As AFN reported on Monday, Duke Health – which operates the Duke Child and Adolescent Gender Care Clinic – has assisted with gender transition on children as young as 2 years old. University of North Carolina and East Carolina University hospitals have assisted youngsters ages 3 and 4.
The schools loudly opposed the findings of independent journalist Sloan Rachmuth. Nevertheless, they received a social media rebuke by The American College of Pediatrics, which called the schools' actions "horrendous." A bill being discussed in the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature could reverse those trends.
"What we're seeing is a return to common sense and decency," Ken Fontenot told Tony Perkins on Washington Watch Friday. "What's happening to these children is nothing short of predatory behavior." Fontenot represents North Carolina's 24th District and is one of 12 Republican sponsors of legislation (House Bill 808) that would ban transgender surgeries for minors.
If in fact Billy Graham's home state is having a decency revival, it could be due in large part to voters flocking to Republicans in state elections.
For example, Democratic State Representative Tricia Cotham switched sides in April, making the Republicans veto proof against Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. Voters flipped the State Supreme Court in last year's mid-term elections. And just last week, the North Carolina House passed a pro-life bill that could save thousands of infants' lives.
The importance of state elections
Recent events allow Fontenot and his colleagues to govern with confidence in social matters.
The Republican state lawmaker says the U.S. is behind the curve in its response to the transgender movement and should look closely at findings coming to light in how some European nations are dealing with gender dysphoria. He points out England's national health care service in 2020 commissioned a review of gender identity services for children and young people.
"We can look at Europe, which is several years ahead of us in its trans procedures, having administered puberty blockers and gender-reassignment surgeries longer than we have. They are releasing official government mandates and government guidance saying that these things should be used as a last resort in the most extreme cases," Fontenot said.
The study found an alarming rise in service referrals in a ten-year window. It also cited "scarce and inconclusive" evidence to support clinical decision-making and led to the 2022 closing of a London clinic that was accused "rushing teenagers into life-altering treatment on hormone-blocking drugs."
"What's sad is the U.S. is using it as a first resort," Fontenot stated. "When I think about how we were brought forth to do things like this I just think that people want to come back to decency, common sense and actually caring for the vulnerable. That's what I'm seeing."
The mandate from North Carolina voters has been close, but so has the resistance from the Left. Opponents say House Bill 808 is about bigotry and a national trend to stigmatize transgender youth. Fontenot disagrees.
"What they lack in substance, people will try to make up in pizzaz. In short, when you look at the research, [when] you look at the words on the page, what is clear is we are protecting children from predatory practices taking place within our medical establishment," he said, adding that those practices clearly are not for the benefit of the children. "It's for the money that [hospitals are] going to make – and also the experimentation taking place," he argues.
And there's money to be made not only in the initial surgeries but in follow-up care for years to come.
Daily Wire journalist Matt Walsh reported last year that Vanderbilt University Medical Center delighted in the profit potential of what's been labeled "gender affirmation" surgeries. Vanderbilt rejected claims of unethical practices and paused its surgeries on minors shortly after the report. It's unclear if surgeries have restarted.
In the U.S., no response to Europe's rollback
"So far, I've engaged with almost every detractor via email as well as on the floor [of the Legislature]. No one has answered the statistics we've quoted. No one has answered to the fact that Europe has been rolling these procedures back," Fontenot pointed out.
Fontenot said his research concludes that an overwhelming number of European physicians recommend therapy in cases involving minors. Those discussions often lead to successful resolutions for patients – without life-altering physical changes to their bodies.
"No one has answered the biggest elephant in the room – and that is Europe has now advised their countries that … if you just give these children mental health care through their puberty years, that after puberty – in over 80% of the cases – gender dysphoria symptoms are reduced greatly," Fontenot said.
It may not show up in votes from Democrats, but Fontenot said he's gotten positive bipartisan feedback in his efforts at conversations about the dangers of gender-transition care for minors.
"They're not about science. They're not about statistics, and that will be blatantly and obviously true when you engage with them," Fontenot concluded. "Truth stands on its own – and when you present truth, they can say a lot of things; but they will not talk about what you said. I'm seeing a lot of positive feedback even from people on both sides."
Fontenot is accustomed to speaking the Truth. When he's not attending to his legislative duties in Raleigh, he is pastor of Door of Life Christian Church in Wilson, NC.