CNN’s Jake Tapper Slams Ungodly ‘Cruelty’ of GOP Opposition to Teen Transgender Surgery

News & Politics

On Tuesday’s The Lead show, CNN host Jake Tapper did his part to promote transgender surgery for underage teens as he devoted a segment to fretting over Idaho’s push for a state ban. Republicans only stood for “cruelty” and “meanness” that is somehow against God.

Teenage transgender activist Eve Debitt and father Michael Debitt were given an extremely sympathetic forum to complain about the Idaho legislature’s actions with no serious consideration of the view that such surgery causes irreversible harm through amputation.

The CNN host began the segment by playing a clip of the teenager giving testimony claiming that such surgery would be “my final step into the body that I should have been born into.” The teen also employed the trope that if teens don’t get what they want, they’ll kill themselves: 

TAPPER: So, Eve, one of the arguments you hear from opponents of body-altering treatments is that they should wait until you are an adult — 18. Why are they wrong?

EVE DEBITT: Well, because you can’t wait until you’re an adult because you — for the vast majority of trans kids — they won’t be adults without this treatment. I wouldn’t be — I wouldn’t have made it past, like, 14 if I didn’t have that treatment.

TAPPER: Because you would take your own life? Is what you mean?

EVE DEBITT: Yeah.

In one of his follow-ups, as the CNN host slightly pushed back with the opposing point of view, he also undermined conservatives in the same question by hinting that they are being hypocritical on the issue:

A lot of people who testified pointed out the conflict between the bill and Republican lawmakers’ statements on other matters on support for parental rights and freedom. One GOP state lawmaker said that Idaho law says some choices are abusive or inappropriate even for a parent. How do you respond to that?

After the father said the Republicans brought in “fringy characters” who were like “astronauts against space travel,” Tapper claimed conservative cruelty was against any religious faith:

Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things that comes across — and there’s certainly debates that could be had about girls’ athletics and things like that — but when it comes to the cruelty that we see in this debate so often — the meanness about some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It’s really just remarkable and not how any faith teaches us to behave.

Tapper concluded by fondly musing over an anecdote that President George W. Bush had been accepting toward of a former classmate of his who had become transgender

I just remember hearing this story about George W. Bush when he was President — and he had a transgender classmate — you’ve probably heard it. I guess they had the Yale 25the reunion or whatever it was at the White House.

And the transgender woman said … “You might not remember me because back when I was at Yale, I was so-and-so,” and then President Bush — not known for being a huge supporter of LGBTQ rights at the time – said, “Now, you’re you.” I thought that was a special story.

This episode of CNN’s The Lead, was sponsored in part by HughesNetCarvana and ADT. Their contact information is linked.

Transcript follows:

CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper

February 21, 2023

JAKE TAPPER: In our “Health Lead,” the Idaho House has passed a bill that would make it a felony — a felony — for physicians to provide sex assignment surgeries or puberty blockers or hormone treatment to transgender teens under the age of 18. The bill now heads to the Idaho State Senate amid desperate warnings from opponents who say this will lead to an increase in suicide rates among transgender teens.

I’m joined now by Eve Debitt, a transgender teen in Idaho who is directly impacted by this bill and her father Michael Debitt. Thanks to both of you for being here. I know this is not necessarily what a 17-year-old wants to be doing on a Tuesday. And, Eve, you testified before Idaho lawmakers on February 7. I just want to run a little bit of what you said about that bill.

EVE DEBITT, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST (from speech): In less than 24 hours, I will be going on a plane to go to a consultation for SRS — sexual reassignment surgery — which is planned to be taking place in a little over a year. I see this as my final step into the body that I should have been born into. This bill not only threatens to bar me from receiving this care, but also from accessing the hormones that have singlehandedly not only improved but saved by life.

TAPPER: What do you mean by “saved” your life — not just “improved,” but “saved” your life?

(…)

TAPPER: A lot of people who testified pointed out the conflict between the bill and Republican lawmakers’ statements on other matters on support for parental rights and freedom. One GOP state lawmaker said that Idaho law says some choices are abusive or inappropriate even for a parent. How do you respond to that?

MICHAEL DEBITT, FATHER OF TRANSGENDER TEEN: It’s really hard, honestly. I mean, we live in a state that values parental rights and religious freedom, yet the authors of this bill make it really clear that the only parental rights they are in favor of are those that they agree with, and religious freedom, and the only thing they agree with is beliefs that they agree with. So, as a family of faith, and as parents who take parenting seriously, I never thought the state of Idaho would be our biggest enemy in trying to step between us and our kids and raising them.

TAPPER: So, Eve, one of the arguments you hear from opponents of body-altering treatments is that they should wait until you are an adult — 18. Why are they wrong?

EVE DEBITT: Well, because you can’t wait until you’re an adult because you — for the vast majority of trans kids — they won’t be adults without this treatment. I wouldn’t be — I wouldn’t have made it past, like, 14 if I didn’t have that treatment.

TAPPER: Because you would take your own life? Is what you mean?

EVE DEBITT: Yeah.

TAPPER: So, Michael, your daughter started estrogen about three years ago. Where do you think she would be right now if she had not had access to this treatment. And what is your message to the people watching right now who don’t understand — who don’t get it?

(…)

MICHAEL DEBITT: This is evidence-based medicine that we’re talking about. And the witnesses that the proponents of this bill brought in were really fringy characters that literally were suggesting things that went — that flew completely in the face of AMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics. I mean, they’re — this is a skilled group. I think they probably could have found astronauts against space travel if they’d looked long enough. And the thing of it is, that’s setting the standard of care in Idaho to be fringy as opposed to evidence-based medicine — which my wife, who’s a physician — and I love our kids too much to subject them to fringy medicine.

TAPPER: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things that comes across — and there’s certainly debates that could be had about girls’ athletics and things like that — but when it comes to the cruelty that we see in this debate so often — the meanness about some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It’s really just remarkable and not how any faith teaches us to behave.

EVE DEVITT: Yeah, I think it’s interesting that you brought that up because the reason why people are subjecting kids like me — trans kids — to this — this harsh antagonism is because we are the most vulnerable group right now that are okay to attack because, you know, before it was trans kids, it was gay kids. Before then, it was gay adults. And so, as those things have become more normalized, they can’t attack that group anymore. And so we’re just next on the chopping block really.

TAPPER: I just remember hearing this story about George W. Bush when he was President — and he had a transgender classmate — you’ve probably heard it. I guess they had the Yale 25the reunion or whatever it was at the White House. And the transgender woman said, “You might not remember me” — I guess they were in the line — “You might not remember me because back when I was at Yale, I was so-and-so,” and then President Bush — not known for being a huge supporter of LGBTQ rights at the time – said, “Now, you’re you.” I thought that was a special story.

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