Laura Ingraham, a host for Fox News, took to her radio show on Wednesday to say that providing medically necessary transition-related care to youth is "child abuse," as reported by Media Matters. Joined by her guest, conservative Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, Ingraham says she was the "quintessential tomboy" as a child, but doesn't "happen to be transgender," and grew up to be a heterosexual woman. Ingraham says her concern is that not all youth who have a non-conforming gender expression identify as transgender.
From there, Ingraham says that "hormone treatment" for transgender youth is child abuse, and ponders how people who "like organic food" for their children could ever "shoot them up with hormones." Wente joins the conversation to reiterate views expressed in an extremely problematic she wrote earlier this week about transgender youth, saying that they are kids who are "very troubled…and they're looking for an explanation." Ingraham responds saying, "Some of them want attention probably as well, I'm just guessing, I have no idea."
Ingraham's statements during the show reveal how little she understands about transgender people, and LGBT people in general. She mistakenly conflates gender identity with sexual orientation, and espouses misinformation about the medical treatments available to transgender young people. Even as Wente refers somewhat knowledgeably to the "blockers" that transgender youth may be given, which are different from hormone therapy and safely delay the onset of puberty until teenage years, Ingraham lambasts parents who would allegedly "give hormones to their children." Clearly Ingraham has not researched the treatments thoroughly enough to provide her listeners with useful commentary.
Furthermore, the claim that transgender youth are simply confused or "troubled," as Wente puts it, is misleading. Many young transgender people express anxiety and depression because they are struggling with gender dysphoria and, in some cases, are prevented from living as who they know they are. The suggestion that young people would turn to transition-related healthcare as a "solution" to issues not related to their gender identity is improbable, and based on Wente's unrestrained speculation.
Ingraham does make one solid point, saying that not all youth who express gender non-conformity are transgender-identified. What she fails to note is that the physicians who provide medical treatment to transgender youth are well aware of this. Organizations like TransYouth Family Allies provide information and resources for parents who believe their child may be transgender, which address the fact that some gender non-conforming youth do not choose to pursue medical treatment.
This is not the first time Laura Ingraham has spread misinformation about transgender people, and transgender youth in particular. It's important that media outlets recognize the her off-the-cuff statements are not objective, and they do not rely on the actual research available about transgender youth healthcare.