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This gay boy tried to die- he & his Mom desperate to talk to you – Los Angeles Blade





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This gay boy tried to die- he & his Mom desperate to talk to you
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Her beloved son almost died because she listened to conspiracy theorists & preachers who know nothing about sexual orientation
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Warning: this story contains frank discussion of teen suicide attempts and truthful depictions of anti-gay slurs and bullying that some readers will find traumatizing.
By James Finn | DETROIT – Last February, 16-year-old “Mark” painted his bedroom window black. Terrified he would be painted as a sex offender and bullied, he made himself invisible. He switched to online classes, and he left his room only to eat, often not enough for his growing body.
He never left the house.
In March, his mom “Tammy” came home from her church-secretary job and noticed he hadn’t been out of his room for food. She knocked. No answer. Mark’s dad broke the door down. They found the boy on the floor, unresponsive, barely breathing.
Tammy tells me yesterday that I can’t imagine the terror she felt. If you’re a parent, I bet you can imagine.
An ambulance rushed her boy to the ER, where a crisis team revived him from a massive opiates overdose. The doctors told Mark’s folks that if they’d waited even minutes longer, he would have died.
Mark tells me he meant to die. He wasn’t sending a message, he wasn’t asking for help. He desperately wanted the pain to end, and he believed death was his only road to peace.
As I talk to him on the phone Tuesday, I know his arms, legs, and belly are striped with deep slashes crisscrossed with black stitches. I’m talking to him not two hours after he was discharged from the hospital for cutting himself.
Mark is not a sex offender.
He’s a teenage boy who fell in love with a teenage boy his own age at church. He suffered months of bullying and abuse. He and Tammy reached out to me because they need you to hear their story. They both tell me they need to help other families like theirs.
Tammy swallowed her pride and and confessed her shame so she could help kids like Mark, so please, will you listen?
Mark is a sharp, well informed, articulate high school senior who turned 17 in April. He says that until January, he was a “school jock” with lots of friends. His mom is also super sharp and articulate. Ordinary for the conservative city she was raised in, she’s a committed Baptist active in her church and community service. Mark’s dad is a loving father, ex-military with a good job in the high-end trades.
About a year ago January, Mark was sitting in church youth group listening to a pastor “preach hellfire and brimstone about gay people.” A kid sitting next to him whispered, “This is all bullshit.” Mark nodded and smiled. He and “Patrick” soon became close friends.
One day, Mark told Patrick, “I want to trust you with the biggest secret of my life.”
Before he could get the words out, Patrick finished the thought: “We’re both gay!”
The boys burst out laughing, and within weeks Patrick pulled Mark in for his first kiss. They messaged all the time on Snapchat, typical starry-eyed teenager stuff.
“I miss you so much.”
“Wish we could be together right now.”
“Wish we could be open.”
Patrick took screenshots of a few messages. Maybe to look at them and daydream? I can hear Mark dream a little when he says Patrick’s name. I’m afraid to ask if he’s still in love. I don’t want to hurt him. More.
Tammy tells me the details. After church in January, Patrick’s parents approached her and her husband, “acting very aggressive.” The four parents met for lunch, and Patrick’s folks whipped out his phone and and flashed those Snapchat screenshots. They accused Mark of sexually preying on their son.
Mark tells me his side, trying with little success to keep tears out of his voice. “They had no right to snoop! They thought it was all about sex. I just wanted to love somebody.”
Tammy tells me the screenshots contained nothing sexual.
Patrick’s mom phoned Mark directly — to threaten him. “She told me if I didn’t basically disappear she would tell everybody I was trying to make her son a fag.”
He tells me he painted his window black and made himself invisible because he believed her threats. What could he do as a 16-year-old with zero support, not even from his mom?
She’s ashamed she didn’t support Mark. It takes me half the two-hour phone call to realize that changed only the day before yesterday. Until then, she’d been trying her best to make him stop being gay. She took him to Southern Baptist pastoral counselors. She tried talking him into conversion therapy.
That time he almost killed himself?
She tells me not even the shock of finding her son dying on his bedroom floor could change her. She’d fallen so far down a rabbit hole of misinformation that she sincerely — desperately — believed she had to save him from “indoctrination.”
When Mark tells me his side, I can almost see his eyes roll. “I’ve been raised in the straightest, most religious environment known to man, and I’m still gay.”
Tammy tells me, “We’re a Fox News family,” mentioning Republican conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, Moms for Liberty, anti-LGBTQ Instagram accounts, and a newsletter from the far-right American Principles Project.
“I listened to Tucker Carlson say they wanted my son to remove his penis and make him a girl. On Blaze TV, I heard that if my son is gay, that lesbian and gay are a thing of the past, and that they’re taking kids who are gay and trying to make them transgender.”
“You have to understand,” she tells me, choking on the words. “This was my whole world. It’s how I was raised. It’s the only thing I knew.”
Mark steps outside for a second so his mom can’t hear him. He sounds disgusted, though I don’t think he wants to. He clearly loves his parents. He desperately wants them to love him back. He tells me one good thing about that horrible time in January:
“I thought my dad was gonna beat [Patrick’s] dad’s ass. He told me he doesn’t even care if it’s true, but he doesn’t want people talking down to me. He wasn’t supportive, but he defended me!”
What I hear is Mark trying to say, ‘See, my dad really loves me!”
“He took it better than my mom. She’s a beautiful person, but she listens to the pastors. The wrong web sites.”
His voice breaks. “This past week, I saw a bunch of changes in my mom. I heard her cuss the pastor. She defended me! She never did that before!”
After Mark almost took his own life, he spent a lot of time on TikTok. He met a few other LGBTQ kids, and he kept hearing about the Rainbow Youth Project.
“I heard on TikTok a trans person say she got help from Rainbow Youth. Then I saw more videos about them. Trevor Project were nice and sent a lot of emails and stuff, but I needed help. I called Rainbow and was on the phone only about 15 minutes and they brought [a psychologist] on. And I was kind of shocked because nobody else did that. I talked to her for about an hour, then she asked me to get my parents’ permission.”
With Mark’s consent, the Rainbow Youth psychologist called his parents, and they initially agreed to counseling. He began intensive therapy, but Tammy was not happy.
“I told him, ‘if [Rainbow Youth counseling] is what’s going to keep you here, then do it,’ but they were the enemy to me at that point. I was convinced they would try to make him a girl. They kept explaining that our son identifies as gay not trans, but it didn’t outweigh what I was seeing everywhere.”
She adds, “He started counseling with [Rainbow] sometime end of April. Three times a week till June. He was high risk for suicide. We signed the consent form. Online counseling from UCLA. We each (my husband and I) did 4 hour-long sessions before Mark started.”
She canceled permission for Mark to talk to his Rainbow Youth psychologist and started taking Mark around to counselors who agreed with her that being gay is not okay.
Two of them were pastors without mental health qualifications. The first one was a disaster.
Tammy says, “I’d never seen my son like that. I sat in the vestibule. Mark was in there for no more than 15 minutes. I heard lots of anger and swearing. My son was angry and crying. He never spoke the whole way home.”
Mark says, “First thing he said to me was, ‘You’re gonna burn in hell if you don’t change right this minute.’ He wanted to pray with me. I told him, ‘You’re the fucking devil.’ ”
The pastor called Tammy and said conversion therapy was the only option. Mark put his foot down. He showed her data about what happens to kids in those programs. He showed her suicide stats and ugly first-person accounts.
She still couldn’t climb out of the rabbit hole, but she didn’t force him.
“When he was cut off from Rainbow, he lost 14 pounds. Stopped eating except snacks. Not talkative.”
“His father and I decided we needed to make sure he was talking to somebody. I was so shocked because I had been so rude with them, and yet they didn’t hesitate and they put him right back with the same counselor and they started that day.”
Mark got better over the summer with regular therapy, but Tammy was still convinced her son was being indoctrinated.
“I hated seeing him happy in being gay. I hated knowing they were affirming that for him. This whole time, I’m seeing a pastor who’s telling me I’m sending my son to hell. ‘Can you live with that? Can you accept that?’ ”
“He stayed in counseling until August 22 when I pulled him out again. They told me they needed to have a teleconference. They called me back, four people with the counselor.”
“One of them told me he tried to kill himself when he was 19. He said, ‘I understand your faith, but I want to tell you God doesn’t hate anybody. Hate almost ended my life. I believe God loves me.’ ”
She almost whispers as she tells me, “He really spoke to me, but I’d just had another newsletter from American Principles with pictures of surgical procedures. It was too much. The counselor told me if we pulled him, he would be at high risk for suicide. I said, preach your propaganda somewhere else. I pulled parental permission.”
She says Mark, “fixed me with the coldest, bleakest stare I’d ever seen. He said, ‘I hope you know you just killed me.’ ”
Mark says he told her, “I’m gay and you can’t change that. You can either help me or I can just wither away.”
Exactly one week ago, Mark came out of his room on a very hot day in a long-sleeved sweatshirt and sweatpants. Tammy immediately thought something was wrong. She called her husband, and they made him take off the heavy clothes. She was horrified to see his whole body covered with self-inflicted slashes, some of them deep and gaping.
She rushed him to the hospital. Doctors sewed up some of the cuts. He was admitted for observation but refused to tell anyone what was going on. Tammy was still struggling inside, but she let him restart Rainbow Youth therapy on Saturday, from the hospital.
On Tuesday, Patrick’s mother followed through on her threat. Lying in his hospital bed, Mark read an email Patrick’s family sent to him and everyone at church.
He chokes as he tells me what was in it. “They called me a sexual predator.”
He tells me he lashed out. “Yesterday at the hospital I was dreaming about that preacher telling me I was going to hell, and then I woke up and couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I grabbed a pencil and started stabbing.”
Tammy’s pastor called her and asked the family not to come back to church.
She lost it:
“With every ounce of energy in me, I told him if he did not take Christ’s most important value of love, he could shove [the Bible] straight up his ass. He told me Satan got to me. I said if Satan taught me to love my son, I’m OK with that.”
She sobs as she repeats those words to me.
Mark says she “cussed him out.” He sounds astonished by joy. She defended him! She believed him! She loved him!
I learned yesterday from Rainbow Youth that his therapist is seeing him daily because she believes he’s still at high risk for suicide. She’s recommended inpatient care, but Mark refuses. He’s internalized some of the nastiness the “rabbit hole” is full of, and he’s worried Child Protective Services will show up, that police cars will pull into his driveway, and he’ll be taken from his home — even though he’s done nothing wrong.
Can you blame him? In the meantime, Tammy has him home, and she’s desperate to ask parents like her to climb out of rabbit holes of misinformation and fear mongering.
Her beloved son almost died because she listened to conspiracy theorists and preachers who know nothing about sexual orientation and gender identity. Mark suffered for months, Tammy blames herself, and she begs other parents to do better for their children than she did.
As for Patrick? Not long ago, he was hospitalized for two weeks under mysterious circumstances. Mark has no idea why or if he’s okay. But the rabbit hole is deep, and wide, and everywhere. He’s afraid his first love’s parents are caught in it, unable to find their way out.
If you’re an LGBTQ young person in immediate crisis with thoughts of suicide or self harm, please dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Hotline. You can reach Rainbow Youth at (317) 349–4073. Or visit their website. Response times are fast, and access to professional mental health care is free.

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James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]
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The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.
Queerness of Gen Z being used to promote school privatization
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“Students are at the forefront of standing up for LGBTQ-inclusive education, and they need the adults in public schools on their side”
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By Michelle Clifford | LINCOLN, Ne. – The queerness of Gen Z is being used as a wedge issue to promote school privatization. Nebraska is one of only five states to resist charter schools and is consistently one of the highest ranked states for public education. But homophobia and transphobia run rampant here, and the effort to use prejudice to attack public schools is growing. 
For those who aren’t actively interested in educational policy and practice, a bit of background: charter schools, voucher programs, and other measures toward privatization are adored by politicians on both sides of the aisle, as they are funded by liberal and conservative billionaires.
Generally, proponents of charter schools say that schools will perform better with the competition that the free market creates. In many ways, this is directly at odds with the ideal of education for all, because “markets exist to create inequalities – they thrive by creating winners and losers.”
Charter school opponents point specifically to enrollment inequalities: charters are typically given the same per-pupil funding as the state provides to public schools, but they tend to enroll fewer students in special education and others whose needs account for a larger share of that funding. Opponents also point to myriad examples of lack of oversight, falsified enrollment records, and subsequent embezzlement of taxpayer money
The push for charters in Nebraska comes from wealthy conservatives, as well as religious groups that are looking for taxpayer money to fund their tax-exempt organizations. Pete Ricketts started pushing for school privatization even before becoming governor; he and Mike Groene funded and founded the Platte Institute in 2007, which was labeled a “stink tank” by watchdog groups.
The Platte Institute claims to be a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, but is involved in lobbying state legislators for school privatization (despite regulations on the political activity of nonprofits), and is connected to the State Policy Network, ALEC, and the Koch brothers. Even though out-of-state right-wing special interests drive the Platte Institute and there is ample evidence of Nebraskans’ support for their public schools, some local media have bought into Ricketts’s propaganda for charters. 
Our mainstream media also has a habit of casually reporting on extremist groups without questioning their actions: Protect Nebraska Children (a fake-grassroots organization that has ties to hate group Family Watch International) has a new political action committee to put more anti-public school extremists, like Kirk Penner, onto public school boards. They are, of course, also aided by funding from the Ricketts family.
Protect Nebraska Children has routinely shown a film which claims that “children’s ‘natural’ aversion’ to sex will prevent abuse” to argue against consent being taught in sex education classes. They also oppose anything to do with LGBTQ+ identities being acknowledged in schools, and were integral to spreading the false rumor that “furries” were taking over public schools
And they are in good company in Nebraska. At the end of August, the archdiocese of Omaha released a new anti-LGBTQ policy for all Catholic schools, requiring “staff to act toward a person according to their biological sex at birth,” and including gendered rules for how students are allowed to “act, dress, and use bathrooms.” Students will also not be allowed to “promote, advocate, or endorse a view contrary to the Catholic Church’s teachings, including on human sexuality” on social media.
The archdiocese claims that this decision is “in part, so that parents can make a decision on whether or not to keep their kids in Catholic schools.” But parents’ decision-making for their queer students is complicated, as anti-LGBTQ policy isn’t confined to just private religious schools.
Grand Island Public Schools just made national news for shutting down their school newspaper and ending their journalism program after students published writing addressing LGBTQ issues, using their adopted names, rather than their dead names. Administration at Northwest High School in Grand Island offered no formal explanation for their decision, but the Grand Island Independent, which had printed the school newspaper, received an email at the end of May explaining that “the program was cut because the school board and superintendent are unhappy with the last issue’s editorial content.”
These stories are part of a larger national trend in which adults seek to harm the educational rights of LGBTQ students in the name of “parental rights” in public schools (these same adults are also vocal opponents of Critical Race Theory, which is a legal framework that is not taught in K-12 schools, but has become a catch-all term for accurate teaching of history).  
There are occasional glimmers of hope for student rights in Nebraska, such as the statement from Kearney Public Schools about their school libraries after attacks from conservative extremists.
Recently, the Nebraska GOP put out a tweet, claiming that pornography is in school libraries after hunting for an example of young adult literature that included sexual topics. They shared a page from the graphic novel GenderQueer, in which the narrator describes the awkwardness of a first sexual encounter, compared to the fantasy they had in their mind. The irony of the NEGOP publicly sharing something they consider to be pornography is not lost on us, but that is not the issue at hand.
Rather, schools are being attacked for potentially housing a graphic novel in their libraries, which is not taught as part of curriculum and which contains information for LGBTQ students that may otherwise not be accessible. Kearney pushed back on the validity of these accusations, saying, “(KPS) serves a number of students in the LGBTQ community . . . These books can provide a context by which some student readers can identify with someone . . . who has had similar struggles.” They also defend their media specialists and remind families that they have a unique policy in which parents can request that they must give consent before their child is allowed to check out a book. 
Nebraska schools as a whole allow parents to opt students out of sex education classes and other educational information they might find “controversial.” But for local hate groups, like the Nebraska Family Alliance, this isn’t enough. They are set on limiting all students’ access to information. It is clear that both private and public schools in Nebraska are ready and willing to discriminate against groups of students, especially under pressure from school boards, parents, and “astroturf” organizations.
This discrimination seems likely to grow with the introduction of voucher programs or charters in Nebraska. Earlier this year, a bill to create tax credits for donations to private school scholarship funds was introduced in the Nebraska Legislature. Senator Megan Hunt sponsored an amendment to the bill “prohibiting scholarship funds from going to private schools that discriminated on the basis of race, gender, sexual identity, or disability.” The amendment failed with support from only 17 of our 49 senators. The bill, thankfully, did not pass, but would have resulted in a tax break 14.5 times larger than for donations to public schools, churches, or other charitable organizations. Our legislators are open to tax breaks for the wealthy, lower funding for public schools, and the freedom to discriminate against students in the name of “school choice.”
Nationally, nearly 1 in 6 young people identifies as LGBTQ, and those numbers appear to be growing. Currently, 90% of students in Nebraska attend public schools, and the climate for these students has been largely hostile. GLSEN’s 2019 report on school climate for LGBTQ students in Nebraska shows that 96% of students have heard “gay” used in a negative way. Only 20% of students who reported harassment said that it resulted in adequate staff intervention. 80% of trans students were unable to use a bathroom aligned with their gender.
But the report is not fully negative: about one-third of LGBTQ students said that their school administration was “somewhat or very supportive of LGBTQ students.” 96% were able to identify at least one supportive staff member, and 62% could identify six or more supportive staff members.
All this is to say that public schools should be scrutinized for the ways we fail students, but our commitment – unlike charters – is to serve all students, and for some LGBTQ students, school is a safer place than home. LGBTQ students are, on average, 1.3 times more likely to report parental physical abuse, and LGBTQ teens who experience parental rejection are 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide
Our queer teens are in danger and public schools need to take responsibility. Parental support is vital, but this is not coming from groups arguing for more “parental rights” in the name of exclusionary practices. As a teacher, I do view parents as allies in their child’s education, and I value the concept of parents as a child’s first educator. But in education, parents’ rights do not usurp students’ rights.
A teacher’s job is to serve their students, first and foremost. Currently, students are at the forefront of standing up for LGBTQ-inclusive education, and they need the adults in public schools on their side. 

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The preceding commentary was previously published at SEEING RED and is republished with permission.
It’s a miracle nobody got hurt or worse. (And by the way, LGBTQ folks, PLEASE don’t bring guns to protests. Nothing good can come of it.)
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By James Finn | DETROIT – Do you like cheerleaders? Think they’re wholesome, positive role models for children? If so, I don’t have a problem with you. Oh, I think the whole, “Boys show off athletic prowess while girls dance sexy for them” paradigm is sexist as hell, but to each their own.
Lots of things are sexist, and I know cheerleading has deep roots in American culture. So do beauty contests, the Radio City Rockettes, and other revered institutions that feature scantily clad women and girls performing to sexually titillate men and boys.
(No, stop. Every boy in middle and high school sports knows cheerleaders are sex and status symbols. Not all cheerleaders cheer for that reason, but let’s not be coy about why boys love cheerleaders.)
If you’re cool with that, that’s your decision. If you want your kid in cheerleading or a child beauty pageant, that’s your business and none of mine.
Know what I have a huge problem with? This:
I’ve written tens of thousands of words about the hypocritical premise behind “Don’t Say Gay,” book banning and teacher gagging, but that’s not the subject of today’s column.
I’m writing about drag queens.
Violence, threats, hypocrisy, and downright queer-bashing are off the chain in American culture today, and drag queens are taking heaps of undeserved abuse.
I woke up this morning to news that a mob of angry men in Texas tried to shut down a “kid-friendly drag brunch” yesterday in Roanoke, part of the Dallas- Fort Worth Metroplex.
Some of the protesters were armed, and LGBTQ counter-protesters showed up with guns too, saying they were keeping the entrance to the Anderson Distillery and Grill safe for patrons.
It’s a miracle nobody got hurt or worse. (And by the way, LGBTQ folks, PLEASE don’t bring guns to protests. Nothing good can come of it.)
The restaurant, which does not primarily cater to LGBTQ people, had advertised the brunch for weeks, inviting LGBTQ parents to bring their children and socialize in a kid-friendly atmosphere. The owner, whose son is a drag queen, posted this on Facebook:
It is my intention to welcome people from ALL walks of life into Anderson Distillery & Grill.
The live entertainment that will take place will be similar to a variety show with professional drag artists lip-synching, dancing and performing comedy routines. The show will be hosted by my son, Bailey (a.k.a. Trisha Delish), who will ensure the show remains clean:
No foul language.
No sexual content.
No erotic behavior.
Performers will be fully clothed.
Music will not contain explicit lyrics.
We are a family-owned establishment and enjoy serving other families.
Despite those assurances, anti-LGBTQ activists organized on social media, mostly on Twitter, and families who showed up were met with streams of profanity and accusations of pedophilia. Dallas investigative journalist Steven Monacelli captured disturbing video that he posted to Reddit and Twitter.
Ostensibly, the protest is about protecting children. But some of the protest signs are quite clear in their general opposition to drag queens. pic.twitter.com/ey5B4TWNCh

Part of Steven Monacelli’s Twitter thread documenting Sunday’s protest. Click for video and more photos.
“I’m here to support people who don’t indoctrinate and groom little 8-year-olds,” one protester said when Monacelli asked him why he was threatening people.
Grooming refers to a process sex offenders use to condition children to accept sexual molestation.
The photo above is my collage of contestants in the “Universal Royalty” beauty-pageant series that features events in every major Texas city every year. “You’re never too young to start competing in pageants,” proclaims the Universal website, proving their point with dozens of photos of little girls in hyper-sexual poses.
Are the children in the photos above being sexualized? If I were their parent, I would answer yes, and I would not feel comfortable with their participation.
Is it odd that no mobs of angry men protest children’s beauty pageants? Shouldn’t it be odd? I mean, if mobs of profanity-spitting men are furious that kids are being sexualized by drag queens lip syncing to Liza Minelli and Cher, shouldn’t the above photos launch them into hyperspace?
As to charges of pedophilia? Um, Blanche, who thought it was a good idea to dress 8-year-olds like that? Not drag queens!
Are the Roanoke protestors really angry about child sexualization, or are they furious that drag queens and LGBTQ people are socializing free of shame and stigmatization for a change? Isn’t re-imposing shame their real agenda?
Let me show you one more photo, please, before I wrap up.
If you watch the above video, part of YouTube for Kids, a subdivision of the video platform advertised as safe for small children and toddlers, you’ll see scantily clad Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders teaching girls how to undulate their hips, thrust their pelvises, and otherwise perform erotic dance.
Some of the girls at the workshop, like the child in the hairbow above, appear to be about nine or ten years old.
Watching makes me pretty damn uncomfortable, but you won’t find me protesting outside family-friendly Dallas Cowboy games where the cheerleaders engage in performances that are even more erotic. You won’t find me screaming at parents that I know what’s best for their children.
It’s a free country.
If you’re not queer, that is.
If you’re a parent who enjoys drag and you take your kid to a show advertised as free of eroticism and profanity, expect to screamed at, called a pedophile or groomer, and run a gauntlet of angry men shaming and intimidating you.
This is America? This is the land of the free?
Hey, Texas Republicans, I thought you guys were all about individual liberty. So, why are you demanding (often violently) a say in how other people raise their children?
Let’s make a deal. You lay off drag queens, and I won’t say a word about you chugging cheap beer at football games while your children watch the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders shake their booties in hot pants and crop tops.

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James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]
********************
The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.
Social media execs fiddle while doctors face death threats- will one or a trans child have to die before you take responsibility for violence
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By James Finn | DETROIT – If death threats against pediatricians can’t shock social media execs into action, what can?
Do people have to die, like during the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, before social media platforms take corporate responsibility seriously? When will they look up from their spreadsheets and ledgers and admit their tech has profound, often shocking impact on the real world?
Don’t know what I’m talking about?
A months-long campaign of targeted anti-LGBTQ harrassment is blazing out of control on Twitter and Facebook. Both companies refuse to put out the fire. All year, Chaya Raichik, who tweets as Libs of Tiktok, fed innuendo, misleading statements, and a few outright lies to her 1.3m followers, stoking outrage over summer Pride events that included children’s activities, outrage that led to violence and threats of more violence, outrage that created panic and stampedes at New York City and San Francisco Pride festivals.
Los Angeles Blade editor Brody Levesque recently compared Raichik to the Wicked Witch of the West unleashing flying monkeys in the form of Proud Boys. (The Proud Boys are the violent white supremacists who helped organize the January 6 riots.)
He made that observation shortly after Raichik targeted Boston Children’s Hospital and the Justice Department opened up a criminal investigation. For a hot minute, it looked like at least Facebook had had enough; they suspended her account. But before frightened trans people could stop sighing in relief, Raichik’s account was enabled again, and Facebook called her suspension a mistake.
Let’s back up. According to NPR, “Hospitals and doctors around the country are facing harassment and even death threats over the medical care they offer to transgender kids. In many cases, they have been the subject of posts by a Twitter account called Libs of TikTok … casting gender-affirming care as child abuse and mutilation.”
— When the rules become so unworkable that violence breaks out consistently and predictably in the real world, it’s time to take a step back. —
Raichik, as Libs of Tiktok, is stirring outrage by misleading her followers to believe doctors are performing hysterectomies on underage transgender children. She continued her campaign this week even after being informed that doctors in the U.S. do not perform genital surgery on children under the age of 18.
Gender-affirming medical care for trans youth is life-saving. Every major U.S medical and mental health organization, including the American Medical AssociationAmerican Academy of PediatricsFederation of Pediatric Organizations, and American Psychological Association, supports access to care.
But standards of care do not include genital surgery, which trans advocates and medical specialists say needs to wait until teens grow up — for interesting and complex reasons outside the scope of this story.
If you want to know why trans advocates don’t think genital surgery is appropriate for children, and what “best practice” gender-affirming care actually is for young people, do a Google search. You might just learn something cool!
So Libs of TikTok is striking out at ANOTHER Children's hospital this week, Childrens' National in DC and Maryland, for offering gender affirming care… and because of their attacks and traffic, now the MAIN Children's Hospital in DC's website is down.

This can KILL kids. pic.twitter.com/15ugIifl6f
Tweet of screenshot showing the Children’s National Hospital website knocked offline during a Twitter campaign that stirred up anti-transgender hatred. Doctors and nurses report receiving death threats.
Raichik is stoking fear and hatred over a practice that does not exist, and her flying monkeys are terrorizing nurses and doctors via social media, email, and over the phone. Screamed profanities and death threats started up first at Boston Children’s Hospital a couple weeks ago.
That’s when law enforcement first got involved.
Thursday, Raichik moved on to Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC, accusing them of “mutilating” children with hysterectomies, inciting a wave of harassment that caused the hospital website to crash, leaving critically ill children without access to the patient portal and remote care options for at least many hours.
A Children’s National spokesperson later confirmed to NPR that, “We do not and have never performed gender-affirming hysterectomies for anyone under the age of 18.”
Real life isn’t Hollywood. No glass slippers will wisk Dorothy out of flying-monkey danger. Queer people terrorized by Proud Boys aren’t angry merely because social media feels nasty for us, although it certainly does. We’re frightened that the real world is becoming ever more violent for us. We’re angry that social media executives aren’t taking responsibility for fomenting that violence.
I understand this is not a simple matter.
Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have put rules in place to relieve them of the no-win task of evaluating user conduct based on political views. They don’t want to be seen as favoring either “liberals” or “conservatives,” because they fear how the public would respond, and because they fear political backlash depending on which party is in power in DC at any given moment.
That fear is not unreasonable, but when the rules become so unworkable that violence breaks out consistently and predictably in the real world, it’s time to take a step back.
Raichik’s misleading tweets and posts — that flirt with the rules and skate right up to the line — are perfect examples of a problem that urgently needs addressed.
It’s probably true, as social media execs have told reporters on background, that none of her content, taken in isolation, clearly infringes their rules.
But that’s not a reason to allow violence in the real world to to surge. It’s a reason to revampt the rules, to adjust an overly granular approach to content moderation, to acknowledge responsibility for clear cause-and-effect relationships.
It doesn’t take more than a couple steps back to see that Raichik’s accounts exist for the sole purpose of targeting hatred against LGBTQ people. Even if that’s not apparent from an individual tweet or post, a wider view shows it clearly. Obviously, when Proud Boys show up carrying guns and screaming obscenities at children, something is wrong. When they do so predictably, tied to a particular social media account, something is so wrong action must be taken.
Twitter and Facebook executives: If your rules allow for real-world hate campaigns that inflame violence, the solution is not to wash your hands and says you’re powerless because of your own rules. The solution is to change your rules or change how you enforce them.
Twitter, you guys waited until somebody died on January 6 before you finally banned Donald Trump. Is that’s what it’s going to take with Chaya Raichik? Will a transgender child or the parent of a child have to die before you take responsibility for violence fomented on your platform?

************************
James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]
********************
The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.
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