Matt Walsh vs. Tennessee’s Democrats Is an Eye-Opener - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Matt Walsh vs. Tennessee’s Democrats Is an Eye-Opener
Matt Walsh testifying last week before the Tennessee State House Health Committee (Forbes Breaking News/YouTube)

If you didn’t catch this when it popped onto the internet, it’s well worth a catching-up on.

On Wednesday, a bill hit the Tennessee General Assembly’s Health Committee which would ban life-altering transgender medical treatments for minors. It passed onto the floor of the General Assembly on a party-line vote; that isn’t the real news to come out of the hearing.

The important bit about this was what happened when conservative commentator and filmmaker Matt Walsh, whose documentary movie What Is a Woman generated a major stir last summer for challenging the frightening pseudo-medical quackery which is the transgender debate, testified in front of the committee.

If you’ve seen Walsh in action, you know that he doesn’t have a whole lot of time for nicety or subtlety. He tends to give it to you straight, something your typical politician or bureaucrat lacks the stomach for. That makes it easy for the ruling-class crowd to dismiss him as a rube or a demagogue, or at least it’s how they instinctively react to him. But that can be problematic, because while Walsh isn’t better educated than the “subtle” set — he didn’t go to college; he went straight into the working world out of high school — he does tend to be better read and he’s certainly more intelligent than most of them.

And that’s something you could certainly tell from seeing his testimony. Here’s the whole event, for those of you who have 13 minutes to watch it.

A little play-by-play from the testimony is worth our time.

First up among the questioners is Jeremy Faison, a Republican small businessman from Cosby, east of Knoxville, and his question is a bit of  layup. Faison asks Walsh to opine about claims by the opponents of the bill who say opposing it is a “pro-life” position because denying trans kids the freedom to mutilate themselves is sentencing them to suicide. Walsh’s answer, which is that there is no evidence to support such a position and in fact the data shows that well after “gender-affirming” surgery, when the magnitude of what’s been done to them starts to hit home, is when there’s a real danger of suicide.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that this position by the trans crowd — that they’ll kill themselves if you don’t let them chop body parts off — seems like one of the most flagrantly extortionist public policy positions imaginable and really has no place in a political debate. Especially when what’s being discussed here isn’t the suicidal tendencies of the adult trans crowd; the state of the debate here has it that adults are free to pursue whatever bad ideas they like as they relate to cosmetic surgery. We’re talking about kids. The extortion here is actually aimed at the beleaguered parents of “trans” kids who get pushed into demanding “gender-affirming care” by a corrupt medical establishment. It’s to draft the parents into trans advocacy out of terror that their children will off themselves.

But as Walsh notes, it’s a dead man’s game all around, because the suicide rate among the post-op trans crowd is every bit as high as otherwise.

And this point comes up in a major way with the second questioner, an obnoxious Nashville freshman Democrat named Caleb Hemmer who works as the vice president of Longevity Health Plan. Hemmer trots out a Media Matters hit piece on Walsh which mischaracterized a rant he went on when he was a shock-jock radio personality in his early 20’s and talked about how 16-year-olds used to be considered adults and were expected to be starting families by then. That hit piece used Walsh’s rant to extrapolate that he’s a hypocrite for taking the position now that 16-year-olds aren’t capable of consent to “gender-affirming” surgery, and Hemmer throws that in Walsh’s face.

Which is a mistake, because Walsh’s answer leaves Hemmer in ruins.

“I was talking about the fact that people tended to marry young historically, and that’s all that that was about,” Walsh explained about his prior radio statement. “How does that relate to this subject?”

“Just curious of your definition, if you feel like people are adults at 16 —” Hemmer asked.

“People are adults at 18, but, actually, your brain is not fully developed until you’re 25,” Walsh said. “So, we should be having a conversation about whether we should even be doing the surgeries when people are 18. But, certainly, before 18, it’s absurd. I mean, do you think a 16-year-old can meaningfully consent to having their body parts removed?”

Hemmer was silent.

“Do you?” Walsh asked him again. “No?”

It was a very uncomfortable pause before committee chairman Brian Terry, who seemed a bit embarrassed to see one of his committee members getting so badly pummeled, muttered something about how the rules state it’s the committee who asks the questions and not the witnesses.

That led to Walsh’s next questioner, another Nashville Democrat named John Ray Clemmons. Clemmons is a trial lawyer and a veteran legislator, so he wasn’t blindly walking into a jackpot like the rookie Hemmer was. But Clemmons wasn’t prepared for a real debate either; his first question to Walsh essentially came down to “you’re a peasant who doesn’t belong here.” He demanded to know what Walsh’s educational and medical background was that he would be testifying on a bill about medical procedures.

Walsh’s answer was obvious, though it was the one Clemmons wanted.

“Well, my background that qualifies me to speak to this is that I’m a human being with a brain and common sense, and I have a soul, and, so, therefore, I think it’s a really bad idea to chemically castrate children — that is my experience,” Walsh said, clearly a bit irritated. “Also … now it’s true, I didn’t go to college, but I did go to school long enough to learn how to read, so I could read the data for myself, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”

Remember, Walsh not eight months ago released a 95-minute documentary film on the very issue in question which contained interviews with a large number of academics, medical professionals and others and was heavily researched. Regardless of whether he spent his college years at keg parties or in a radio station there is little question that Walsh is informed on the topic.

Clemmons really should have left it at that, but it got worse.

And for what purpose do you conduct your research and use this brain of yours?” asked the Democrat.

I use it for the purpose of trying to protect children from being castrated and mutilated, that’s one of the things I try to do,” came the response, as quiet chuckling could be heard from the gallery.

You don’t use it to get clicks on your publication?” Clemmons persisted.

And then Walsh unloaded on Clemmons. “Are you using it right now to get clicks with this interaction?” he shot back. “I really like the idea of … drawing attention to the fact that this is happening to children. I know you seem to find it very amusing — I don’t.”

Clemmons then accused Walsh of making a lot of “mischaracterizations” and “misrepresentations” then declared that because he had, it was fair to question his background. Walsh attempted to ask for specifics, but Terry gaveled down the question, and then Clemmons said that because Walsh noted the human brain doesn’t fully develop until 25 he’s questionable for advocating for firearms ownership at 18.

Terry ruled that out of order because it had nothing to do with the bill, but Walsh asked if he could respond anyway. Sensing that he was likely going to lose control of the hearing if he allowed that, Terry moved on to the third Nashville Democrat on the committee, a self-employed “employee benefits” professional named Bo Mitchell.

Things got no less contentious from there.

Mitchell meandered around the topic for a bit, accused Walsh of ginning up the controversy in the first place, and then uncorked an almost comic lie — which was that no transgender surgeries are actually happening in Tennessee, as though if it was true it would negate the desirability of such a law. “I need your evidence of where these surgeries are occurring in Tennessee,” he said. “Could you give me places, times, maybe some names?”

It was a bizarre question, because late last year Walsh had uncovered evidence that the Vanderbilt University Medical Center had opened up an entire division devoted to transgender surgeries, placing a goodly amount of information on its website covering such procedures and there was video of the people working there touting “gender-affirming care” as a big moneymaker for the hospital. That it would be somehow in dispute that trans surgeries are an active phenomenon in Tennessee is notable, and Walsh said as much.

Walsh noted that after he had drawn attention to Vanderbilt’s program which included the double-mastectomy “top surgery” procedure, the hospital announced it was “pausing” such operations. It would seem that if no such procedures were being performed there would be no need for a pause.

Mitchell didn’t like that, so he brought up a poison-pill amendment to the bill he had brought which would have banned breast enlargement surgeries for minors, which Terry said wasn’t germane to the discussion. Walsh then said he’d be all for such an amendment. Then Mitchell attacked Walsh for having touted Singapore’s willingness to execute drug dealers and cane petty criminals as an effective means of fighting crime, which he said disqualified Walsh on “public policy” advocacy.

And finally, Mitchell said Walsh was lying about whether there were any studies showing that “gender-affirming” surgeries reduce suicide among transgender individuals, producing a University of Pittsburgh study he said refuted Walsh’s arguments.

But that was a lie. A writeup about the study in question can be found here; in pertinent part, it says…

The survey study comprised of over 2,000 adolescent participants across the United States ages 14 to 18, including 1,148 who identified as transgender. The researchers’ findings confirmed Marshal’s hypothesis: Transgender adolescents have higher odds of suicidality than cisgender adolescents. More specifically, about 85% of transgender adolescents reported “seriously considering suicide,” while over half of transgender adolescents attempted suicide, according to the study.

“One of the key problems they face is this notion that everyone else in the world can essentially invalidate their identity by just telling them it’s not OK to identify as transgender,” Marshal said. “Their identities are hidden, and when they’re hidden, it’s easy for other people to discriminate against them. This causes a lot of pain and suffering.”

The large sample size gave researchers the opportunity to split the transgender study participants into subgroups, something that couldn’t be done well before.

Going deeper, transgender boys were at the highest risk of a suicide attempt requiring medical attention, followed by non-binary teens assigned male at birth. Transgender girls meanwhile were six times more likely than cisgender boys to have suicidal thoughts.

Nothing in the study indicates anything other than what we’ve already known; suicidal ideation and action among the trans crowd is off the charts compared to straight kids. It doesn’t prove that surgery helps at all.

So Walsh appears and offers facts about the transgender surgery phenomenon in Tennessee, and he’s attacked as an uneducated rube with an ancient history of shock-jock takes as outlined by the leftist attack shop Media Matters by people who won’t even admit the demonstrated fact that a hospital in Tennessee had publicly proclaimed it was in the transgender surgery business.

This is what you get from three Democrats who ran for the legislature as “centrists” and “moderates” and are nonetheless actively supporting chemical castration and the chopping off of body parts among sexually confused and emotionally disturbed children.

And just in case there is any doubt about the quackery and wildly irresponsible advocacy at play here, this harrowing account by Jamie Reed, a former case manager at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, which was published Thursday, one day after Walsh’s testimony. Reed, a lesbian married to a “trans man” who describes her politics as aligned with Bernie Sanders, blasted the transgender medical-industrial complex for unspeakable corruption and profiteering off the misery of children by pushing them into expensive life-altering drugs and medical procedures often creating ghastly effects on the patients.

There is really no argument to be had here. The transgender-kid exploitation industry Walsh and others are working to expose is indefensibly abusive of some of the most vulnerable in society. And yet Democrats like Hemmer, Clemmons and Mitchell are wholly on board with defending it.

That spells corruption. Kudos to Walsh for not backing down amid withering abuse from the Left.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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