The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

It’s Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

The Transgender Revolution Marches On — Should Mental Health Screenings Be Required for Teenagers Seeking to ‘Transition’? Where Has Our Common Sense Gone?

The transgender revolution is a very recent phenomenon. As you look at the course of human history, we’re talking about something like the blink of an eye. Even in the life span of many people now living, it is a very recent phenomenon. If you were to go back 20 or 25 years, you would find the language we now know so commonly about the transgender revolution becoming a part of the national vocabulary, but at the same time, you did not see the issue treated with the kind of moral imperative that is now being driven by transgender activists, as the agenda is directed not only towards adults, but also towards children and teenagers. That becomes a huge focus of two articles that appeared recently in the New York Times.

I want to pause for a moment and say that in some sense, the scale of the issues is ended by those two massive articles that appeared in the print edition of the New York Times, just over the course of the last week or so, and it’s because the big issue here is about the treatment of teenagers and the treatment of children insofar as they identify as transgender, they reject the so-called gender binary, and the big controversy is whether or not counseling or therapy should be required before some kind of medical intervention. Now remember, we’re talking about children and teenagers, such as puberty blockers, much less surgery. There’s something going on here. Now, obviously with the transgender revolution, there’s something massive and huge going on here we’ve known about for some time, but there’s something going on here about a twitch in the conscience, maybe even the therapeutic practice of the medical community when it comes to the addressing of the needs as they’re now demanded of those who are children and teenagers who identify as non-binary or transgender.

If indeed the ideology of transgenderism is simply taken at face value, then anyone at any time or anyone at every time under whatever conditions gets to say, “I am this gender or that gender or no gender at all,” and demand whatever medical response might be desired or demanded at the moment, and the medical community is supposed to just respond with it. What you have here is a divide in the conscience, even in the medical practice, of some in the medical community who are saying, “We’re not sure that when it comes to children and teenagers, that’s the best plan.” It’s an incredibly explosive conversation. That’s why the New York Times devoted so much to it, and I think it’s safe to say that perhaps even two years ago, there wouldn’t have been the possibility of these articles because even then, you didn’t have the explosive and immediate demands of so many minors, so many children and teenagers.

Make no mistake, the New York Times and the elite media are absolutely unanimous and enthusiastic and encouraging the transgender revolution, but maybe there’s just a little bit of a hitch in the conscience, or at least in the imperative and urgency when it comes to children. Azeen Ghorayshi, writing for the New York Times offers an article with the headline, “Doctors Debate Whether Trans Teens Need Therapy Before Hormones.” It’s interesting to see what the subhead is, “Clinicians are divided over new guidelines that say teens should undergo mental health screenings before receiving hormones or gender surgeries.” Now, Ghorayshi tells us that the reason this is now an issue is because “an international group of experts focused on transgender health last month released a draft of new guidelines, the gold standard, for a field that informs what ensures will reimburse for care.” Now, a bomb just went off in that. You might not have noted it, but it’s something that fits into our understanding of how the moral revolution happens. The big issue there, the bomb is, the field that informs “what ensures will reimburse for care.”

Now, I’m just going to give you an absolute word of prophecy here, and I’m not speaking of any spiritual gift. I am just speaking of something I’m absolutely confident of, clinicians and the therapeutic community, psychiatrists and psychologists, will never do anything that doesn’t somehow protect the fact that they will still have demand for their services and they will be able to bill insurers for it. You say, “Why would you say that?” Well, I say that simply because when you go back to 1972 and 1973, when the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association did their 180-degree absolute turns on the issue of the illness or non-illness of homosexuality, the normal or non-normal status of homosexuality, what you had was a furor of attempts to make sure that whatever happened, those who were attempting to go to therapists could still go and therapists could still get paid. The coding when it comes to diagnostic issues could continue, and that’s what’s really explosive in that paragraph, when we are told that this new set of guidelines becomes the gold stand standard of the field that informs what insurers will reimburse for care, but as you look at those who are the insurers and offer the medical and the insurance coverage, the reality is, they have to set standards of one sort or another, but let’s just note those standards are not well defined as simply the science.

That’s another problem of the latent scientism of our day, but there is also a divide. We’re told that many doctors and activists quote, praise the 350 page document, which was updated for the first time in nearly a decade. Let’s just stop for a moment, the first time in nearly a decade. Again, just feel how urgently recent all of this is, and this is a 350 page document updated when it comes to treatments for transgender people, and it also means “removing language requiring adults to have psychological assessments before getting access to hormone therapy.”

So when it comes to hormone therapy, as opposed, presumably here, to surgery, transgender adults can go ahead and demand the hormone treatments, and there is no need for preliminary psychological counseling or therapy. In other words, there is no longer a concern, officially according to these documents, that there might be an underlying psychiatric, psychological, emotional, or other problem that should be addressed by therapy before some kind of medical intervention in order to supposedly change one’s gender identity, but when it comes to teenagers, there is still the requirement for some kind of preliminary therapy as Ghorayshi tells us, “But the guidelines take a more cautious stance on teens.” A new chapter dedicated to adolescents say they must undergo mental health assessments and must have questioned their gender identity for several years, as put in quotation marks, before receiving drugs or surgeries.

But then we’re told that even as we’re talking about teenagers here, we’re talking about minors, adolescents, there’s a division amongst those who are involved in transgender medicine and setting these standards as to whether or not this kind of preliminary therapy should be required. One person, one doctor, who thinks that the, hesitation here, the caution is legitimate, is Laura Edwards-Leeper, identified as a child psychologist in Beaverton, Oregon. Quote, they absolutely have to be treated differently, end quote, said this particular clinician, when it comes to adolescents. We were told also, and this is a rather bizarre statement, that Dr. Edwards-Leeper was one of the seven authors for the new adolescent chapter, “But the organization that publishes the guidelines, The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, did not authorize her to comment publicly on the draft’s proposed wording.”

Well, she was one of the authors. Why isn’t she given the official authorization to comment on the draft? But the article tells us there’s another side: “On the other side of the debate are clinicians who say the guidelines are calling for unnecessary barriers to urgently needed care.” Now, just think about this for a moment. We’re talking about adolescents and teenagers. There are some clinicians who say that any kind of suggestion that there needs to be advising, counseling, conversation, therapy, before moving to medical treatments when teenager present themselves as transgender, that’s now being defined here as an unnecessary barrier to “urgently needed care.” Again, note that care here is simply the word that’s being used for the attempted medical transformation of a person from male to female, female to male, or either one to some kind of non-binary identity, which could be at any point on this infinite non-binary continuum, according to the new ideology.

Part II

‘Children are not Short Adults — But They Have Autonomy As Well, and They Can Know Their Gender’ — Parents, the Transgender Revolutionaries Are Coming for Your Rights

But the big divide here really does tell us something. There are people who indeed are, are clinicians who don’t even like the 350-page advisement coming from this professional group, because it suggests that there might be some cases, get this, this is the bottom line, that there might be some cases in which there is something other than some kind of sustained effort or attempt on the part of the individual to claim an identity other than birth gender. That’s the big issue here. Don’t try to talk them out of it. Don’t try to even make them talk through it. Just move as quickly as possible into the transgender procedures or at least the procedures indicated by so-called transgender care.

One of the doctors opposed to the requirement of preliminary counseling as a clinical psychiatrist at Fenway Health in Boston and identified as Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Gender Identity Program, he said, “I’m really not a believer in requiring that for people.” Then he said this, listen to this, “Being trans isn’t a mental health problem.” It’s an astounding statement. It’s a categorical statement. It’s a straightforward, unreserved statement offered in this context.

When it comes to transgender issues, there’s no mental health problem here. One of the things we really need to pause and note here is that, this particular approach, this side of the argument is saying that trans is absolutely normal when it comes to psychological or psychiatric issues, and the implication becomes very clear. We have seen this in the larger LGBTQ movement, in the L, the G, the B, you go on. The argument is, if there isn’t a psychological or psychiatric problem, it is one that is caused by a, now wait for it, heteronormative community or culture, which is exerting some kind of negativity upon the person, such that there is some kind of struggle that might require therapy or counseling. This is fascinating. And here you see the fact that even as you are looking at what’s presented here as medical therapy and medical science. There’s an awful lot of ideology that is simply loaded into this.

Not to mention the obvious denial of biological reality. The suggestion that somehow being trans is normal, not even something that might require counseling or therapy, you should just rush right into medical treatment, which by the way, would when it comes to teenagers, include not only hormone blockers at a certain point, and remember this stops the normal progress of puberty and sexual differentiation, but also the number 17, age 17, is given as something of an optimal age for a teenage individual to demand genital surgery. I’m not going to go further than that. You can see exactly what we’re talking about here. To state the obvious, when it comes to that surgery, it is irreversible, and when it comes to the hormone therapies, common sense says, that has to be a major issue. After all, you are stopping puberty, which is a massive, natural process that the human body undergoes.

The New York Times recognizes this, and again, this paragraph I’m going to read to you is an indication, I think, of something that the New York Times is dealing with rather straightforwardly here in a way that the paper wouldn’t have, just a matter of a very short time ago: “Some of the drug regimens bring long term risks, such as irreversible fertility loss and in some cases, thought to be quite rare, transgender people later de-transition to the gender they were assigned at birth. Given these risks, as well as the increasing number of adolescents seeking these treatments, some clinicians say that teens require or need more psychological assessment than adults do.” Staggering here. Again, we’re told that even though it’s thought to be quite rare, some transgender people later de-transition to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Well, wouldn’t that require some kind of quantification? Wouldn’t honesty when it comes to so-called medical care mean that there should be numbers affixed to this, thought to be quite rare? Isn’t that a big issue that simply has to be morally resolved if you’re talking about genital surgery here. Now, even when it comes to puberty blockers, notice there’s the acknowledgement that there are problems, and you’re looking at the fact, nonetheless, that there are some who are committed to the transgender revolution who are now quite ready to say, “Never mind, rush right through this.” We’re told that there are two different approaches here. One of them is, the so-called Dutch approach, which comes from the Netherlands, which says that young people simply ought to be encouraged in their transgender identity, but the suggestion is that when it comes to children, parents and their children be encouraged to wait until puberty “to make decisions about their children transitioning to another gender.”

Again, just think about this for a moment. We’re talking about a child. We’re talking about parents, we’re talking about puberty, and we’re talking about perhaps waiting until puberty to decide whether or not certain decisions should be made, quote, about their children transitioning to another gender, end quote. Again, how’s that supposed to make sense? But it is supposed to make sense, according to the new ideologues and the transgender revolutionaries. It’s supposed to make sense to us that the big question is at what age should this happen most properly? Not whether it makes any sense at all, because of course it doesn’t make any sense at all. We’re also told that, quote, the Dutch model argue that these puberty blockers, which are reversible would buy adolescents time to further explore their gender before starting hormones with more lasting consequences.

There you’re talking about the Dutch approach, which turns out to be something that might be more conservative than many American approaches, but nonetheless, the other approach to find here was developed in Canada and “is now considered a form of conversion therapy.” So in other words, you’re supposed to recoil and horror here because in this Canadian model, there just might be the suggestion that the child should remain identified with the birth gender as it’s defined here, or gender at birth.

Again, language that doesn’t really make moral sense, but somehow is required in order to even talk about these transgender issues. We’re also told that in the late two thousands, some clinicians in the United States “introduced the gender affirming approach, which has since been endorsed by several major medical groups. Its basic philosophy, minors should be able to live out their gender identities freely without clinicians or parents imposing unnecessary delays. Their path might involve medications and surgeries or no medical treatments at all.” Notice that in this case, the threat to slowing down the process is identified as some clinicians and parents.

Parents, I hope you’re listening to this. I hope you understand that the transgender revolution will make it eventually impossible to function as parents when it comes to children or teenagers who identify to anyone, especially to someone in the health community, as transgender or non-binary. This is another bomb that needs to go off here, but the language also is incredibly revealing. You have another doctor in this case, Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, Director of Mental Health at the University of California, San Francisco, Child and Adolescent Gender Center. She said, “Children are not short adults, but they have autonomy as well and they can know their gender.”

Well, now we have to go back to where we were yesterday, talking about the life issue, talking about the sanctity of life, and the argument for abortion that simply demands abortion as a matter of personal autonomy. Here’s the idol of autonomy again, but in this case, it shows up on the transgender issue, when it comes even to children. We’re told that children aren’t just short adults, but they have autonomy as well, and they can know their gender. Well, children of what age? This is simply the categorical statement children, and it also becomes clear, that this doctor is not just talking about teenagers because she is identified in this article as being, quote, one of the key early proponents of the gender affirming model and helped write a new chapter on pre-pubescent children in the draft guidelines, end quote.

Wait just a minute, now we’re talking about even younger children. Again, let’s pay attention to what’s really going on here. We also see the kinds of arguments that are going to become more commonplace. One of the arguments is, heterosexual, heteronormative, cisgender, that’s the ideological term that is supposedly used for those who are very much currently and ongoingly identified with their, quote, gender assigned at birth. That means their birth gender, their sex, but in other words, people who don’t identify as transgender, they don’t have to have therapy or counseling before many surgical procedures. So it is then, prejudice, it is patriarchy, it is totalitarian oppression. It is all kinds of things that are negative when it comes to therapy and politics. If you suggest that so-called gender affirming or transitioning surgery, isn’t just the same as some other surgical procedure. Let me give you a direct statement, and this statement is found in the article with reference back to the doctor from Fenway Health in Boston, “He pointed out that therapy is not required for cisgender patients who get breast augmentation, hysterectomies, or rhinoplasties.”

You notice the false equivalence here, without referencing the situation that might be presenting in anything related to breast augmentation, hysterectomies, or rhinoplasties, let’s just point out the fact that none of those have anything directly to do with denying one’s birth gender. We’re not talking about something that’s parallel or similar here, we’re looking at a new form of propaganda argument to be used on behalf of the transgender revolutionaries, and remember, we’re talking with reference here to teenagers. It’s just like any other kind of surgery. It’s just like any other kind of treatment. Deal with it. By the conclusion of the article, it’s interesting that one doctor said, “With kids, you’re more conservative,” but that doctor added, “I guess time and data will tell.”

Oh, the time and the data among other truths will tell, but in this case, what will be told is a story of sheer tragedy and the rejection of natural order, and that can only come with the consequence of incredible unspeakable human brokenness, all around.

Part III

M&M’S Go Woke: MARS Rebrands Chocolate Candy to Make ‘Progressive’ Statement

Finally, for today, as we’re thinking about how moral revolutions happen, I want to make an argument that I’ve made over and over again. I think in the end, the primary driver of so much of the moral revolutionary energies of our time will be eventually tracked to major corporations. For that matter, not just major corporations, but to corporations who are trying to get ahead of their consumer base, are trying to read the culture, and they’re becoming as woke as any sector of our society.

Just ask M&M candies. I mean the company, but according to the animated figures, you could ask them themselves. Mars Candy that produces M&M’s recently released a statement, “M&M’s has been around for more than 80 years, and this year, the brand continues to evolve to reflect the more dynamic progressive world that we live in.” In other words, we are not talking here about something that’s going to change the world in technology.

We’re not talking about something as directly clear in moral issues as the transgender revolution, but we are talking about something that is triggered here. It’s indicated very clearly here intentionally by the use of the expression, a more progressive world that we live in, “And as part of this evolution”–in other words, M&M’s Mars is committed to being a part of this progressive revolution–“built on purpose M&M’s promises to use the power of fun to include everyone with a goal of increasing the sense of belonging for 10 million people around the world by 2025.” Increasing the sense of belonging and isn’t that actually billion, as in B? Were then told, “The brand has also introduced the M&M’s fund to track the brand’s impact on our mission, which will offer resources, mentorship, opportunities, and financial support in the arts and entertainment space to help ensure people have access to experiences where everyone feels they belong.” Are you feeling warm and fuzzy yet?

Then we hear this, “The refreshed M&M’s brand will include a more modern take on the looks of our beloved characters, as well as more nuanced personalities to underscore the importance of self-expression and power of community through storytelling.” Let’s just remind ourselves, we’re talking about chocolate candies. We’re talking about candies that had the iconic message, melts in your mouth, not in your hands. Now, what’s melting is common sense, and Mars is driving the melt with animated M&M characters. We’re told, “Fans will also notice an added emphasis on the ampersand to more prominently demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together. M&M’s branding will also reflect an updated tone of voice that is more inclusive, welcoming, and unifying while remaining rooted in our signature gesture wit and humor.”

Now, what most people are noticing is that the green M&M who had been a feminine character, clearly indicated as feminine by her language, character, voice, and also by her shoes, she is now wearing tennis shoes, not high heels. She is a progressivist symbol now. Are you feeling warm? A report on this news story in The Washington Post indicated that Mars, speaking of the M&M’s brand, made very clear that today’s society must be more inclusive, “As the world changes, so do we.”

Let’s not over blow this. We’re talking about cartoon candies, but let’s not underestimate what we’re looking at here. It’s a major signal being sent by a commercial candy maker, a commercial candy maker that’s regardless of all of its lofty sounding mission statements here, is really about making money by selling confections, by selling candy, by selling a chocolate candy that sold itself, because it had an outer hard coating that prevented it from melting in the hands, but what’s melting here is moral sanity.

Now, let’s not over blow this. The world doesn’t come to an end if the animated green M&M isn’t wearing heels, but it does tell us something. It tells us about modern corporate America and the understanding that they have to get ahead of the young consumers they are seeking to attract to their brand and keep attached to their brand, and evidently, and this is what’s so telling, at least they think they have to message this way, if they’re going to keep those customers. Now, this is also why so many in the culture left, are absolutely sure that they win in the end, simply because there are more young people coming and old people will be passing off the scene. Keeping up with the inclusive progressive times, Mars indicated that the green M&M…now remember, we are having a serious conversation here about animated candy used in an advertising campaign. Nonetheless, we are told that green is now to exude confidence. That confidence is seen in her, if we can still say “her” tennis shoes. Deal with it.

But in conclusion, the big issue here is not Mars and it’s announced intentions about M&Ms. The big issue here is the larger corporate world and the world beyond that, where the most basic assumptions of biology of creation as structures, the most basic truths that make human life make sense, are being undermined simply because those who are trying to sell products are looking to the future, and they’re seeing the future as far more “progressive” than the present.

The big question is, are they right? Who in this society is pressing back with moral sense, with truth, with sanity? It’s very hard to say these days.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can find me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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