’JRZ Music News

’JRZ Music News

’JRZ Music News

Paul Stanley made headlines in the past 48 hours due to his social media post regarding gender-affirming care.

Stanley’s entire statement can be read below, which he titled “My Thoughts On What I’m Seeing.” According to Stanley, what he is seeing are parents “encouraging participation in a lifestyle that confuses young children into questioning their sexual identification as though some sort of game.” Additionally, he says, ” … Some adults mistakenly confuse teaching acceptance with normalizing and encouraging a situation that has been a struggle for those truly affected and have turned it into a sad and dangerous fad.” 

Stanley appears to recognize the existence of trans people in his statement. However, he also appears to take issue with parents that are helping their children receive gender-affirming care. 

I am the proud stepmother to a young trans woman who has been receiving gender-affirming care for over a year now. The improvement in her mental health and overall well-being has been immense. There are not enough words to describe the positive change I’ve seen in her, and I make my living off of writing words.

Understandably, I found Stanley’s comments very disappointing, especially since I’m a longtime KISS fan. I’ve seen the band multiple times in concert and even own a couple of KISS Kondoms. I don’t believe Stanley was being malicious — unlike certain beer-shooting musicians — but it seems what he’s “seeing” isn’t the full picture.

I reached out to my fellow Beasley Media Group colleague Adam 12 from Boston’s Rock 92.9 to discuss all of this, since he, like me, is a proud parent to a trans child. Here is our discussion of what we think Stanley has wrong about gender-affirming care.

The following discussion has been edited for length and clarity. Additional notes/statistics will be in italics and parentheses. 

  • Gender and Sexuality are two very different things

    Erica Banas (EB): Paul Stanley has always struck me as rather levelheaded. In the case of his statement, he seems very misinformed. To begin with, he doesn’t seem to grasp the difference between gender identity and sexual identity. Did that jump out right away to you, too?

    Adam 12 (A12): It did, yes. Right off the bat, it read like a right-wing talking point. What was the phrase? “Encouraging participation in a lifestyle that confuses young children.” People don’t talk like that. Especially not Paul Stanley. He’s always been the one to come across as more down-to-earth, as opposed to Gene [Simmon]’s penchant for bombast. So, the tone and the words he was using both struck me. I don’t think he’s grasped the difference because I don’t think he’s actually done the work to understand it yet.

    EB: Which, to a point, is understandable, especially if he doesn’t have any trans or non-binary people in his life. I wish I knew what exactly led to him to decide to draft and share such a statement.

    It needs to be said for those that might be unaware and that are reading this: Gender identity is not the same as sexual identity. Gender identity is who you are, and sexual identity relates to who you love. They are very different.

    A12: Thank you! I’m glad you laid it out like that. Because once you see it written out, it’s a pretty easy concept to grasp.

  • Supportive parents of Trans/Non-Binary children aren't leading them 'further down a path that's far from innocence'

    EB: I also took issue with Paul’s whole thing of leading kids “further down a path that’s far from innocence.” To me, supporting your child and their identity is actually really great and allows them to fully embrace who they are. It means you’re listening to your child. You’re trying to understand what they’re going through and helping them navigate towards a happy, healthy life.

    I remember once my kid was out to my husband and I and we accepted her, her attitude and behavior took a 180. It was like a weight was lifted off. She was a completely different kid and was SO happy! What was it like with your child?

    A12: Similar to your experience, actually. From a very young age, my kid has had a clear and strong idea of who they are. Their mom and I had an idea that they’d come out, and they did, and we supported them. Lots of love and encouragement and support in the situations when we knew they’d be dealing with people who weren’t as loving or encouraging.

    EB: You touch on an important point with your child having a strong idea from a young age that they were trans. Some kids know seemingly right away, but for my daughter, she wasn’t out until her latter high school years. When my husband and I sat down with her to have those early “coming out” talks, we asked her when she started to feel like she was trans. She told us she always felt “different” but couldn’t quite figure it out. It was only until lockdown during the pandemic when we all were isolated with little to do that she really thought about all of these feelings inside of her. Then it finally clicked with her and things made sense.

    (In fact, many people during the pandemic have come to realize their sexual identity wasn’t what it was, and it was due to having a lot more time on their hands to actually think about it. Some of those stories were explored in a number of publications including BBC’s LoveLife, The New York Times, Mashable and the Chicago Tribune.)

    A12: That’s wonderful. And that‘s how it should be! I think now might be a good time to remind people that trans kids are…kids. Children. With all the complex emotions and fears that kids have. Children are to be protected, respected, and listened to. Their feelings are to be validated. Too often we’re seeing the opposite now.

  • The real 'sad and dangerous fad'? State legislatures trying to pass discriminatory laws against LGBTQ+ people and their families.

    (As of publishing, there have been 469 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures in 2023 alone. These bills span a wide range of issues from trans student athletes participating in school sports to LGBTQ people or issues being discussed or taught in schools. These bills also include attempts to ban or censor drag performances and banning gender-affirming healthcare to trans and non-binary youth. The ACLU has an entire page where you can explore all of these bills.)

    A12: There are hundreds of pieces of legislature in states across the nation aimed at harming trans kids. Which, again, is harming children. That’s wrong, plain and simple. And that’s part of what irked me so much about Paul’s comments. We need people with Paul’s cache and reach to be saying “Protect Trans Kids!” Not “…a sad and dangerous fad.”

    EB: The real “sad and dangerous fad” truly is all of the bills being presented and passed in state legislatures across the country. While there is greater visibility of trans and non-binary people in society, they still make up a small percentage of the entire population. All trans and non-binary people want is to be able to peacefully live their lives as their true selves. What some politicians are doing is frankly very cruel.

    A12: It’s cruel, and it’s the same crap gay people were dealing with last century during the “Lavender Scare.” Just another moral panic drummed up by politicians who need to manufacture a pretend threat to try and keep people in line. But real people–children–are the ones who are suffering.

    EB: In some states, so are their families.

    (In February 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave a directive to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services instructing the department to investigate parents with transgender children who were receiving gender-affirming care, with the potential of these children being removed from their parent’s custody and put into Texas’s foster care system. In the year since the directive was introduced, the ACLU has introduced two lawsuits against it. Both lawsuits are ongoing, with Texas continuing to target trans youth and their families. Texas has introduced 52 anti-LGBT bills in their legislature in 2023, the most of any state, as of publishing.)

  • Gender-affirming care doesn't always mean reassignment surgery, which is extremely rare with minors.

    EB: I think one of the big things I had to learn about was gender-affirming care, which, similar to gender, is a spectrum. There’s a variety of gender-affirming care. Some people choose to get surgery, like “top surgery” or “bottom surgery.” While my daughter has no interest in surgery, she has been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for just under a year, and it has helped her immensely. Sometimes, “social transitioning” is all that’s desired.

    A12: I love your use of “spectrum” here. Much like many of us have learned in recent years about the Autism spectrum, gender is a spectrum, too. The old school, yes/no, on/off, binary-style of thinking needs to be left behind and the spectrum way of thinking needs to be embraced. It allows us to see and celebrate one another more fully. And moves us away from the “us vs. them” mentality that comes along with the binary mindset.

    That’s the mindset, I think, that Stanley is in. He jumps right to gender reassignment in his comments because–and this is just my interpretationwhen you’re in that binary mindset, it can only be one of two ways. And here’s Paul saying its gotta be this way, because the other way is wrong. And as we’ve discussed, there’s so much more to gender than that.

    EB: I think many people all over the world are seeing, understanding and embracing how gender is a spectrum. It’s sad that it’s often framed in a fear-mongering sense by politicians or certain celebrities or members of the media. Once you wrap your head around it, it’s a rather beautiful thing, because it helps people identify who they actually are and often makes them happier. After all, I think we’re all just trying to lead happy, healthy lives. As parents, we’re trying to raise happy, healthy children. Respecting and understanding someone’s gender identity is part of that.

    (According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “top surgery” helps “create male-typical chest shape or enhance breasts.” “Bottom surgery” is defined as “surgery on genitals or reproductive organs.” HRT is when testosterone hormones are taken by those assigned female at birth or estrogen for those assigned male at birth. “Social transitioning,” which is also called “social affirmation,” is when a when a trans person adopts “gender-affirming hairstyles, clothing, name, gender pronouns, and restrooms and other facilities.”

    Furthermore, according to the Human Rights Campaign, “Transgender and non-binary people are not able to have gender-affirming genital surgeries until they are adults. In very rare exceptions, 16 or 17 year-olds who have been consistent and persistent in their gender identity for years, have been taking gender-affirming hormones for some time, and who have approvals from both their parents and doctors, have been able to receive top surgeries.”)

  • Pronoun usage is one of the easiest ways to affirm someone's gender identity and isn't some 'fun' game.

    EB: I’m going to be honest about something: I thought Paul’s idea of using pronouns being a “fun” game was sort of funny, especially since we’ve addressed him as Paul Stanley for decades. His birth name is Stanley Eisen and Gene Simmons’ birth name is Chaim Witz. Respecting a trans or non-binary person’s pronouns or preferred name, to me, is no different than calling them Paul and Gene all these years.

    A12: Precisely. It’s strange to me that some people have a hard time making that mental leap. Learning and respecting someone’s pronouns or name isn’t odd behavior. Disrespecting them is what’s odd. And yeah, for a guy like Paul Stanley who [checks the lyrics to “Love Gun”] clearly identifies as a heterosexual cis male…yet uses a stage name, puts on makeup, and wears costumes that bend the hell out of his gender to have a problem with trans people and their supportive parents? My guy, I think you need to reconsider those comments you made.

  • Final thoughts?

    A12: Being a kid is hard! And it’s even harder when you’re a trans/non-binary kid. Back in the day, if you were seen as different, you’d get picked on in school. Now, in the digital age, the cycle of bullying is 24/7. Trans/non-binary kids need to feel supported, accepted, and protected. Not further marginalized and made to feel lesser. None of this is a fad or a trend or, as Paul put it, a fun game.

    EB: Personally, it would be amazing if Paul Stanley read all of this, and it helped him realize why what he shared in his statement was incorrect. If he doesn’t read this, that’s okay, and at least I tried. More importantly, though, if anyone that agreed with his statement reads this, and it helped educate and change their mind, then it was all worth it and might just be my greatest achievement while covering the rock/classic rock news world.  
    History has shown that thoughts and opinions about various social and cultural issues have evolved over time. It was once unheard of that marriage equality would ever be a thing in the United States. When it comes to the rights of trans and non-binary people, this country has been through this fight before. We know how something like this ends. For now, even though so many of us are exhausted, we’re going to continuing fighting. And we won’t stop.

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