Lies and Deceptions

Illustration by Ash Cheshire.

There are many who want to claim that transgender lives are built on falsehoods, that everything about us is a lie. 

For those of us who are trans feminine, you may hear fanciful stories about us transitioning merely to attack other women in bathrooms or to coerce other lesbian women into sexual relationships. You’ll also hear how we’re somehow only identifying as transgender in order to dominate the lucrative world of women’s sports. 

In some circles, we’re called “traps,” a slang built on the idea that we appear as alluring females in order to “trick” straight men into having “gay” sex. I, quite frankly, don’t feel I have any reason to explain how ludicrous that is. 

Meanwhile, trans masculine people are presented without agency. You might hear about how the medical establishment is pushing people into believing they may be male, forcing hormones and surgery on young transgender people, primarily transgender men, as some large conspiracy — leading, of course, to old tropes about declining birth rates and the like. 

Then, of course, there are the “groomer” accusations, thrown around like so much confetti. It’s a crass and obvious reframing of the old “gays recruit” trope, reimagined for the Q-Anon era, somehow equating pedophilia with trans identities and drag, crudely welded together as the latest moral panic, and completely lacking of any relevance. Nevertheless, it has somehow captured the lizard brains of far too many people.

I’m reminded of a friend, many years ago, who was in a complicated divorce over her transition. Her soon-to-be ex-wife, in an attempt to earn custody of their young daughter, tossed out manufactured claims of inappropriate contact between her transitioning spouse and the child. 

While outside divorce court, my trans friend overheard opposing counsel stating that it was obvious to them that the trans woman must be lying about not molesting her daughter, because, after all, she was trans and inherently deceptive.

Indeed, the popular culture view of transgender people is one of deception. Even the so-called good examples seen in any number of comedies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, still present any sort of trans presentation as one of deceit. 

Yes, these aren’t the sort of falsehoods I want to focus on.

Mother Jones publishes a feature on attempts to push anti-transgender legislation around the country. This year, for example, over 400 bills have been pushed at various statehouses, each seemingly more draconian than the last. A large number have been defeated, but enough have passed to make large swathes of transgender people and their families vulnerable. 

These bills, however, are not the work of stalwart politicians seeking to, as they claim, protect children. Instead, as Mother Jones uncovers, this is work being done in secret between a network of anti-trans organizations. 

Indeed, many of the bills going around share similar language and aims, clearly crafted not by individual lawmakers, but by these groups behind the scenes. In more than one statehouse, for example, lawmakers could not explain exceptions allowing genital surgeries on intersex children in their own bills, or even seemed to know what “intersex” meant. 

One of those named in the Mother Jones article is Vernadette Broyles, who serves as the president and general counsel of The Child & Parental Rights Campaign based out of Georgia. Among many other things, Broyles is currently representing Jamie Reed. 

Reed has made some incendiary claims about a Missouri-based Gender Clinic on Bari Weiss’ Free Press, claiming that The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital — where Reed worked as a case manager — was “permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care.”

There are some problems with her story, however. Aside from providing misleading information about the effects of hormones and puberty blockers, she also passes along a story of one trans child who claimed to be an attack helicopter, and was quickly prescribed hormone replacement therapy.

Apparently, she did not know that, “I identify as an attack helicopter” is a fairly well-known meme, and one usually used to mock transgender people.

There is a bigger issue or two at play with Reed, however. The patient information alluded to above in the aforementioned “attack helicopter” story she provided, as well as other details she presented, make it clear that she is retaining confidential medical information — and providing some of it to journalists. 

On top of this, many have called out much of what Reed has claimed, perhaps most importantly that she was somehow an innocent bystander turned whistleblower. One parent, Jennifer Harris Dault, took to her Twitter account to directly speak out.

“I was told I’d receive an email with resources, including therapists… but that at my child’s age (6 at that point) no therapist would really see her unless she was at risk of self-harm,” said Dault . “She also told me that the clinic would not see up until puberty started.”

Like so many other things, this turned out to be false.

I would like to say that the idea of transgender people being deceptive might be a certain level of projection on the part of these anti-transgender bigots, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. 

Rather, I feel that many do believe that transgender people are deceptive. It is a deep-set trope, as I noted before. 

So, in believing that, these bigots feel justified to “fight fire with fire,” and embrace their own desires to deceive. 

It’s time for some truth.Gwen Smith is here to live her truth. You’ll find her at

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