The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) has been targeting a transgender teen in Colorado (“Jane Doe”), accusing her of “harassment” simply for using the girls’ bathroom. According to Cristan Williams at TransAdvocate, Jane is now on suicide watch after her family decided she needed immediate professional intervention.
Williams wanted to know how PJI would react to what’s taking place in the Florence High School community thanks to its actions, so she had a long phone conversation with PJI’s Matthew McReynolds, who drafted the original letter to the school accusing Jane of “sexual harassment.” She played for him various comments from Jane’s mother and others in the community and invited him to respond. Eventually, she confronted him about whether he valued Jane’s life, and his defense of PJI’s tactics was quite telling:
MCREYNOLDS: We have very different approaches to what we believe, you know, the health and well-being of kids who are in this situation entails and so from our perspective, you don’t lead to healthier outcomes by enabling potentially unhealthy behavior and so that’s where we, you know, our paths diverge.
It’s unclear what it is Jane has done — aside from simply being trans — that McReynolds could be referring to as “unhealthy behavior.” In a previous part of the interview, he argued that Jane had not “completely transitioned” and thus could not function equally among her counterparts, but her family says that she transitioned two years ago.
Williams pressed McReynolds about PJI’s support of ex-gay therapy, and asked if they would support ex-trans therapy as well. He confirmed that they do:
MCREYNOLDS: Well, as an organization we tend to not wade into the scientific debates as much as focusing on the constitutional debates and our mission is to ensure that we can continue to both vigorous constitutional debates, that freedom of speech is protected and that’s why we’ve been so involved in the sexual orientation change efforts battle. We see the limitations on freedom of speech as being inherently detrimental to this entire debate.
These comments — along with McReynolds’ insistent use of male pronouns when referring to Jane — demonstrate the extent to which PJI rejects the existence of her gender identity. His claim that she has not “completely transitioned” could refer to sex reassignment surgery, meaning that PJI’s only criteria for gender identity is genitalia, not the lived experience of young people like Jane.
McReynolds repeatedly says that the school has not yet responded addressing their concerns or suggesting any “potential solutions to this situation.” PJI has conspicuously avoided suggesting any solutions of their own, but anything short of allowing Jane full access to girls’ facilities would constitute victim-blaming anti-trans discrimination.
Listen to both parts of Williams’ conversation with McReynolds: