The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a group of fringe medical professionals that is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has worked to support anti-trans legislation including bans on gender-affirming care for youth. Since their founding in 2002 they have also opposed abortion and adoption by same-sex couples.
Despite efforts to portray themselves as a mainstream pediatricians’ association in America, ACPeds is a fringe splinter group with approximately 700 members. Their much larger counterpart is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which numbers over 67,000 members, supports affirming methods of care in transgender health, and rejects conversion therapy and the euphemistic “gender exploratory therapy.”
In one sense, it could be argued that the LGBT movement is only tangentially associated with pedophilia. I see that argument, but the pushers of the movement, the activists, I think have pedophilia intrinsically woven into their agenda. It is they who need to be spoken to and against.
ACPeds was founded in 2002 in response to a statement from the AAP supporting LGBTQ+ adoptive parents and same-sex couples, based on a report the Academy released in February of that year. The landmark report urged legislators to bestow the same legal parental rights and marriage status upon queer couples that had always been extended to heterosexual couples.
Now headquartered in Gainesville, Florida, ACPeds began as a Tennessee-based organization headed by Joseph Zanga, who became president of the fledgling organization while retaining membership in AAP and chairing their bioethics committee. Zanga insisted that he and his sixty odd colleagues in ACPeds were not wholly against the AAP as an association, but that they disagreed with the AAP’s pro-gay stance.
Zanga described ACPeds as an organization founded on “Judeo-Christian values.” These values included opposition to abortion and insisting that the children of same-sex couples would lead less happy and successful lives than their peers whose parents were heterosexual, despite a preponderance of evidence both at the time and today that this is not true.
ACPeds is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization incorporated in Gainesville, Florida. According to their 2021 990-EZ tax form, ACPeds received $97,312 in contributions, gifts or grants, though the identity of their donors is not reported anywhere in the form. They claim to have received $38,346 in membership dues from approximately seven hundred members, each paying anywhere between $50 and $275.
In 2021 ACPeds reported expenditures of $111,040 on salaries, other compensation and employee benefits. ACPeds’ total revenue has nearly doubled in the past decade, though their membership has not significantly increased.
History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism
In 2010, ACPeds worked with conversion therapy group National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) to establish a website devoted to undermining support fo LGBTQ+ youth. The site described same-sex attraction as “harmful behavior.” made unsupported claims about “desistance” among transgender and queer children. They sent unsolicited guidelines to 14,800 school superintendents which included misrepresentations of other medical professionals’ work. The website has since been taken down.
ACPeds frequently files amicus briefs full of medical misinformation and pseudo-science in anti-LGBTQ+ court cases. Notable among their briefs is one filed in November of 2015 urging the Alabama Supreme Court to defy the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, that year’s landmark civil rights case guaranteeing same-sex couples the legal right to marry in the United States.
In 2015, ACPeds filed an anti-transgender position statement that included multiple false claims about transgender people and professional associations, including false allegations that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed gender dysphoria as a “mental disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). They also explicitly described affirming a transgender child as “child abuse” in this statement.
In 2017, ACPeds’ then-president Michelle Cretella appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to spread medical misinformation and attack transgender people, restating ACPeds’ belief that any affirming medical treatment of transgender children is child abuse.
In 2018, ACPeds’ board of directors created a petition demanding that members of then-president Trump’s cabinet codify definitions of sex and gender in law in the hopes of denying transgender people civil rights under Title IX class protections.
2023 Documents Leak
In 2023, more than 10,000 private documents that revealed information about ACPeds’ internal workings were accidently released through a public Google Drive link. The information contained therein included the names and social security numbers of all ACPeds members, past and present; the usernames and passwords of over 100 online accounts belonging to ACPeds; and internal emails that provided insight into the association’s finances and anti-LGBTQ+ strategies.
The leaks also revealed minutes from a 2017 meeting that identified significant threats to the organization as “mainstream medicine, psychology, academia, media, corporate America and nominal Christians, churches and organizations,” as well as a coordinated campaign to shut down a Texas gender affirming healthcare clinic.
Also uncovered was a decade-long partnership with anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to wage a public misinformation war against transgender people by providing false testimony and pseudo-science at the ADF’s behest. Other organizational associations revealed in the leak include coordinated litigation with the Catholic Medical Association, the Coptic Medical Association of North America, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists to present a case for banning abortion medication to a hand-picked Trump-appointed judge.