Republican Who Lost To Transgender Candidate Pens Op-Ed Full Of Lies

By on November 18, 2017

One of the amazing victories in Virginia’s statewide elections earlier this month was when Danica Roem defeated Bob Marshall. Roem is a transgender woman, and Marshall has been an adamant opponent of all aspects of her existence.

In the wake of her victory, Roem was asked what she thought of her transphobic opponent. She took the high ground in her assessment. “I don’t attack my constituents,” she said. “Bob is my constituent now.”

If only Marshall had taken the same route. Marshall, instead of moving on from his loss with dignity, wrote a letter to the editor in the Washington Post that showcases an angry “take” of his opponent.

“I wonder when Gov.-elect Ralph Northam (D) will open up our highway rest stops and state office building locker rooms and bathrooms to people who think they are the opposite sex, just as they are trying to do in our public school,” Marshall wrote. “Virginians must wake up, not be intimidated and fight this radical transgender agenda for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”

Marshall also chastised Roem for her desire to require insurance companies to cover gender confirmation surgery. “If you think insurance premiums are high now, just wait until Virginia Del.-elect Danica Roem’s legislation to force insurance companies to cover ‘sex change’ operations takes effect,” he wrote. “Will Ms. Roem also cover sex-change reversals to treat the growing incidence of ‘sex-change regret’ by persons who find the “cure” worse than the ‘disease’?”

Marshall’s response to his electoral defeat is disrespectful, not only to his political opponent, but to an entire community of people who have successfully transitioned or intend to do so. It is hatred, plain and simple.

It is also misinformative. Marshall refers to “sex-change regret.” Disregarding the fact that “sex change” is no longer considered a proper description for the transition process, the idea that patients regret their decision is a move that many on the far-right have sought to highlight in order to draw more opposition to the transgender community.

Regret does happen. But it’s not as prevalent as people may believe, not by a longshot.

Marshall referred to an article about “regret” in his letter with a link to a story, in which a doctor from Serbia who also practices in New York has described a sharp increase in transgender patients regretting their decision to have a gender confirmation surgery.

“It can be a real disaster to hear these stories,” said urologist Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic.

But just how prevalent are these stories of regret? Not that rampant. Djordjevic’s anecdotal data refers to just seven cases of regret over the past five years of performing hundreds of surgeries — hardly the catastrophe that former Delegate Bob Marshall implies it to be.

Recent studies about so-called “regret” in patients who have transitioned show that it’s a relatively low number, as minimal as 1 to 2 percent and as high as 4 percent — comparable to the number of people who have shown regret after receiving gastric bypass surgery, as the Huffington Post points out.

In another survey in the UK, only 2 percent of patients who made a transition reported any regrets about doing so. That number is incredibly low 2014 — consider that the same survey found that 65 percent of patients who had elective plastic surgery had regrets.

Yet gastric bypass surgery and elective plastic surgery are not scrutinized to the extent that gender corrective surgery is. The reason? Purely prejudicial.

Marshall’s letter to the editor to the Post is meant to stoke fears and lies about what it means to be a person who is transitioning. It’s meant to evoke passionate opposition to individuals in the transgender community, and to feed doubts into those who are sitting on the fence about supporting rights for the LGBTQ community as a whole.

In reality, the idea of “regret” after gender confirmation surgery is largely mythical. The number of those who do regret their decisions are few, accounting for less than 1 in 50 patients, if that. Marshall should issue a letter of apology for his misleading op-ed, but given his past comments on the issue that isn’t likely to come about.

Instead, transgender community members (and their allies), in Virginia and elsewhere, need to educate against these lies. And hatred must be rejected in all of its forms.

Featured image via Ted Eytan/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)