The Equality Act Promotes Ideology Over Established Science | Opinion

The misnamed Equality Act, or HR5, now before the Senate seems expressly tailored to concern someone like me: a woman, a mother of girls (including one by adoption) and a practicing Catholic. But it is in my role as a physician that the House-passed act gives me greatest pause. If the bill becomes law, gender ideology will wrap itself like a straitjacket around the practice of medicine.

The act could—see, for example, section 3's prohibition on health care "discrimination" on the basis of "gender identity"—force health care workers into taking a one-size-fits-all approach to the complex phenomenon of gender dysphoria, the distressing psychological rejection of healthy male or female bodies. When it comes to the treatment of children, the legislation "affirms" what amount to radical experimental therapies. As for adults, it forces physicians and other health care workers to lay aside their commitment to "first do no harm," strips them of their conscience rights and even threatens their religious freedom.

Pushing physicians to opt for "trans-affirmative" treatment for gender dysphoria in prepubescent children is especially troubling. Once in the transgender path, the child will have his or her normal puberty blocked to prevent the development of breasts, a beard and other secondary sex characteristics. He or she will then be subjected to high-dose opposite-sex hormones to force the unnatural development of some of the physical characteristics of the other sex. The next step is surgeries (mastectomy, castration) to remove healthy organs and plastic surgery to attempt to create the desired genitalia.

We don't know all the results of these procedures, since it will take decades for this unethical experiment on pediatric patients who cannot consent to be complete. But we do already know some of the medical damage that ensues: infertility, higher risk of cancer and stroke, short stature, incontinence and non-functioning sex organs. And we can assess the psychological results of this irreversible damage delivered in the name of treatment—gender dysphoria and intense suicide ideations persist. Last year in Britain, restrictions were placed on the "transitioning" of children and teenagers in response to a lawsuit from a woman whose health and body had been permanently harmed by hormones and surgeries as a minor.

Florida doctor
A doctor wears a stethoscope as he see a patient for a measles vaccination during a visit to the Miami Children's Hospital on June 02, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty

Parents who understand the costs of "transition" to their son or daughter—and may know that their child's dysphoria is of sudden onset and associated with peer pressure and other common trials of teen life—will not be allowed to opt for an alternative and approach. These parents may even know that the vast majority of children with gender dysphoria grow out of it and come to accept their natural selves. Doctors must have the freedom to opt out of removing healthy organs from patients who are suffering from a psychological disturbance, not a physical illness. The Equality Act could make the medical profession impossible for gynecologists, pediatricians, endocrinologists and family doctors faithful to their Hippocratic Oath to "first do no harm."

The act's 31 pages of social engineering threaten to eliminate many other important things that Americans take for granted—that is, besides parental and medical conscience rights. As a woman and the mother of daughters, I'm shocked that the House would pass a bill that, if made law, would dismantle women-only spaces in jails, shelters, schools and sports teams. Simply "identifying" as a woman would allow any man access, no questions asked. A century of gains in women's equality would be reversed. As a Catholic, I'm upset by the fact that the bill threatens houses of worship by expanding the definition of public accommodations. Woe to churches that maintain single-sex bathrooms and hosts a food pantry; plaintiffs' lawyers will be lining up to harass them. As an adoptive parent, I'm saddened that faith-based agencies that place children only with married mothers and fathers will be drummed out of the business of finding homes for our hardest-to-place children. The Equality Act explicitly circumvents provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which were designed to protect religious minorities and ensure religious freedom for all.

However well intentioned, the Equality Act promotes radical ideology over established science, uniformity over liberty and coercion over conscience. The Senate should reject it forthwith.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association (TCA) and co-host of TCA's podcast "Conversation with Consequences."

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.