The Kelsey Coalition (TKC) is a mostly-defunct anti-trans activism group in the United States. Primarily active between 2019-2020, the organization operates under the umbrella of “parental rights” in an effort to discredit the availability of gender-affirming care for trans youth, while also advocating for anti-scientific measures for treatment such as conversion therapy.
History is replete with medical scandals. Frontal lobotomies to treat mental illness. Forced sterilization to control ‘undesirable’ populations. The infamous Tuskegee Experiment. Indefensible, unethical medical procedures were performed for years. Why did it take so long to stop them?
The Kelsey Coalition was founded in March of 2019 by Katherine Cave, alongside a small handful of anti-trans advocates, most of whom were the parents of transgender children. Cave wrote an opinion piece for Public Discourse, a blog for the right-wing think tank The Witherspoon Institute, in which she detailed the process by which her child came out as transgender. In the article she also announces the initial formation of TKC.
TKC’s long mission statement includes comparing gender-affirming care to frontal lobotomies and forced sterilization and has been cited for various other anti-trans works.
Although it claims to be nonpartisan, the group’s testimony propagated through several right-wing news outlets including The Christian Post and The Daily Signal. The group has never listed more than six front-facing members on their website at any point.
History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism
Shortly after the group’s founding, a member of TKC was featured in a March 2019 panel by the Heritage Foundation, titled “The Medical Harms of Hormonal and Surgical Interventions for Gender Dysphoric Children.” TKC’s speaker appeared under a pseudonym alongside anti-trans activists Walt Heyer and Michael Laidlaw.
In April of 2019, the group drafted a letter to Dr. Jerry Menikoff, Director of the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) to oppose The Impact of Early Medical Treatment in Transgender Youth, a study conducted on the effects of puberty blockers and hormone treatments on transgender youth. TKC claimed the study was “unethical” for its use of human subjects.
TKC appears alongside The Heritage Foundation, Women’s Liberation Front, and Parents of ROGD Kids in support of the Gender Resource Guide, a 2019 educational resource by anti-trans activists that supports the fringe theory of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD).
Much of TKC’s activism seems to consist of un-affirming parents of trans children sharing their opinions.
On an episode of The Ingraham Angle, Fox News host Laura Ingraham interviewed one such parent who blamed rapid-onset gender dysphoria and “watching hours of YouTube videos and talking to people that encourage [her].” She went on to explain how she sought conversion therapy for her 19-year-old and lamented how the state of New Jersey had outlawed the practice.
An op-ed written for USA Today by a member of TKC in August of 2019 echoed similar sentiments. In the op-ed, Jay Keck describes how his transgender child’s school district supported and affirmed him, while Keck went out of his way to insist the school staff deadname his child and blamed his child’s gender exploration on the fact that he is on the autism spectrum.