MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: social media censorship.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Christians and conservatives have long complained that internet giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube single them out for censorship because they disagree with their views. Twitter banned an Irish television writer with hundreds of thousands of followers for tweeting, “men aren’t women.”
BASHAM: At first, these incidents were the exception, rather than the norm. But social media platforms are facing more pressure to eliminate anything that goes against the cultural demand for so-called tolerance. And that’s especially true when it comes to criticism of transgenderism.
EICHER: The latest organization red-flagged for “hate speech” is The Heritage Foundation. It ran afoul of YouTube’s content filters with a video taken last year at a summit on protecting children from sexualization. The event featured a discussion with Walt Heyer, a man who used to live as a woman. He now advocates against giving hormone treatments and other medical interventions to children with gender dysphoria.
BASHAM: Joining us now to talk about this is Dr. Jeff Barrows. He’s an OB/Gyn and executive vice president for bioethics and public policy at the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. Dr. Barrows, good morning!
JEFF BARROWS, GUEST: Good morning, Megan. It’s an honor to be with you.
BASHAM: I’d like to start by asking what about this situation in particular caught your attention. As we noted, this type of censorship isn’t new, although it is increasing. So what about this instance prompted you and CMDA to send a letter of protest to YouTube?
BARROWS: Well, it was six words that Walt said as part of a panel, as you mentioned, on child sexualization. And those six words were describing gender dysphoria as this is a childhood developmental disorder. And in our minds as physicians, we recognize that as science. It certainly is not hate speech. So, when we see YouTube and Google censor this, it’s really astounding to us and it’s almost as if they are trying to prevent young people from learning the truth about gender dysphoria. And that truth is that between 75 and 95 percent of kids that are suffering with gender dysphoria will spontaneously resolve as they go through puberty. So, the best treatment is, in this case, no treatment at all.
BASHAM: It seems like it’s becoming increasingly difficult for doctors who disagree with transgenderism to speak up about it? What are you hearing from CMDA members?
BARROWS: We’re very concerned about the right of conscience in that type of scenario. In fact, the CMDA has been involved in a lawsuit that was settled at the district court level about what we call the transgender mandate and it involved an HHS statement on sex discrimination that was issued in 2016. And that basically said that sex discrimination could be defined as anything having to do with gender identity or even transgender ideology. So, when that came out, we immediately became very concerned that our membership might be required to give treatment to kids or adults that not only do we have a religious objection to, but we have a medical objection to it. Because as Christian healthcare professionals, we practice medicine by Scripture as well as by medical science. And the current transgender ideology is going against medical science.
BASHAM: Do you think this issue could become a litmus test for physicians and other healthcare professionals? I’m thinking not just on social media but for things like jobs or licensing?
BARROWS: I think that’s a possibility, especially at larger institutions. In fact, I am aware of people within university settings and medical schools that have been forced out of their position because they did not agree to participate in treatment of those that have gender dysphoria. So it’s not only a possibility, I know of cases across the country where it’s already happened.
BASHAM: I’d like to turn to a wider perspective. In some sense, it feels like a lot of social media platforms are responding to corporate pressure. We see Coca-Cola, Honda, and other massive companies pulling ad dollars from Facebook and Instagram, for example, if they don’t agree to censor speech. So the platforms comply to protect their bottom line. Is there a way for the Christian medical community to engage on the corporate pressure front?
BARROWS: I would like to say that there was, but we have not been successful to date. I think it’s important for people to understand that this is happening on the basis of ideology and not medical science. And I don’t know how, other than what we have on our website—we have all kinds of resources and medical references having to do with transgender and the proper treatment and the complications. I mean, when you talk about what these kids are put on in terms of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and then eventually the treadmill to engage in sex reassignment surgery. These are very serious issues. They have a lot of complications associated with them. There’s no science to back it up. And so we’re trying our best as an organization of Christian healthcare professionals to fight this on the basis of science. But I am afraid we’re losing the battle.
BASHAM: One last question. It may be a little early to ask this, but have you guys started thinking through how the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision is going to impact your goals and the agenda of your organization?
BARROWS: Yes. As I mentioned, we were involved in one lawsuit against the transgender mandate and that has impacted—the recent Bostock decision has impacted our thoughts on that decision. So we are working with attorneys of both ADF and others that can help us to make plans as we move ahead. Because we do not want to sit back and simply let this happen. We believe it’s very important for us in representing our membership to fight this as much as we can.
BARROWS: Thank you for having me.