Former President John F. Kennedy’s legacy will forever embellish American politics, but his nephew Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is upending that legacy with anti-trans conspiracy theories.
In an early June interview with right-wing pundit and Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, Kennedy spewed out a conspiracy theory that young boys were being exposed to chemicals in water turning them transgender. Peterson asked for the politician to unpack his thoughts around alleged climate change fear mongering disrupting society. Kennedy responded with his own ideas on the topic. While he didn’t believe that one single factor was to blame, he steered the conversation towards mental health challenges, stating that the rise in these, as well as gender dysphoria, come from chemical exposure in water.
“A lot of the problems we see in kids, particularly boys, it’s probably underappreciated how much of that is coming from chemical exposures, including a lot of sexual dysphoria that we’re seeing. I mean, they’re swimming through a soup of toxic chemicals today, and many of those are endocrine disruptors,” said Kennedy. “There’s Atrazine throughout our water supply, and atrazine, by the way, if you, in a lab, put Atrazine in a tank full of frogs, it will chemically castrate and forcibly feminize every frog in there and 10 percent of the frogs, the male frogs, will turn into fully viable females able to produce viable eggs.”
Well, that’s a lot of unfounded speculation to process, but thankfully Kennedy’s conspiracy theory was already disproved in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. According to the agency’s report, atrazine exposure levels reached an all-time high in the United States between 1993-1998, but general population exposure to atrazine was already expected to be low. Additionally, epidemiological studies on atrazine levels in drinking water in Iowa and in Ontario, Canada only showed an “increased risk of small for gestational age babies and other birth defects,” but nothing connected to gender, let alone sex. Also, contrary to conservative beliefs, transgender people aren’t “groomed” by an outside influence to become transgender, nor are they “created” by a mixing of chemicals a la The Powerpuff Girls.
Coming out as trans? Here’s everything you need to know.
However, this isn’t the first time Kennedy has been throwing around conspiracy theories, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last. Kennedy is known for being an anti-vaxxer, comparing COVID-19 vaccinations to poison during the height of the pandemic. Not to mention, he blamed mass shootings in schools on pharmaceuticals, specifically alluding to the introduction of Prozac being the catalyst for this in a June interview with Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
RFK Jr.’s anti-trans stance is a pretty dangerous one too, especially from a presidential candidate. With over 490 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, influenced by anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric like Kennedy’s, there’s trouble afoot within the United States. Republicans had a field day with Trump. Now Democrats are faced with their own conspiracy theorist in their ranks, one who can seriously impede the progress of LGBTQ+ rights.