How Washington’s transgender care bill affects parents | Opinion


The sun dial stands in front of the Legislative Building on March 10, 2022, at the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

The sun dial stands in front of the Legislative Building on March 10, 2022, at the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

Democrats in Washington state have passed a bill that radically usurps parental rights. The legislation is part of an alarming transgender rights agenda. 

Under the new bill, a child can run away from home to seek gender-affirming care without parental consent. The state is prohibited from informing parents where their son or daughter is living. This is not legislation that applies only in select cases, such as when abuse is present in the household. In fact, abuse need not even be alleged, let alone proven. The law applies in all cases where a minor leaves their family home to seek transgender health care.

Under the current law, if a child runs away to a youth shelter, that center must notify the runaway’s parents within 72 hours unless the “compelling reason” not to is that the youth would be subject to abuse or neglect if they were back in the custody of their parents.

But Senate Bill 5599 added one new condition to a “compelling reason” to withhold the child’s whereabouts: “When a minor is seeking or receiving protected health care services.” Those “protected health care services” include facial feminization surgeries, tracheal shaves, hair electrolysis, mastectomy, breast reductions and puberty blockers.

The bill passed the House and now heads for a final vote in the Senate before inevitably being signed into law by Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee.

Major arguments, explained

Democrats, led by Sen. Marko Liias, say this bill will help transgender youth whose parents do not affirm their gender identity. It’s framed as a bill to “ensure that young people have access to safe and supportive places when navigating complex times in their lives,” as Liias wrote in an editorial for The Seattle Times.

Who wants to stand in the way of a child getting the support they need when they can’t get it at home?

For hours during House debates on the bill, Democrats dramatically argued the legislation was necessary to save the lives of children. They presented themselves as caring lawmakers pushing back against heartless, bigoted Republicans who don’t mind harm coming to transgender children. If you don’t pass this bill, those youths will land on the street, they argued.

“Are we not going to do something? Am I going to let them stay out on the streets homeless at risk — at risk!— to being picked up by somebody saying all the right things and make them do all the wrong things?” Rep. Jamila Taylor asked, while also claiming the bill is meant to help reunify families. Rep. Tana Senn echoed the sentiment, arguing “this is a bill about getting kids housed.”

But under current law, all kids may be housed in youth shelters. That has always been the case; it’s precisely why the shelter exists in the first place. And if there’s abuse in the household, the youth’s parents aren’t told where they’re staying and an investigation is triggered.

Republicans offered several amendments adding language to the bill to protect abused kids while protecting the rights of parents. They asked that the bill acknowledge parental oversight of youth with medical conditions is important. One lawmaker asked the state to at least provide “informational materials” about available counseling services to the minors before they undergo medical treatment without parental consent. Yet Democrats voted each Republican amendment down, often ignoring the meat of the arguments while offering platitudes about keeping children safe. 

Rep. Travis Couture, a Republican, argued the legislative “intent” section should note the bill is to protect kids from harmful family environments. Taylor responded with arguments wholly disconnected from the amendment. She said the bill, as written, is about “bringing our kids home” and reminding everyone that “parental rights are not infinite; there are restrictions … so let’s focus on our children.” 

If the bill was about protecting abused kids, as Democrats explained publicly, why were they disinterested in putting that language in the bill? The answer is simple, in my mind: the bill is about eroding parental rights. And they’re using a politically convenient demographic of vulnerable kids to do it.

What this means for parents

Progressives within the Democrat Party, which represents the bulk of the Democrat caucus in Washington state, view any reluctance to immediately and unconditionally accept a child’s gender identity claim as abusive. If a parent does not immediately affirm their daughter as holding one of the myriad different genders Democrats say exist or rebuff a boy who seeks a tracheal shaving, they are parents undeserving of overseeing their child’s care, to this way of thinking.

Indeed, Democrats rejected a Republican amendment that would have noted a lack of “adequate affirmation” from parents should not be labeled neglect or abuse. Senn countered the amendment, arguing LGBT-identifying kids “do die from a lack of love and support.” That can be true. But luring them away from their parents to the arms of strangers who will never love or support them the way a parent is capable of doing also has dire consequences.

Shutting parents out of their children’s lives is not a new concept for Washington state. Public school students in the state have a legal right to keep their preferred pronouns, and even a name change, secret from their parents. A minor can’t even legally use a tanning bed without a prescription in this state and others, let alone buy alcohol or tobacco. And yet that teen’s brain is evidently developed enough to commit to life-altering and permanent medical intervention? 

This bill provides a legitimate explanation as to where conservative concerns over “grooming” come from. Radical educators post TikTok videos talking about coaching students on gender identity and other LGBTQ issues. It is not unfathomable that a teacher could push a student into a gender identity merely because they admit some kind of confusion.

This bill takes parents out of life-altering and potentially dangerous health decisions and drives a wedge between children and their parents. This is nothing short of state-approved kidnapping of vulnerable youth. Proponents of the bill think they know better than the youth’s own parents. But years from now, will these lawmakers be there for a broken child victimized by a premature decision to alter his or her body? 

Jason Rantz is a writer and Seattle-based talk show host on KTTH 770 AM Radio. He’s a frequent guest on Fox News, including “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “The Faulkner Focus” and “Jessie Watters Primetime.” On Twitter, he’s @JasonRantz, and you can subscribe to his podcast here.

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