Vulnerable transgender kids lose when the media hypes hurtful stereotypes

People gathered at the Arizona Capitol on Nov. 2, 2018, to rally for transgender rights.
People gathered at the Arizona Capitol on Nov. 2, 2018, to rally for transgender rights.

When writing from a platform as widespread and widely read as The Arizona Republic, it’s important that the line between a critically thought out opinion and the spread of disinformation not be crossed.

In the instance of Phil Boas’ column (“You can hate Arizona Sen. John Kavanagh, but he's right about schools and pronouns,” Jan. 26) that line was crossed.

Media like The New York Times, political candidates and many of our own legislators in Arizona are intent on continuing to perpetrate this notion that transgender people are misguided, ill or broken.

This could not be further from the truth.

This bill feels like an attack on my family

As a parent, when I learned about Senate Bill 1001, I saw it as yet another attack on our family. How could I not?

It’s another bill that, on its face, is aimed at harming our trans kids by instilling fear in others that schools are somehow “transitioning” their kids behind their backs. It also aims to ”protect” adults in schools who care more about their politics than about treating others with dignity and basic human decency.

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Perpetuating this notion of “parental rights,” as it was framed by candidates such as Kari Lake, state schools Superintendent Tom Horne and others – often right after they had just spoken against other aspects of the LGBTQ+ community – only continues the onslaught of outright misinformation and twisting of facts regarding transgender people.

But I’m not just a parent. I’m also an Arizona public school teacher.

Educators aren't trying to transition kids

Boas’ column arguing for Kavanaugh’s bill assumes that educators have some motivations to further something that Boas seems to want to associate with a greater liberal agenda.

Mr. Boas, there is no educator agenda to hide things from parents. As a teacher, my goal is to work with parents and caregivers in the best interest of their child.

As an educator, I’ve devoted my life to the well-being of children. Schools are working every day to improve the life of kids. There are no processes by which a school or teacher begins “transitioning” a child. The process of transition is a highly complicated one and does involve a team of doctors, therapists and the students’ family.

It should not be left up to politicians.

Students need a safe space to explore

For a child, this usually starts with testing out small things like trying out new clothes or using a new pronoun such as she or her. It is essential that this occur in a safe place, which for many kids is school.

Again, this is not transitioning, this is exploration and critical for the safety and well-being of all kids. According to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health, fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.

When children are affirmed, they thrive.

The idea that schools are transitioning a student secretly to fill some agenda just isn’t true, and it is recklessly irresponsible to write a column implying that.

The bottom line is this bill does nothing to protect parents’ rights. It does everything to further harm and dehumanize trans-people.

Vanessa Anspach, an Arizona public school teacher, and Michael Anspach are parents of a transgender child based in Phoenix. They are volunteers for the Human Rights Campaign. Reach them at

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Transgender youth don't need hurtful stereotypes in column