 50,000 children remain missing from school two years after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic (which the World Health Organization only declared ended on May 5). An incredible 35% of children in kindergarten through second grade fell “below benchmark” in reading (placing them at “high risk for persistent reading difficulties”) in Fall 2021, according to a University of Virginia analysis. These gaps will impact their development as human beings, stifling their cognitive faculties, limiting their lifetime income and fulfillment, and capping their ability to make a difference for Christ and the church.

U.S. taxpayers also literally paid the price for the bipartisan consensus to roll out $5 trillion in COVID emergency relief. The Justice Department announced this summer it had arrested nearly 3,200 people for defrauding U.S. COVID relief funds; at the time, it was investigating $8.6 billion in fraud. The nation’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, received $90.41 billion in COVID relief, although the CARES Act seemed to be written to exclude it; indeed, taxpayer funds continued to trickle down to abortionists this year.

In reality, we have no idea how much fraud was committed in the name of COVID-19 relief — and we won’t for at least a century. Small Business Administration Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware said his COVID fraud hotline got an immense number of tips about COVID fraud, “more than 90,000 have been identified as actionable leads, which amount to more than 100 years of investigative case work.” Funding those investigations alone will cost American taxpayers for years to come.

10. Huge Increase in Homeschooling, Stay-at-home Moms

According to The Washington Post, homeschooling has become the “fastest-growing form of education” in the United States. The United States has seen a 51% increase in homeschooling in five years — between the 2017-2018 school year and this school year. With school strikes, lower educational standards, and teachers hiding children’s transgenderism and teaching Woke curricula (repeating the lies of the 1619 Project and stocking school libraries with gay pornographic books), it’s easy to see why.

At the same time, the number of stay-at-home mothers has increased, according to two studies released this year. The number of stay-at-home moms skyrocketed from 15% in 2022 to 25% in 2023, according to Motherly’s Annual State of Motherhood survey. The Pew Research Center said 26% of mothers worked exclusively in the home in 2022, up from a low of 23% two decades ago.

The children raised by mothers who care enough to sacrifice their career advancement for their children’s development and education may just offset the kids neglected by the public school system since COVID-19 (at the latest). They will be our nation’s greatest hope, and the source of our nation’s good news stories, for years to come.

The legacy media have not given these stories the exposure they deserve but, Lord willing, The Washington Stand’s coverage of newsworthy stories in the pivotal election year of 2024 will prove out-Stand-ing.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Minnesota Middle School Restricted Cell Phones a Year Ago, the Results Are ‘Just Night and Day’

When I was in middle school, I had a flip phone meant exclusively to contact family members (and maybe a couple close friends). Half the time I didn’t even want to text on it because it was one of those keyboards where you have to press the button two or three times to get the letter you want. I hardly used my phone at all, which I believe attributed to why I enjoyed middle school so much.

Unlike an overwhelming number of kids and teenagers today, I was not glued to my screen. Rather, my time in middle school was rooted in practically anything but the cyber-verse. My friends and I spent every moment before and after school, or in between classes, engaging in quality interactions. We talked during lunch, and it wasn’t about what was trending online. Of course, the older I got, as I went through high school and college, social media grew in prominence. So, really, my time in middle school was the only season I had relatively free of technological domination.

The research and studies conducted on social media use are numerous, and it’s remarkable how the majority of them report negative impacts. The conclusions seem to read the same: “Depression, anxiety, bullying, and anti-social tendencies are on the rise, and it’s all linked to social media usage.” Between October of 2019 and October of 2020, social platforms grew 21.3%, with 93.33% of 4.48 billion (as of 2021) worldwide active on social media.

Although statistics show adults between 27 to 42 are the biggest social media users, I would argue the most unfortunate victims of the social media addiction are the younger generations. Which makes a school such as Maple Grove Middle School in Minnesota a breath of fresh air in a world tainted by online toxins.

About a year ago, Maple Grove chose to restrict cell phone use in the school. While it wasn’t an outright ban, they encouraged students to place their phones in their lockers at the start of the day, and anyone who did not comply and used their phone would get it confiscated until the school day finished. According to the principal, Patrick Smith, there were a variety of contributions to this decision. “[T]here’s a lot of drama that comes from social media, and a lot of conflict that comes from it,” he said.

When Smith and the school staff noticed the kids were hardly interacting with each other throughout the day, they knew a change had to be made.

After a year of restricted screen time, the “kids are happy,” Smith shared. “They’re engaging with each other. … [I]t’s just night and day.” When the plan was first announced, parents applauded, the principal noted. And they continue to give positive feedback, including parents who have shared that their kids are paying more attention and participating in more discussions. One parent said her son is “thriving.”

Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for Education Studies, explained to The Washington Stand her take on the school’s hopeful results. She deemed it as “a great first step in helping teens regulate their use of technology in an unrestricted culture.” But unfortunately, the downsides of social media go beyond depression and anxiety.

New research revealed that 73% of teenagers surveyed have been exposed to pornography, with some as young as 11 when the explicit material was viewed. Experts say social media plays a key role in this as well as the identity crisis sweeping the nation. “We know that the porn industry is relentlessly targeting youth,” Kilgannon added. Additionally, “The work of adolescence is to form one’s identity by discerning God’s call on your life.” So, for Kilgannon, social media being both a source of sexual content and identity confusion means “limiting [its] access to children during the school day is a bare minimum kind of advance that we should all be able to support.”

When it comes to fostering the development of a child, Kilgannon shared, “This work needs to be done in the safety of a loving family and supported by institutions we build as a culture — churches and schools. These are places where we encounter each other and build relationships.” She continued, “This encounter is interrupted by overuse of personal devices like cell phones.”

Going back to my middle school days, I am so thankful for a community that was not overrun by our pocket devices. The friendships felt so genuine, and the days richer. My experience causes me to believe the kids at Maple Grove will be seriously helped by the school’s actions. As Kilgannon concluded, “What a gift to this community for the school to allow their students and faculty the space for genuine human connection. I hope this school is developing a ‘best practice’ guideline to share with others — we need this to ‘go viral!’”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Meta Is ‘Manipulating Platforms to Make Kids More Addicted’: State AG

In the wake of strong evidence pointing to the link between the declining mental health of young people and the rise of addictive social media sites, 41 state attorneys general have filed suit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for manipulative business practices that they say intentionally target kids in order to ensnare them in social media addiction.

In October, 41 states and the District of Columbia filed litigation against Meta as reports of record high levels of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicide, continue to surface. Studies have shown that American teenagers have experienced a significant rise in depression over the last two decades, as the share of teens experiencing major depressive episodes steadily rose from 7.9% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2018. Since then, the persistent increase has continued unabated. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that three out of five teenage girls felt depression and one in three had seriously considered suicide in 2021.

As psychologists such as Jean Twenge have observed, the rapid increase in youth mental health issues has dovetailed almost exactly with the ubiquitous rise of smartphones and social media apps. Twenge’s most recent book “Generations” details how Generation Z’s skyrocketing use of social media directly correlates with less time spent in person with friends, less sleep, and increased loneliness.

The issue has become so alarming to health officials that in May, the U.S. Surgeon General released an unprecedented advisory warning that social media use poses a “profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

As a result, public officials have decided that studies and advisories are not enough — they believe that the architects of social media themselves must claim some amount of responsibility for the crisis. On Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to discuss the litigation he has filed against Meta.

“We’ve exposed the manipulative practices of the Meta platform that designed features in order to make kids addicted,” he contended. “And lo and behold, screen time is bad for kids. And I think one of the problems here is that Meta has hidden their head in the sand and refused to obtain data or scientific studies to measure the negative harmful impacts on kids, and deprived the public of access to that information. … [T]hey were manipulating their platform[s] to make kids more addicted, [and] they were doing it to obtain personal information to maximize their profits. And it’s putting kids at risk.”

Bailey went on to argue that Meta’s actions specifically violated his state’s consumer protection laws.

“The mental and emotional impact of the addictive features of Big Tech social media platforms, specifically Meta in this instance, have been immediately impactful on children in a harmful way, and it violates the consumer protection laws of the state of Missouri,” he asserted. “[T]he platform is depriving parents of access to information necessary upon which to make good decisions about the health and safety of their children when they’re there, fraudulently attempting to make the kids addicted to the platform that violates the law, and we’re going to hold them accountable.”

Bailey further observed that the litigation showcases a rare example of bipartisanship, in which a coalition of 41 Republican and Democrat state AGs are coming together to put pressure on Meta for allegedly harming the mental health of children.

“[C]hild safety should be a bipartisan issue,” he underscored. “I’m proud to have joined with like-minded colleagues in other states that want to put the safety of children first and hold wrongdoers in the Big Tech social media world accountable. And certainly we’ve seen a repeated pattern of behavior from Meta, not only to abuse children in this context and to deprive the public of access to information, but to violate our constitutional rights to free speech by acquiescing to government censorship demands. … [T]his is a full court press, all hands on deck approach to make sure we’re holding this monolithic monopoly accountable.”

The Missouri attorney general also highlighted specific goals that the state litigation seeks, including monetary compensation for victims. “We … think there should be some monetary compensation for the victims,” he maintained. “We’ve got to build a fund to study this problem, figure out how bad it is, the negative emotional and mental impacts on kids, and make sure that they’re treated and taken care of in the aftermath of this fraudulent behavior.”

Bailey concluded by pointing out the parallels in the social media case with the evidence that was uncovered in the 1990s of tobacco companies attempting to hide evidence of the addictive nature of their products. “I think history will look back on this moment in time and celebrate that we took a stand to protect children against this pernicious behavior very quickly.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

When the Transgender Movement Kills

The most common question transgender activists use to bully parents into approving their daughter’s lifelong dependency on experimental hormone injections is: “Would you rather have a living son or a dead daughter?”

But the tragic story of Abigail Martinez’s daughter, who took her own life after attempting to transition to life as a boy, proves what a false dichotomy that is.

A hard-hitting new film reveals how the trans movement inflicts death, depression, and familial estrangement in service of the pharmaceutical industry.

The story of Yaeli Martinez forms the heart of “Gender Transformations: The Untold Realities,” an original production of The Epoch Times. Though technically classified as a “docudrama,” the term does not do justice to the reality that plays out on the screen: The majority of the film consists of real people sharing heartbreaking true stories, without an interviewer’s prompting. Through their eyes, the 85-minute Epoch Original production traces the transgender contagion from its funding sources in Big Pharma, to ideologically extremist teachers who radicalize children behind their parents’ backs, to trans activists who brainwash and kidnap minors, to the irreversible damage the industry causes teens and young adults. Abigail Martinez sheds real tears for her daughter’s suicide — and real footage shows trans activists mocking her grief.

The “docudrama” label comes from the movie’s dramatization of the short life, radicalization, and death of Yaeli Martinez. The film renames Yaeli “Evie,” who transitions to “Evan.” But the recreation of Yaeli’s life — which can only be reconstructed, since she stepped in front of a train at age 17 — forms the narrative arc turning patchwork of first-person vignettes into a mosaic picture of lives callously shattered for profit.

Yaeli became indoctrinated in extreme gender ideology through a school LGBT group, where she eventually joined her “friends” in identifying as transgender. One night, Yaeli’s “friends” pulled up outside Martinez’s home, picked her up in an unmarked car, and whisked her away to an unknown location to live with other transgender-identifying young people. “They even took the license plate off of their car,” Martinez remembers.

Things got worse when the government got involved. Yaeli said her mother refused to affirm her identity, causing the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services to put the minor into a group home. A judge would authorize the minor to receive transgender injections against her mother’s will. Eventually, Yaeli — who now identified as “Andrew” — brought her mother back into her life, just as newfound friends began to desert her and reality began to assert itself.

“She told me, ‘Mom, I realized that no matter what I do I’m never going to be like my brother. I’m in pain. I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate,’” Martinez recalls. “’It’s not working the way that I thought.’”

One day in 2019, law enforcement gave Martinez the news that her daughter had committed suicide. “I was screaming. I said, ‘No, I want my daughter,’” Martinez later told The Daily Signal. She pleaded to be able to spend time with the body of her daughter, whom she had not seen since the child ran away.

“The gentleman from the funeral home told me there’s nothing really that you can see or recognize,” Martinez recalled.

All that remained of her child’s legacy was the undying hatred of the radical LGBTQ movement. The movie includes real footage of Martinez sharing her story, as trans activists yell, “Cry more!” and “What a sob story!”

After removing a child from a loving home and transitioning her, the Los Angeles government refused to acknowledge any responsibility for Yaeli’s death. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Andrew M., as well as to the LGBTQIA community which advocates relentlessly to protect its youngest and most vulnerable members from such tragedies,” responded the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

The statement said nothing about the role of the transgender movement — top to bottom — in creating the tragedy.

That story falls to Martinez and the movie’s ensemble of grieving parents, whistleblowing therapists, investigative journalists, and remorseful detransitioners.

The origin story of transgenderism’s social contagion begins by tracing the money back to the Big Pharma companies that manufacture these drugs. “If you’re going to look for anything in this country, you’re going to follow the money, because it will always tell you the truth. Who’s funding these LGB organizations?” asked writer and investigator Jennifer Bilek. “What I found was a whole lot of very, very powerful moneyed people in the highest echelons of finance, Pharma, and technology.” Dr. Katherine Welch, a concerned physician, agrees that pharmaceutical companies “fund the activists and the NGOs to stir up a lot of passion.” Then the companies ask for emergency use authorization, based on “a mental health crisis among our youth.” Thanks to their combination marketing-and-lobbying efforts, there is now “a $1.5 billion industry for surgery alone,” said lawyer Erin Friday. “And I think that’s an underestimate.”

The trail extends to dishonest researchers, such as John Money, and subject criteria set by organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). The academic cohort produces the shoddy research trumpeted by the media, entertainment industry, and school officials. When Erin Friday learned her daughter had secretly begun identifying as a boy at school, administrators told her, “We need to be a safe space” for her child. “By extension, I’m unsafe,” said Friday.

The message promptly filters down to young people. A few confess to being amazed at the virtually godlike power they hold over their own bodies. “When I went into the Planned Parenthood building to [talk about] the surgery … I could pick from 25 sets of breasts,” said detransitioner David Bacon. “I could build myself.”

But most seek to rebuild themselves from a trauma, or they naïvely believe the transgender industry’s claims that the silver bullet for their depression lies at the end of a needle. Continually hearing the (scientifically inaccurate) mantra that children who identify as transgender will commit suicide if not immediately “affirmed” caused at least one woman to become profoundly depressed. “It made me feel even more hopeless, because I thought there was no way to accept myself. I had to get these painful surgeries and take hormones,” said detransitioner Catt Catinson. Her psychological evaluation “affirmed me immediately” and “just sort of overlooked my eating disorder” and childhood sexual abuse. Abel Garcia received the same treatment, even after telling them, “I might be autistic” and that he felt unsure whether he identified as transgender.

“The worst part, honestly, is that I was allowed to do all this, and that nobody was willing to stop me and have a second opinion,” says Garcia. “Instead, I was affirmed, I was love-bombed. I was allowed to destroy my body.”

So, was Yaeli Martinez, to whom the movie is dedicated.

“This pain never goes away,” says Abigail Martinez. “You breathe and you can feel the pain.”

Yet the movie ends with the hope that some victims of the transgender industry survive long enough to live as their authentic selves, the ones reflected by their biology. “It took me about a year to fully deprogram from gender identity ideology,” said Cattinson. “I feel like it was the act of deprogramming, just changing my beliefs, that allowed me to recover from my depression.” Now, she has reconnected with the family her embrace of gender ideology estranged. “It’s been very healing, having that family connection again. We can just be together and love each other.”

That gives hope to Pamela Garfield-Jaeger, a therapist and social worker who believes adults caught up in the transgender movement “didn’t realize just how harmful this was.” One day, Americans will look back at this chapter as “a dark time in our history, but I don’t think this is going to last.”

But until then, the testimony of Martinez and other grieving families torn apart by extreme transgender ideology, preserved in this Epoch Original, reveals the incalculable consequences when darkness triumphs, even briefly.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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“Detransitioner” Chloe Cole testified to this effect at a recent hearing in the House of Representatives.

Dr. Jennifer Bauwens testifies at the Congressional hearing, explaining the ethical issues regarding gender transition procedures and urging the subcommittee to act on behalf of children.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Really Bad Science’: Biden Admin Admits LGBT Lifestyle Produces Worse Mental Health and Addiction

Americans who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are far more likely to suffer from major depression, abuse illegal drugs, and are up to six times as likely to attempt suicide, according to a new report from the Biden administration. Although the report admits it cannot “explain the reasons” for these differences, it opens by blaming LGBT “invisibility and erasure” — a leap critics say is “just bad science” that obscures the real causes for their mental distress.

Adults who have sex with members of the same sex, or both sexes, experience a dramatically lower quality of life across numerous measures, the Biden administration reveals. Women who have sex with members of both sexes (bisexuals) were six times as likely to have attempted suicide within the last year as women who identify as straight, and three times as likely to abuse opioid drugs. Bisexual men were three times as likely to have had a serious mental illness in the last year, according to the survey from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“A higher prevalence of substance use and mental health issues has been well-documented among people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (also referred to as sexual minorities) than among those who identify as heterosexual or straight,” notes the report, which focuses on American adults’ behaviors during the 2021-2022 year.

Drug Abuse, Suicide, and Depression

The Biden administration survey documents the high rates at which “sexual minorities” suffer from the intertwined pathologies of drug abuse and negative mental health outcomes.

Drug abuse rates, spanning from methamphetamines to tobacco, were multiple orders higher among gay- or bisexual-identified people than heterosexuals. People who identify as bisexual, of either sex, had the highest levels of illegal drug use. Half of all bisexual men and women (49.5% and 49.7%, respectively) had used illicit drugs, as well as 42% of women who identify as lesbians and 41% of men who have sex with men (MSM) — double the rates of heterosexual men and women (27% and 20%, respectively).

Those living the LGBT lifestyle had a strong propensity to abuse the hardest narcotics. Lesbians were twice as likely, and bisexual women more than three times as likely to use “cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamine,” or to abuse prescription drugs (19.4% of bisexual women compared to 13.8% of lesbians, and 6.7% of straight women). Lesbians were 253% more likely to use cocaine than straight women. Bisexual women were 360% more likely to misuse opioids than straight women over the last year. Gay or lesbian-identified adults were twice as likely to abuse hallucinogenic drugs than heterosexuals.

The trend continues to legal drugs, as well. “Sexual minority females” were twice as likely to smoke tobacco or “have been heavy drinkers in the past month,” according to the SAMHSA report, officially titled the “Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Behavioral Health: Results from the 2021 and 2022 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.”

Similar numbers held true for males — although men have higher levels of substance abuse in general. “Gay males were about twice as likely as bisexual males and about 15 times as likely as straight males to have used inhalants in the past year,” reports SAMHSA. All men abused alcohol at the same rate.

Mental health also proved radically poorer among people who identify as LGBT. While women admit to higher levels of mental health challenges than men, LGBT-identified people of both sexes suffered significantly elevated levels of serious mental illness, major depressive episodes, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.

People who identify as gay were twice as likely as straight people to have serious mental illness, and bisexuals were three times as likely. “Sexual minorities” were also twice as likely to suffer from any mental illness.

Homosexual or bisexual-identified people were more likely to suffer a major depressive episode — defined as at least one period during the past year that lasted two weeks or longer when the individual felt depressed for most of the day nearly every day, and “had problems with sleeping, eating, energy, concentration, self-worth, or having recurrent thoughts of death or recurrent suicidal ideation.” One quarter of bisexual women and one out of every seven lesbians experienced a major depressive episode, compared to 9.1% of straight women; discrepancies were higher among men, with bisexuals sidelined by depression more than three times as often as heterosexual men.

Self-identified homosexuals, lesbians, and bisexuals suffered from the most severe form of depression — suicidal ideation — magnitudes higher than their heterosexual peers. “The prevalence of making a suicide plan in the past year was highest among bisexual males, followed by gay males, then by straight males,” the survey says. Bisexual women were five times as likely, and lesbians were four times as likely, to have made a suicide plan as heterosexual females. Bisexual women were six times as likely to attempt suicide than straight women; lesbians have three times the suicide rate of straight women. Bisexual men were four times as likely, and gay men three times as likely, as straight men.

The report notes “sexual minorities” were more likely to suffer the twin pathologies of substance abuse disorder and any mental illness at the same time. “Sexual minority females were about 2 to 3 times more likely than straight females to have had both AMI and an SUD in the past year,” with LGB-identified men experiencing both conditions at twice the rate of heterosexual men.

Higher levels of mental illness and substance abuse in the LGB survey of adults mirror the results of a similar government study of LGBT-identified teenagers. “Female students, LGBQ+ students, and students who had any same-sex partners were more likely than their peers to experience poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” said a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in February. “Nearly 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness … and more than 20% of LGBQ+ students attempted suicide.”

This year’s SAMHSA survey included only sexual practice: homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual. The 2023 survey will include a category for people who identify as transgender.

‘Bad Science’ Ignores Childhood Trauma, Blames ‘Erasure’

Although the report concluded that its report does “not explain the reasons for these differences,” the opening asserted, “People who identify as bisexual may experience additional problems with substance use and mental health due to sexual orientation-based discrimination, bisexual invisibility and erasure, and a lack of bisexual-affirmative support.”

But a statistical report should not jump to conclusions it did not study, nor include “polemical language,” Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “The survey isn’t even about erasure,” said Bauwens. “The conclusion doesn’t match the nature of the report. It speaks to the fact that there’s a bigger agenda going on here. It’s just really bad ‘science’ all the way around.”

Expert researchers shared her views. “Speaking of ‘erasure,’ pro-LGBTQ elites will do anything to erase the reality of the pathologies that are invariably connected to ‘gay,’ lesbian, bisexual, and now transgender behaviors and lifestyles,” Peter LaBarbera, founder and president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, told TWS. “It’s been this way ever since ‘gay liberation’ began conquering American institutions and compromising their integrity from the inside out.”

Bauwens said the report’s authors ignored more likely underlying traumas. “One of the most glaring [omissions] has been documented over and over again”: Every segment of the population identifying as LGBT has “higher rates of adverse childhood events compared to the general population: They have so much more physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and trauma in childhood.”

“That’s also evidence in the substance abuse research, particularly those who use opioids, almost always had sexual abuse,” Bauwens added.

A review of 75 studies on abuse among people who identify with the LGBT community found up to three out of four lesbians and 59% of men who have sex with men reported childhood sexual abuse. Sexual molestation victims often say their abuse informed their later sexual practice. A 2001 study found men who have sex with men were 657% more likely, and lesbians were 2,200% more likely to have been molested as children than their heterosexual counterparts. “[H]omosexually molested participants were more likely to say that the molestation had an impact on their sexual orientation than heterosexually molested participants,” according to a 2010 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. (The perpetrator was a homosexual in 80% of abused boys and 95% of molested girls, the study found — conclusions that echo the work of Dr. Judith Reisman.)

In the U.K., the abuse rate of men who identify as gay or bisexual is 10 times the national average (49%). “LGBTs report childhood sexual abuse” and mental illness “at 3x-8x the rate of heterosexuals,” found Clayton Cramer.

In all, 83% of people who identify as LGBT reported experiencing at least one adverse childhood experiences (ACE), 20% higher than heterosexuals, and they were more than twice as likely to report experiencing three ACEs or more, according to a 2022 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry. The study’s author, Nathaniel Tran, is a graduate research associate at Vanderbilt University’s LGBTQ+ Policy Lab and uses they/him pronouns. Vanderbilt University operated a transgender facility that carried out procedures on minors — which Dr. Shayne Taylor explained are a “big money maker” — until a new Tennessee law restricted the procedures to adults on June 1.

All of these adverse impacts increase the likelihood of poor mental health and substance abuse.

“If I were coming to this data with eyes wide open, I would ask, ‘Did you have childhood sexual abuse?’” Dr. Bauwens told TWS. “That opens a whole other intervention diagnostic and intervention pathway.”

Unfortunately, “these types of surveys, and a lot of the LGBT research period, starts with this premise that some of these negative mental health reports or suicidal issues have to do with the stress that this population experiences” due to alleged homophobia. As a result the studies, and the psychologists who rely on them, are “never making an accurate assessment of the real problem and therefore, they’re never giving the right intervention.”

These ideologically driven misdiagnoses do “disservice to this community,” said Bauwens.

Yet the narrative continued as the media released the SAMHSA study, quoting Jeremy Kidd, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who teaches students how to “provide affirming healthcare for LGBTQ+ patients.” Kidd blamed low LGBT mental health on society’s allegedly overly conservative sexual views. “You can imagine being in environments that might be validating of people who have gay and lesbian identities but might either not recognize bisexual identity — so they are sort of invisible in that space.”

“LGBT individuals experience additional stress as a result of discrimination and stigma,” Kidd said during the middle of Pride Month.

Yet erasure could not explain why a 2016 study in Sweden concluded that people legally married to members of the same sex “evidence a higher risk of suicide than other married individuals, after adjustment for confounders.”

‘This Is the Moment for the Christian Remnant to Shine’

While Americans should demand honesty from government reports, LaBarbera said, “Christians and other truth-seekers can take some solace in sexual revolutionaries’ intellectually dishonest attempts to sanitize homosexuality and related immoral behaviors — because they’re telegraphing that they know the pathology is rooted in high-risk and destructive LGBTQ behaviors themselves. Like smart citizens living under lying communist regimes, we have to read through the lines, discern the truth, and spread it in the culture.”

“This is the moment for the Christian remnant to shine in a dying culture,” LaBarbera told TWS, “all the while giving hope to the sin-addicted by pointing out that there is a better way to live: God’s way through the grace and power of Jesus Christ.”

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Americans’ ‘Health May be Undermined’ by Not Going to Church: Surgeon General

In a recent official government report, the Biden administration has warned that Americans’ “health may be undermined” due to their “decline in participation” in church services and other religious activities.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued the first-ever government advisory on the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation” earlier this month, calling persistent isolation an “urgent public health issue” that impacts the physical and mental health of millions. “Research shows that loneliness and isolation are associated with a greater risk of heart disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death,” says Murthy in an online video released to coincide with the report.

Loneliness is as bad for individuals as smoking 15 cigarettes a day — a pack-and-a-half daily habit — and harms physical health “even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity,” the report notes.

Unfortunately, Murthy writes, Americans have become disconnected from one of the institutions that can forge deep and permanent social connections: church attendance. “Religious or faith-based groups can be a source for regular social contact, serve as a community of support, provide meaning and purpose, create a sense of belonging around shared values and beliefs, and are associated with reduced risk-taking behaviors,” Murthy writes. “As a consequence of this decline in participation, individuals’ health may be undermined in different ways.”

“Membership in organizations that have been important pillars of community connection have declined significantly,” including “faith organizations,” writes Murthy. “In 2020, only 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. This is down from 70% in 1999 and represents a dip below 50% for the first time in the history of the survey question.”

Experts have known about the fraying web of meaningful personal relationships for decades. For instance, the percentage of American men who said they have no close friends had increased 500% between 1990 and 2021. But a persistent sense of abandonment reached societal proportions during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Church attendance and health issues have an inverse relationship, according to multiple studies, including a new report released by evangelical pollster George Barna.

The percentage of millennials who attended a church worship service, either in-person or online, dropped by seven percentage points over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the study from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University (ACU), where Barna is director of research.

The retreat from faith has devastated young people, Barna told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” recently.

Separate ACU polls found that 75% of millennials “say, ‘I don’t know why I should get out of bed in the morning,’” said Barna. A majority “admit that every day they’re struggling with mental health issues, severe depression, anxiety, fear,” and “the highest suicide rate of any generation we’ve ever seen.”

That’s roughly the percentage of millennials who do not attend religious services: Only 28% take part in services in any way.

Conversely, Americans who believe in God and value marriage are more likely to be “very happy” than isolated secularists, according to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll taken in March.

Young adults’ isolation persists despite the fact that millennials desperately yearn for meaningful social interactions at a core level. “They believe that relationships are vitally important. They want to be connected. They want to belong. They want to be part of a community,” Barna told Perkins. “But they say it’s not working. It’s not happening.”

In part, Americans became disconnected from churches because of the churches — and government policies shutting down churches while allowing marijuana dispensaries to remain open.

“The last three years have been a time of high anxiety for tens of millions of adults. It was an ideal time for the Christian church to provide wise guidance and emotional calm. Unfortunately, most churches agreed to the government’s dictate that they close their doors and remain mostly silent,” says Barna in a statement accompanying the ACU’s research.

“Obviously, that has not worked out so well,” Barna observes.

Millennials were not the only demographic to give up congregational worship. Generation X saw their church attendance fall 13 points, from 41% to 28%. Although 53% of the oldest American generation attends church, that’s a three-point drop from 2020. Only Baby Boomers became “more likely now than they were before COVID-19 to read the Bible, praise and worship God, seek and do God’s will, and attend church services,” says the report.

During the pandemic, “every generation turns to their worldview to navigate the challenges,” says Barna. “As a nation, we may be past the danger of COVID-19, but we’re in the thick of the danger brought about by people relying upon syncretism as their dominant worldview. Biblical churches must see this as a time for an urgent response to the direction society is taking.”

The surgeon general is not the first to find that frequenting a church increases longevity and improves overall health. “[A]ttendance at religious services had a dose-response relationship with mortality, such that respondents who attended frequently had a 40% lower hazard of mortality,” wrote researchers at Emory University in a 2017 research paper.

The correlation between a strong faith and psychological well-being is well-attested by social science. “Young-adult Gen-Xers in the strongly religious class across the three measurements generally reported better mental health when they reached established adulthood than those in the nonreligious class,” reported a 2022 study by a team of analysts from Syracuse University. “Findings suggest that religiosity may serve as an important resource for mental health in the transition to established adulthood.”

Barna says this is a perfect time for the church to proclaim the Christian message, for Americans’ spiritual and physical health. The Bible encourages deep connections to fellow believers across the boundaries of time, space, and culture. Scriptural anthropology begins with the observation that “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The New Testament exhorts Christians to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

“While the Left pursues the Great Reset, it is time for the Church to pursue the Great Renewal — leading people’s hearts, minds, and souls back to God and His life principles,” wrote Barna.

The full section of the surgeon general’s report reads:

Membership in organizations that have been important pillars of community connection have declined significantly in this time. Take faith organizations, for example. Research produced by Gallup, Pew Research Center, and the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey demonstrates that since the 1970s, religious preference, affiliation, and participation among U.S. adults have declined. In 2020, only 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. This is down from 70% in 1999 and represents a dip below 50% for the first time in the history of the survey question. Religious or faith-based groups can be a source for regular social contact, serve as a community of support, provide meaning and purpose, create a sense of belonging around shared values and beliefs, and are associated with reduced risk-taking behaviors. As a consequence of this decline in participation, individuals’ health may be undermined in different ways.”

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

The Claim That ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ Saves Lives Is Falling Apart

Monday’s tragic shooting at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian private school in Nashville, Tennessee, is exposing the sobering reality that what is being marketed to the public as “gender-affirming care” is not doing what we were told it would do­­­­ – alleviate mental health issues and gender confusion.

In the past few years, several mass shootings have been carried out by members of the transgender-identifying community. This is a rather alarming statistic, given that only 0.1% of the population experiences gender dysphoria, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V-TR. So, what is going on here?

At one time, gender dysphoria was considered a mental disorder, but now, due to the increasing prevalence of a worldview shaped by gender identity ideology, it has morphed into a human rights issue. The ideology borrows from the mental health aspects of gender dysphoria in order to justify medical “intervention.” It claims that the elevated mental health issues in the transgender-identifying community can be pinned on the social discrimination these individuals face. In the simplest terms, the transgender-identifying person’s mental well-being is based on having the right external circumstances, such as being called by the “correct” pronouns, undergoing all the desired plastic surgeries, having access to the opposite sex’s hormones, and having others affirm their internal idea of reality. What could possibly go wrong with that approach to life?

In the aftermath of The Covenant School tragedy, we can be assured that discrimination will be offered up as an excuse for a transgender-identified person carrying out a mass shooting. But if facing discrimination is cause for someone to commit such a heinous act as mass violence, then we ought to adjust how we flag potential perpetrators and offer other mental health interventions to gender-affirming care, such as ones that help people develop stronger internal loci of control rather than be subject to the changing tides of their circumstances.

Advocates of gender-affirming care insist it is both lifesaving and evidence-based health care for those who identify as transgender. But the research used to make such a claim is full of methodological errors and can be easily disputed as a research body that is incomplete. In just one example, it is well known that the trans-identifying community has experienced a high rate of childhood traumas. It is also well-known that trauma victims have high suicide attempt and completion rates. The problem is that the supposed scientific research on the transgender issue doesn’t explain how researchers have differentiated those in the transgender community who are suicidal because of the influence of childhood trauma from those they claim are suicidal because of the lack of affirmation and pharmaceuticals.

Not only are the currently published studies problematic, but there is a lack of ongoing and long-term follow-up reports that address the impact of cross-sex hormones and surgeries. Most of us have seen the commercials in which the lawyer announces a class action suit against a pharmaceutical company for a particular drug’s side effects that were discovered later. Why did the suit come about? It was a result of continual study and monitoring of a particular drug to understand if the harms of taking that medication outweigh the benefits.

In our current climate, there is no sensible monitoring of the psychological effects of minors or adults taking cross-sex hormones or engaged in any aspect of gender-affirming care. We don’t know the long-term psychological effects of social transition (e.g., adopting the opposite sex’s name and pronouns) either. Although we don’t know if the perpetrator of the March 27 shooting was on cross-sex hormones, we do know that she was in counseling and, given the state of the profession, was most likely encouraged to identify as the opposite biological sex.

To address this unscientific and dysfunctional approach to treating gender dysphoria, bills have been proposed across the country to place age requirements on the physiological aspects of gender-affirming care. Although most of these proposals require a person to be 18 years old before they can receive cross-sex hormones or undergo surgical procedures to change their sexual organs, the evidence to support these “interventions” isn’t good for any age.

Unfortunately, the tragedy at The Covenant School proves to be one more big piece of evidence suggesting that gender-affirming care (whether social or physiological) is not doing what it set out to do — treat mental health issues. On the contrary, the evidence shows that those who take these drugs are 19 times more likely to commit suicide. There is also mounting evidence that those who have detransitioned have experienced compounded psychological complications as a result of what they went through under “gender-affirming care.” Now, we face the tragic reality of a transgender-identifying biological female, who, against the normative profile, committed an act of mass murder.

We do not understand the long-term psychological ramifications of the so-called gender-affirming approach to mental health care, but we do have growing evidence that this sort of “affirmation” is not a remedy for mental health problems.

One thing this tragedy has confirmed is that our leaders and legislators should focus on saving lives and invoke a moratorium on these risky, baseless “gender affirming” interventions.

AUTHOR

Dr. Jennifer Bauwens

Dr. Jennifer Bauwens is the Director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

The Power of Woke: How Leftist Ideology is Undermining our Society and Economy

Neo-Marxism is a cultural cancer spreading through America and beyond.


“It’s an important part of society whether you like it or not,” lexicologist Tony Thorne, referring to “wokeness,” told The New Yorker’s David Remnick in January. That’s an understatement.

Wokeness is poisoning the Western workplace and constraining small and family businesses, midsized banks, and entrepreneurs while enriching powerful corporations and billionaires. It’s eating away at the capitalist ethos and killing the bottom-up modes of economic ordering and exchange that propelled the United States of America to prosperity during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It’s infecting Gen Z and millennials, who, suffering high depression rates and prone to “quiet quitting,” are not as well off as their parents and grandparents, and who feel isolated and alone even as they enjoy a technological connectivity that’s unprecedented in human history.

What, exactly, is wokeness, and how does it impact business and the wider society?

Subversion

The term as it’s widely used today differs from earlier significations. “Woke”, which plays on African American vernacular, once meant “awake to” or “aware of” social and racial injustices. The term expanded to encompass a wider array of causes from climate change, gun control, and LGTBQ rights to domestic violence, sexual harassment, and abortion.

Now, wielded by its opponents, it’s chiefly a pejorative dismissing the person or party it modifies. It’s the successor to “political correctness,” a catchall idiom that ridicules a broad range of leftist hobbyhorses. Carl Rhodes submits, in Woke Capitalism, that “woke transmuted from being a political call for self-awareness through solidarity in the face of massive racial injustice, to being an identity marker for self-righteousness.”

John McWhorter’s Woke Racism argues that wokeness is religious in character, unintentionally and intrinsically racist, and deleterious to black people. McWhorter, a black linguist, asserts that “white people calling themselves our saviors make black people look like the dumbest, weakest, most self-indulgent human beings in the history of our species.”

Books like Stephen R. Soukup’s The Dictatorship of Woke Capital and Vivek Ramaswamy’s Woke, Inc. highlight the nefarious side of the wokeism adopted by large companies, in particular in the field of asset management, investment, and financial services.

Hypocritical neo-Marxism

Wokeism, in both the affirming and derogatory sense, is predicated on a belief in systemic or structural forces that condition culture and behavior. The phrases “structural racism” or “systemic racism” suggest that rational agents are nevertheless embedded in a network of interacting and interconnected rules, norms, and values that perpetuate white supremacy or marginalise people of color and groups without privilege.

Breaking entirely free from these inherited constraints is not possible, according to the woke, because we cannot operate outside the discursive frames established by long use and entrenched power. Nevertheless, the argument runs, we can decentre the power relations bolstering this system and subvert the techniques employed, wittingly or unwittingly, to preserve extant hierarchies. That requires, however, new structures and power relations.

Corporate executives and boards of directors are unsuspectingly and inadvertently — though sometimes deliberately — caught up in these ideas. They’re immersed in an ideological paradigm arising principally from Western universities. It’s difficult to identify the causative origin of this complex, disparate movement to undo the self-extending power structures that supposedly enable hegemony. Yet businesses, which, of course, are made up of people, including disaffected Gen Zs and millennials, develop alongside this sustained effort to dismantle structures and introduce novel organising principles for society.

The problem is, rather than neutralising power, the “woke” pursue and claim power for their own ends. Criticising systems and structures, they erect systems and structures in which they occupy the center, seeking to dominate and subjugate the people or groups they allege to have subjugated or dominated throughout history. They replace one hegemony with another.

The old systems had problems, of course. They were imperfect. But they retained elements of classical liberalism that protected hard-won principles like private property, due process of law, rule of law, free speech, and equality under the law. Wokeism dispenses with these. It’s about strength and control. And it has produced a corporate-government nexus that rigidifies power in the hands of an elite few.

Consider the extravagant spectacle in Davos, the beautiful resort town that combined luxury and activism at the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum, perhaps the largest gathering of self-selected, influential lobbyists and “c suiters” across countries and cultures. This annual event occasions cartoonish portrayals of evil, conspiratorial overlords — the soi-disant saviours paternalistically preaching about planetary improvement, glorifying their chosen burden to shape global affairs. The World Economic Forum has become a symbol of sanctimony and lavish inauthenticity, silly in its ostentation.

The near-ubiquitous celebration of lofty Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies at the World Economic Forum reveals a seemingly uniform commitment among prominent leaders to harness government to pull companies — and, alas, everyone else — to the left.

ESG is, of course, an acronym for the non-financial standards and metrics that asset managers, bankers, and investors factor while allocating capital or assessing risk. A growing consortium of governments, central banks, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), asset management firms, finance ministries, financial institutions, and institutional investors advocates ESG as the top-down, long-term solution to purported social and climate risks. Even if these risks are real, is ESG the proper remedy?

Attendees of the World Economic Forum would not champion ESG if they did not benefit from doing so. That plain fact doesn’t alone discredit ESG, but it raises questions about ulterior motives: What’s really going on? How will these titans of finance and government benefit from ESG?

Follow the money

One obvious answer involves the institutional investors that prioritise activism over purely financial objectives or returns on investment (for legal reasons, activist investors would not characterise their priorities as such). It has only been a century since buying and selling shares in publicly traded companies became commonplace among workers and households. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), created in response to the Great Depression, isn’t even 100 years old.

Until recently, most investors divested if they owned stock in a company that behaved contrary to their beliefs. They rarely voted their shares or voted only on major issues like mergers and acquisitions. In 2023, however, institutional investors such as hedge funds and asset management firms engage boards of directors, exercise proxy voting, and issue shareholder reports with the primary goal of politicising companies. As intermediaries, they invest pension funds, mutual funds, endowments, sovereign wealth funds, 401(k)s and more on behalf of beneficiaries who may or may not know what political causes their invested assets support.

If a publicly traded company “goes woke,” consider which entities hold how much of its shares and whether unwanted shareholder pressure is to blame. Consider, too, the role of third-party proxy advisors in the company’s policies and practices.

Big companies go woke to eliminate competition. After all, they can afford the costs to comply with woke regulations whereas small companies cannot. Institutional investors warn of prospective risks of government regulation while lobbying for such regulation. In the United States, under the Biden Administration, woke federal regulations are, unsurprisingly, emerging. Perhaps publicly traded companies will privatise to avoid proposed SEC mandates regarding ESG disclosures, but regulation in other forms and through other agencies will come for private companies too.

The woke should question why they’re collaborating with their erstwhile corporate enemies. Have they abandoned concerns about poverty for the more lucrative industry of identity politics and environmentalism? Have they sold out, happily exploiting the uncouth masses, oppressing the already oppressed, and trading socioeconomic class struggle for the proliferating dogma of race, sexuality, and climate change? As wokeness becomes inextricably tied to ESG, we can no longer say, “Go woke, go broke.” Presently, wokeness is a vehicle to affluence, a status marker, the ticket to the center of the superstructure.

ESG helps the wealthiest to feel better about themselves while widening the gap between the rich and poor and disproportionately burdening economies in developing countries. It’s supplanting the classical liberal rules and institutions that leveled playing fields, engendered equality of opportunity, expanded the franchise, reduced undue discrimination, eliminated barriers to entry, facilitated entrepreneurship and innovation, and empowered individuals to realise their dreams and rise above their station at birth.

When politics is ubiquitous, wokeness breeds antiwokeness. The right caught on to institutional investing; counteroffensives are underway. The totalising politicisation of corporations is a zero-sum arms race in which the right captures some companies while the left captures others.

Soon there’ll be no escaping politics, no tranquil zones, and little space for emotional detachment, contemplative privacy, or principled neutrality; parallel economies will emerge for different political affiliations; noise, fighting, anger, distraction, and division will multiply; every quotidian act will signal a grand ideology. For the woke, “silence is violence”; there’s no middle ground; you must speak up; and increasingly for their opponents as well, you must choose sides.

Which will you choose in this corporatised dystopia? If the factions continue to concentrate and centralise power, classical liberals will have no good options. Coercion and compulsion will prevail over freedom and cooperation. And commerce and command will go hand in hand.

This article has been republished with permission from Mises Wire.

AUTHOR

Allen Mendenhall

Allen Mendenhall is an associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty, and Managing Editor of Southern… More by Allen Mendenhall

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Turnaway Study: A Lesson in Politically Incentivised and Twisted Science

Pro-choice ideology has been allowed to infect research on mental health outcomes for women who have had abortions.


Given decades of legal and quasi-legal abortions in developed countries involving millions of women, there should be many studies with various findings on the impact of what was, until “shout your abortion” politics came along, generally regarded as a complex decision for a woman. And yet the Anglo-American lay reader is likely to find only one.

It’s called the Turnaway Study, conducted at the University of San Francisco California in 2008-2010. Mainstream media outlets have been broadcasting its results for nearly a decade, and research articles generated from the same core sample of women have been published in droves.

The study has been touted by academics, professional organisations, and journalists alike as the abortion study to end all studies, offering definitive answers to hotly debated questions on how abortion benefits contemporary women psychologically, relationally, physically and in terms of life satisfaction — among a host of other quality of life indicators.

Not quite, according to Priscilla Coleman, retired Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Coleman has been studying the psychology of abortion decision-making and mental health outcomes associated with abortion for nearly 30 years. Last month she published “The Turnaway Study: A Case of Self-Correction in Science Upended by Political Motivation and Unvetted Findings” in the top-ranked psychology journal, Frontiers in Psychology.

Focusing on Turnaway’s mental health findings, Coleman pulls back the curtain, revealing the details of this large-scale effort to use science to manufacture a false narrative about abortion being preferable to delivering an unintended pregnancy, and as essential for preserving the well-being of women.

The publication of her article is timely given the overturn of Roe v Wade and likely use of Turnaway findings in the raging battles at state level.

More than 50 peer-reviewed spinoffs can’t be wrong?

In the Frontiers in Psychology article, Coleman quotes a January 2022 Kaiser Health News interview with the study’s principal investigator, Diana Greene Foster.

“Data from the Turnaway Study has resulted in the publication of more than 50 peer-reviewed studies, and the answer to nearly all the questions asked, said Foster, is that the women who got abortions fared better in respect to economics and health, including their mental health, compared with those who did not have abortions.”

Better mental health? According to Coleman, these results dramatically contradict a wealth of data from large, methodologically sophisticated studies demonstrating that abortion is associated with a statistically significant increased risk for mental health problems including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide. She wanted to understand why.

Motivation and funding

Coleman began by examining the investigators’ incentive for embarking on the study. She soon discovered that the funding came from Warren Buffett, who provided a minimum of $88,000,000 to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), funds directly supporting researchers who had expressed abortion-rights political views.

A research unit called Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) within UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health housed Turnaway. Research conducted within the centre was aimed at debunking common justifications for abortion restrictions, including increased risks for serious, long-lasting mental health challenges.

Critical analysis of the study’s Operating Procedures Manual and publications led Coleman to identify numerous methodological shortcomings. For a start, the study investigators never describe the plan for sampling women, the precise size of the population, or the manner for selecting sites within the various cities.

The Turnaway women

Participants from three different groups were recruited for Turnaway: (1) women whose pregnancies were past clinic gestational limits for performing abortions and were not permitted a wanted abortion (“Turnaway Group”); (2) women whose pregnancies were close to the clinic gestational limit and had an abortion; and finally, (3) women who had an abortion in the first trimester.

The women were recruited over three years in 21 states at 29 abortion clinics with different gestational age limits. The clinics performed over 2000 abortions a year on average. Coleman calculates that the potential pool of women could have been as high as 162,000. However, only 7,486 women were screened for the study, and of those only 3,045 were approached to participate in it. Ultimately the number of those participating was 1,199. Why only 41% of those screened were asked to participate was not explained by the study authors, says Coleman.

“This is potentially very problematic, because those not screened in or not approached could have been systematically different from those who were screened in or approached relative to background characteristics, situational factors and/or how they presented before, during, or immediately after the abortion experience.”

Further, although “1000” is the number of participants usually cited by the authors, the actual number of women who completed the initial interview (“baseline measures”) was 877. And the total percentage of women who completed the 5-year study was 516 — a mere 16.9% of those approached.

If Coleman’s figure of 162,000 women for the potential population for the study is used, the 516 who actually completed it would amount to a miniscule 0.32% of them. Even at 10% of her population estimate, the final sample of 516 participants would be 3.18% of the total abortions performed at the 29 clinics over three years. As Coleman observes:

“The Turnaway Study researchers attempted to make generalized claims about women seeking abortion when the study itself likely did not even consider over 95% of women receiving abortions at the facilities included in the study. Given the extremely small percentage of women from the population represented in the sample, generalizations are precluded.”

Among the other methodological problems of Turnaway highlighted in Coleman’s article are the following:

  1. Those who underwent abortions near gestational limits included patients whose pregnancies ranged from 10 to 27 weeks gestation, even though women’s reasons for aborting and their psychological responses vary greatly at different times across pregnancy. For this reason, they should not have been grouped together.
  2. Many of the complex outcomes are measured far too simplistically, with anxiety and depression scales containing only six items and self-esteem and life satisfaction only 2 items. Capturing all the components of complex internal states is impossible with so few items and goes against established protocol for reliable and valid assessments.
  3. In many of the analyses, the authors failed to control for abortions that took place before or after the target abortion. This is problematic because previous studies have shown more than one abortion increases a woman’s risk for mental health problems beyond that incurred from a single abortion.

The studies you never hear about — except to dismiss them

Yet, there are well-designed studies coming to different conclusions from those of the Turnaway authors, and Coleman provides the reader with an up-to-date synopsis of some of the strongest of them. She notes:

“The science linking abortion to elevated risk for mental health challenges is published in prominent journals, with dozens of large, prospective studies incorporating comparison groups and additional sophisticated control techniques, enhancing confidence in the published findings. This extensive literature has shown that abortion increases risk for mental health problems including substance abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide.”

She summarises the results of systematic reviews of literature, including her own, demonstrating this effect and provides overviews of some of the most sophisticated empirical studies published in recent years. There is a table (reproduced at the end of this article) in the Frontiers article highlighting key findings from several large-scale studies, all of which revealed increased risks of psychological problems associated with abortion, in contrast to Turnaway.

And yet professional groups such as the American Psychological Association (in 2008), the Royal College of Psychiatrists (in 2011) and the American Academies of Sciences (in 2018) have published reviews of the literature on abortion and mental health that dismiss findings like Coleman’s and support the “no negative effect” line.

In the last part of her article, Coleman examines these reviews and details a litany of methodological problems with them that include, among others: missing or elusive selection criteria that resulted in selective reporting of studies, shifting standards of evaluation based on study results, failure to conduct a quantitative synthesis or meta-analysis, sweeping conclusions based on very few or a single study, and factual errors. She comes out fighting:

“Journals opening their doors to allow virtually uncontested publication of some of the poorest work in the field, media outlets seizing the information that they believe the public desires, and abortion providers and their advocates using the data in attempts to remove and prevent installation of abortion restrictions: this is the status of mainstream science on the psychology of abortion in our world in 2022.”

Coleman concludes:

“[W]ith widespread dissemination of misinformation generated from studies like the Turnaway Study, hundreds of thousands of women considering an abortion are likely unaware of the expansive literature demonstrating abortion is a significant risk factor for post-abortion psychological distress and mental health detriments.

The science revealing the potential for serious, debilitating mental health consequences underscores the necessity of providing women with up-to-date information on the risks from the most rigorous scientific studies.”

Study Results
Gong, X., Hao, J., Tao, F., Zhang, J., Wang, H., & Xu, R. (2013). Pregnancy loss and anxiety and depression during subsequent pregnancies: Data from the C-ABC study. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, 166(1), 30–36. Large Chinese study (over 20,000 women), 7683 of whom had an abortion. Abortion was related to increased risk of depression (OR: 1.381) and anxiety (OR: 1.211) in the first trimester of a later pregnancy after controlling for age, education, pre-pregnancy MBI, income, and residence. The comparison group was women experiencing a first pregnancy.
Gissler, M., Karalis, E., & Ulander, V.M. (2015). Decreased suicide rate after induced abortion, after the Current Care Guidelines in Finland 1987-2012. Scand J Public Health, 43(1), 99-101. Examined suicide post-abortion between 1987 and 2012 in Finland. A 2-fold increased risk of suicide was observed even after new guidelines required post-abortion follow-up sessions at 2-3 weeks to monitor women’s mental health.
Jacob, L., Gerhard, C., Kostev, K., & Kalder, M. (2019). Association between induced abortion, spontaneous abortion, and infertility respectively and the risk of psychiatric disorders in 57,770 women followed in gynecological practices in Germany. Journal of Affective Disorders, 251, 107–113. Case-control study from the Disease Analyzer Database (IQVIA). Induced abortion was positively associated with the elevated risk of psychiatric disorders (ORs ranging from 1.75 to 2.01).
Jacob, L., Kostev, K., Gerhard, C., & Kalder, M. (2019). Relationship between induced abortion and the incidence of depression, anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, and somatoform disorder in Germany. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 114, 75–79. Examined women with a first abortion in 281 gynecological practices in Germany. Included 17581 women with an abortion experience and 17581 matched controls who had a live birth. Induced abortion predicted depression (HR=1.34), adjustment disorder (HR=1.45), and somatoform disorder (HR=1.56) across the 10-year study period.
Lega, I., Maraschini, A., D’Aloja, P., Andreozzi, S., Spettoli, D., Giangreco, M., Vichi, M., Loghi, M., Donati, S., & Regional Maternal Mortality Working Group (2020). Maternal suicide in Italy. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 23(2), 199–206. Data were gathered from 10 regions in Italy. The suicide rate was 1.18 per 100,000 among women who gave birth (n = 2,876,193) and 2.77 among women who aborted (n = 650,549), a statistically significant difference.
Luo, M., Jiang, X., Wang, Y., Wang, Z., Shen, Q., Li, R., & Cai, Y. (2018). Association between induced abortion and suicidal ideation among unmarried female migrant workers in three metropolitan cities in China: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 625. Examined 5115 unmarried females from Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Abortion was associated with nearly double the odds of suicidal ideation (OR = 1.89) after adjustment for numerous controls (age, education, years in the working place, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, daily internet use, attitude towards premarital pregnancy, multiple induced abortion, self-esteem, loneliness, depression, and anxiety disorders.) The association was stronger in those aged > 25 (OR = 3.37), among women with > 5 years in the work force (OR = 2.98), in the non-anxiety group (OR = 2.28, and in the non-depression group (OR = 2.94).
McCarthy, F. P., Moss-Morris, R., Khashan, A. S., North, R. A., Baker, P. N., Dekker, G., Poston, L., McCowan, L., Walker, J. J., Kenny, L. C., & O’Donoghue, K. (2015). Previous pregnancy loss has an adverse impact on distress and behaviour in subsequent pregnancy. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 122(13), 1757–1764. Women with one prior abortion had elevated stress (adjusted mean difference=0.65) and depression (aOR= 1.25) at 15 weeks of gestation. Women with two prior abortions had increased perceived stress (adjusted mean difference=1.43) and depression (aOR=1.67).
Sullins D. P. (2016). Abortion, substance abuse and mental health in early adulthood: Thirteen-year longitudinal evidence from the United States. SAGE Open Medicine, 4, In a US sample, after extensive control for other pregnancy outcomes and sociodemographic variables, abortion was associated with increased overall risk of mental health disorders (OR:1.45). A Population Attributable Risk analysis showed 8.7% of the prevalence of mental disorders was attributable to abortion.
Wie, J. H., Nam, S. K., Ko, H. S., Shin, J. C., Park, I. Y., & Lee, Y. (2019). The association between abortion experience and postmenopausal suicidal ideation and mental health: Results from the 5th Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V). Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 58(1), 153–158. After adjusting for several demographic controls, women who had three abortions experienced elevated risk for suicidal ideation (OR: 1.510). This level of risk was significant even after controlling for depression (OR: 1.391). Risk of depressive mood in daily life was likewise elevated with more abortions even after controlling for depression (OR: 1.657).

AUTHOR

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet More by Carolyn Moynihan.

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