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Saturday 10 October 2015

Comment: Focus on Transphobia

Posted in: Comment
By Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 6th August 2015

Family First anti-transgender 'research report' author Glenn Stanton works for the US Christian Right pressure group Focus on the Family. But what is Focus on the Family and why does it attack the transgender community?

Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 in Colorado Springs by Dr James Dobson, a fundamentalist psychologist. On the surface, it looks like a Christian family ministry organisation, but that veneer is deceptive. It promotes ersatz "abstinence-only" sex education (sic), creationism, straight adoption and rigid gender roles. It opposes LGBT rights, abortion rights, divorce, gambling, pornography, premarital sex and substance abuse.

Mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists regularly criticise the pressure group for its distortion of mainstream research findings on gender and sexuality concerns.

The organisation has been in stormy financial straits recently, being forced to lay off 181 workers from its headquarters and trim its budget from $US160 million to $US138 million.

It started "Love Won Out", an 'exgay' group in 1998, but handed it over to the now defunct Exodus International ten years later. In 2009, Dobson left Focus on the Family. Before the Obergefell decision, Focus was a fanatical opponent of marriage equality within the United States and also opposes civil unions. As well as the United States, Focus has subsidiaries here in New Zealand (albeit much weaker), Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Egypt, Ireland, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Taiwan.

Much of Focus' propaganda is published in Citizenlink, its newsletter and is available online. On that website, there is a series of five articles deceptively named "Understanding Transgenderism." As creationists, Focus on the Family has little time for the realities of biological diversities and anomalies which mean that there are indeed more than two "biological sexes." In another piece, "Transgenderism brings chaos from order," the author seems to merely rely on a series of secondary newspaper and media report resources instead of medical and scientific explanations of gender dysphoria from proper medical or scientific journals or professional associations.

In short, their position on transgender concerns is that there are only two sexes, and that male and female anatomies are "complimentary" and hierarchical, which rules out hormone treatment, gender reassignment surgery and inclusion within antidiscrimination laws. It attacks pro-LGBT organisations like the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Gay and Lesbian Advocates Against Discrimination, and progressive moves in Washington state and California. Finally, it imports Walt Heyer as a token "ex-transsexual" to back up its 'case' that gender identity is rigid and unyielding. In "Title IX and Transgenderism," Focus makes inflammatory remarks about imaginary 'threats' to female children's safety, again without citing corroborative evidence. It's somewhat hypocritical to cite someone associated with the so-called "Alliance Defending Freedom," when one of its employees, Joan Biron, was charged with forcing her own daughter to participate in pedophile sex in Canada after she transported her across the border. "Protecting children" ?! From whom?! As for its 'resources' on transgenderism and gender identity and 'answering parents questions about gender confusion', these consist wholly of "exgay" groups and members of the religious social conservative pressure group NARTH.

Thankfully, this is seriously weak material. If Family First tried to cite it, there are large gaping holes within Focus' resources to blow this anti-transgender propaganda to pieces, such as the absence of any independent and corroborative evidence-based proof for their transphobic, discriminatory agenda. No wonder Focus is an ailing organisation these days and no wonder the Family Research Council, Pacific Justice Institute, Liberty Counsel and Traditional Values Coalition appear to be the ringleaders of this anti-transgender campaign.

Not Recommended:
Focus on the Family US:
Jeff Johnston: "Talking to your children about transgender issues" -issues
Jeff Johnston: "Understanding Transgenderism"
Glenn Stanton: "Answering Parents Questions About Gender Confusion in Children": parenting-challenges/gender-confusion-in-children

Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 6th August 2015

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