Richard Nelson
Director, Commonwealth Policy Center
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There are some issues we’d rather not talk about in public. Religion and politics are two that evoke strong sentiments bound to bring conflict, so most go to great lengths to avoid talking about them. Now an even more difficult, if not disconcerting subject, is in the public eye: female genital mutilation (FGM).

In late August, the Kentucky Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare and Family Services heard testimony on FGM, a practice involving the removal of female external genitalia to reduce libido and the sewing of the vulva to prove virginity later in life. It’s typically practiced in some Muslim countries, purportedly for religious reasons, but according to the Population Reference Bureau, an estimated 1,845 have experienced female genital mutilation or are at risk of the nightmarish procedure being perpetrated upon them right here in Kentucky.

State Sen. Julie Racque-Adams (R-Louisville) co-sponsored a bill in 2018 with State Sen. Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) to ban such mutilation from happening in the Commonwealth. Sen. Racque-Adams recently co-wrote an editorial with Jennifer and Amanda Parker who are advocates against the practice. Jennifer (whose name was changed to protect her identity) survived the grisly practice without anesthetic at age five.

Thirty-five states ban FGM, which has no known health benefits. I Legislation to do the same in the Commonwealth will likely be introduced in the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly Session. I recently learned that a bill banning medically unnecessary gender transition of minors is currently being drafted.
Such will address the case in Texas where a judge blocked a jury decision that awarded a mother exclusive conservatorship of her seven year-old son whom she’s seeking to transition into a girl through hormone treatment. The father, Jeffrey Younger objected to his ex-wife’s actions and circulated a petition which received widespread media attention.

Around age three, James began to identify with a character named Starfire on the cartoon Teen Titans and wanted to be called by that name. Instead, James’ mother, Dr. Ann Georgulas, steered him to the name “Luna” and began transitioning him to become female. The father objected. However, a previous court order forbade Younger to talk to his own son about his biological gender—a violation of his First Amendment speech and religious freedom rights.

So do religious beliefs legitimately play a role in such decisions? Mutilating and amputating healthy sexual organs of children on religious grounds isn’t religious freedom. For those who subscribe to the belief in a Creator and believe it’s ok to amputate healthy organs and manipulate the physiology of one of His creatures for non-medical reasons is a contradiction. It’s like saying to God “even though you made this person, we don’t accept every purpose regarding their physiology.”

Is female genital mutilation not similar to the gender transitioning of children through hormones and surgery? The gender transition of young boys, even while some may have input in the matter, similarly deprives the adult male from the possibility of experiencing the fulness of their created capacity. Even while the rationale differs, both manipulations are gross human rights violation.

We do not know the long-term health effects huge doses of hormones have on children. Nor do children have the mental capacity to fully assent and understand such permanent life decisions that cannot be reversed. In fact, research indicates the upwards of 80 percent of minors suffering from gender dysphoria begin to identify with their natal gender as adults. So why push this on kids?

Caution is in order when dealing with momentous life-altering decisions affecting children and their future. As a matter of public policy, the physiological integrity of children should be preserved. For the sake of Kentucky’s kids, I hope the legislature takes action to protect them in 2020.