Arkansas GOP Senator, Possibly World's Worst Person, Just Wondering If Trans Woman Doctor Has Penis

Arkansas GOP Senator, Possibly World's Worst Person, Just Wondering If Trans Woman Doctor Has Penis

Arkansas Republicans are once again trying to ban gender-affirming for minors, regardless of parental consent. A federal judge blocked their first attempt two years ago, but Republican lawmakers hope they can reinstate the ban with just some minor tweaks.

An Arkansas Senate committee endorsed a proposal that would permit someone who received gender-affirming care as a minor to file a malpractice lawsuit against their doctor for up to 30years after they turn 18. Current Arkansas law requires that medical malpractice claims are filed within two years of what is legally considered an “injury.” This very specific exception seems like an obvious attempt at shutting down gender-affirming care in the state. I'm not speculating: The Republican senator behind the legislation openly boasts about his malicious intent, presumably while Arkansas trans people are collectively tied to train tracks.

“The idea that teenagers, let alone little children, are capable of making such life-altering decisions is not only brand new, but it’s absurd,” said Republican Sen. Gary Stubblefield, the measure’s sponsor and chair of the Judiciary Committee. “A society that allows them to do this is a deeply broken society.”

Actual medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have repeatedly stated that gender-affirming care is safe if properly administered, but these bigots aren't that interested in protecting children's health. They just want to eradicate trans people.

Stubblefield said that Senate Bill 199 would combat “gender ideology” and “language games that these ideologues want us to play.” He went on: "There’s no such thing as having a place on a gender spectrum." (He's wrong.) “With the rarest of exceptions, we are born one of two sexes, male or female. Sex is not assigned. It is an integral part of who we are, right from the moment of conception.”

OK, this genius is conflating sex with gender, and while a child's chromosomal makeup is set at conception, transphobes aren't actually freaking out over "XX" or "XY." They are most fixated on trans people's genitalia, and a fetus's external sex organs don't start developing until about 11 weeks after conception.

This rightwing obsession with genitalia was on perverse display during a committee hearing Monday. Witnesses with real, live interaction with trans people testified against the bill, including Dr. Janet Cathey, an ob-gyn who's treated trans minors since 1982, confirmed that children aren't receiving treatment without parental consent, nor are unhinged parents forcing treatment on children against their will.

Social worker Courtney Frierson challenged Stubblefield's repeated lies about how gender-affirming care is "irreversible." Treatment begins with hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, whose effects are reversible. Frierson explained that "puberty blockers," which Republicans have railed against, are simply "placeholders" for minors who haven't yet experienced puberty.

The grossest moment, though, occurred when Dr. Gwendolyn Herzig addressed the committee. She's trans, but she was speaking specifically from her professional experience. She owns the Park West Pharmacy in Little Rock and provides hormones to transgender Arkansans. She testified that she has never met a patient who regretted transitioning.

Republican Sen. Matt McKee asked Dr. Herzig if she was "unfamiliar with the large body of medical evidence of the harm that has come upon people who have gone through these processes." Considering that no such evidence exists, she responded, "I'm familiar with the large body of evidence that shows providing good affirming care saves lives." She's citing real studies and research, not something posted on a 4chan subreddit.

After repeating his unproven dogma, McKee asked if Dr. Herzig was a trans woman. She said she was a "trans female, yes sir," and here's McKee's brilliant followup: "Do you have a penis?"

Yes, that happened.

Decent people in attendance gasped and groaned, as if McKee had exposed his own penis. Taking a moment to collect herself, Dr. Herzig said simply (and correctly), "That's horrible."

McKee — a truly vile man — insisted that Dr. Herzig was the "one who brought that into the discussion." This is another lie. She never said anything about genitalia.

"It has EVERYTHING to do with genitalia," McKee said. I suppose that is true for these assholes.

"I don't know what my rights are," Dr. Herzig continued, undaunted, "but that question was highly inappropriate."

When offered the opportunity to leave without answering McKee's question, she said firmly, "I'm not through with questions, but I'm not going to answer that question. That's highly inappropriate. I'm a health care professional, a doctor. Please treat me as such."

She's also a human being, like all trans people, and deserves better than the mistreatment Arkansas Republicans want to legally inflict.

[Associated Press]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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