Is the U.S. State Department about to classify Sweden, Finland, and the U.K. as human rights abusers? According to an internal memo from Secretary Antony Blinken (leaked to me by an officer in the department’s Foreign Service) and circulated among employees last week, the answer might be yes.

The memo represents an effort by Secretary Blinken to carry out President Biden’s Executive Order 14075 from last June. That order instructs agencies of the federal government to do what they can to stop “conversion therapy” for “LGBTQI+” people.

OutRight has borrowed arguments against “conversion therapy” for sexual orientation (where the evidence against the practice is strong) and applied them, unscientifically, to “gender identity” (where studies have consistently shown that cross-gender identification in children is, for the vast majority of those who experience it, a passing phase). This strategy of piggybacking off public ignorance about the difference between homosexuality and transgenderism is by now familiar. And lest it be thought that politicians know better, Biden himself seems unable to differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Biden administration has defined “conversion therapy” as any effort to “suppress or change an individual’s . . . gender identity.” The Blinken memo cites as an authority the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an organization that, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, has fallen victim to capture by a small but vocal and well-organized group of ideologues, among them Jack Turban. The memo relies on the United Nations Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, to clarify that “conversion” means only efforts to change a transgender identity into a “cisgender one.” Thus, a hypothetical scenario in which a child is put under intense pressure to become trans, even if this means medicalization, would technically not count as “conversion.” At the first signs of a child’s gender distress or confusion, the only legitimate, “human rights”-respecting outcome of treatment, according to the Biden administration, is social transition followed, in most cases, by body modification.

Predictably, the Blinken memo contains no evidence or arguments for its claims about “conversion therapy,” but instead defers to “every major medical and mental health association in the United States.” In fact, however, medical groups like the AAP and AACAP have not followed the science on this issue, instead allowing activists to dictate policy positions based on pseudoscientific claims, egregious mischaracterizations of available studies, and, in some cases, outright fabrications of data. Anyone with above-average intelligence, a basic grasp of scientific methods, and enough time and patience to master the literature on this issue will easily come to the same conclusion. Medical authorities in Sweden, Finland, and the U.K. have already done so, as has Florida. France and Australia may soon follow suit.

Ominously, the Blinken memo defines “conversion therapy” to include not only “electric shock” and “corrective rape” but also “talk therapy.” That’s right: using psychotherapy to help a child in distress about her changing body feel more comfortable in it rather than undergo expensive, risky, and irreversible hormonal and surgical interventions is, according to the State Department, no different from electrocuting gays and lesbians in order to “liberate” them from their innate sexual attractions.

The problem, for countries like Sweden, Finland, and the U.K., is that medical authorities in these places have concluded over the past two years that the evidence for pediatric “gender affirming care” is extremely weak and that, as a result, hormonal and surgical interventions are (as Finland’s COHERE put it) “experimental.” Sweden and Finland are now instructing clinicians who deal with minors to utilize an approach that emphasizes talk therapy as the first line of defense and “affirming” drugs only in extreme situations, if ever. Sweden has banned gender surgeries for minors—surgeries that are practiced in the United States, notwithstanding the repeated gaslighting of gender clinics and left-of-center media outlets.

The Blinken directive effectively turns American consulates and embassies into global “gender affirming” spies. Embassies are instructed to “submit robust information on the so-called ‘conversion therapy’ practices” of host countries “as part of the annual Human Rights Reports.” 

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