Many of President Trump’s judicial nominees have taken controversial positions in the past, but Jeff Mateer has expressed particularly toxic views on LGBTQ equality. In a 2015 speech — video of which has recently been deleted — he said that transgender children are evidence that “Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.” The parents of those transgender children are responding.
In a joint letter organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), 278 parents of transgender children from 36 states are asking Mateer to apologize or withdraw his nomination to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas:
As parents, we are deeply disturbed by your remarks stating that children like ours are evidence of “how Satan’s plan is working.” It is hard to imagine a crueler thing to say about a child. It is obvious from your remarks in 2015 that you did not know the child whose very existence you mocked. Have you ever met a transgender child like ours? If you met our families, you would know that while children like ours can face a lot of misunderstanding, there is nothing wrong with who they are.
We believe our children are miracles, like every child — not a part of “Satan’s plan.” As every reputable medical and pediatric association agrees, there is nothing wrong with being transgender, and children like ours can grow and thrive if they are loved and supported, just like their peers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “transgender children fare much better when they feel supported by their family, school and larger community. Shaming children based on their gender identity or expression is harmful to their social-emotional health and may have lifelong consequences.”
The parents go on to chastise Mateer for also supporting conversion therapy for LGBTQ children, which major medical groups have condemned as ineffective and harmful. “As parents, we cannot imagine that someone who promotes such practices could be fit to hold an office with such broad and grave responsibilities as a federal judge,” the letter states, “or that children or families like ours could count on a fair hearing from such a judge in a case of any kind.”
Though Mateer currently serves as first assistant attorney general of Texas, he previously served as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute (formerly known as the Liberty Institute), a legal organization that advocates against LGBTQ equality on behalf of “religious liberty.” In that same 2015 speech, he suggested marriage equality would lead to “disgusting” new forms of marriage, including group marriage, people marrying trees, and people marrying their pets.
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling rebuked Mateer’s nomination last week:
How dare he? How dare anyone talk about children this way? This nomination is another slap in the face to hundreds of thousands of families across the country and their children who are transgender. How can they explain to their children that a public official, let alone a judge, speaks about them this way? This nominee simply cannot be confirmed
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Mateer’s comments “reprehensible.” That committee will hold consider his nomination at a hearing later this year. “There’s no question these views cast serious doubt on his ability to fairly enforce federal law and treat people impartially,” she said.
The parents agree. “Your statements about children like ours are the opposite of love — they are cruel,” their letter concludes. “We urge you to apologize sincerely and without reservation to us and our families and all the others like us, and to clearly articulate how wrong and damaging your words are to children like ours — or to withdraw your nomination.”