Is the U.S. State Department about to classify Sweden, Finland, and the U.K. as human rights abusers? According to an internal memo from Secretary Antony Blinken (leaked to me by an officer in the department’s Foreign Service) and circulated among employees last week, the answer might be yes.
The memo represents an effort by Secretary Blinken to carry out President Biden’s Executive Order 14075 from last June. That order instructs agencies of the federal government to do what they can to stop “conversion therapy” for “LGBTQI+” people. Following its release, Biden appointed Jessica Stern as Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, a position created by the Obama administration but left unfilled under Donald Trump. Stern, who goes by “all pronouns,” had previously served as executive director at OutRight Action International, an advocacy organization with a permanent presence at United Nations headquarters in New York. OutRight has borrowed arguments against “conversion therapy” for sexual orientation (where the evidence against the practice is strong) and applied them, unscientifically, to “gender identity” (where studies have consistently shown that cross-gender identification in children is, for the vast majority of those who experience it, a passing phase). This strategy of piggybacking off public ignorance about the difference between homosexuality and transgenderism is by now familiar. And lest it be thought that politicians know better, Biden himself seems unable to differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Biden administration has defined “conversion therapy” as any effort to “suppress or change an individual’s . . . gender identity.” The Blinken memo cites as an authority the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an organization that, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, has fallen victim to capture by a small but vocal and well-organized group of ideologues, among them Jack Turban. The memo relies on the United Nations Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, to clarify that “conversion” means only efforts to change a transgender identity into a “cisgender one.” Thus, a hypothetical scenario in which a child is put under intense pressure to become trans, even if this means medicalization, would technically not count as “conversion.” At the first signs of a child’s gender distress or confusion, the only legitimate, “human rights”-respecting outcome of treatment, according to the Biden administration, is social transition followed, in most cases, by body modification.