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Planned Parenthood’s Support for Trans Children Draws Fury from Conservative Outlets

On Monday, Planned Parenthood’s new guidelines for parents to talk about gender identity with their preschoolers unsurprisingly drew heated and graphic criticism. According to the guidelines, parents should frame the dialogue of gender identity to one in which children are encouraged and empowered to make choices about their bodies based on their comfort, not societal pressures.

“[Children are] influenced by the boxes that society puts them into from the time they’re born, based on gender stereotypes. Think: footballs, trucks, and superheroes for boys, dolls, princesses, and pink for girls.

You can expand those narrow gender boxes to include a range of other influences. When you pick a new toy or book, or sign your kid up for a new activity, ask yourself these questions to help you think through whether or not you’re reinforcing gender stereotypes.”

The guidelines additionally offer straightforward, clear-cut definitions:

“Transgender means you identify with a different gender from the one you were assigned at birth. Gender nonconforming means your gender identity or expression doesn’t go along with traditional ideas of just male or female — it could mean you identify with words like non-binary, genderqueer, or something else. Some adults use words like ‘gender expansive’ or ‘gender creative’ to describe children with non-binary gender expressions.”

But in an op-ed with the headline “Planned Parenthood thinks four-year-old girls should be told they might be boys,” Dr. Keith Ablow at Fox News took the guidelines to be a call to tell small boys they’re girls and vice versa, which is actually, quite literally the opposite of what the guidelines are saying. Similarly, Lifezette, a zealously anti-abortion outlet, yelled at the reproductive health organization for spreading its “crazy ideas” to children, while CBN News expressed outrage that the organization could suggest telling children their “God-given gender doesn’t matter.”

In the eyes of conservatives, the whole concept of transexuality is evil and perverted, an ideology rather than an identity, and one that children should be shielded from. Just as conservative lawmakers attempt to ban trans people from bathrooms by sweepingly portraying them as sexual predators without any basis, they use the same prejudices to shame children for being different, and to sideline and erase them.

Trans children exist and deserve support from their parents more than anyone. The United States’ population of trans youth is struggles with high rates of suicide and self-harm, and pretending they don’t exist or that transexuality is an evil children must be kept away from for their own good is only going to make this worse.

In either case, Planned Parenthood’s move toward inclusivity in the reproductive justice movement certainly deserves attention, and it’s a shame that most of the attention it’s received so far has been negative.

Reproductive justice is frequently examined from the angle of women’s health, and too often activists ignore the fact that the right to make decisions about your body doesn’t just belong to cisgender women, that trans people of all ages and backgrounds face numerous barriers to having bodily autonomy, that trans and non-binary people face even more barriers than cis women in accessing birth control and abortion.

Reproductive justice is by no means just a women’s issue; it’s a shame that the only coverage Planned Parenthood’s new online guide for parenting is being ignored by almost everyone but Fox News Opinion writers.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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