Barrett fundraising appeal claims 'your child' to get 'gender reassignment' surgery

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

A fundraising appeal from a Republican congressional candidate in Michigan claimed to confirm an appointment for a child’s “gender reassignment” surgery the following day, urging the recipient to click through if they have "any issues" with the operation. 

The text-message appeal included a link to a page that says that if you’d like cancel this fake appointment, sign up and donate to state Sen. Tom Barrett’s campaign for the U.S. House, according to a copy of the page obtained by The Detroit News.

A fundraising appeal for GOP state Sen. Tom Barrett's congressional campaign describes a fake appointment for gender reassignment surgery for "your child."

Barrett, a Charlotte Republican, is running in the Aug. 2 GOP primary aiming to take on two-term Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly in Michigan's new 7th District. 

The landing page, which is labeled as paid for by Tom Barrett for Congress, has since been changed to remove language about canceling the surgery appointment.

Slotkin late Friday blasted the Barrett campaign for "fear-mongering about our children’s safety" in an effort to make a "quick buck," saying such tactics should be off limits. 

"In the spirit of basic decency, we should all agree to keep our kids out of nasty political tactics and fundraising. Let’s call these tactics what they are: cynical attempts to dial up hate and division in order to raise money," Slotkin tweeted

A fundraising appeal for GOP state Sen. Tom Barrett's congressional campaign describes a fake appointment for gender reassignment surgery for "your child."

In response to questions, Barrett's campaign pointed to a fact sheet issued by President Joe Biden's U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month on gender-affirming care and testimony before Congress last month by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The HHS memo listed social affirmation — for example, gender-affirming hairstyles or clothing — as well as puberty blockers, hormone therapies and surgery, though the memo noted surgery is "typically" used in adulthood or case by case in adolescence.

Barrett campaign spokesman Jason Cabel Roe also said Slotkin has "advocated for transgenderism for children ages 4-8 but has yet to take a public position on gender reassignment surgery for children."

He linked to a video of Slotkin reading aloud the children's book "I am Jazz," which is about a transgender child.

The fundraising appeal from Barrett's campaign also claimed that Biden is "forcing" 5-year-olds to learn about gender reassignment surgeries and gender identities and says Americans need to stop this "sick and twisted ideology from poisoning our children. If we fail, our children are doomed." 

Slotkin's campaign drew a parallel from the Barrett appeal to another GOP fundraising effort that last week that accused Democratic state Sen. Mallory McMorrow of “grooming” and sexualizing kindergarteners.

McMorrow's floor speech denouncing the attack gained national coverage and millions of views on YouTube, speaking about her childhood being raised Christian and saying she wanted every child in Michigan to feel "seen, heard and supported."

Both episodes tapped into political debates over whether and how sexuality and gender identity should be discussed in schools, which has been a hot topic in state legislatures from Florida to Alabama as lawmakers seek to restrict what teachers may discuss in regards to LGBTQ people and history. 

Texas also is in court over a legal challenge to a directive by Gov. Greg Abbott for the state to investigate the parents of transgender children receiving gender-affirming care.

Michigan state Sen. Tom Barrett announces his campaign for the U.S. House on Nov. 15, 2021.

Barrett is lagging in fundraising behind Slotkin, who reported cash reserves of $5.5 million as of March 31, compared with Barrett's $395,910 in the bank. Barrett raised $465,735 last quarter to Slotkin's $1.3 million, according to disclosure reports. 

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.