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Fox News host Tucker Carlson branded transgender children “grotesque” and a “nationwide epidemic” during a rant on his show last week.
Carlson took aim at HBO’s documentary Transhood, released last month, which follows four children and their parents as they come to terms with their gender identity and growing up trans in America’s heartland.
He called the content of the film “so disturbing it would have qualified as a crime not so long ago” and seemed to compare allowing trans youth to express their identity to a parent abusing their child.
“What we’re about to show you is so disturbing it would have qualified as a crime not so long ago,” Carlson said, introducing footage from Transhood, before proceeding to misgender one of the film’s subjects.
“It shows a four-year-old child called Phoenix and his mother at a Unitarian church service,” he continued. “The mother brings Phoenix to the altar to tell the congregation that Phoenix — who, again, is four years old — now identifies as a girl.”
After showing the excerpt, Carlson used four-year-old Phoenix expressing their gender identity to argue that “small children” across the country “are being given puberty blockers and irreversibly damaging their bodies” — despite Phoenix being several years too young for such treatment.
“Of course some of them later regret it. It’s grotesque,” he continued. “If you say that out loud, you’re punished. Target will ban your book. You’ll have trouble getting a job.”
Carlson then tried to paint Phoenix’s mother’s acceptance of their gender identity as child abuse.
“This isn’t just one parent abusing a child on TV, this is a nationwide…epidemic and everyone is too embarrassed to mention it,” he said. “You’re not allowed to say so.”
Carlson pivoted to attacking Democrats for supporting transgender rights, saying the Democratic Party is “four-square behind it.”
He then repeated transphobic right-wing scaremongering about transgender people accessing restrooms according to their gender identity, saying that President-elect Joe Biden “has announced that biological men should be allowed access to women’s locker rooms in public schools across the country.”
Carlson finished his attack on Transhood by speaking to conservative pundit Matt Walsh, who previously compared transgender people to lizards, who declared that a “four-year-old child who is a boy, is a boy” and said Phoenix was just “confused.”
“Children literally cannot differentiate between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy,” Walsh added. “I have a four-year-old boy who thinks he’s a stegosaurus, I’m not going to take him to Jurassic Park.”
Debi Jackson, one of the mothers in Transhood, told the Daily Beast that it was “shocking” that Carlson could accuse her of child abuse with “no repercussions.”
“I know that they can use clips as it’s public domain, but it’s always a bit jarring to stumble across seeing your child, especially when people are using it to talk about ‘gender confusion’ or to accuse you of being an abusive parent,” Jackson said.
“Honestly, it is shocking that people can go on TV and essentially slander you and call you a child abuser with no repercussions,” she continued. “In fact, the more inflammatory they are, the higher their ratings and bigger the salary. Meanwhile, it can wreak havoc in your life and you are powerless to stop it.”
As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, and the Human Rights Campaign, Carlson’s assertions that puberty blockers cause irreversible damage are false.
Prescribed to early adolescents, puberty-suppressing medication allows children time to “explore their gender identity” and the medication is “completely reversible.”
“These medications, known medically as GnRH inhibitors but commonly called ‘puberty blockers’ or simply ‘blockers,’ are used when gender dysphoria increases with the onset of puberty, when a child is still questioning their gender, or when a child who has socially transitioned needs to avoid unwanted pubertal changes,” the organizations said in 2016. “By delaying puberty, the child and family gain time — typically several years — to explore gender-related feelings and options.”
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