“60 Minutes” is hardly regarded as a bastion of conservative advocacy, but the long-running CBS news program has come under fire from the left for its segment on transgender health care that included those seeking to reverse the transition process.
The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD blasted the Sunday episode as “shameful” and “fearmongering,” while Chase Strangio, American Civil Liberties Union deputy director for transgender justice, called it “part of the anti-trans playbook.”
He said that “60 Minutes” host Lesley Stahl and the producers “knew exactly the harm they were causing.”
“They knew it was the wrong moment and a dangerous, unaccountable and limited angle,” Mr. Strangio tweeted after the show aired. “But they did it anyway. That’s on all of you.”
Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a “60 Minutes Overtime” interview that he had “a lot of concerns about a story that talks about detransitioning without really focusing on the larger context of the trans experience.”
“Bringing a story to light about detransitioning without talking about the vast majority of people who positively transition would cause concern because it sends a message,” he said.
The left-wing website Jezebel ran the headline: “60 Minutes’ Segment About Republican Attacks on Trans Kids Was Itself An Attack on Trans Kids.”
Pushing back was journalist Glenn Greenwald, who said there was “zero malice” in the report, and political commentator Andrew Sullivan, who asked, “Why do you not care at all about misdiagnosing people who are not trans and rushing them to transition?”
“You’d imagine trans activists would want to tackle these excesses while also defending good programs. It’s not either/or. Tells you something,” Mr. Sullivan tweeted.
The 14-minute episode began with criticism of the Arkansas bill prohibiting gender-transition treatment for minors, which was signed into law in April, and an interview with gender psychologist Erica Anderson who called the bill “a very ominous development.”
A few minutes later, however, the segment shifted to claims about lax standards in the booming gender-transition field, as well as interviews with young “detransitioners,” those who transitioned to the opposite sex but then transitioned back.
“I didn’t get enough pushback on transitioning. I went for two appointments, and after the second one, I had my letter to get on cross-sex hormones,” said one of those who transitioned to female and then back to male.
Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist who worked with transgender patients at the first U.S. youth gender clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, said she was very concerned about the direction of the field. She called it “unethical and irresponsible in some places.”
“Everyone is very scared to speak up because we’re afraid of not being seen as being affirming, or being supportive of these young people, or doing something to hurt the trans community, but even some of the providers are trans themselves and share these concerns,” she told “60 Minutes.”
Ms. Stahl defended the decision to report on the detransition phenomenon, saying the focus was on whether the detransitioners were receiving “proper healthcare,” and that she had concerns that the show would be wielded by “groups that oppose transgender people.”
“We were concerned that the groups that oppose transgender people might try to weaponize our story and use it against transgender people,” she said on “60 Minutes Overtime.” “Some of the activists who reached out to us told us that they were worried about it, too. Our story was really about healthcare, and we wanted to keep it focused on healthcare, and not make it a political story.”
More than a dozen states this year considered bills to ban healthcare providers from prescribing gender-transition hormones and puberty blockers to minors or from performing gender-reassignment surgeries on minors.
The number of U.S. youth gender clinics has surged to about 50 since Boston Children’s opened the first one in 2007.