Although a new face in the political arena, Vivek Ramaswamy is using an old playbook.
In seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Ramaswamy has consistently brought up gender identity issues on the campaign trail. The biotech entrepreneur believes there are only two genders and told a voter in Iowa last month that there is no such thing as an “LGBTQ+ community.”
“I don’t think it’s one community,” Ramaswamy said. “How could it be? Just mashed together in alphabet soup. Trans is fundamentally in contention with gay, if you ask me.”
Polling as high as third nationally among the GOP candidates, Ramaswamy is basking in the increased attention to his “outsider” campaign. Unlike Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, Ramaswamy has appeared as a guest on several left-leaning political shows and podcasts, debating the likes of Al Sharpton and David Pakman.
He frequently inserts his views on transgender topics into discussions and has called for a ban on puberty blockers and “genital mutilation” before the age of 18, comparing transitioning genders to getting a tattoo.
Rev. Nicole Garcia, Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said Ramaswamy is trafficking in misinformation.
“I’ve worked with literally hundreds of trans people through the years,” said Garcia, a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. “Trans teens don’t get surgeries. There is such an incredible process for someone under 18 to get the proper care that they need. It’s not something that anybody can walk in and say, ‘this is what I want,’ and it will be given to them.”
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health dictates standards of care, Garcia said. Those standards, she said, include rigorous examinations by qualified therapists and doctors.
“I’ve never heard of anyone getting surgeries without years of psychotherapy and being under the care of a qualified physician. It just doesn’t happen,” Garcia said.
However, Ramaswamy presented Chloe Cole as an example that it does happen. Cole transitioned at 13 and detransitioned at 16 after a double mastectomy and years of puberty blockers. She has testified on numerous bills around the country dealing with medical transitions, including one in Florida that denies Medicaid coverage for procedures that alter a person’s primary or secondary sexual characteristics.
“Now that my breasts are gone, I will never have the option of breastfeeding my children,” Cole told Ramaswamy.
Garcia went through her transition in her early 40s and at the same time had a rebirth of faith. She is now an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Garcia firmly believes trans youth are being used as a “red herring” to go after body autonomy and to take away civil rights.
“We are being used,” Garcia said. “Unashamedly used. There are not many of us. Less than one percent of the population identifies as trans. We don’t have much of a voice. We need allies. Our community needs your help. They are coming after us and using us as a sacrificial lamb.”