Inside the secret working group that helped push anti-trans laws across the country - 2023-03-08

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F1.png Inside the secret working group that helped push anti-trans laws across the country March 8, 2023, Madison Pauly, Mother Jones

In messages back and forth, some members of the group pushed Deutsch to make the bill even more restrictive. Vernadette Broyles, the president and general counsel of a Georgia-based law firm called the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, urged him to raise the age threshold to 18. Broyles, who is also affiliated with the conservative Christian legal powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), warned that other religious-right groups might not support the bill if "you start by giving away 16 and 17-year olds right from the outset." Others, including Andre Van Mol—a member of a fringe, conservative doctors group that calls itself the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds)—raised concerns that the bill as written might backfire by accidentally blocking healthcare providers from "attempting to change...a child's perception of their sex" when kids identify as transgender. Deutsch agreed to rewrite the section.

At the time, there was little precedent for such bills, and Deutsch's legislation, called the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, was killed in the Senate after doctors showed up at the South Dakota statehouse to argue they should not be sent to prison for following the medical consensus. "Though our session in SD is now over and our efforts to protect gender-confused vulnerable children failed, I continue to receive ugly email and social media posts," Deutsch complained to the group in March 2020.

"Please do not say that the South Dakota effort failed!!" Margaret Clarke, general counsel for the Alabama branch of the Phyllis Schlafly–founded Eagle Forum, replied. "You successfully inspired, encouraged and counseled numerous VCAP [sic] efforts around the country. You established the ideal witness list that we are all still following in our individual states…And, most importantly you connected us all to each other. This is just the beginning."

Wikipedia cite:
{{cite news | first = Madison | last = Pauly | title = Inside the secret working group that helped push anti-trans laws across the country | url = https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/03/anti-trans-transgender-health-care-ban-legislation-bill-minors-children-lgbtq/ | work = Mother Jones | date = March 8, 2023 | accessdate = March 9, 2023 }}