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The Bogus Anti-Trans “Declaration” From a Bogus Medical Organization

A case study in how a right-wing “pediatric” group and the right-wing media work to stir up controversy over trans rights.

A man points at the camera while another demonstrator holds a sign reading "Tach ABC Not LGBTQ"
David McNew/Getty Images
An anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrator yells at pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrators from behind a police barricade outside a Glendale Unified School District Board of Education meeting on June 20, 2023, in Glendale, California.

Late last week, the American College of Pediatricians issued a statement urging health care professionals to stop offering gender-affirming care to minors. This statement, delivered in the form of a video starring Dr. Jill Simons in a white lab coat, was widely shared on social media and across conservative news sites by right-wing personalities. One version of the video, posted by anti-trans filmmaker Robby Starbuck, was shared by Elon Musk and viewed over 53 million times on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

First and foremost, let’s clarify: The American College of Pediatricians, or ACPeds, is not a legitimate organization representing the field of pediatrics. Founded in 2002, ACPeds is a small, ideologically driven group that promotes abstinence-only sex education, opposes same-sex marriage, rejects vaccine mandates, and links homosexuality with pedophilia. It endorses gay conversion “therapy” and falsely claims transgender identities are a mental illness. The Southern Poverty Law Center has even labeled ACPeds a hate group. This is not an organization focused on children’s health and well-being; it’s a propaganda machine pushing a dangerous, far-right agenda.

Even the framing of this statement, the so-called “Doctors Protecting Children Declaration,” falsely gives the sense that ACPeds has just now come to this point of view in light of new evidence. Just look at all the people in the replies saying things like, “Wow, I never thought I’d see the day!” In truth, ACPeds has been vocally anti-trans (for people of all ages) since its inception, and every so often, it will release a new statement calling for the end of transition-related care for one group or another to get headlines. Want an example? Gladly.

Here’s a June 9 story about this most recent statement, published at Fox News:

This screenshot shows a Fox News headline reading "American College of Pediatricians issues fiery statement condemning child gender transition."
Fox News

And here’s a February 8 story from the last time ACPeds put out one of these statements, again published at Fox News:

This image shows a screenshot of a Fox News headline reading "'Gender-affirming' treatments don't benefit youth, says pediatrician group: 'Irreversible consequences'"
Fox News

In that February 8 story, even Fox News’s own Dr. Marc Siegel goes so far as to refer to ACPeds as a “conservative advocacy group.”

In May and June 2023, Wired, Mother Jones, and The Washington Post published exposés built around leaked ACPeds’ emails and other documents found on an inadvertently unprotected group Google Drive. The leak laid bare the group’s political purpose and extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion beliefs.

My point here is that this fringe group publishes variations on the same thing, creating content for right-wing media outlets to pick up and run with to keep their readers outraged and maintain the culture war. This latest example seems to have been inspired by “The Cass Review,” a report commissioned by the conservative U.K. government to delegitimize existing science on transition-related care for young people.

If you’re looking for a respected organization that truly represents the voice of pediatric professionals, turn to the American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP. With 67,000 members, AAP is the gold standard, respected by scientists and health care providers globally. The AAP supports gender-affirming care, recognizing it as crucial for the mental and physical health of transgender youth.

Don’t be fooled by conservatives relying on sham organizations like ACPeds for false expertise in a deliberate effort to push their regressive agenda under the guise of medical authority. This is a calculated move designed to mislead the public and undermine the rights of transgender individuals, particularly minors who are already vulnerable.

The strategy is clear: maintain a constant state of outrage around the topic of trans minors and keep that narrative alive in the news. ACPeds exists to provide a veneer of legitimacy to right-wing news outlets whenever they want to stir up controversy about trans kids, trans athletes, or trans people in general. This tactic is not about genuine concern or new scientific findings; it’s about perpetuating a cycle of fear and misinformation.

What’s particularly frustrating is that nothing new needs to happen for these issues to be thrust back into the spotlight. These recurring articles and debates are rarely driven by new research or developments. Whether it’s about trans women in sports or trans teens seeking gender-affirming care, it’s often just a matter of groups like ACPeds or certain editors deciding it’s time to ignite another round of controversy. This manufactured outrage keeps the topic perpetually in the news, even when there’s no new information to discuss.

In the end, this is a disservice to everyone. It distracts from real issues and genuine medical guidance provided by respected organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s crucial to recognize these tactics for what they are and focus on supporting evidence-based, compassionate care for all children, including transgender youth. Don’t let the noise from groups like ACPeds drown out the voices of real experts and the needs of those they aim to marginalize.