A fault line should be developing between those who advocate defining pre-pubescent children with gender dysphoric behavior as transgender and starting them down the road to transitioning (including hormones to block puberty), and those who believe it’s way too early to make that call—and that if left alone, many of these kids will grow up to be healthy gay or lesbian adults.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed (firewalled; try googling The Transgender Battle Line: Childhood), Debra W. Soh writes:
How best to deal with [children who identify with the opposite sex] has become so politicized that sexologists, who presumably would be able to determinine the helathiest approach, are extremely reluctant to get involved. They have seen what happens when they deviate from orthodoxy.
She gives as an example the experience of Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist in Toronto who was charged with practicing conversion therapy, which aims to change a patients’ sexual orientation. Writes Soh:
But he had not been trying to dissuade anyone from being transgender. Instead his therapy facilitated exploration of gender identity. For example, in addition to thinking about transitioning, gender-atypical males could consider being boys who simply liked female-typical things. One doesn’t necessarily need to be a girl to enjoy nail polish or bedtime stories about fairy princesses.
Pointing that out to a gender-dysphoric child isn’t the same as practicing conversion therapy…. Of the boys and girls seen in clinics like Dr. Zucker’s, a high percentage—up to 80% in a study of 44 gender-dysphoric boys—grow up to be not transgender, but bisexual, gay or lesbian adults. Thus, helping prepubescent children feel comfortable in their birth sex makes more sense than starting a lifetime of hormonal treatments and surgeries that will in all likelihood turn out to be unnecessary and unwanted.
The silencing of those who oppose this sends the message to parents that early transitioning is the only valid and ethical approach for a gender-dysphoric child. This message—pushing children to transition at increasingly younger ages so that they will fit neatly into one of two gender categories—is false and unscientific. It is more progressive to offer them the time and the space they need to figure out who they are and what is ultimately best for them.
Similar points are made in a recent New York Magazine article by Jesse Singal, Why Some of the Worst Attacks on Social Science Have Come From Liberals.
Allowing effeminate boys and masculine girls to develop and decide (after puberty kicks in) whether they are, in fact, transgender or gay/lesbian is the least we owe these children.
More. Tweet by Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger): “I’m getting a lot of mail from gay and lesbian adults who say they believe they would have been pressured to transition gender if then=now.”
Furthermore. In a critical letter to the editor, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an affiliate of the nation’s largest LGBT lobby, predictably dismisses Dr. Zucker’s efforts and Ms. Soh’s commentary:
By relying on “data” produced by Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist whose gender-identity clinic closed last year after an external review found it “out of step with current operational practices,” Ms. Soh thoroughly undermines her own nonscientific musings.
Note the scare quotes around “data,” and the fact that being “out of step with current operational practices” means that attempts to explore whether or not children with gender dysphoria are actually transgender is now out of bounds (and, in some places, illegal).
What’s really happening here is that doctors and parents are finally supporting our [transgender] lives, even the youngest among us. To do otherwise dangerously denies transgender children their very humanity—and their safety and well-being.
The real threat to “safety and well-being” seems to be directed at gay kids at risk for being put on a premature and unnecessary path to sexual reassignment. As another letter puts it, a child’s gender identity is “a difficult and complex issue that needs serious attention and should not be decided on the merits of gender-identity politics.”
And finally. From the New York Times Magazine, How the Fight Over Transgender Kids Got a Leading Sex Researcher Fired.
Dr. Zucker encouraged effeminate boys and butch girls to be content with their gender. For that, he was fired. The progressive line is now is that you can’t be an effeminate male or butch woman (and if so, you must gender transition). Once again, the progressives show just how reactionary and authoritarian they truly are.