Former Vice President Mike Pence said states should bar Americans younger than 18 from receiving any gender transition procedures, adding his strong support to Republican efforts to target transgender minors.
Pence, who announced his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination this week, made the comments during CNN’s latest town-hall-style event with GOP candidates. The former vice president told moderator Dana Bash that although he supported restoring parents’ rights in schools and ending “politically correct nonsense,” he didn’t believe a parent should be able to decide if their child should be allowed to transition or seek medical care for gender dysphoria.
“I strongly support state legislation that bans all gender transition, chemical or surgical procedures, for kids under the age of 18,” Pence said. “I’m talking as a father and I’m talking as a grandfather right now. There’s a reason you don’t let kids get a tattoo before they’re 18.”
Bash pressed Pence on his previous comments that parents should be in control of what their kids hear in schools and asked what he would say to trans kids who felt targeted by Republican efforts to limit access to medical care.
His answer: Just wait.
“I would tell them that I love everybody. I’d put my arm around them and their parents. But before they had a chemical or surgical procedure, I would say wait, just wait,” he said. “Most people before you’re 18 years of age, there’s a reason we got that cutoff for all kinds of categories in our society.
“You just don’t really know what you want in life. You don’t know who you are. It takes time to become an adult, figure that out.”
Pence went on to claim that mental health experts agreed with his statements. That’s not true.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have both said such care is medically necessary for trans kids, saying decisions about care should be decided by parents, children and their doctors, not lawmakers. Medical experts have long said accessing care saves lives, but recent efforts to limit those service have already had a negative impact on the mental health of trans youth.
The former vice president, however, said a radical gender ideology was “afoot” in America, taking hold of schools and universities.
“However adults want to live, they can live, but for children, we’re going to protect kids from radical gender ideology,” Pence said. “The state has the obligation to see to [their] safety and health and the wellbeing.”