“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland
“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
Humpty Dumpty, Through the Looking Glass
Our Constitution is meant to provide the framework within which a government that “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed” can function to “ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Of course, our society is ordered to provide another institution apart from government to protect our posterity: the family. As society has recognized for millennia, the family unit serves the invaluable purpose (one of many) of providing parents to protect children from, among other things, making bad decisions that could have lifelong consequences.
In Massachusetts, we do not allow a child to drive until he or she is at least 16, to vote or serve in the military until 18, or to drink alcohol until 21. We all agree that children are not able to make important decisions for themselves until their brains and bodies have matured enough and they have experienced enough in life to have the proper context in which to evaluate consequences. So how is it possible that the Legislature is debating a bill that would give prepubescent children the legal ability to decide that they are the “wrong” gender?
There are actually two identical bills being debated by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, Senate Bill 62 and House Bill 1190, both titled “An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors.” Now, of course, no one is in favor of “abusive practices” used on children, no matter what the circumstances, but the bills’ supporters, based on their testimony from last week, seem to think that any counseling aimed at helping children who suffer from gender dysphoria or homosexual attraction is, by definition, abusive.
As Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, has correctly pointed out, if the proponents are concerned about the use of electroshock therapy or other clearly abusive practices, then the bill should outlaw those therapies explicitly. But to claim that counseling a child to feel comfortable in his own body is abusive, while prescribing hormones that could lead to permanent sterilization or physically mutilating a healthy body is not, is just Mad-Hatter-crazy. This bill is set up to do the exact opposite of what its sponsors falsely claim it is intended to do.
So we find ourselves facing the very real possibility that the legislature will pass a bill that severely limits the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children, and the Free Speech and Religious Liberty rights of counselors and pastors who would seek to help children escape from these misguided feelings, even if the feelings are unwanted. I have a source in the State House who tells me that the committee chair is disinclined to attach a criminal penalty to the legislation, as if that would somehow make it okay. It would not.
We must oppose this misguided bill. If you are a Massachusetts citizen, I urge you to contact your State Representative and Senator to make your voice heard. At least they haven’t yet tried to take that right away from us.