This commentary is by Renee Brodowski, of Addison County. It is Part 1 of a three-part series.
In January 2022, 10 Democrat/Progressive legislators co-sponsored H.659, a bill “to allow a minor who identifies as transgender to consent to receiving hormone blockers and other nonsurgical, gender-affirming care and treatment without requiring parental consent.” There are no age limits in this bill.
According to a deleted April 11, 2022, Facebook post, in response to a Vermont Republican Party post urging people to sign a petition against the Hormone Blocker Bill, state Rep. Mari Cordes, one of 10 co-sponsors, thinks parents who do not support gender-affirming care for their children are causing “unbearable conditions” that lead to suicidality.
According to the language of H.659, a 2021 Trevor Project national survey found 42% of LGBTQ+ youth have recently seriously considered suicide. Sponsors think the state has the authority to determine that children are mature enough to consent to treatments: “ I would say that it’s fine for youth to decide that, you know, after exhausting attempts to work with their parents, that they can live as they are,” said Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, another sponsor of H.659.
Directing minors in gender-affirming care without parental consent is an approach with which practicing clinical psychologist Erica Anderson, a transgender woman who works with clients struggling with gender identity, strongly disagrees. Dr. Anderson is a member of the American Psychological Association committee that establishes guidelines for working with transgender individuals, former president of the US Professional Association for Transgender Health (USPATH), and former board member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). In a January 2022 interview she stated: “Those who say, “Just ignore the parents or work around them”—I am furious about that. They’re undermining the life of this child who desperately needs support.”
While sponsors of H.659 claim access to hormone blockers will reduce suicidality, Abigail Shrier, independent journalist and author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters,” states in speech hosted by Hillsdale College, “There are no good long-term studies indicating that puberty blockers cure suicidality or even improve mental health. Nor are there studies that show puberty blockers are safe or reversible when used in this manner.”
H.659 was not taken up in the Committee on Health Care — a committee on which Cordes and Representative Brian Cina, another sponsor, serve — yet the mindset is clear: many of our state legislators think they know what is best for our children and feel justified introducing and passing legislation that usurps parental authority.
The other House sponsors of H659 are: Taylor Small, Elizabeth Burrows, Selene Colburn, Katherine Donnally, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Barbara Rachelson, and Heather Surprenant.
Bills that allow minors to consent to vaccines and treatments for STDs, and laws that require public schools provide unsupervised access to condoms, allow minors to consent to outpatient mental health treatment without parental consent or notification, and ban licensed mental health care providers from ANY type of conversion therapy for minors — and Article 22, the proposed amendment to enshrine “personal reproductive autonomy” into our State Constitution for any individual, regardless of age — all usurp parents’ authority to guide their children in the matters of physical and mental health.
In tandem with Vermont public schools teaching children how to have “safe sex,” experiment with their sexual attraction and identity, and removing biological gender language from sex education, this multi-pronged attack on the minds of our youth may end up blind-siding unsuspecting parents.
If a parent disagrees with state statutes regarding medical and mental health protocols for minors, would their parental custody be at risk?
What and who is driving this type of legislation, and what can parents do about it?