Paul Stanley of KISS dives into debate over transgender acceptance versus kids transitioning
Paul Stanley of KISS, who hasn't hesitated with self-expression as the rock band's "Starchild," on Sunday shared his thoughts about the difference between teaching acceptance of trans people and "encouraging" children to question their own gender as a matter of course.
The rhythm guitarist and vocalist, who has four children ages 11 to 28, posted a statement Sunday on several social media platforms under the title "My Thoughts on What I'm Seeing."
"There is a BIG difference between teaching acceptance," Stanley wrote, "and normalizing and even encouraging participation in a lifestyle that confuses young children into questioning their sexual identification as though some sort of game and then parents in some cases allow it."
Stanley continued, saying that treating pronouns and gender identity as a game for children risked confusing some adults.
"With many children who have no real sense of sexuality or sexual experiences caught up in the 'fun' of using pronouns and saying what they identify as," he wrote, "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."
It was unclear what prompted Stanley's statement. Most recently, he has been memorializing the South American leg of KISS’ final tour, and prior to Sunday, his most recent statement online was a January 2022 post marking his 70th birthday.
But the musician, 71, may have been referring to teaching methods that were, for example, banned last year in Florida under that state's Parental Rights in Education law — framed by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" legislation for its restriction on "classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner." The law, which went into effect in July and covered students through third grade, was expanded last month by the Florida Board of Education to include grades 4 through 12.
Among other things, the law — which does not include or prohibit the use of the word gay — also prohibits schools from "discouraging or prohibiting parental notification and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student's mental, emotional, or physical well-being" and offers parents an opportunity to opt out of any "healthcare services" a school district might offer.
Meanwhile, a California bill that proposed requiring prompt parental notification in writing if a child was "identifying at school as a gender that does not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate" was rejected for a hearing by the state Assembly's Education Committee, effectively stopping it in its tracks.
Stanley allowed in his statement that "There ARE individuals who as adults may decide reassignment is their needed choice," but cautioned about normalizing gender transition as "some sort of natural alternative." A boy or girl liking to "play dress up" in their opposite-gender siblings' clothing is no reason for adults to "lead them steps further down a path that's far from the innocence of what they are doing," he wrote.
Comments on Stanley's Instagram post included both praise ("Finally someone says what I’ve been thinking!") and criticism ("Nobody is pushing their kids to be LGBTQ+ Paul. Children playing dress up is one thing, but no parent in their right mind would push their child into transitioning because of any agenda.")
"Whether you agree or disagree, a lot of people have forgotten that this is a country in which you’re allowed to speak your mind freely," one commenter wrote. "Love it or hate it, very few celebrities and performers have the guts to speak about how they truly feel on 'woke' subjects due to being canceled. Just because someone disagrees with you or has a different stance does not mean you have to get offended or be so sensitive about it."
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister quoted-tweeted Stanley and wrote in response, "You know what? There was a time where I 'felt pretty’ too. Glad my parents didn't jump to any rash conclusions! Well said, @PaulStanleyLive." Actor Kevin Sorbo tweeted, "Good for Paul Stanley. He is right. Let kids grow up and decide at a more mature age."
But Noodles from the Offspring — real name Kevin Wasserman — challenged Snider's logic, tweeting in response, "My parents couldn’t get me to eat vegetables but Dee & Paul think that parents are convincing their kids to change genders as part of a widespread 'sad & dangerous fad.' In fact, the current trend is to vilify & dehumanize trans kids & their parents."
Meanwhile, musician and music journalist Steve Albini went the ad hominem route, tweeting at Stanley, "I remember when punk rock came along and made you irrelevant the first time."
A UCLA analysis in June 2022 estimated that more than 1.6 million people in the United States identify as transgender. The percentage of people ages 13 to 17 and 18 to 24 identifying as transgender was triple the percentage of people ages 25 to 64 and 65-plus identifying similarly.
Youths age 13 to 17 are 8% of the nation's population, according to the analysis; that age group accounted for 18% of the transgender population in the 2022 study, compared with 10% coming from that age group in the researchers' 2015-16 report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.