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Group dynamics and division of labor within the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network

Before the campaign to end gender-affirming care, anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience was cultivated and disseminated in campaigns to discourage funding for HIV/AIDS programs, limit access to comprehensive sex education curricula, prevent marriage equality and recognition of LGBTQ+ families, institute and maintain the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian troops known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” defend the conversion therapy industry, and attack gender identity protections in public schools.

Anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience must also be understood as part of the historical legacy of white supremacy and the political aims of the religious right. First, as we detail in Chapter 1, pseudoscience has been wielded by white supremacists and eugenicists to substantiate false claims about their racial superiority for centuries. A component of that mythical racial superiority has always been a supposed sexual purity – the idea that sexual immorality dilutes white power. Pseudoscientific justifications for pathologizing LGBTQ+ identities, then, help “diagnose” and “cure” threats to whiteness, specifically threats to the perpetuation of the so-called white race through the heteronormative white family.

Secondly, 20th and 21st century anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience emerged from a movement to provide scientific justification for the political priorities of conservative Christians. Proponents of anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience cannot divorce it from the white Christian nationalist political movement that seeks to tear down the separation of church and state and ultimately encode their conservative interpretation of Christian scripture into American law. There are numerous examples of this throughout American history, including:

  • The creationist and intelligent design movements that encourage public schools to undermine the scientific consensus of evolutionary biology by “teaching the controversy” of creationism cloaked in the rhetoric of so-called intelligent design. Contemporary anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience draws heavily on the essentialist “biblical binary” notion of male and female sex and gender “complementarity.”[1]
  • The anti-abortion movement and opponents of stem cell research, who share organizational and philosophical ties to the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscientific movement, and similarly seek to replace medical science with conservative religious policy positions.[2]
  • The climate denial movement, which, at its most extreme, draws a connection between a millenarian theology and disregard for the climate crisis, but also borrows from the creationist movement in seeking to undermine scientific consensus about the history and causes of global climate change.[3]

As the most prominent research topics fluctuate over time, each iteration of this pseudoscientific industry overlaps with the next. The institutions established to wage war on secular science in previous decades pass on their knowledge, networks, and organizational strategies to their ideological progeny. 

These institutions take the form of conservative Christian colleges, universities and law programs with parallel legal organizations which train and produce science skeptics, future litigators and policymakers; far-right think tanks and political strategists who help bridge institutions and ideologies by forging connections to political parties, most notably the Republican Party in the United States; and they help build fundraising and media operations that develop donors and disseminate the message.[4] This history of capacity-building is, without doubt, the primary reason anti-LGBTQ+ activists were able to quickly stoke and capitalize on anti-transgender sentiment and diffuse anti-transgender, pseudoscience-based policy across the United States with record effectiveness between 2020 and 2023.

While new organizations with missions tied to the specific focus of an emerging pseudoscience movement may arise, their work is intellectually, institutionally, and often financially subsidized by leaders of previous iterations of the movement. Anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience and the false narratives about LGBTQ+ people it perpetuates, then, are cogs in a machine that attempt to churn out litigation, legislation, and relatable narratives to encode white supremacy and conservative Christian beliefs into American law and society. This chapter describes that machine’s details.

Case Study: The Pseudoscience Network in Action in Virginia

Defining the Pseudoscience Network

In this chapter, we describe the full breadth of the contemporary anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network. We focus on three categories of groups that emerged from a network analysis of shared personnel. By identifying the groups and analyzing their missions and activities, we developed three typologies to describe the functions of the network: Research and Practice (R&P), Narrative Manipulation (NM), and Legal Advocacy and Think Tanks (LATT).

The Hub – Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine

We began by identifying the organizational affiliations of the authors represented in the 50 most frequently cited articles in our sample of citations described in Chapter 4. Using each author as a node (a point of origin for connections), our initial survey of author affiliations yielded 60 unique organizational affiliations across eight countries and 184 authors in the sample.[5] Intuitively, the most common affiliations are universities, university hospitals, specialized clinics, and government health agencies. Only eight authors in the sample did not list one of these common institutional affiliations, but instead listed a guild (i.e., professional organization) as their official affiliation.

Of that group, one author listed the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Seven authors listed as their primary or secondary affiliation a group called the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM).[6] SEGM was officially incorporated in 2020 and is based in Twin Falls, Idaho. The group describes its purpose as promoting “evidence-informed healthcare for children, adolescents, and young adults with gender dysphoria.” An initial review of the SEGM directors and advisory board showed six other authors in our sample share an affiliation with the group.[7] In total, of the 184 authors in our sample, 13 (7%) are explicitly affiliated with SEGM.

SEGM was co-founded by Idaho endocrinologist Dr. William Malone, Oregon pediatrician Dr. Julia Mason, and Marcus Evans, a psychotherapist from the U.K.[8] In 2021, the group listed Dr. Roberto D’Angelo, an Australian psychiatrist, and Dr. Stephen Beck,[9] an Ohio physician who leads a large Catholic health care agency, as its president and treasurer, respectively.[10] A program for the group’s October 2023 summit in New York City revealed that Zhenya Abbruzzese, a self-described health care researcher and consultant from the United States, “co-founded” SEGM, a link that was previously unknown.

That such a fact was unknown until Abbruzzese self-disclosed her status is not uncommon for SEGM: Despite its website boasting a membership of “over 100 clinicians and researchers,” Julia Mason insists that SEGM is not a membership-based organization, and the primary way to verify affiliations with SEGM is through individual self-disclosure. There are no official membership records, and Abbruzzese is not represented in the organization’s corporate filings. In addition, SEGM has taken steps to obfuscate its membership and organizational structure, including removing lists of its board and advisory members entirely from its website in late 2023. As such, while only 7% of the authors in our sample are known affiliates of SEGM, the true percentage could be much higher.

Since its founding, members of SEGM have undertaken a global media and public policy blitz to challenge the affirming care model, advocate against gender-affirming care, and lend scientific credibility to legal claims against LGBTQ+ civil rights. Specifically, SEGM has helped foster resistance to the idea that adolescents can be capable of exerting agency over their own care. This strategy was first seen in the Bell v. Tavistock case, before carrying it over more in the U.S. SEGM, for example, has indicated its belief that exploratory psychotherapy should be a first-line treatment for gender dysphoric people age 25 and under.[11] The group’s endeavors are helped largely by its scientific façade, a general lack of information about its political activities and its members’ affiliations with the anti-LGBTQ+ far right, as well as its extensive connections and substantial personnel overlap with another powerhouse group founded in the U.K. called Genspect.

A 2021 report on SEGM revealed the group raised over $50,000 from three anonymous donors to a GoFundMe campaign organized by Malone in 2019.[12] Since then, researchers Lee Leveille and Dr. Quinnehtukqut McLamore showed a large part of SEGM’s funding in 2020 came through a $100,000 donation from the Edward Charles Foundation,[13] which was at least partially used to pay fees for open access publications “to enable wider dissemination of key research.”[14]

Analyses of additional financial records[15] [16] from 2021 reveal that SEGM’s total revenue nearly quadrupled from the previous year to nearly $800,000, and that funding appears to have come primarily from donor advised funds. The largest contribution, which came from Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, totals over $350,000. Notably, Fidelity and Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program (which also donated to SEGM in 2021) have a history of directing money to anti-LGBTQ+ groups, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.[17] As it experienced a revenue boost in 2021, SEGM described one of its notable activities that year as the creation of a “compendium” highlighting the “scientific debate” over LGBTQ+ health care.[18]

With SEGM as a starting point, our analysis turned to organizational nodes, using organizations as the units of analysis and people as the connections between them. By tracing the organizational affiliations of each of the 13 SEGM authors in our sample, we identified nine additional groups that purport to study or research gender dysphoria, groups whose boards are populated by at least one of those 13 authors. By cross-referencing the boards of those organizations and our sample of authors, we found 11 additional author connections (n = 24) and four additional groups with similar LGBTQ+ health care-related missions (n = 13). In all, slightly more than one in 10 (11.4%) of the authors in our sample of 184 are members of at least one of the organizations in Figure 4.1.

The connections between groups represent authors in our sample. The size of the circle is proportionate to the number of authors in our sample who are affiliated with the group. The connections span about seven years starting in 2016, when Lisa Marchiano founded Youth Trans Critical Professionals, to the present. Notably, American College of Pediatricians was a key node in an earlier iteration of the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network, having initiated its anti-LGBTQ+ activism from its founding in 2002. The other organizations in the figure were founded between 2016 and 2022.

Examining the network over time demonstrates how SEGM became a prominent hub of information. Prior to SEGM’s founding in 2020, the authors in our sample were largely connected through the Pediatric and Adolescent Gender Dysphoria Working Group (PAGDWG), a group of 17 psychiatrists, sexologists, psychoanalysts and doctors founded in 2018.[19] The working group built on the public connections established on the pages of 4thWaveNow, TransgenderTrend and Youth Trans Critical Professionals as well as existing scholarship networks with historical legitimacy and a high level of activity and prestige within the American Psychiatric Association.

Notably, the working group contained a number of well-established names in transgender medicine whose long-established work was heavily criticized from both activist and scholarly perspectives throughout the 2000s and 2010s – all of whom had collaborated extensively, and many of whom had prior affiliation with the now-defunct Clarke Institute, later known as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

These included Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey, known for promulgating and popularizing the concepts of autogynephilia and a “transexual typology”; Susan Bradley and Kenneth Zucker, who played leading roles in the creation of the DSM-IV, DSM-IV-TR, and DSM-5[20] criteria and descriptors of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and Gender Dysphoria – the latter of whom is still the editor-in-chief at Archives of Sexual Behavior, one of the top sexology journals in the world; and James Cantor, a protege of Blanchard who has been considered a leading expert on hypersexuality and paraphilias.

The work of these authors, while once considered the authoritative body on transgender people, has been challenged upon re-examination given severe methodological concerns and changing understandings of transgender people.[21] Zucker and Bradley’s work in particular has been described as a form of conversion therapy, as it explicitly intended to “correct” cross-gender behavior in prepubescent children with the explicit goal of preventing them from being transgender in adulthood – by the authors‘ own admissions both in the press and in academic writing.[22]

In 2015, CAMH shuttered Zucker’s clinic and fired him after Toronto banned conversion therapy and an independent report could not distinguish his practices from conversion therapy – even after the clinic apologized to Zucker for an error in its original report which misattributed inflammatory language about a patient to Zucker.[23] The debacle was frequently covered on 4thWaveNow, and the circumstances of Zucker’s closure (and subsequent legal settlement) were popular topics in news media. For their part, former patients of Zucker have varying opinions. Some have described the experience as conversion therapy, while others have reported more positive experiences. Zucker himself has, however, testified on record in opposition to Canada’s ban on conversion therapy as he feels it would proscribe the approach he favors for youth with gender dysphoria.[24]

All of these authors have criticized the current position of WPATH and the APA, as it now departs extensively from their theoretical frameworks and recommendations. Yet, their inclusion gave the group a significant degree of legitimacy and institutional power it would have otherwise lacked. Zucker’s involvement, in particular, lent the group credibility.

Other members of the group included psychoanalytic psychotherapists who argued that their form of therapy could “treat” gender dysphoria better than transition. Those include Robert Withers, Roberto D’Angelo, Sasha Ayad, and Lisa Marchiano, as well as Michael Laidlaw, a member of ACPeds. The connections formed through the working group were eventually solidified in new groups (including SEGM) between 2020 and 2022.

For example, SEGM cofounder William J. Malone published[25] several “resources” for LGBTQ+ health care providers on the PAGDWG blog in mid-2019, including links to 4thWaveNow and TransgenderTrend, Blanchard’s work, an article by ACPed’s Paul McHugh, and an article by Lisa Littman, future Genspect adviser and founder of Gender Dysphoria Alliance. That piece was followed by a response to critics of her own ROGD study by Littman[26] and a piece by future SEGM members Sven Roman equating gender dysphoria to an “epidemic” spreading online[27] as well as Dianna Kenny extolling the social contagion myth.[28] Each of these posts hosted by the working group are by authors featured in our dataset.

The sample of authors also includes several members of and advisers to the anti-LGBTQ+ group American College of Pediatricians (a group whose founding predates all other groups in this author network). Namely, Andre Van Mol, Miriam Grossman, Paul McHugh, Paul Hruz and Michael Laidlaw are or have been members of the group. Laidlaw was also a member of the working group since its inception in 2018 and served as medical consultant to Kelsey Coalition after it was founded and promoted by Heritage Foundation in 2019.[29] J. Michael Bailey and Lisa Littman also helped develop web content for the Kelsey Coalition in 2019, according to leaked emails.[30] While the connection between ACPeds, the Kelsey Coalition and the rest of the network appear to have dissolved after the working group seemingly disbanded in 2020, the connections represented here are only among authors in our sample of articles cited in legal challenges to LGBTQ+ health care. The full network analysis shows ACPeds remains an active node of anti-LGBTQ+ misinformation with contemporary connections to the pseudoscience network.

By 2020, the old- and new-guard authors cited in the most recent legal challenges to LGBTQ+ health care institutionalized their research agendas and connections in several organizations. SEGM, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics (ReIME), and the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research (ICGDR), for example, promote the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience research agenda, with SEGM and ICGDR funding open-access articles that call into question gender-affirming care and promote ROGD. SEGM’s advisers also serve as expert witnesses in legislative hearings and legal challenges to LGBTQ+ rights and health care. Genspect, Gender Health Query, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, and Do No Harm amplify pseudoscience to the general public while the Gender Exploratory Therapy Association, the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners (active until 2022), and the Kelsey Coalition focus on spreading anti-trans disinformation among families with LGBTQ+ kids, and challenging LGBTQ+-inclusive counseling and educational practices.

Building a Movement: Division of Labor in the Pseudoscience Network

“I owe a lot to the teams I work with. For example, working with Alliance Defending Freedom, generating amicus briefs for [state] high court and Supreme Court cases that deal with [LGBTQ rights] and other things that we’re interested in. Trying to effect legislation, the high courts, and the peer review literature. The idea being, if you influence the idea makers, that carries out for three generations. It’s important to inform the public…But for that it needs to be done for every single generation, it doesn’t really replicate itself. Whereas if you can influence the idea makers, you’ve got greater reach.”
— Dr. Andre Van Mol, Co-Chair of the American College of Pediatricians’ Committee on Adolescent Sexuality and Board of Directors of Moral Revolution, speaking on The Narrative podcast of Center for Christian Virtue (Ohio), July 22, 2022.

The development, dissemination, and effective application of pseudoscience to public policy requires a team. As Dr. Van Mol’s quote above suggests, for the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience movement, success is defined not as a one-off policy change, but as the ideological capture of social institutions by the anti-LGBTQ+ religious right.

Previous iterations of the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience movement failed to preserve conversion therapy, bans on marriage equality and LGBTQ+ adoption, in part, because they lacked a “policy window” – an opportunity for advancing their political goals afforded by the convergence of public opinion and the political will of decision-makers. They also failed, in part, because they did not successfully marshal the resources and institutions of the American far right.[31]

As we detail in previous chapters, to remedy their failures since the mid-2010s, the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience movement has worked to reshape the scientific literature and popular discourse around transgender identity and rights, thus forcing open a policy window. They have also expanded the network to tap into right-wing funding and media resources and refined the division of labor within the network to prevent inefficiencies and better disguise the anti-LGBTQ+ goals of the research at the heart of the network.

The Network and Its Functions

Based on the initial two dozen authors and one dozen organizations represented in our sample of works frequently cited in legal challenges to LGBTQ+ health care, we compiled and cross-referenced boards of directors, advisers, and membership lists gathered from open-sourced data, including internet and social media searches, public records and tax documents, and data from network leaks reported in the media. We continued building out the network until our research methods produced no additional significant nodes (organizations) or connections (shared personnel) within the network.

The anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience personnel network we identified through this iterative search process is defined by 60 groups, four major joint mobilizations, and 957 personnel connections between them between 2015 and 2023.

Figure 4.2 shows the full personnel network map. The lines between each organization (node) represent a direct personnel connection between the groups. Thicker lines represent more direct connections. The clusters of organizations suggest the formation of specialized subnetworks, and analyses of each group’s mission statement and activity indicate a division of labor or delineation of functions as well as preferred constituencies within the network.

Based on mission statements and group activity, we developed three typologies to describe each cluster or subnetwork of groups. Research and Practice Groups (R&P) are represented in green at the left of the figure and are groups and platforms for so-called experts on LGBTQ+ health care. The groups are largely populated by academics and health care workers and help produce anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience. Narrative Manipulation Groups (NM) are mostly in the middle of the figure in purple, pink and blue. The groups are subdivided when they clearly appeal to parents (pink) and LGBTQ+ people (blue). All are largely policy advocates that “spin” the pseudoscience into effective media and lobbying campaigns to challenge LGBTQ+ rights. These groups are generally the mouthpieces of the network and conduct significant publicity campaigns to disseminate their biased narratives. This often includes hosting and publicizing representatives of the R&P groups.

Finally, Legal Advocacy and Think Tanks (LATT) are represented in gold. They are primarily responsible for filing legal challenges to LGBTQ+ rights; however, rather than one-off political campaigns, their mission is to enact more systemic changes in how the scientific and legal academies understand LGBTQ+ people and their rights. They generally employ R&P members as fellows or subject matter experts to provide testimony, write reports and public scholarship to effect an anti-LGBTQ+ sea change. Since LATT groups represent established conservative institutions with large professional staffs, they also help construct media narratives, craft policy, and lobby; they are also deeply embedded within far-right funding networks. Much of their lobbying and media strategies are coordinated with NM groups. Notably, the typologies help classify the groups, but they are not exhaustive, meaning some groups may perform multiple functions. Major joint mobilizations are in red.

Research & Practice Groups

“Few things compromise the scientific integrity of a field more than throwing their weight behind overtly political campaigns.”[32]
– Colin Wright, SEGM Board of Advisers, Manhattan Institute Fellow, Twitter/X August 13, 2023.


At the heart of the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network are the research and practice groups. These organizations are largely populated by academics, people with medical credentials, and health care workers. The groups’ missions generally include producing or disseminating information about LGBTQ+ identities and health care, including resources that challenge the affirming care model and promote conversion therapy for practitioners. Some groups also offer therapy and referrals to LGBTQ+ people and their families. Most of the groups were founded between 2016 and 2021 and remain active.

Several organizations, like the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (formerly NARTH) and ACPeds, which purport to be professional associations of scientists or doctors, attempt to lend a façade of credibility to anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience but are well-known proponents of discredited conversion therapy and their leadership has actively promoted anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracies for decades.[33] However, the medical credentials of the R&P group’s members encourage deference to their claims and policy recommendations and, for some, have provided a platform to sell their conversion therapy services and merchandise.[34] However, their work suggests the primary purposes of these organizations are to inculcate extremist anti-LGBTQ+ positions, including substituting fundamentalist Christian dogma for scientific inquiry, into scientific disciplines.

Although populated by more than one dozen separate organizations, groups in the R&P category frequently collaborate and their work is deeply intertwined. For example, in 2021, Dr. Lisa Littman published a study of detransitioners in Archives of Sexual Behavior, a journal whose editors include Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Ray Blanchard, that she suggests “strengthens” her ROGD hypothesis.[35] The open-access fees were paid by the organization she leads, the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research.[36] One of the journal’s editors, Blanchard, serves with Littman on the board of Gender Dysphoria Alliance (GDA); and, in the acknowledgments section of the paper, Littman thanks SEGM’s Roberto D’Angelo for reviewing an earlier version of the paper.[37] Both Littman and D’Angelo serve on Genspect’s advisory board, which began promoting “ROGD Awareness Day” in 2023.

Despite their mission statements and many members’ claims to pursue objective truth about LGBTQ+ health care by applying the scientific method, many of the R&P groups are also founded by people with close ties to white Christian nationalists, those whom Anthea Butler has described as operating on “the assumption that Christ is at the core of efforts to establish and promote white protestant Christianity in the service of white male autocratic authority.”[38] In addition, many R&P groups are aligned with anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-Muslim extremists, and others who have expressed a willingness to use the mechanisms of public policy and government to impose conservative Christian beliefs on society.

The most obvious examples are ACPeds and ATCSI, whose members are closely tied to anti-LGBTQ+ extremist groups and who have long couched their demonization of LGBTQ+ people and support for conversion therapy in religious rhetoric. Alliances between R&P and anti-LGBTQ+ extremist groups, though, are not a “bug,” but a “feature” of the network. Other examples include organizations connected to the American psychotherapist Lisa Marchiano, who founded the website Youth Trans Critical Professionals in 2016 and helped recruit participants for and review Dr. Lisa Littman’s 2018 ROGD study.

In 2016, Marchiano pseudonymously signed a letter opposing gender-affirming care and LGBTQ+ civil rights protections with multiple extremist groups including MassResistance, the Family Research Council, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, the Center for Security Policy, the American College of Pediatricians, and major players in the religious right including Richard Viguerie[39]and former U.S. House Freedom Caucus member Louie Gohmert. As the report makes clear, Marchiano and therapists Sasha Ayad and Stella O‘Malley are also important network entrepreneurs, either founding or on the board of 10 groups including SEGM, Genspect and Gender Exploratory Therapy Association (GETA).

The SEGM-Genspect-GETA Triad

The relationship between three groups, SEGM, Genspect and GETA, represents the strongest triad (relationship between three nodes or groups) within the R&P subnetwork. Along with Marchiano, the groups share two dozen personnel connections, suggesting deep integration and mutual support.

GETA is a group of therapists founded in 2021 by four SEGM members – Sasha Ayad, Roberto D’Angelo, O’Malley, and Marchiano – along with American psychotherapist and Genspect adviser Joseph Burgo to market what many experts believe is functionally transgender conversion therapy.[40]

Genspect is a hybrid research and advocacy group founded by SEGM member and Irish psychotherapist Stella O’Malley in 2021. The group operates as a not-for-profit corporation based in Ireland and appears to generate revenue through donations and annual subscription fees of roughly $63 a year per member.[41] Its members and advisers are active across Europe and the U.K., Australia and North America, and it has become a powerhouse in the dissemination of anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience.

Namely, the group partners with Marchiano’s other organization, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics (RIME), to produce the podcast Gender: A Wider Lens, hosted by O’Malley and GETA’s Sasha Ayad. The podcast has published more than 130 episodes and has thousands of subscribers on multiple social media platforms. RIME reported spending nearly $7,000 in 2022 on the production of an “educational podcast.”[42]

In 2022, Genspect hosted a symposium featuring Paul Hruz of ACPeds. Meanwhile, one of the group’s advisers, American psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Levine, has been employed by the anti-LGBTQ+ group Alliance Defending Freedom to testify against LGBTQ+ rights, including in at least two challenges to gender identity protections for American school students.[43]

In 2023, Genspect announced the formation of the Killarney Group and the addition of Burgo (from GETA) and Dr. Colin Wright (from SEGM and the Manhattan Institute) as advisers.[44] The project bills itself as “the world’s leading think tank for sex and gender.” It says its mission is to “develop and promote new policy ideas.” In addition to Burgo and Wright, advisers include American Jamie Reed, a former caseworker at Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital represented by anti-LGBTQ+ activist Vernadette Broyles of Child & Parental Rights Campaign. Reed’s unsubstantiated claims to the state’s attorney general, combined with an online disinformation campaign about LGBTQ+ health care waged by right-wing commentators, led to an “emergency” youth gender-affirming care ban in Missouri and the shuttering of the Washington University clinic in 2023.[45]

In addition to programmatic support, Genspect, SEGM and GETA also share personnel connections with Dr. Lisa Littman’s ICGDR. Both Marchiano and O’Malley serve on the board of ICGDR while psychologist J. Michael Bailey serves as the group’s treasurer. Dr. Littman is also on the advisory board of Gender Dysphoria Alliance (GDA) with Canadian psychologist Ray Blanchard. While the group claims it “strive[s] to be free of conflicts of interest,” Blanchard is an editorial board member of Archives of Sexual Behavior, which published Littman’s 2021 study on detransitioners.

Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric and Activism

Despite their medical and academic credentials, many of the groups’ members have made numerous misleading, false and conspiratorial claims. For example, GDA claimed on its website in 2021 that the most common types of gender dysphoria were “early onset homosexual GD” and “late onset autogynephilia.” The former, it claims, “starts in early childhood,” but “most kids with this type of GD become adult gay or lesbian people” and “stop having GD” while the latter is “a kind of heterosexual inversion” that is “seen only in natal boys.”[46]

Members of R&P groups also frequently claim the affirming model of care is “inadequate,”[47] that LGBTQ+ activists have taken over the major medial associations. Some have equated the affirming care model to the recovered memory movement,[48] and have claimed that transgender identity either stems from shame or doesn’t exist at all. Some have amplified the desistence myth,[49] while others invented and perpetuated the ROGD myth.[50] The “gender exploratory” conversion therapists have suggested affirming therapists are “colluding” with trans patients to support a delusion, and claimed the media is colluding with LGBTQ+ activists to censor anti-trans voices.[51]

Most R&P groups support conversion therapy for transgender people and banning medical transition, beginning with people under age 25.[52] This is illustrated best by the ACPed “biological integrity” project introduced in 2023 that, in words reminiscent of the religious right’s anti-abortion crusade, claims gender is set in stone “from the moment of fertilization.” The group cites numerous SEGM studies to claim that “gender exploratory therapy” is necessary to restore the “biological integrity” of trans people.

Focusing on trans identity as a mental illness, promoting conversion therapy, and centering young people, the groups’ rhetorical strategy is intended to call into question the affirming care model, but also reflect a political strategy consistent with anti-LGBTQ+ ideologies that typically caricature LGBTQ+ people as dangerous to children and society.[53] For example, Ayad has repeated claims that schools are “teaching confusing gender beliefs” to kids and agreed that gender-affirming therapists “go for the vulnerable” kids using “indoctrinating” practices.[54] While, in a podcast titled “Help GENDER [sic] is a Mess at My School,” O’Malley says, it is not “appropriate” for adults to encourage the “solidification” of any identity, including gender and sexual orientation, until a person reaches their “early 20s.”

Lobbying and electioneering are often coordinated by other organizations, although R&P groups do attempt to translate their pseudoscientific narratives into public policy. Members of R&P groups frequently testify on behalf of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and are often employed to defend the same laws in court or otherwise legally challenge LGBTQ+ rights.[55]

The groups also initiate contact with public officials. In September 2022, GETA members submitted a comment opposing U.S. Department of Education guidance protecting gender identity under Title IX in American schools arguing the guidance would amount to the mandatory social transitioning of children without parental consent.

On April 25, 2022, SEGM met with White House officials in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs about a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights on “nondiscrimination in health programs and activities.”[56] The group used the platform of an objective research organization to argue HHS’ actions would “effectively force physicians to provide hormonal and surgical interventions” on young people. Malone’s remarks repeated many of the debunked claims identified in this report and, ultimately, falsely concluded that “every” review of the evidence “has failed to demonstrate any lasting or credible benefits” of gender-affirming care.

Along with Malone, the meeting featured SEGM treasurer and Ohio physician Dr. Stephen Beck. Beck’s spouse, Sharon (aka “Maria Polaris” in testimony to the Ohio state legislature in 2022) has been identified as a leader in the Narrative Manipulation (NM) groups Parents of ROGD Kids and Cardinal Support Network. Importantly for undermining SEGM’s representations as a neutral arbiter of fact, Cardinal Support Network partnered with International Partners for Ethical Care (IPEC) to post billboards in Ohio beginning in 2021 to support the proposed Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act – model legislation to ban gender-affirming care for minors developed by the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Family Research Council. On November 29, 2021, Stephen Beck tweeted his support for IPEC and the Cardinal Support Network’s billboard campaign, saying that “both public AND [sic] clinicians need to understand harm” of “#gendermedicine” and equating gender-affirming care to experimentation on children.

In September 2023, Genspect, GETA and SEGM members and advisers filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling for an end to prescription puberty blockers for trans kids. [57]The petition included support from other R&P groups including GDA and RIME, as well as multiple Narrative Manipulation groups including Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) in Medicine, IPEC, Detrans Help, and members of ACPeds.

Finally, R&P groups often take their advocacy to professional organizations that are not aligned with their anti-LGBTQ+ ideologies. In 2022, SEGM’s Julia Mason and the Manhattan Institute’s Leor Sapir kicked off a lobbying campaign aimed at the American Academy of Pediatrics.[58] In an op-ed, the pair argued that the organization has been “captured” by supporters of the affirming care model and advocated a resolution denouncing “affirmation on demand.” The letter never discloses Mason’s affiliation with SEGM or the Manhattan Institute’s ties to FAIR.[59]

Also in 2022, Genspect and SEGM adviser Dr. Joseph Burgo wrote a letter attacking the WPATH SOC-8. In a podcast hosted by FAIR and released on January 20, 2023, Burgo said many of the groups he works with “support one another” but do not always “work together”; however, the “Beyond WPATH” letter is a major node in the network that helped bridge R&P, NM, and Legal Advocacy and Think Tank subnetworks.

In May 2023, FAIR sponsored its own letter, this time to Springer Nature demanding the publisher refuse calls to retract a methodologically flawed paper on ROGD by Suzanna Diaz (pseudonym) and J. Michael Bailey and retain Kenneth Zucker as the journal’s editor. In addition to Blanchard, ASB’s editorial board includes Bailey and Dr. Stephen Levine.[60]

The letter defends Diaz and Bailey’s article, claiming it was not necessary for the researchers to seek approval from an institutional review board (a key feature of human subject research ethics) and asserts the “potential viability” of the “ROGD hypothesis.” The letter also defended Zucker for publishing articles on “both sides” of the “contentious issue” of ROGD, yet never disclosed how FAIR and its affiliates helped manufacture the concept and controversy. Diaz and Bailey’s article was retracted in June 2023 because the authors reportedly did not obtain informed consent from the survey participants they recruited, but Zucker remains the journal’s editor. [61]

The letter became another important node for the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience movement’s mobilization. Namely, the groups capitalized on Joseph Burgo’s 2022 campaign against WPATH and connected over 350 individuals from within the network. More than 150 signatories of Burgo’s “Beyond WPATH” letter also signed FAIR’s letter in 2023. Strong representation among ACPeds (16 signatures), Genspect (19), GETA (16) and SEGM (12) suggest substantial intragroup communication between the members of these groups, in particular.


Consistent with their advocacy strategies, other members of R&P groups have articulated a political strategy for their “research.” Citing school-based advocacy as a winnable political issue for American conservatives, for example, Genspect adviser Abigail Shrier commented on bridging the work of the R&P and the NM groups in a column published on October 11, 2021, in the conservative Washington Examiner.[62] Shrier, who signed FAIR’s letter and promotes the social contagion myth in her book Irreversible Damage, argues that political conservatives should “spend the next decade championing” the cause of so-called parents’ rights and use “science” to help make the case.[63]

By claiming to fight for “evidence-based medicine,” “responsible therapeutic practices,” and using the politicized framework of opposition to “gender ideology in schools” and the anti-LGBTQ+ trope of “defending the rights of women and girls,” Shrier says it is possible to defeat “[transgender] activists and their shoddy science.”[64]

The job of crafting messages that resonate with enough conservatives to push the country full-tilt into attacking transgender rights fell to the Narrative Manipulation groups, many of which are fixtures of the Christian right. Facing such a monumental messaging task, however, required the formation of new groups and new alliances, including those discussed in Chapter 3. In what follows, we provide an overview of the major groups and narratives they use to manipulate public perceptions of transgender people and affirming health care.

Narrative Manipulation Groups

NM groups generally integrate anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience into narratives common to the anti-LGBTQ+ movement and the broader religious right, often seeking to use the language of science to validate religious or moral claims about gender and sexuality. Many of the groups promote conversion therapy, for example. For many of the groups’ members, their support is based in conservative religious beliefs; but, pseudoscientific claims about the equivalency of sex and gender and the immutability of the gender binary help translate these strict religious interpretations of scripture into palatable public and legal messaging. In this way, NM groups largely function to translate pseudoscience into digestible political narratives (e.g., “parents’ rights,” “protecting children,” “family policy”) that fulfill two goals: 1) eliminating LGBTQ+ rights and 2) fueling a broader conservative Christian theocratic agenda of weakening the separation of church and state and eroding principles of individual freedom and equal protection under the law.


To these groups, science may only matter insofar as it can be used to support their preferred political position. For example, the Family Research Council (FRC) attributes the passage of gender-affirming care bans, like its own model SAFE Act, to pseudoscientific campaigning by NM groups. In a July 2023 article, FRC’s Joshua Arnold suggests anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience has “emboldened” state legislators despite opponents “trotting out medical experts and medical opinions to testify against the [negative] bills at official hearings.”[65]

NM groups generally “trot out” expert opinions derived from the work of R&P groups at official hearings and engage in direct advocacy strategies such as lobbying (link to VA Case Study). However, they primarily share disinformation through social media, webinars and traditional media outreach to conservative news platforms, while utilizing their own in-house media outlets to share reports and health care “guides.”

These groups also regularly collaborate and cross-promote ideas, events, and public appearances with R&P and Legal Advocacy and Think Tank groups. Through narrative manipulation, the groups justify policy interventions that eliminate gender-affirming care, limit access to LGBTQ+-affirming spaces, ban drag performances, and censor LGBTQ+-inclusive curricula in schools. In the following section, we detail some of the most common narratives and tactics of the NM groups in the network.

Parents’ Rights

“Gender affirmation is a false love. What gender confused people need is compassionate help in coming to terms with the fact that God does not make mistakes by putting us in the wrong body.”
— “Do Not Fall for the ‘Affirm Them or They Will Die’ Lie.” Daily Citizen, July 20, 2023.

This line from Focus on the Family’s Daily Citizen appeared after the unnamed authors heavily quoted a SEGM critique of a study evaluating the relationship between conversion therapies and suicide risk. According to the Daily Citizen, gender-affirming care does not help mitigate risk of self-harm among LGBTQ+ people.[66] What the “science” (produced by SEGM) shows, they argue, is that “gender confused people” need to come to terms with the “facts” of creationism and gender binarism – beliefs that the Christian God created humanity in his cis-male image with a gendered companion (cis-female) to complement his creation.[67]

This has been a political message of the Christian right since its takeover of the modern American conservative movement in the 1980s and 1990s. The most common refrain among the religious right has been that LGBTQ+ rights represent an attack on the “religious freedom” of anti-LGBTQ+ Christians.[68] Previous iterations of the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience movement helped previous leaders of Focus on the Family articulate similar claims about gays and lesbians’ “special rights” and reinforce creationism that helped spawn the “ex-gay” movement. Still, conservative Christian theology has generally had a limited appeal, and public opinion even shows demonization of LGBTQ+ people is a major source of religious disaffiliation among many young people.[69] As we detail in Chapter 3, the relative lack of knowledge about transgender experiences provided a way for the Christian right to revitalize old tropes to once again attack LGBTQ+ rights.

As Abigail Shrier and Todd Gathje of the Virginia Family Foundation[70] have argued, one way to do this is to frame gender-affirming care as a battle over parental rights. Another way, which we highlight in Chapter 3, is to frame any representation of LGBTQ+ identity as “sexualized” and pornographic, dangerous to children and unsuitable for public spaces. While many of the NM groups widely use these frames, several groups that describe themselves as “parents’ groups” or promote stories of families who claim to be adversely affected by gender-affirming care emerged between 2016 and 2022 that highlight the strategy.

Like 4thWaveNow and TransgenderTrend, this subset of NM groups claimed to be led by parents of trans kids. Importantly, they do not accept and refuse to affirm their LGBTQ+ children. Seeking someone to blame, their public comments often center their own distress about having a trans child.[71] They accuse teachers (and teachers unions), medical providers, and social media of “recruiting” or “transing” kids without their parents’ consent. They also take advantage of the fact that transgender experiences are underrepresented in society and that some parents legitimately seek out expert advice, wanting to do what is best for their LGBTQ+ kids, to share misinformation.

Despite presenting themselves as parents’ groups, many are advised by or connected to anti-LGBTQ+ activists and pseudoscientists, and some even add a disclaimer to the information they provide that warns it “should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a licensed medical professional” and that they are not liable for “any damages or loss ... caused by or in connection with use or reliance on any information” on their websites.[72]

The goal of NM groups is to build support for anti-LGBTQ+ policies. For example, the Kelsey Coalition, a group advised by Dr. Michael Laidlaw that claimed to represent parents of transgender kids who were harmed by medical transition, was established by Jay Keck and a handful of pseudonymous “parents” in 2018. The group was a major component in the Deutsch network (see Chapter 4), uncovered in 2023, that helped craft anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in South Dakota, Idaho, Florida and other states until 2020.[73]

In 2019, the group partnered with the Family Policy Alliance, the Heritage Foundation, Parents of ROGD Kids, and the Women’s Liberation Front to produce a guide titled “Responding to the Transgender Issue.”[74] The 66-page guide[75] was published by the Minnesota Family Council, a Minneapolis-based “Christian organization” in the state family policy council tradition that advocates against LGBTQ+ and abortion rights. [76]

The guide defines “parents’ rights” as a “fundamental right to control the upbringing and education” of children and warns that affirming LGBTQ+ kids may violate conservative Christian parents’ right to “control their child’s exposure to ... transgender-themed books and curriculum” as well as conservative Christian students’ rights to “bodily privacy, religious freedom, and free speech.”

By citing members of the R&P groups, including Drs. Littman, Laidlaw and Paul Hruz, the groups argue for a “better approach” than affirming transgender kids’ identities, since affirmation makes it “more likely [that trans kids will] persist in identifying as transgender and pursue irreversible medical transition with hormones and surgery later.” Citing Littman’s corrected ROGD paper, for example, the guide specifically attributes transgender identity to supportive “peer groups” – a claim not supported by the study.[77]

“Parental rights,” then, is a euphemism for suppression of LGBTQ+ representation and has also been wielded by far-right extremist groups to challenge anti-racist education and diversity, equity and inclusion policies in both public institutions (like schools and universities) and private businesses.

Two notable examples of this extension of the parental rights frame to attack inclusive education comes from Do No Harm and FAIR. Do No Harm was founded in 2021 by Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney specialist who opposes anti-racist education in American medical schools. The group claimed in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal in 2022 that diversity training in medical education will “give black mothers preferential access to care” and “de-prioritize mothers of other races.”[78] Laura Morgan, the group’s program director, similarly claimed that “woke” education about systemic racism will result in “preferential treatment for the nonwhite.”[79]

With an influx of $250,000 in funding from the Gregor G. Peterson Prize in Venture Philanthropy[80] in 2022, it quickly morphed from renting mobile billboards protesting Harvard Medical School graduation ceremonies into a machine for disseminating anti-transgender messaging. In a January 2023 interview with FRC’s Jody Hice, Goldfarb attributes transgender identity to mental illness and suggests access to gender-affirming health care gives trans kids and their parents too much “freedom,” freedom that has “gone in a terrible direction.”[81]

Other members of the group include plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Bosshardt, a fellow with FAIR in Medicine; podcaster, therapist and GETA member Stephanie Winn; ACPeds member Miriam Grossman; and anti-trans detransition activist Chloe Cole. In an episode of her You Must Be Some Kind of Therapist podcast published on August 7, 2023, Winn hosted the pseudonymous parent “Josie” of the online forum Parents for Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT). “Josie” claims to be the mother of a trans child and compares trans identity to indoctrination while describing the origins of PITT’s substack as a collaboration with Alasdair Gunn of Genspect. Specifically, “Josie” describes how she helped Gunn infiltrate her affirming parents support group, then write and post transphobic articles based on their joint “research.”

On the same episode, Winn featured Gigi LaRue of the group Our Duty. Our Duty’s most public American member, Erin Friday, held a press conference on August 8, 2023, with Protect Kids California; the California Family Council; Riley Gaines, then affiliated with the Independent Women’s Forum and now affiliated with the Leadership Institute; and Chloe Cole. At the press conference, they announced that the groups intend to place three ballot measures before California voters in 2024: one that would require schools to out trans kids to their parents, another to ban trans kids from school sports, and yet another to end gender-affirming health care for minors in the state.

In the same vein as Do No Harm, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism was founded in 2021 by Bion Bartning to oppose anti-racist education efforts and challenge inclusive education practices in court. It has since expanded its fight to oppose social affirmation of transgender people.

The group’s FAIR in Medicine program is led by Dr. Carrie Mendoza, who serves as an adviser to Genspect and Detrans Help – an organization that promotes therapists, doctors and detransitioners who are willing to testify before legislators and lawmakers against affirming care.[82] FAIR in Medicine also manages a “Gender Healthcare Policy Map” and attempts to distinguish “talk therapy” for transgender people from other forms of conversion therapy. Like SEGM, the group opposed a DHS nondiscrimination rule covering gender identity. FAIR, like Do No Harm, was founded to largely oppose anti-racist pedagogies in American education, and its members claim that therapists are trained to tell white patients that they are “oppressors.”[83] It has since become a key voice amplifying anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience.

One of FAIR’s original members, Chris Rufo of the Manhattan Institute, is a key figure in the “parents’ rights” narrative manipulation strategy. FAIR’s board of advisers also includes SEGM’s Stella O’Malley and Robert P. George – who is also affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and Star Parker’s Center for Urban Renewal and Education. George was also a member of the drafting committee of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, a conservative Christian manifesto calling for civil disobedience to laws (like marriage equality) that are perceived to infringe on so-called “religious liberty.”[84]

FAIR, however, is a chapter-based organization with affiliates across the country. Recent reports show how these local chapters are also part of networks that disseminate pseudoscientific disinformation and influence education policy, especially challenging local diversity programs and inclusive curricula.[85] For example, in 2023, FAIR’s El Paso/Teller County, Colorado, chapter leader Joseph Boyle was shown to be part of a Discord chat for members of Advocates for D20 Kids, a Colorado Springs group, that included local school board members and a former Moms for Liberty chapter leader. In the chats, one member says that “transitioning and chemical castration should be legally outlawed” but noted the group should be careful when making claims about the local district. “If we start throwing blanket statements that they are mutilating our children without evidence – we take five steps backwards in building trust,” the member wrote in January 2023.

In September 2022, Boyle shared a link to FAIR’s comments to the Department of Education, which opposed Title IX nondiscrimination protections for transgender students. He also shared a link to a Gender Health Query webpage that cites 4thWaveNow, Transgender Trend, and authors in our study including J. Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard, and makes the argument that gender-affirming care does not help reduce suicide risk. [86] Earlier in 2022, the Washington Post reported that Boyle and other FAIR members followed the local school equality director to various community forums so much she accused them of “poisoning the room[s]” against discussions of racial inequities in local education.[87]

The Conspiracy of Social Affirmation

Anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracies, like conspiracies targeting many marginalized groups perceived as threats to the white Christian family, have long demonized LGBTQ+ people by falsely linking LGBTQ+ identity and child sex abuse. Either by falsely claiming gay and lesbian identity is caused by sexual trauma or falsely claiming that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be predators, these narratives are once again wielded by NM groups to manipulate attitudes about LGBTQ+ people and gender-affirming care.

Most recent iterations of the tropes perpetuated by NM groups center the idea that medical professionals, schools and even other parents who accept their LGBTQ+ kids are “grooming” children to be LGBTQ+ and that transgender identity is spread thorough contact with “transgender ideology” in affirming spaces. In short, the groups claim social affirmation creates new LGBTQ+ kids by exposing them to “sexualized” identities. To stop that from happening, the groups argue, affirming spaces and expression should be censored, if not eliminated entirely. The message is given weight when it is repeated by groups that claim to be composed of LGBTQ+ “whistleblowers” such as Gays Against Groomers.

NM groups have weaponized the experiences of LGB people and, especially, detransitioners to support the idea that transgender kids are being “recruited” or infected with an opportunistic social contagion. The social affirmation conspiracy framing often ends with the absurd claim that identifying as LGBTQ+ will result in grave “irreparable” harm. To this end, and much like the anti-abortion movement, NM groups share graphic stories and depictions (e.g., infections and surgical scars) on social media without context, claiming they are representative of complications from medical transition procedures.

Two groups help demonstrate these narratives and strategies: International Partners for Ethical Care (IPEC) and Advocates Protecting Children (APC). IPEC is a Chicago-based organization founded in 2020 by Sheryl Throckmorton of the Kelsey Coalition, Erin Brewer, Maria Keffler, Alexandra Hecht (Aharon) and Jeannette Srivastava. The group was founded with the explicit mission to “stop” gender identity affirmation by “schools, hospitals, and mental and medical health care providers.”

IPEC led an advocacy campaign in 2021 for Ohio’s SAFE Act with Cardinal Support Network, which is led by Sharon Beck, wife of SEGM’s treasurer Stephen Beck. IPEC also leads the so-called Transition Justice Project, which engages in a narrative manipulation strategy of promoting one-sided[88] detransition narratives and refers clients to legal services that help generate cases challenging gender-affirming care, typically through malpractice lawsuits targeting health care providers. IPEC also cross-promotes the work of many of the groups in the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network. For example, IPEC’s YouTube channel frequently features members of SEGM and ACPeds, and the group promotes the work of the Family Policy Alliance and Child & Parental Rights Campaign.[89]

Keffler and Brewer – the latter often says she is a “former trans kid” – cofounded Advocates Protecting Children (APC) in 2021. The group claims to be mostly “moms and teachers” who support churches, schools, and families seeking “facts and guidance on responding to gender ideology and activism.” APC’s advisory board includes Michelle Cretella and Andre Van Mol of ACPeds; Jennifer Morse of Ruth Institute (also a member of ACPeds); Carolyn Pela of the International Federation for Therapeutic Counselling and Choice (IFTCC), a conversion therapy advocacy group; Elizabeth Woning, an “ex-gay” minister and board member with Van Mol and Pela of IFTCC and the California-based Moral Revolution; and Jennifer Bauwens of FRC.

In addition to linking to Genspect and IPEC materials, the group hosts multiple podcasts. One, called Transjacked, shares one-sided detransition stories. One called Commonsense Care amplifies anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience. In a May 5, 2022, episode of the podcast titled “Role-Playing the Coming-Out Speech,” Brewer and Keffler play parts in a “coming out” dramatization in which Keffler portrays the mother of a trans youth and Brewer portrays the young person. In the skit, Brewer’s dialogue and tone seem to imply that transgender people are being led astray by doctors, teachers, their friends, and social networks. The point of the skit is to seemingly suggest that social affirmation creates new LGBTQ+ people from confused kids.

APC similarly curates a webpage of memes – easily sharable on social media platforms – that attack trans people and inclusive education practices.[90] The “translating transspeak” series includes a meme claiming affirmation really means “a person is so inherently and irrevocably flawed that it’s necessary to kill off the person s/he is” and “try to become someone else.” The “once upon a time” series features memes that include: “once upon a time nearly everyone agreed that drag queens are neither safe nor appropriate for children”; “once upon a time adults didn’t teach children that suicide is an appropriate response to not getting everything you want”; and “once upon a time men who tried to gain access to women and children by entering their private spaces were recognized as predators.”

Legal Advocacy and Think Tanks

The same research that underpins the messages of NM groups is generally translated into legal arguments and case law by LATT groups. While NM groups generally attempt to activate like-minded constituencies (like co-religionists, parents and conservative voters), LATT groups – especially through think tanks – help translate pseudoscience into the intellectual mainstream of the American conservative movement. While NM groups tend to focus on singular campaigns or bills, LATT groups are in for the “long haul,” promoting what the Alliance Defending Freedom calls “generational wins,” which shape culture, law and society for a generation.


LATT groups, then, pull double duty. Their legal missions put them at the forefront of the effort to change policy, while their institutional connections to funders, elected officials, private Christian colleges and thought leaders within the broader conservative political movement (e.g., think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society and the Manhattan Institute) help them entrench anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience as conservative ideological orthodoxy.

Once false beliefs about LGBTQ+ identity and health care founded on anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience become polarized (i.e., closely associated with conservative political ideology and Republican Party identification), it will be an unchallenged feature of all future conservative political mobilization. These are the tasks of the LATT groups, and evidence of the strategy is already apparent in the partnerships between think tanks like the Manhattan Institute and R&P groups; employment of R&P group members as subject matter experts in cases challenging LGBTQ+ rights; and in the plans for governance, like Project 2025, jointly drafted by organizations with deep ties to Republican politicians.

Creating a New Orthodoxy

“The most toxic fruit of this [gender] ideology is in medicine. Hence the faddist response to gender discordance called gender-affirming care. Gender affirming is in fact sex denying.”
– Jay W. Richards, Director Heritage Foundation, Research Fellow Discovery Institute, January 27, 2023, testimony to the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee.

“A generational win achieves a significant victory that changes the law and culture of our nation for a generation. It is sustained by deliberate acts so that the victory endures for generations to come.”
– Alliance Defending Freedom, “What is a Generational Win,” July 10, 2020.

In a June 1, 2023, tweet, Dr. Colin Wright of SEGM, Genspect, and previously an editor for FAIR, replied to X owner Elon Musk’s call to criminalize gender-affirming care: “I would love to work with you on this ... I’m now working with others like [Leor Sapir] at the Manhattan Institute to expose the incredibly flimsy evidence behind ‘gender-affirming care’ and the ideological capture of our medical institutions and journals lending credence to it.” Wright continued, “We are dedicated, non-partisan experts working around the clock on this. We can help bring you up to speed on this issue and the most effective ways to resolve it.”

In a Wall Street Journal editorial published on June 9, 2023, Wright and Sapir lampooned federal Judge Robert Hinkle’s opinion striking down Florida’s Medicaid rule barring payments for gender-affirming care and attacking Springer Nature for retracting J. Michael Bailey’s flawed ROGD study.[91] The editorial did not disclose Wright‘s membership in SEGM, that SEGM members contributed expert defense testimony to the Florida case, that Wright and Sapir signed FAIR’s letter to Singer opposing the retraction, nor that Wright formerly worked for FAIR. Sapir’s solo-authored June 28, 2023, opinion column in The Hill questioning affirming health care for LGBTQ+ people and linking to the SEGM website similarly did not mention the connection between the Manhattan Institute and SEGM.[92]

The Manhattan Institute was founded in 1978 and has been led by Reihan Salam since 2019. The group spends more than $14 million per year operating research and policy programs on economics, policing and medicine, among others, with associated scholars and fellows that have helped translate conservative intellectual pursuits into public policy.[93] Most notably, the Institute adopted and helped turn James Q. Wilson’s “broken windows theory” of policing – a problematic[94] notion which suggests broken windows in vacant buildings are a sign of lenient law enforcement and that active policing of small infractions will prevent more serious criminal activity – into a top conservative theory of governance.

Since then, in addition to Wright and Sapir, the Manhattan Institute’s Chris Rufo helped inject anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience into the intellectual mainstream of American conservatism. Notably, Rufo’s work at the Manhattan Institute helped solidify both opposition to anti-racist education and LGBTQ+ inclusion among the conservative cognoscenti – often by obfuscating key details that muddy his points in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.[95]

An April 2022 New York Times profile of Rufo noted that his “association with the Manhattan Institute provided ‘intellectual cover’ for flawed and inflammatory work.” Quoting conservative Charlie Sykes, the article says, working at the Manhattan Institute “gives him this veneer of being a conservative scholar ... He basically says, ‘Anything you don’t like about race becomes CRT [critical race theory].’ Now all of your anxieties about sexuality or gender become grooming.”[96]

The American Enterprise Institute provides a similar laundering of pseudoscientific claims and far-right messaging, especially about the supposed “woke” ideological infiltration of the American education system, through a cadre of fellows and scholars. Often viewed as a well-established center-right organization, AEI was instrumental in the development of the Federalist Society and its dramatic reshaping of conservative legal orthodoxy in the 1980s.[97] In 2023, the think tank’s fellows published editorials claiming LGBTQ+ books are not really being banned in the United States. Instead, AEI argues that “there’s plenty to get worked up about and plenty that divides us,” like schools “facilitating gender transitions without parental notification or consent.”[98] Another 2023 op-ed cites the antigovernment extremist group Parents Defending Education to argue that “transgender policies” are the “hill that public education dies on.”[99] Another uses Socratic dialogue to argue that “[t]he reason to believe that men cannot be women and women cannot be men is biology.”[100]

Most notably, in August 2021, psychiatrist, AEI senior fellow and FAIR in Medicine member Dr. Sally Satel, who is also active in the group Open Therapy Institute,[101] published an op-ed decrying counseling programs that recognize the impact of systemic racism in their professional development and training, claiming that “more and more counselors encourage their patients to understand their problems as a consequence of an oppressive society” and lauding FAIR’s legal work challenging anti-racism education. She also claimed that a raft of “new organizations,” like FAIR, are needed to “rebuff politicized narratives” in various medical professions.[102]

Some think tanks that have helped push anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscientific narratives are not directly represented in the personnel network; rather, they come into view when the network expands to include informal connections such as guest appearances and conference presentations. For example, the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network hosted Dr. Michael Laidlaw, Dr. Colin Wright and detransitioner Helena Kerschner on a March 4, 2022, panel called “Questioning the Science of the Gender Industry.”[103] While Kerschner relayed their medical transition experience after turning 18, Laidlaw repeated claims about gender and sex binarism that erases intersex people, and Wright claimed using pronouns in introductions was “clearing the way for the whole gender ideology, just to steamroll right through.”

These vignettes illustrate how the intellectual networks of the far right incorporate anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience. Because of the deference to these organizations, their leaders and their funding, the dominant ideas within these institutions often find their way into public policy and judicial interpretations. Similar programs exist at the Heritage Foundation – which has increasingly upped its promotion of anti-LGBTQ+ causes by pushing pseudoscience (including its creation of Project 2025), attempting to drive a wedge in the LGBTQ+ community, and sponsoring content by one of the most demonizing anti-LGBTQ+ content creators on the internet in recent years, a social media account known as LibsofTikTok.[104]

The Heritage Foundation has also directly advocated anti-LGBTQ+ policies federally (i.e., through Project 2025) and in state legislatures. For example, on January 27, 2023,[105] Heritage Director Jay Richards appeared before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee to support a ban on gender-affirming care. Richards, who is a researcher at the Discovery Institute, a key institution in the development of the “creation science movement,” testified that a “dangerous [gender] ideology” that displaces the male/female binary is “behind” what he characterized as an “alarming” increase in “diagnoses of gender dysphoria” in recent years. He also claimed that parents and trans kids “often receive misleading information” about gender-affirming care from their doctors, which he describes as “emotional blackmail.”

In addition to Richards, Drs. Miriam Grossman and Daniel Weiss of Do No Harm, Dr. Jennifer Bauwens of Family Research Council, Joseph Kohm of Family Policy Alliance, Jessie Browning of Moms for Liberty, David Reece of the Changed Movement, and Erin Brewer of Advocates Protecting Children all appeared at the hearing in opposition to gender-affirming care. Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, concluded the in-person testimony by commending the detransitioners and “professionals” who appeared at the hearing while warning that Montana schools were “grooming” kids to be trans.

The Funding

The Heritage Foundation also routinely funds NM and other LATT groups in the network, recently including Moms for Liberty and the Independent Women’s Forum in 2022, the Alliance Defending Freedom in 2020 and 2022,[106] and Concerned Women for America between 2019 and 2021.[107] The Heritage Foundation also regularly receives contributions from the standard-bearers of American right-wing philanthropy. DonorsTrust, for example, gave the group more than $300,000 in 2021 and 2020.[108] The National Philanthropic Trust also gave the Heritage Foundation over $1 million between 2020 and 2022[109] while the Charles Koch Foundation gave the group more than $600,000 in 2020. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Bradley Impact Fund also gave about $450,000 to the Heritage Foundation in 2021.[110]

Many of the LATT groups are funded by the same major donors. AEI’s work in 2021 was partially funded by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation,[111] DonorsTrust,[112] the Bradley Foundation,[113] and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.[114] DonorsTrust also provided funding to the American Principles Project, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Independent Women’s Forum, the Leadership Institute, and the Manhattan Institute in 2021.[115]

The Independent Women’s Forum also received funding from Americans for Prosperity,[116] the Charles Koch Institute,[117] the Bradley Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation[118] in 2021, while the Koch Institute and Bradley Foundation also contributed to the Ethics and Public Policy Center that same year.[119] The Walton Family Foundation specifically earmarked $300,000 for the Manhattan Institute’s “K-12 education reform policy agenda” in 2021. The same year, the National Philanthropic Trust gave about $3 million to organizations in the network including ADF, the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Manhattan Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

In 2020, DonorsTrust gave $750,000 to the Discovery Institute, $500,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, and $230,000 to the Independent Women’s Forum.[120] In addition to Heritage Foundation, that year, the Charles Koch Institute contributed $275,000 to the Alliance Defending Freedom, $150,000 to the Independent Women’s Forum, nearly $400,000 to the Manhattan Institute, $500,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, and $1.3 million to the Edward Charles Foundation (which funded SEGM that year).[121]

Some of the groups shared their largess with others in the network, including the ADF and the Heritage Foundation. The diffusion of anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience is further assisted by training programs and seminars offered by LATT groups to young people and students that help promote their ideas among future generations of conservative thinkers. Most notable among those efforts is the Alliance Defending Freedom and its sprawling network of attorneys.

The Outsized Role of ADF

The Alliance Defending Freedom saw its revenue grow by over $25 million from 2020 and 2021.[122] In addition to litigation, the group has authored laws barring trans kids from playing school sports and banning abortion, trained thousands of attorneys in the language and legal theories of the religious right through programs like the Blackstone Legal Fellowship – whose former faculty include indicted former Trump attorney John Eastman[123] – and built up an international network of attorneys and lobbyists to advance its causes from school boards to the United Nations.

It is no wonder that Dr. Andre Von Mol credited ADF by name when he discussed the network of organizations that made the contemporary anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network so effective. In advancing the work of the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network, ADF serves several important functions, including funding and coordinating cases that help shape public opinion and popularizing pseudoscientific language in legal cases.

Funding Cases That Influence Attitudes

ADF’s funding strategy follows the organization’s mission of defining “religious freedom” as a conservative Christian exemption to nondiscrimination laws, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBTQ+ advocacy. It regularly uses its growing pool of resources to fund a proxy campaign waged by local law firms toward these ends. ADF claims to have over 3,000 affiliated attorneys across the country. Their lawsuits introduce pseudoscientific claims into the legal system and allow new legal theories and evidence to be tested, which potentially influence public opinion. Importantly, the moral panic that ADF’s funding helps generate has, at least on one occasion, resulted in legislative proposals to restrict trans rights which seem to organically arise in response to local concerns.

Notably, in 2019, ADF gave $33,000 to a law firm in Dallas, Texas, representing the father of a trans child who was seeking sole custody because his ex-wife, a pediatrician, affirmed the child’s identity. After a jury awarded custody to the child’s mother, a judge set aside the ruling. The ensuing public interest led two Texas state lawmakers to promise legislation banning puberty blockers and listing “transitioning a minor” as child abuse.[124] One of the lawmakers, Matt Krause, helped wage a pressure campaign to shut down the state’s largest affirming care provider in 2021,[125] and in August 2023, Texas became the most populous state to ban gender-affirming care.[126]

In addition to local and regional law firms, between 2020 and 2021, ADF gave more than $160,000 to Child & Parental Rights Campaign (CPRC) for its work related to issues of “family values.” The grants represent nearly one-quarter of the organization’s revenue for that two-year period and helped the group file amicus briefs on behalf of detransitioners, testify at legislative hearings, and represent so-called “whistleblowers,” like Jamie Reed of Genspect. In July 2022, CPRC submitted an amicus brief in the case Ekness-Tucker v. Ivey and in December 2022, ADF intervened in the case to help defend the state of Alabama’s gender-affirming care ban.[127]

Similarly, in 2021, ADF contributed $50,000 to the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), whose associated attorneys have filed cases against doctors who provide gender-affirming care. WoLF’s partnership with the Independent Women’s Forum in 2022 produced the “Women’s Bill of Rights,” as well as model legislation proposed in Kansas and Oklahoma in 2023 to “ensure that ‘sex’ in state and federal law is interpreted based on biology rather than gender identity.”[128]

Also in 2021, ADF gave nearly $8,000 to the Ethics and Public Policy Center, whose director Ryan T. Anderson wrote and produced numerous anti-LGBTQ+ articles and programs while a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, helping to insinuate anti-LGBTQ+, and especially anti-trans, pseudoscience into the organization’s work. His book, When Harry Became Sally, advances several pseudoscientific arguments about transgender identity and praises the “old guard” conversion therapists including Paul McHugh, whom Anderson says “got it right” about transgender identity being a mental illness.[129]

Social and legal scholars have taken great pains to detail how ADF shapes conservative legal thought.[130] In addition to funding, through its participation in groups like the Council for National Policy and Federalist Society and by operating programs like the Blackstone Legal Fellowship that trains law students from across the country, ADF helps set the agenda for what issues are important to litigate and the legal strategies, theories and evidence that could be marshaled to win.

Since its founding, the organization (and many others in the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network) has prioritized weakening the so-called “phony” wall separating church and state.[131] Anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience once again offers an opportunity to blur the lines between church and state by establishing LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness to be cured, privileging the beliefs of conservative Christian therapists over the health care needs of LGBTQ+ people, and encoding conservative hetero- and cisnormative Christian beliefs about gender and sexuality into American law.

Chapter 6: Policing Sex, Sexuality, and Gender: The Future of the Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Movement | Home


[1] Alumkal, Anthony. (2017). Paranoid Science: The Christian Right’s War on Reality. New York, NY: NYU Press.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Veldman, Robin Globus. 2019. The Gospel of Climate Skepticism: Why Evangelical Christians Oppose Action on Climate Change. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

[4] Oldfield, Duane Murray. (1996). The Right and the Righteous: The Christian Right Confronts the Republican Party. New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield. Bennett, Daniel. (2017). Defending the Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press. Hollis-Brusky, Amanda and Joshua C. Wilson. (2020). Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law and Legal Culture. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Nelson, Anne. (2019). Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

[5] We did not count appearing in the legal briefs challenging LGBTQ-inclusive policies as an author connection. Instead, we focused on organizational affiliations listed by the author upon publication of their respective research or commentary article.

[6] One of the seven authors, Dr. Robert D’Angelo, listed the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis as their primary affiliation and SEGM as their secondary affiliation. The other authors who listed SEGM as a professional affiliation are: Ema Syrulnik, Sasha Ayad, Lisa Marchiano, Dianna Theadora Kenny, Patrick Clarke, and E. (Zhenya) Abbruzzese.

[7] In addition to the seven authors who claimed primary or secondary affiliation with SEGM in their publications, six authors in our sample are SEGM directors or advisory members. Those authors are Michael Biggs, Richard Byng, Stephen B. Levine, William J. Malone, Julia W. Mason, and Sven Roman.

[8] Articles of Incorporation of Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, an Idaho Nonprofit Corporation. File 1/27/202. (Accessed 8/20/2023). See also: Ghorayshi, Azeen. August 3, 2023. “Medical Group Backs Youth Gender Treatments, but Calls for Research Review.” The New York Times. (Accessed 8/20/2023). McCall, Becky and Lisa Nainggolan. April 26, 2021. “Transgender Teens: Is the Tide Starting to Turn?” Medscape Medical News. (Accessed 8/20/2023).

[9] Beck’s spouse, Sharon, leads Cardinal Support Network, an Ohio-based organization that advocates so-called “talk” conversion therapy and lobbies against gender affirming care in partnership with Partners for Ethical Care, and is a leader in the largely online community which takes its name from Lisa Littman’s pseudoscientific diagnosis known as Parents of ROGD [Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria] Kids.

[10] Jones, Zinnia. January 11, 2023. “Anti-trans group SEGM’s cofounder Stephen Beck is an executive at Bon Secours Mercy Health, the fifth-largest Catholic healthcare network in the US.” Gender Analysis. (Accessed 8/20/2023).


[12] Moore, Mallory. August 26, 2021. “SEGM uncovered: large anonymous payments funding dodgy science.” Trans Safety Network. (Accessed 8/21/2023).

[13] A donor advised fund that has previously accepted contributions from the National Christian Foundation, another donor advised fund with a storied history as one of America’s largest funders of anti-LGBTQ extremist groups. See: Moritz-Rabson, Daniel. March 20, 2019. “U.S.’s Biggest Christian Charity Reportedly Channeled %56.1 Million to Purported Hate Groups.” Newsweek. (Accessed 8/21/2023).

[14] Leveille, Lee and Quinnehtukqut McLamore. February 7, 2023. ” SEGM Exposed Reloaded: The Shadow Money Behind a Leading Anti-Trans Think Tank.” Health Liberation Now! (Accessed 8/21/2023).

[15] See: ; ;;

[16] SEGM’s GoFundMe page, which has received nearly $50,000 in donations as of September 2023, appears to be the source of Paypal support.

[17] Narmubiru, Lydia. July 5, 2023. ”Charity Loophole lets US Donors Give Far-Right Groups $272m in Secret.” Open Democracy. (Accessed 8/21/2023).



[20] Citations:


[22] See:

See Also:







[29] Paterson, Alex. August 16, 2019. ”Right-wing and evangelical media helped land anti-trans parent group the Kelsey Coalition in USA Today.” Media Matters. (Accessed 9/7/2023).

[30] See also:

[31] Alumkal (2017); Nelson (2019)


[33] For example, reporting by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2023 showed that one anti-LGBTQ group that frequently engages in litigation to subvert LGBTQ civil rights, Alliance Defending Freedom, solicited policy position papers that purposed to “substantiate” several legal argument, including that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act should not be interpreted to include sexual orientation or gender identity, from another anti-LGBTQ group, the American College of Pediatricians, which bills itself as a professional organization of medical providers and researchers, but in fact, lobbies against gender affirming care and abortion rights. See: Cravens, R.G. June 5, 2023. “Documents Reveal ADF Requested Anti-trans Research from American College of Pediatricians.” Hatewatch Southern Poverty Law Center. (Accessed 8/22/2023).

[34] e.g. Sasha Ayad’s Inspired Teen Therapy website prominently links to her co-authored book with Lisa Marchiano and Stella O’Malley, When Kids Say They’re Trans

[35] The article only mentions ROGD in the discussion and conclusion sections.

[36] ICGDR notes it funds research out of the $70,000 it rasied from contributions in 2021.

[37] D’Angelo has shared views on social media suggesting ”gender idenity is a myth” and ”vulnerable youth are at risk from queer ideology.”

[38] Baptist Joint Committee. Report on Christian nationalism and the January 6 insurrection.


[40] While many in the network claim gender exploratory therapy is not conversion therapy, numerous SEGM, GETA, and Genspect members and studies are cited by ACPed’s ”Biological Integrity” project to support the fundamentalist Christian-inspired claim that gender is set in stone at the ”moment of fertalization“ and that conversion therapies like gender exploratory therapy are necessary to maintain the ”biological integrity” of trans and gender non-conforming people.



[43] See:

; Southern Poverty Law Center. N.D. ”American College of Pediatricians Extremist File.” (Accessed 8/21/2023).

[44] The name comes from the location of a conference Genspect organized as counterprogramming to the World Professional Asscoiation for Transgender Health (WPATH) conference on April 27-29, 2023 in Killarney, Ireland. The conference, called ”The Bigger Picture,” featured Lisa Littman, Ken Zucker, Stella O’Malley, Sasha Ayad, Julia Mason, Joe Burgo, and others with associations to many of the Research & Practice Groups ( Building on that conference, the Killarney Group is intends to publish ”a non-medical guide (the Gender Care Framework) to rival WPATH’s Standards of Care 8“ at its November 2023 conference in Denver, CO (



[47] Gender Exploratory Therapy Association. N.D. “GETA Membership Statement.” 

[48] Burgo, Joseph interviewed by FAIR. The Error & Failures of WPATH. (January 2023)

[49] See Joseph Burgo interviewed by Stella O’Malley and Sasha Ayad. June 9, 2022. Gender a Wider Lens. “EPISODE 73 - Shame Narcissism and the Transition Fantasy w Joe Burgo.” See Gender Exploratory Therapy Association. N.d. “Membership Statement.” (Accessed 8/21/2023).

[50] See Sasha Ayad and Stella O’Malley. December 18, 2020. Gender: A Wider Lens. ”Episode 2: Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.” ”Episode 121: Practical Advice for Managing Gender Identity in Schools with Dr. Kate Goonan.”

[51] See: Sasha Ayad and Stella O’Malley. January 22, 2021. Gender: A Wider Lens. ”Episode 7: Collective Collusion.” See Burgo (2023) interview with FAIR.

[52] Leveille, Lee. April 2, 2022. “Leaked audio confirms Genspect director as anti-trans conversion therapist targeting youth.” (Accessed 8/21/2023). Piper, Ernie. July 25, 2023. ”‘Focus relentlessly on under 25’: Leaked chats reveal influential gender-critical group’s plan to use children to push for bans on transitioning.” Daily Dot. (Accessed 8/21/2023).

[53] Southern Poverty Law Center. N.d. “Anti-LGBTQ Ideology.” (Accessed 8/21/2023).



[56] View EO 12866 Meeting 0945-AA17.


[58] ;




[62] Shrier, Abigail. October 11, 2021. “We Must Win the Gender War.” Washington Examiner. (Accessed 8/20/2023).

[63] This generally refers to the notion that conservative parents should have more control over the direction and content of public programs like education, a political agenda that has resulted in censorship and restrictions on anti-racist and LGBTQ-inclusive curricula in public schools, universities and in corporations. See Schultz, Brooke. November 14, 2022. “Explainer: The history behind ‘parent’s rights’ in schools. AP. (Accessed 8/13/2023). Bouie, Jamal. March 28, 2023. “What the Republican Push for ‘Parent’s Rights’ is Really About.” New York Times. (Accessed 8/13/2023).

[64] Ibid.

[65] Arnold, Joshua. July 20, 2023. “SAFE Act Explosion: 72% of Red States Now Protect Minors from Gender Transition Procedures.” The Washington Stand. (Accessed 8/22/2023).



[68] See, for example,the argument of Aliance Defending Freedom:


[70] Link to VA Case Study



[73] Mother Jones article. The same email leak confirming their place in the shadow network also exposed the group’s consultations with R&P and other NM groups to craft its messaging. In 2019, Kelsey Coalition posted a “summary of concerns” about “young people” identifying as trans and non-binary on its website. The statement conflated trans/non-binary identities and mental illness, arguing that “underlying factors and non-invasive therapeutic options” should be pursued by trans people “of all ages” before resorting to affirming care. In an August 2019 email to South Dakota representative Fred Deutsch about his gender affirming care ban in the state, the group noted its statment was “reviewed and approved” by Lisa Littman, Michelle Cretella (then-president of ACPeds), J. Michael Bailey, and Sahsa Ayad.

[74] Minnesota Family Council. 2019. ”Responding to the Transgender Issue. Parent Resource Guide.”

[75] Endorsements in the report include Dr. Michael Laidlaw, Sasha Ayad, Michelle Cretella, and SEGM‘s Dr. William Malone, Vernadette Broyles of Child & Parents Rights Camapign, Peter Sprigg of Family Research Council and Family Watch International, Advocates Protecting Children’s Maria Keffler, and Dr. Susan Bradley of Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics.

[76] State Policy Councils were generally founded throughout the 1990s and early 2000s to push the Religious Right’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, ”religious freedom,” and ”parent’s rights” agendas at the state level through lobbying, media outreach, and local networking. They are typically modeled on the Family Policy Alliance and Family Research Council, which pursue similar strategies at the national level. The Family Policy Alliance has also directly established several of the state policy councils or administers their finances from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO.

[77] Many of the same dubious authors, studies, and statistics we idetify in this report are also cited to link transgender and non-binary identities to “autism spectrum disorders,” repeat the debunked desistance myth, and claim “100% of children who use puberty blockers will go on to use cross-sex hormones, leaving them permenantly sterile.” The guide also claims that “denying [trans] kids access” to appropriate public facilities like restrooms is not discrimiantory and promotes the idea that LGBTQ people are predators by claiming that “mixed-sex changing rooms increase the likelihood of sexual offenses.”



[80] Past winners and finalists include America First Legal, BLEXIT Foundation, Libertas Institute, and Parents Defending Education.




[84] ”Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.“ October 20, 2009. (Accessed 8/23/2023).


[86] From Gender Health Query: FAIR El Paso/Teller County, CO chats:


[88] One-sided, because the groups only promote the idea that detransition and desistance happen because people stop identifying as transgender. Research shows people detransition largely because of experiences with anti-trans stigma, discrimination, and negative family pressure - not because trans people stop identifying as transgender. See: Fenway Health. April 7, 2021. “New Study Shows Discrimination, Stigma, and Family Pressure Drive “Detransition” Among Transgender People.” (Accessed 8/22/2023).

[89] Vernadette Broyles, president of CPRC, is part of the shadow lobbying network descirbed below and referred to transgender people as a ”threat to our kids and our culture” at the 2020 Eagle Forum summit. The solution to this problem, according to Broyles, is to pass so-called Vulnerable Child Protection Acts which ban gender affirming care and, in some cases, criminalize the provision of such care.


[91] Sapir, Leor and Collin Wright. June 9, 2023. ” Medical Journal’s False Consensus on ‘Gender-Affirming Care.’” Wall Street Journal. (Accessed 8/23/2023).

[92] In an August 23, 2023 podcast for Quillette, it was revealed that Wright is in a relationsihp with journalist Christina Buttons, who is an advisoary board member of GDA with Drs. Lisa Littman and Ray Blanchard, an editoral board member of Springer’s Archives of Sexual Behavior with J. Michael Bailey. Notably, Buttons and Wright are interviewed by host Jonathan Kay. In addition to hosting Quillette’s podcast, Kay serves on FAIR‘s board of advisors. Quillette. August 23, 2023. ”Podcast #220: Talking Science and Substacking in ‘Nash Vegas.‘“ (Accessed 8/23/2023).





[97] Steven M. Teles. 2008. The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The battle for control of the law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.




[101] OTI claims to offer ”therapy to individuals who have been marginalized for their viewpoints and conduct workshops in sound psychological treatment for both clinicians and the public.” The group has media, communications, and research teams that also attempt to sway public opinion and entrench far right ideas about ”woke” education corrupting professional medical practices in popular media. The group also works closely with the website Critical Therapy Antidote, founded in 2020, to conduct publicize its work.



[104] Chaya Raichik, creator of the LibsofTikTok account, who led a disinformation campaing targeting children‘s hospitals with gender clinics in 2022 and has called LGBTQ people and their allies “groomers,“ has been heavily featured in Heritage Foundation events ironically decrying dangerous social media platforms. On March 23, 2023 the Heritage Foundation hosted a press conference during which Raichik claimed the social media platform TikTok was allowing transgender people to “groom’” children as well as a discussion between Raichik and Heritage Tech Policy Center Director Kara Frederick called “The Ticking Clock on TikTok: How to Protect Our Kids Online.”


[106] ;

[107] ;


[109] ;

[110] ;












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