Transgender Day of Visibility: Debunking Transphobic Myths

Transgender Day of Visibility takes place each year on March 31st to celebrate transgender and non-binary (TNB) people and to take action against discrimination and transphobia. This year, it is more important than ever to use your voice and stand with TNB communities as we’ve seen a huge surge of legislative attacks on the rights of TNB people all across the country. This year, there have already been over 435 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across the United States. Many of these bills are focused specifically on TNB people, restricting their ability to participate in sports, access necessary healthcare, and even just exist in public spaces. These legislative attacks are fueled by transphobic myths and misinformation. One way that we can all take action against these bills is by educating ourselves and others about why these myths are wrong and what the truth is.

Myth: Gender affirming care (GAC) is dangerous and not evidence-based.

Proponents of anti-trans medical bans often assert that GAC is experimental and harmful. This even comes into how these acts are named, with many such bills deemed SAFE Acts, standing for “save adolescents from experimentation.” In reality, there are decades of sound and comprehensive scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates that GAC results in dramatic reductions in suicide attempts, reduced rates of depression and anxiety, and improved overall quality of life for TNB people. In fact, the scientific evidence is so sound that GAC is supported by every major medical association in the country. Recently, the American Medical Association urged states to stop introducing bans on GAC. It is also important to note that GAC includes a wide variety of medical and social interventions, some reversible and some irreversible. Each patient’s journey with GAC is different, and the ultimate goal of the provider is to work hand-in-hand with the patient and the patient’s support system to ensure that everyone has a full understanding of the risks and benefits involved with each treatment so that patients can give informed consent and make decisions that are right for them. While political extremists often focus on irreversible consequences of surgery, it is critical to note that there are also many irreversible and harmful consequences of no medical intervention, which they are trying to mandate. Because of the complexity and variety of care options and outcomes, these decisions should be left to the medical experts and the patients. Intervention from politicians is inappropriate and can be life-threatening.

Myth: TNB people don’t really exist.

Political extremists often focus on instances of regret, detransition, or so-called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)” to indicate that TNB people don’t really exist and are just experiencing social pressure to transition. First, it is important to note that the study that supposedly proved the existence of ROGD and “social contagion” to transition has been soundly debunked. The study included no input from TNB youth themselves, and participants were recruited from anti-trans websites. Several reputable studies have since been published that further disprove the “social contagion” myth. There are many reasons why more youth identify as TNB now, including increased visibility, social support, and legal protections in some states. Detransition does occur, but context for detransition is important. A recent study found that while 13% of TNB people reported detransition at some point in their lives, over 80% of those reported that detransition was not due to no longer identify as TNB, but rather the result of external factors like lack of family support, employment discrimination, or increased exposure to violence.

Myth: LGBTQ+ people are grooming/recruiting children.

Increasingly, politicians are spreading hateful rhetoric and conspiracy theories framing LGBTQ+ people as “groomers” intent on indoctrinating and victimizing children. These false narratives are perpetuated to support a wide range of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including bills censoring LGBTQ+ educational material, bills preventing TNB individuals from using public restrooms, and bills banning drag performances. These accusations are completely baseless, and data from the FBI actually shows that LGBTQ+ people are actually much more likely to be the victims of violent victimization and domestic abuse. These accusations are not meant to be factual; they are meant to be extreme to rile up panic and anger. We’ve seen this tactic used many times in the past, from the Lavender Scare to Anita Bryant to the fight for marriage equality. Conservative extremists have consistently demonized LGBTQ+ people as “groomers” and predators in an attempt to score political points and mobilize their voter base. This hateful and untrue rhetoric has real consequences, as we’ve seen a recent surge of attacks at LGBTQ+ community events and online. Political Research Associates recommends not to engage with these baseless accusations and instead pivot the conversation (e.g. “I find that very offensive” or “Stop, you don’t actually believe that’s true.”).

Track and respond to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country:

Learn more about the current surge of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and how to respond to misinformation:

To learn more about how Howard Brown Health contributes to vital advocacy work and has an impact on local, state, and federal policymaking, please visit our Advocacy webpage. To stay up to date with advocacy and policy news like this, sign up for the Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy (ERA)’s newsletter.

Tags: Advocacy


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