Guest post: Tips for parents on finding a therapist for their trans-identified teen

So many readers of this blog have agonized over how to find a therapist who won’t immediately jump to the conclusion that their distressed teen is “trans” and in need of “transition” services. I asked Lane, the clinician who wrote the excellent guest post  “Exiles in their own flesh”, if she had any advice to offer. She responded in the comments thread of this recent post. I am reproducing her remarks here for greater visibility. Thank you, Lane!

As a therapist who worked with many teens who came into my office identifying as trans, I want you parents to know I did not automatically support their transitions. Like you, I was struck by the suddenness of this phenomenon of teens thinking they were born into the wrong body. My first concern was for the teen’s mental health, I looked at other causes. It’s interesting: around the time I started noticing an uptick in the number of kids identifying this way, I mentioned my concerns to a psychiatrist and a pediatrician who were both heads of the clinic where I worked. They were both on the brink of retiring, and they did not buy this new “trend” at all. They looked at what was happening as yet another medical fad. But, like I said, they were retiring. They were the old guard. The folks who replaced these dinosaurs (just kidding) had a complete absence of critical thought for the trans-narrative. It was almost as if they wanted to distinguish themselves from those they were replacing by being more open-minded, more patient-oriented.

The two folks who have come in to replace the old guard have a notable lack of developmental psych background. They are somewhat open to learning about it, but in general their work with teens (particularly any group billed as in any way marginalized – trans is pretty much the top of the heap in this regard) tends to be informed by a social-justice paradigm over something more clinical.

So, as far as finding a therapist more critical of the trans-narrative, it might be helpful to find a practitioner who is more classically trained and who is over 50. Also, find someone who is clearly a thinking, intellectual type, rather than someone more prone to falling in with medical fads. I hate to say it, but both of the old dinosaurs were uber smart, male doctors. Perhaps it was their sense of privilege, but these guys were not afraid of stating their opinions and had enough power in the organization to easily hold onto their own sense of reality. The people who embraced the trans-narrative on my team, apparently without a critical thought, were, I hate to say this, all women. So, using this small sample, which admittedly, may be utterly useless, I’d say that finding someone who isn’t as prone to the shifting sands of group-think, who hasn’t been dependent upon being seen by other professionals as “correct,” would help. Have your kid be seen by an arrogant, old man. LOL. Who would have thought I would ever write that!

Then again, I am not an old man, but I am definitely someone who has always valued and prized truth over belonging. I’m weird that way. That could be another way to screen for a trans-critical therapist, someone more old-style intellectual rather than social-justice oriented (not that I’m not down with SJ, but I qualify it when working clinically). Therapists who are critical of trans won’t be able to come out and say they are, so you’ll need to know to look for clues. You could also read their work, if they have any. Some have blogs and websites. If they say something like, well, it seems like your kid has some other mental health concerns, I’d like to focus on those for awhile before exploring their trans issues, that would be a good sign. If they do a thorough history of your family’s mental health, trauma history, that’s a good sign. These histories are an absolute must.

If a therapist is hopping on the trans explanation right out of the gate, that’s a sign they are inexperienced and lacking clinical authority. This is why you probably want your kid to see someone who has been practicing awhile–20 years at least–because, honestly, clinicians were trained so differently in the past. The training was less politicized, more intellectual and critical and I guess a bit more honest as far as research. It wasn’t perfect in the past, obviously there were abuses, but there were general, shared standards of care and it was a bad thing to breach them. There was more personal responsibility, more commitment and investment on the part of the clinicians. Now the vast majority of the clinicians and psychiatrists in the organization where I worked constantly complain about being overworked and exhausted and feel the org is screwing them over. They are too afraid to go into private practice where they could perhaps see fewer people in a day and therefore have more mental space to see each client as an individual. When people are overworked in healthcare, it means the treatment suffers; they don’t have time to look into the background of new therapies. Honestly, none of the folks I worked with had any training in working with transgender kids. They were starting to talk about getting some, but this is just now happening. And I practice in a large, metropolitan city. There are no standards of care or official certification processes yet in place for vetting therapists who work with transgender issues.

These days, training standards for therapists are pretty weak in general. Most good clinicians study for years and years, join institutes and hopefully become critical of a lot of what they learn. The point is, there are no short-cuts; it takes clinicians a really long time to become effective. Younger clinicians tend to be swayed more by current trends because they just don’t have enough experience with seeing loads of different people. Also their training is different, and they have much less clinical confidence.

If I were a parent and my kid were experiencing this issue, I would also just be as honest and loving as you can with them about your concerns, as many of the parents here on this blog have been. It’s hard because you don’t necessarily want to use this situation as the time to explain to your kid that doctors and the medical profession have been co-opted by activists and other folks looking to profit from their distress in some way. There’s so much that needs to fall away in order for you to help your kid. And if your kid is already unstable, it could be frightening to hear mom or dad sounding like they’ve been pulled into a conspiracy theory.

I think the best way to combat becoming reactive (as we do when we feel nobody believes us and yet we feel we must continue to speak since so much is at stake) is to deal with our own grief at being so alone and not being believed. Honestly, this level of self-doubt and invalidation is traumatic for people, particularly people who have in general spent their lives being respected for their measured take on the world (your basic educated liberal parent). I honestly can’t think of anything more hellish than to suddenly find your usual experience of being taken at your word ripped out from beneath you. But this is exactly what is happening to parents who question the trans-narrative. Caring, truly loving parents (not enabling parents necessarily, but good, solid parents) are being made to question their motives. It’s heartbreaking for me as a therapist to see this happening to families. I wish I had more answers for you. It might be best to keep your child away from people who bill themselves as gender specialists.

In order to reach your child, you will absolutely need to find a way to regain your own internal grounding. This blog is obviously helping with this task. You may need to “let go a little,” which it sounds like many of you have done. By this I mean, do not fight your kid on this issue. When we deal with kids with other compulsions, such as eating disorders, we encourage parents to stop talking about food.

Reblog: The End of Transition and Learning to Love Oneself

Update: I contacted the author of this piece, and she had the following comment to add. I hope it gives heart to the parents of teens and young women who congregate here. It may not seem like your daughter is paying attention to you now, but your words may echo later. She said she is also open to responding to your questions in the comments section below.

My parents were a large part of my detransition; they planted a lot of radical seeds without my realizing it at the time. I really credit them quite a bit. I think I would be in a vastly different place if I had had their support in my transition.

Three years after it was originally posted on The Dirt From Dirt, this beautifully written piece by a young woman who “transitioned,” then made her way back home to female again, was recently pointed out to me. I recommend reading the whole thing, including the comments, which contain a great Q&A with the author. It’s bursting with insights that will be especially meaningful to parents of young women who are contemplating–or have already embarked on–transition. There are some particularly cogent passages on interactions with parents which will be very familiar to many regular readers here.

Anyone who wants to better understand the experience of female gender dysphoria, what motivates a teen or young woman to want to inject testosterone, and the complexities of parent-daughter dynamics through the whole process will find much to appreciate here.

The author (now in her late 20s) has recently stated that in the years since writing this piece, she has found healing by connecting with other women who understand her experience–understand why she distanced herself from femaleness. This community she’s found has been crucial to resisting the pressure to identify as male.

I would suggest that readers share responses to the piece in the comments section here; the article is three years old, so comments submitted to the original post on TheDirtFromDirt blog might not be seen.

A few tastes from the original–which, again, I urge everyone to read in its entirety, below. Boldface emphasis is mine.

With groups of guys, I was totally comfortable. I felt equal, like one of their peers. I was interested in the same things that interested them and related to the way they interacted with one other. There was a lot of music and video games, and not a lot of sitting around talking and gossiping. These were the ways that I interpreted “female-bonding” and “male-bonding” back in those days. I got very involved in the local music scene, playing guitar and bass in a lot of hardcore, punk, and metal bands. I used Craigslist and other local sites to find bands and band mates. I quickly learned to leave the fact that I was female out of my ads and emails. Being female impugned my credibility as a hardcore musician, it seemed to me. At the time, I thought it lucky that my name was very androgynous. More often than not, I was perceived as male.

My discomfort with my body never left me. My jealousy for my male peers grew. I bound my chest for the first time when I was 15, with duct tape over a tank top that I wore over my sports bra. I tucked my hair up into my hat, as I had continued to do since grade school. I swiped a button-down flannel shirt and some baggy jeans from my dad’s closet, tucked a sock into my underwear, and then took my girlfriend out to a movie. The feeling that all of this gave me was indescribable. For months, my girlfriend referred to me as her “boyfriend”—this, as a kind of sweet talk. I really liked it. When she saw me that night, I remember her face, and the way she looked so happy. I don’t remember anyone’s treating us any differently than they had in the past. I wasn’t trying to pass, as I didn’t even know what that meant yet. All I knew was that I hated my breasts. I felt as if I would have been much happier had I been born male; this would’ve allowed me to do and be all of the things I wanted to do and be, without getting hassled, without constantly feeling like an outsider.

On meeting with a “gender therapist”:

I graduated from university and attended counseling sessions with a gender therapist when I was 21. In our first meeting she informed me that she usually waits several months before seriously discussing medical transition with her clients. However, during this first meeting, she indicated she was comfortable discussing medical intervention and my feelings about it, because of my already extensive “real life experience” and the fact that she could “clearly see that I was a transsexual.” I informed her that I intended to medically transition as soon as I found the courage to tell my parents, and that I didn’t want to start without their at least being aware of my condition. She asked me to write down all of my earliest memories regarding gender and how I related to my body. She explained that we would use my writing as a starting point for our next meeting, during which we could begin discussing how I would come out to my parents.

Six meetings and three months later, I had my letter diagnosing me with “General Anxiety Disorder,” with a recommendation for hormone replacement as treatment. Still, I was no closer to actually telling my parents. She refrained from a “Gender Identity Disorder” diagnosis, because of my intention to live “stealth.” I saw my condition as purely medical and not something I wanted to acknowledge in the future. I had already drafted several letters and scrapped them all. I called the clinic and set up my first appointment for blood work.

On her parents’ reaction to her decision to transition:

My father was furious. My mother was heartbroken.

I still remember his calling me that night and telling me he loved me dearly and that his love for me would never change. However, he also told me he thought I was dead wrong about the decisions I was making. The next night I went to their house to talk about it in person. We had one of the longest conversations of my life. For about four hours, we picked apart the way I felt, why I felt that way, and what it meant. My father infuriated me when he told me that he actually thought I was pretty stereotypically female, in that I have a large amount of compassion and tend to be very sensitive. He asked me what I thought was different between myself and my mother—who is a very strong, driven person, and who embodies many of the qualities I strive to embody. I remember trying to explain to him that it all comes down to what people identify with in their brains, how they relate to their own bodies. I tried to tell him that it has nothing to do with characteristics like intelligence, compassion, athletic interests, or familial roles (e.g., “the breadwinner”). At every step he refuted me. He asked me if it were okay for women to want and think the things that I wanted and thought. I repeated over and over that it was, of course, okay. I asserted that it didn’t make such a woman any more of a man than my compassion made me a woman. At the time, I didn’t understand that he was bringing up all of these socially structured gendered expectations in order to encourage me to think critically about my identification and why I felt that way. All I felt was angry and trapped and disrespected. I left that night without feeling we had resolved anything. I was glad I had told them, glad I knew I still had their love. I was still so, so angry that they couldn’t just accept what I was telling them at face value.

I remember asking my father if he would still feel like a man if he woke up the next morning, inexplicably, with a vagina and breasts. He told me that he “wouldn’t give a fuck” and would go about life as normal. He told me the only thing that would change would be the way society reacted to him, but that it wouldn’t change who he was on the inside. I asked him if “who he was on the inside” was male. He told me that who he was on the inside had absolutely nothing to do with his reproductive ability or his genitals. I thought he was absolutely out of touch with the reality of the world, and of course he must have some internal sense of himself as a man, or as male. I’ve since come to realize that he meant exactly what he said.

We had a few more intensely strained conversations over the next few weeks on the subject, and eventually came around to agreeing that my parents love me and support me no matter what, but they did not believe in “gender identity.” They agreed to do whatever would make me comfortable, including refraining from using female terms regarding me, but neither of them thought they would come around to calling me “he” or their “son.” I took this as consolation enough, and resolved to move forward with my appointment to get testosterone.

There is much more at the original link. Do read it if you can.

San Francisco company selling “packers” for trans boys, ages 4 and up

Just when I thought it was safe to settle down and write a think-post centered around dry scientific research, the ever-vigilant deirdreofthegaians dug up a gem from the Peak Trans treasure mine that was far too valuable to pass up.

Update 1: GenderTrender picked up the story early this morning with more explicit detail and background on the purveyors of these latex kiddie phalluses--including the tidbit that the supplier for these devices is a Japanese sex toy company called Tomax. Haz-mat suit recommended. Where are the mainstream journalists on this story? WHERE ARE THEY?

Update 2: I tweeted Ginger Gorman, the reporter on the Aussie news story, asking whether she found anything odd about marketing phalluses to 4-year-olds.  Her reply? “Everyone is entitled to their views. You don’t agree, and that’s your prerogative.”

The story, reported by an online Aussie newspaper, is the tale of Ellie and her 11-year-old “son” Jake, who

every day runs to the letterbox to check if the postman has been. For four weeks he’s been waiting for a parcel that seems as if it will never come.

What’s Jake so eagerly awaiting? Why, it’s an overseas delivery from a San Francisco outfit called TranZwear, which bills itself as a “one-stop shop for all things FTM”–specifically “packers” and “stand to pee” (STP) prostheses.TranZwear has evidently discovered there is a niche market for penis-gear targeted at trans boys–a not-surprising business plan, given the recent steady increase in girls who wish to be boys.

Despite its expanded line of business, the welcome page for the TranZWear site makes it very, very clear that no one under the age of 18 should view the site, or allow anyone else under that age to take a peek. Just by visiting TranZWear, you pledge that

You will not allow anyone under the legal age of 18 to have any access to materials contained within. 

tranzwear welcome

So Jake is very excited about the package that is on its way from TranZWear, but if Jake and Mum followed the rules, Jake never actually looked at pictures of the two items that will be in the box: a stand-to-pee penile prosthesis and

 a soft, washable “packer,” that gets sewn into underwear to create the outward appearance of male genitalia.

“It’s desperately important for him in order to feel comfortable and pass [as a boy] all the time,” Ellie says.

Being slightly over 18 myself, I clicked over to see exactly what TranZwear has on offer. It turns out that parents of trans boys have several pint-sized options to choose from: a “starter kit”:

starter kit

Readers over 18 ONLY, you can click the above link to get a look at the “kid-sized STP,” (fits conveniently in the palm of your hand), the teen-sized “mini-Gecko,” and the “Masho STP.” I couldn’t screenshot the devices here, of course, because this is a family website, and these images are suitable for viewing only by people over 18 years and are “of an adult nature.”

Ok, so two items in Jake’s package. First, Jake needs an “STP” because

When Jake goes into a stall to urinate in the boys’ toilets at school, Ellie explains that he feels “very self conscious about the fact that he always has to sit down. It was distressing him to point where he wasn’t going to the toilet at school,” she says.

Which particular device will Jake need for standing to pee? TranZwear’s “Kids-sized STP” for ages 5-12 is just the ticket–on sale tonight for only $58.00, and even available in both circumcised and uncircumcised models. (Again, readers over the age of 18 only!!! can click over to see the kid-sized STP.)


But the STP only works for the urinal problem so important to Jake’s mum–um, Jake.

Ellie points to the difficulty of female to male transgender children participating in sports like ballet, gym and swimming without a packer in their underwear. “There’s a serious issue behind all of this. It prevents trans kids from participating in a lot of sport,” she says. This issue does have a lighthearted side, though. Reflecting on her search to find her son appropriate products, Ellie describes her situation as “tragicomic.”

“I’m an adult, married heterosexual woman who doesn’t have a child with a penis,” she says, “I don’t really know what children’s penises look like and yet I’ve had really explicit conversations with strangers about children’s penises.”

Ok, then. “Explicit conversations with strangers” about children’s genitals are just a hum-drum part of parenting a gender nonconforming child in progressive 2015.

TranZwear has just the solution for the sporty trans boy in its “mini-Gecko”–marked down 40% to be a steal at $23.95. Jake–oops, I mean Jake’s mum, who is presumably over 18–can even pick between soft and hard models. Both have the “vein look” along the shaft and a “hardier ball pack.” (Um–don’t ask?)  Image available for adults only!! here.

mini gecko

But…what about younger, or more petite trans boys? When it comes time for your little trans boy to join the soccer team or Little League softball, the mini-Gecko might not be the right fit.

TranZwear has thought of that, with a line of packers for kids ages 4 and up, only $25.95 ($20 discount!). The “Newt” Packer (rather aptly named, if you examine the adults only!! picture) will be just right for your 1st-4th grader, while the “Teeny Bopper” should suit your tween sportsman to a “T.”

child teen packer

Lest anyone reading the Aussie news story about Jake and his mum find any of this–oh, I don’t know, a bit uncomfortable to contemplate–we are reassured by the company’s owner, Den Kirkwood-Tucker, that TranZwear has only the most wholesome interests of its trans boy customers in mind:

[TranZwear] works carefully with each family to take into account the child’s “age and where they are in their transition.”

Mr Kirkwood-Tucker specialises in custom orders and has consistently refused “offers to sell my designs and products to the adult industry.”“These products are key for trans kids and adults to help them move forward in their gender transition and are not sex related items.”

Good to know.

Kirkwood-Tucker isn’t the only entrepreneur getting in on the booming business of transition wear for kids. The article goes on to feature a seamstress who specializes in discrete, concealing underwear for trans girls.

Some transgender girls prefer clothing that disguises their genitalia. Seamstress Chris McKelvey, owns an Etsy store called LeoLines. She started making items for transgender girls four years ago when a mother asked if it was possible to modify a bathing suit for her male to female daughter.

Since then Ms McKelvey has made more than 1000 pieces of clothing for transgender children, including underpants and various types of active wear.

I’ll leave you to do your own exploration of these online stores. There’s much more to be found on the TranZwear site, but bear in mind, shoppers: these preschool penises are to be seen by over 18 ONLY.

You are voluntarily continuing to view this site and will be exposed to material that are medically transitional items and of an adult nature. If you are not at least 18, please close this page.

UK legislators told to inculcate preschoolers with gender dogma

Peak trans (n.): The epiphany experienced by many formerly supportive “allies” upon realizing that the transgender phenomenon is not what we once thought it was.

I have reached this peak so many times I now wear a mental oxygen mask so that I may continue to scale its dizzying heights. But this little news item in the UK Daily Mail had me gasping for breath nevertheless.

Children as young as three-years-old should be taught about transgender issues using story books about penguins, MPs have been told. A charity which works with transgender children say the number of youngsters wanting to change gender is ‘increasingly rapidly’. The organisation wants nursery and infant school children to read the Penguin Land stories, which introduce young children to gender identity issues.

Because, you see, the British school system has so far been doing it all wrong.

The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) has accused the Department for Education of failing to take the lead on the issue.

[Update: Please see this informative comment by atranswidow for more in-depth information about GIRES.]

What would “the lead” be?
penguins 4

Sexing baby birds is hard. But sexing humans used to be so easy anyone could do it–even Mum or Dad! Not anymore.

Penguins and trans kid

Notice the emphasis on “love you just the same” in both of these pages from the storybook. Of course, 3-year-olds need to know they are loved by their parents. The implication is that parents who don’t fall in line with their preschooler’s claim to be the opposite sex don’t love their child. Notice also that there is no attempt to support parents who might celebrate their child being “gender nonconforming.” No, this is about assigning the child as a boy or a girl according to the offspring’s childish convictions.

penguins 3

The family’s only job is to “listen” to the child.  Otherwise, they are “wrong.” The child needn’t “listen” to the doubts, guidance, or advice of the parents.

And there is only one way to have a happy ending to this story…

penguins 2

Of course, this is a children’s book so we can’t be emotionally blackmailing Mum and Dad by including a picture showing the grim alternate family event that will likely occur (hint: everyone will be wearing black and there will be no balloons) should they NOT change Polly’s name to Tom. But you can be sure GIRES and other “charities for transgender children” will deliver that message to parents one way or the other. Won’t be too difficult with the lapdog media ever ready to comply.

In evidence to the Common’s Women and Equalities Committee, it said: ‘The numbers of very young children transitioning in primary school are increasing rapidly, so information and reassurance needs to be given at the earliest stage… A report earlier this year stated that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, the UK’s only centre specialising in gender issues in under 18s, has seen a four-fold increase in referrals in the last six years. In 2014-15, 47 children referred to the unit were aged five or younger and two of the children were three years old.

But the Mail won’t be looking into exactly WHY there has been this rapid increase in children “transitioning,” now will it? Especially since “news” stories exactly like this very one might be helping to fuel this four-fold increase in parents seeking “treatment” for their “transgender” kids?

Funny, isn’t it, how the pediatric medical literature from bygone days isn’t simply overflowing with accounts of young children desperate–desperate!!– to transition to the opposite sex, just waiting for modern science to catch up with all these melancholy preschoolers. Back in the 1970s, those poor “transgender children” had to assuage their dysphoric misery by playing with unisex Legos:


Isn’t it great that today we’ve got it sorted: proper pink and blue Legos so the little ones can make it clear to Mum and Dad exactly which gender they actually are!

girl and boy legos

Daily Mail,  the heavy gendering of modern day toys couldn’t have anything at all to do with this trans kid trend, could it? Of course not. As a GIRES representative admonishes us,

‘Our statutory guidance is clear that young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationships education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs.

So 3-year-olds need to be concerned about their “developing sexuality” and “sex and relationships.” Got it. When my kid was 3, she would have been a lot more worried about the well-being of her imaginary and gender-fluid dog and cat friends, but I guess times have changed.

In its evidence, GIRES also urged the DfE to press for schools and exam boards to co-operate in registering children ‘in the name that accords with their gender identity’. It added: ‘Schools should be advised that requesting a GRC [gender recognition certificate], as some do, is entirely inappropriate.’

So if little Jimmy comes to kindergarten insisting he’s Janie, and Polly is now Tommy, the authorities must change these children’s school registration papers to the gender these kids proclaim they are.

Can you say “indoctrination”?

We now have “charities” working with “transgender children” instructing legislators in a major Western democracy to toe the transgender line. What could possibly go wrong?

Now I have truly seen it all. And the little preschoolers who say they’re the opposite sex will be applauded for their “bravery,” while any doubting parents will be considered transphobic or, at best, woefully out of step.

Sometimes I think the only explanation for what has happened in the last decade is a poisoned water supply. How else to explain the utter extinction of critical thought amongst parents, medical professionals, journalists, and now, apparently, legislatures and school systems worldwide?

Not long ago, I took a relatively benign view of what is known as “social transition,” which is exactly what GIRES is pushing. My main bailiwick was medical transition: hormones and surgeries. What’s the harm in using a child’s “preferred pronouns?” What’s wrong with agreeing with a preteen insisting they are actually the opposite sex? Little children insisting they are the opposite sex should be validated–even on official school documents. Why not?  In fact, if we take this far enough (as trans activists now have), we can all agree that medical transition isn’t even necessary. A penis can be female. A man can get pregnant. Voila! No surgeon or endocrinologist needed.

But I no longer take comfort in the notion that everything short of medical transition is an acceptable compromise. Such thinking has led (to take but one of many examples) to a teenage boy, only recently deciding he is a girl, to insist he be allowed to use the girls’ locker room, even while flouncing around in a dress and no underwear so that his penis is clearly visible. “Lila” Perry has become a media cause celebre, while over 200 of his female classmates, who have, after all, known him for years, are denounced as bigots. This same warped thinking has led to a feminist event at the University of Auckland, NZ being shut down because it was to include a lighthearted cupcake exhibition which dared to celebrate female genitalia.

How can anyone with a working brain not see this for what it is? The dots are so easy to connect. The increasingly gendered stereotyping of kids’ toys and activities;  the societal collusion in childhood magical thinking; the redefinition of biological reality, in which a girl can have a penis or a boy a vagina; the denial of sexual dimorphism, possibly leading eventually to major repeated surgeries, lifelong treatment with opposite sex hormones that were never meant for that body; and frequently, sterility. It’s a conveyor belt started up in toddlerhood, leading inexorably to enrichment of medical providers, families wrenched apart, and the McCarthyite silencing and shaming of anyone who disagrees.

There is nothing revolutionary, cutting edge, or “progressive” about any of this. The truly brave and open-minded position a parent could take in 2015 is a loving but firm stand: No, you are not the opposite sex. No, your penis is not female. But you can dress however you like, you can grow up to pursue any job you like, and there is no such thing as boy or girl clothing or pursuits. If you feel like or long to be the opposite sex, it just means that you are a wonderful and unusual example of the sex you actually are. I celebrate you in all your uniqueness, and together we will show the world just how expansive the definition of a boy or girl truly can be.

That is true gender fluidity. That is true gender expansion. And in today’s upside down world, that is good parenting.

Sadly, such reasonable parenting is not only not supported anymore. It is on the point of being outlawed, particularly in leftist circles. Make no mistake, what we have is a gathering storm, with no end in sight. The incredibly successful co-optation of the LGB movement to unquestioningly accept the inclusion of T has resulted in liberals and progressives disowning their own common sense and ability to think and act critically.

The transgender phenomenon is a peculiar mix of anti- and pro-science aspects. On the one hand, it heavily embraces advances in plastic surgery and pharmaceutical interventions, piggybacking on the extreme body modifications that are increasingly the norm in Western societies. Trans activists and “gender specialists,” lacking rigorous research to support their claims, cherry pick brain studies to prove there is such a thing as male or female brain, and that it is therefore the “wrong” body that must be modified to match a brain that has convinced itself it has a specific “gender.”

On the anti-science hand, trans activists and specialists eschew the most basic and long-settled scientific realities, as well as more contemporary discoveries. Feelings and “personal identity” trump any evidence to the contrary. Insights from decades of biology and genetics are ignored, as are the more recent findings in neuroscience and adolescent brain development. Amongst biologists, sexual dimorphism is not a controversial concept in regards to any other member of the animal kingdom. But according to transition promoters, humans should be granted an exception, based purely on professed feelings and ideas.

Similarly, the now well understood late-maturation of human executive function is ignored by the transgender movement. In recognition of the fact that young people are ill equipped to make major decisions or handle dangerous situations, driver education and licensing requirements for teenage drivers have been tightened. The drinking age was increased to 21 in the United States some 30 years ago. For all other feelings or convictions fervently held by young people, mental health professionals serving teens understand that adolescents change their minds, often more than once.  They are impulsive. They are unaware of future consequences. And psychologists who take care of younger, primary school children? In any other arena apart from “gender identity,” psychologists recognize that fantasy and reality are blurred in the mental life of young kids. This aspect of child development is as well understood as gravity, or the fact that the Earth is round and revolves around the sun.

Lifelong neuroplasticity–the ability of the human brain to dramatically change in response to experience and circumstances–is one of the most groundbreaking discoveries of the 20th century. But this insight is shunted aside in the rush to legitimize childhood transgenderism. Multiple, replicated fMRI and behavioral studies have shown that the brain rewires in response to experience and repeated activity.  And the inherent plasticity of a young brain has actually been understood for many decades. It’s why young brains recover from trauma more quickly and more completely.

How can anyone think that a little child, toying with identity, insisting that they are the opposite sex, subsequently obliged and coddled in this delusion, then “socially transitioned” for 10 years, will not be changed and in fact molded by that experience? How can anyone think such a child would then blithely drop the puberty blockers and revert back to their natal sex? “Social transition” is not some sort of benign trying-it-out period. The entire society–the family, the school, the doctor–in fact, all the adults in the life of a child (who in earlier times would’ve been looking for guidance from those adults, not the other way around) have conditioned that child.

How insane is it that it has become politically incorrect and even illegal in some places to simply encourage a child to accept and embrace the actual biological sex that they are? Why has it become forbidden to guide a child to realize they might be an exceptional and unusual example of their biological sex? To celebrate that;  to encourage it. And further, to bravely help a society that has locked itself into gender stereotypes to also accept and celebrate such variations from the norm?

The claim that transgenderism is about breaking gender stereotypes is the most Orwellian, the most insidious, co-optation that has been accomplished by transgender proponents. Not only have they successfully shut down critical thought by convincing the public that the transgender trend is equivalent to the gay and lesbian liberation movement. (Never mind that being sexually attracted to the same sex does not entail divorcing oneself from biological reality.) Using such terms as “gender fluid” and “genderqueer,” they have falsely assumed the mantle of the open-minded, of those who are expanding gender roles. True gender fluidity is a child or a teen or an adult living and looking the way they feel comfortable, denying the labels, denying the stereotypes, refusing to accept restrictions on what a woman or man can be.

The way things are going, a parent who encourages such actual gender fluidity, without facilitating social or medical transition, may soon risk having their child taken away by authorities in the not-too-distant future.

The only way–the only way a change will take place is for parents and other adults to speak out before it’s too late.  This juggernaut is moving quickly.

As a society–and more specifically, as people who purport to believe in human liberation and progress–we have lost our way. It is incumbent upon those of us who have come to this realization to speak out in whatever way we can.  It will not be the first time in human history that a medical or cultural trend has been fully embraced, later to be discarded.

Those in the transgender community who insist that critics like me are on the wrong side of history have it exactly backwards. A social trend that results in the sterilization of children, in the tightening of gender-restrictive stereotypes, in the alienation of children from their families, is not the stuff of progress. It is a deeply regressive phenomenon that is going to require all hands on deck to reverse.

New YouTube channel forming: Role models for “gender nonconforming” females

A few days ago, I shared an inspiring video by the intrepid Peachyoghurt, a “gender nonconforming” woman who never outgrew being a tomboy. She wants to help our daughters realize they don’t have to “transition” to be happy in their own bodies. If you haven’t watched it yet, you owe it to yourself to take 3 minutes out of your day to do it now. If you’ve got more time, she’s got several other videos to check out as well.

Peachyoghurt is collaborating with me and others to create a YouTube channel that will feature videos like hers. If you are interested in participating, or know anyone who might be, write to: womenstaywomen at gmail dot com.  This channel. called “Women Forever,” will be a great counterbalance to the FTM Teen Transition Network (in other words, the huge mass of videos currently on YouTube exhorting our daughters to join the trend).

Of uterus transplants, hysterectomies, and “pregnant individuals”

Human bodies are increasingly treated like used cars in our brave new world of gender identity. Body shops, aka “gender confirmation surgery clinics” have plenty of spare parts that are junked, discarded, or reinserted into different shells according to the body owner’s professed gender identity. And why not? It’s a lucrative new medical specialty, with plenty of eager new mechanics ready to serve their dysphoric clients.

First, you gotta redefine the car models to make the parts more interchangeable. Marketing is all in retail sales, so a good start would be excising the word “woman” from any discussion about giving birth. This makes the uterus a disembodied entity, decoupled from its formerly female mooring.

A group of midwives called Woman-Centered Midwifery recently wrote an open letter to the Midwives Alliance of North American (MANA), decrying MANA’s replacement of the word “woman” with “individual” in their literature and guidelines.

We are concerned that, except for in the trademarked section from the Midwives Model of Care, the word “woman” has been erased from the MANA core competencies document and replaced with “pregnant individual” and “birthing parent.” We recognize that the words maternal and motherbaby were not removed from the document, implying that the reviewers maintained a mutual and shared respect for the sanctity of the motherbaby unit in midwifery. But women are now all but missing from the language, as if we can separate woman from mother from baby. Woman is recognized now only in relation to her baby.  This is harmful to female adult humans; we women have fought long and hard to be recognized as autonomous beings.

The response from MANA (“birth for everybody”) was swift, and despite a lot of lofty and condescending verbiage, their message boiled down to this: You natural-birth midwives are just a pack of transphobes.

The purpose of this response is to explain why and how the Open Letter is harmful to transgender, genderqueer and intersex people, why midwifery documents should be gender inclusive, and why people of all genders should be welcomed into midwifery care. While we are focusing on birth-related care in this letter, it is important to notice the subtle and insidious ways the “open letter” attempts to erase the lives and narratives of transgender women and other women who cannot or do not give birth.

So trans men can give birth and MANA doesn’t want to refer to them as “women.” But surely we can all agree that trans women, whom MANA appears most concerned about “erasing,” cannot give birth, so “pregnant individuals” will never refer to them.

Not if groundbreaking gender surgeons get their way.

In Sweden, researchers have succeeded in transplanting a uterus “which resulted in the birth of a healthy and fully developed child, carried to term by its birth mother.”

According to Dr. Sherman Leis, founder of the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery and a pioneer in surgical techniques for transgender men and women, “The brilliance of this scientific work and clinical trials in Sweden is that the uterus is being implanted in a way that does not require it being connected to the recipient’s Fallopian tubes or ovaries, which obviously a MTF patient does not have.”

So I predict a boom in the body spare parts business. Plenty of organ donors (who undoubtedly will be paid for their altruistic gestures) are likely already lining up. Heck, people are selling their kidneys on eBay, why not the bleeding, useless bag of monthly nuisances?

But here’s an idea to make the whole process more efficient. With all the dysphoric women wanting to rid themselves of their useless uteruses (typically damaged anyway by all the testosterone they’re injecting), why not set up an efficient assembly-line operation to quickly transfer the organ from the FTM to MTF with a minimum of fuss and bother? Instead of having to dig around for women–I mean, “uterus havers”– who are willing to have their spare part yanked out for the right price, why not line up the donors and recipients in tidy hospital wards, side by side, with all the tubes and surgical paraphernalia sitting companionably between them?

Think of the profits. Think of the lifelong friendships that will arise from these reproductive engine swaps. The trans men would sleep soundly, knowing that their worthless birthing bag was being skillfully transferred to a body that would use it properly. Mission accomplished for the surgical grease monkeys.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to get “trans kids” on the used part assembly lines as early as possible. So they won’t have to put up TOO long with internal organs that are just so wrong for them. Who needs a damn uterus and egg follicles when you’re six anyway? I can’t wait for the trans kids’ books: “Judy’s uterus was wrong but it was just perfect for little Jason, who now goes by ‘Jazey’.”

Why wait? Donate to the female repro organ donation center today. The uterus you give will brighten the future of a  REAL woman. And good luck with that phalloplasty, man!

From the Department of Horrible Misleading Propaganda

This picture, found on the LGBT News Facebook page, is the sort of thing that silences critics of childhood transition and cows terrified parents into submission. And it is unconscionable.

suicide meme pink wings

There is nothing–nothing–that could be worse for parents than the thought that their child could commit suicide. The trans activists who use these memes know that. And they are dishonest.

There is zero evidence that childhood transition prevents suicide. Zero. There IS research suggesting that bullying (by peers or anyone else, about anything) and lack of parental support for gender nonconformity can contribute to thoughts of self harm. But support for gender nonconformity (i.e, not adhering to stereotyped male or female behavior) is not equivalent to saying, “Yes, Suzie, if you say you’re a boy, you are.” The conflation of gender nonconformity with gender identity is rife in the media and deliberately used by activists. Colluding in a delusion is the polar opposite of supporting a child to express themselves however they like. 

As I wrote about in this post, listen to what Ash Haffner’s mom said about her teen daughter, who committed suicide earlier this year:

She was trying to figure out her identity,” Quick said. “She felt like a boy trapped in a girl’s body. She was caught somewhat in between. People weren’t really giving her the time to figure herself out. … All she wanted was for people to just accept her. Ash started enduring the most bullying when she cut her hair short.”

Ash was bullied when she cut her hair and didn’t kow-tow to gender stereotypes. She also wrote prior to killing herself that she didn’t want to be remembered as a “faggot.” Do trans activists ever mention homophobia as a factor in the misery of these young people? No.

Trans activists need to cease and desist using suicidality as a weapon to emotionally blackmail parents. Any child troubled enough to contemplate self harm needs immediate help, and by definition, has mental health issues beyond discomfort with gender roles or puberty-induced body changes. The facile and false cause-effect relationship that these activists and gender specialists promote is simply wrong, and deeply immoral. And to the extent the media promotes this meme, journalists are contributing to the well-known phenomenon of suicidal contagion in troubled and impressionable young people. Shame on them.

Instead of agreeing with confused young people who think their only options are transition or suicide, why not encourage them to expand the definition of what it means to be a girl or boy, using examples like this? Peachyoghurt’s parents didn’t clip her wings. As far as I’m concerned, the ones doing the real wing-clipping, the actual bullying right now, are the activists and gender specialists.

NOT an FTM transition video–just a tomboy with supportive parents

Wow, oh wow, do we need more of these. YouTube should be flooded with vids like this. Beautiful girl, beautiful message. Go peachyoghurt!

The research says one of the risks for “gender nonconforming” kids to self harm or attempt suicide is unsupportive parents. This is what I call support. My parents gave me that support. A lot of us who grew up before the trans-trend had it.

Genderqueer? Trans? No way.

If more women make videos like this, maybe our girls won’t be so quick to abandon the female tribe.. Peachyoghurt’s got a whole YouTube channel full.

“There was no such thing as transgender back then. I was just a tomboy and I could do what I wanted. I never changed. I became my own woman.”

Enjoy! It’s a 3-minute mood lifter to lighten all the heavy stuff that usually gets posted here.

Guest post: Medical doctor dismayed that his 15-year-old son is transitioning

Update: Worried Doc is a dad.  

A few days ago, a commenter calling himself “worried doc” wrote to me. He is a  physician who is skeptical of the current transition trend. Not only is his own teenage son embarking on this medical journey. The young man is also enrolled in the new multicenter NIH study of pediatric medical transition. Here is the doctor’s story.

“First, Do No Harm”: The Gender Dysphoria Hustle

by Worried Doc

I am surprised and dismayed to find myself having to write this letter. I am a physician, having practiced for forty years as a specialist in primary care medicine. As such, I would occasionally have patients who would complain of “being in the wrong body”, not being comfortable with who they are, or similar concerns. Having no way in my practice to evaluate or deal at all with this constellation of symptoms, I would refer them to what I presumed was appropriate psychiatric care.

I have a very difficult teenage son. He has been treated for mental health issues for a number of years without improvement, and has also attended multiple residential psychiatric facilities where he was tagged with diagnoses including anxiety and depression with intermittent suicidal tendencies. What has emerged more recently and prominently is his expressed desire to become a woman, with the threat of suicide if he is thwarted in doing so. I would bring this up to his therapists, who simply washed their hands of it, stating that they don’t treat this problem and suggesting he move on to someone else who does.

My first experience with a therapist who deals with “gender dysphoria”– the state of one’s self-perceived gender being incongruent with one’s natal biology– was alarming. Her suggestion was to immediately start my son on a lifelong regimen of cross-sex hormones and prepare him for multiple surgeries, including chondrolaryngoplasty (scalpular scraping of the thyroid cartilage to reduce the size of the Adam’s Apple) and a procedure described to me simply as “down below”, in order to feminize him as quickly as possible. I later learned that “down below”, or “bottom surgery”, is a polite, casual euphemism for a bilateral orchiectomy (surgical castration) and penile inversion vaginoplasty: the skinning and removal of the penis, with the empty flap of penile and scrotal skin inverted into a newly-made body cavity to create a “neovagina”. These recommendations were all made during the first visit, with no further insight given as to the nature or cause of the situation at hand. I was, however, referred along to a doctor “who knows that stuff” at a major medical facility. Upon arriving at that office, I was met with a friendly physician’s assistant who performed a physical exam on my son, after which we were promptly instructed on how to proceed. Very little of the discussion was regarding diagnosis or etiology; the risks, benefits, and side effects of the proposed treatment went largely unaddressed. He was to be started on estrogen at this stage, despite there being only the most superficial of clinical work-ups required for the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The diagnosis was based almost entirely on the self-reported say-so of my troubled 15-year-old son.

My son was not advised, nor was I, regarding the frequency and treatment of complications arising from male-to-female transgender hormone therapy. This off-label administration of hormones to children was foreign to me, though as a doctor I knew the names of the drugs involved, and I also knew their possible side effects: deep vein thrombophlebitis, permanent infertility, polycythemia, pulmonary embolism, and death. The issue of infertility was raised by myself, concerned about the risk of my son becoming sterile and therefore having no chance to have a family of his own one day. All care at the facility prescribing his cross-sex hormone treatment was provided by a PA; I never saw a physician. I have scoured the medical literature and found little legitimate science regarding the medical treatment of pediatric gender dysphoria, the long-term outcomes of such treatment, or the sudden, recent groundswell of young people diagnosed with this previously-uncommon condition: so much speculation, so many unanswered questions, so few studies.

I took an oath with my medical degree. It states, “first, do no harm”. I wrestle with that oath daily: advised of my son’s suicidal ideation– which, I was told, will only increase in severity if his feminization treatments are denied– his gender therapist told me he was “better a live girl than a dead boy”, and what parent could possibly disagree? And yet, as a doctor, I know what these drugs can do. When the time comes for my son’s sex reassignment surgeries, I– and he– will have to contend with another set of potentially life-threatening complications, including the possibility of a rectovaginal fistula, a hole between the neovagina and rectum that can require the use of a colostomy bag, and can also result in infection and death. I can only hope that the day will come when my child, and other children faced with gender dysphoria, will have safe, legal guidelines and regulations for the treatment of their dysphoria, and that those laws will be based on quality, unbiased scientific studies. This brave new world of radical, life-changing gender reassignment for children too young to drive or vote seems all too much like the Wild West.

As I write this letter, there is a study underway regarding the hormonal treatment of pediatric gender dysphoria, yet with tremendous conflicts of interest throughout: at least a few of the doctors running the study are, or have been, employed as consultants by the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the hormones being used. Is this why my son was seemingly sped through the process of diagnosis and prescription, hustled into hormones? There remain far more questions than answers. Yes, there is now a study, but the terrible irony is that one of the study’s subjects is my own son.

Testosterone may erode language skills in the female brain

This MRI study of brain changes in 18 women who are injecting testosterone to “transition” to male is getting a bit of traction in the press. (Apparently the researchers, from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, have only announced their findings; there is no published paper in the literature that I could find.)

Update: In response to several comments I’ve received, as well as some fruitful Twitter discussions with scientists and linguists, I would like to clarify a couple of points:

  • By itself, this study tells us nothing definitive about the possible impact of testosterone on the female brain. Particularly since the researchers did not couple the MRI with pre- and post-testosterone cognitive-linguistic testing, we don’t know whether the reduction in gray matter in the subjects’ brains correlates with reduced verbal fluency. Even more informative would be functional MRI studies (fMRI) while the subjects are performing linguistic tasks. Obviously, the results should spur researchers to do studies on more subjects, along with objective linguistic test measures to see whether results are replicated and whether they do indicate a decline in linguistic skills. I have found 3 studies in the research literature which point to a statistically significant decline in verbal fluency in women who have increased circulating testosterone.
  • Secondly, it is my opinion that the results of this study, along with a few others which assessed verbal fluency, should be shared with women who are contemplating testosterone “therapy.” It’s quite likely some of these women would go on to inject “T” anyway, but it’s also possible some would choose not to. Knowledge is power.
  • To discover whether testosterone-induced brain changes seen on MRI are permanent, another important line of research would be to longitudinally study women who want to inject “T” for only a limited time period. Multiple followup MRIs (and cognitive-linguistic testing) would provide insight into whether testosterone’s effects are permanent or temporary in these cases.

The big news is that “T” administered to women results in decreased volume of gray matter in the all-important zone of language in the brain, Broca and Wernicke’s areas. And these changes occurred after only 4 weeks of testosterone treatment.

According to one of the researchers, Dr. Andreas Hahn,

It has been known for some time that higher testosterone is linked to smaller vocabulary in children and that verbal fluency skills decrease in female-to-male transsexuals after testosterone treatment. This fits in well with our finding of decreased grey matter volume. However, the strengthening of the white matter in these areas was a surprise. We think that when it comes to certain language skills, the loss of grey matter outweighs the strengthened white matter connection.

Think about that. “It has been known for some time…that verbal fluency skills decrease in female-to-male transsexuals….when it comes to certain language skills, the loss of grey matter…” We are potentially talking about a loss of brain cells here.

Call me alarmist, but this is such major news that all the gender specialists should be sitting up and taking notice and–oh, I don’t know, maybe expressing a few doubts about the wisdom of injecting male sex hormones into females? Or asking the women about to start on “T” whether a potential loss of neurons is something they actually want for their future? Seems there might be some need to question whether a  reduction in gray matter of the cerebral cortex is an acceptable risk to take for women who wish they were men?

The press coverage I’ve seen so far hasn’t hinted at any medical ethics concerns raised by the study results. For instance, the venerable Washington Post treats the whole thing as just another ha-ha “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” fluff piece. Heck, the title of the Post article is “Why Men Get Tongue-Tied.” They could at least have called it “Why Women are So Verbally Adept.” You know, throw a tiny bone to the fact that the subjects of this study were women? 

Instead, it’s all about the differences in how men and women communicate–which admittedly, is an interesting corollary. But hang on a minute. How can they even draw those conclusions? This study didn’t compare men and women. The journalists are jabbering glibly about differences between men and women, but the study looked at 18 women who had been injecting themselves with testosterone for a month, not men.

But you can’t entirely blame the predictably shallow, politically correct press for ignoring the elephant in the room–or should I say, the guinea pigs. The researchers themselves only seem interested in how these results illuminate the differences between men and women–not on the rather sobering implications for “gender reassignment.” The opening paragraph of the press release says

Brain imaging shows that testosterone therapy given as part of sex reassignment changes the brain structures and the pathway associated with speech and verbal fluency. This result supports research that women in general may deal with speech and interaction differently than men.

So let me see if I follow. If endogenous hormones are largely responsible for some rather crucial brain and communication differences between ADULT men and women, how in the hell are transgender people “really” the opposite sex from birth (as the activists and specialists firmly believe), if it takes hormone treatment to actually differentiate their brains?

What we see is a real quantitative difference in brain structure after prolonged exposure to testosterone. This would have been impossible to understand without looking at a transsexual population. In more general terms, these findings may suggest that the genuine difference between the brains of women and men is substantially attributable to the effects of circulating sex hormones. Moreover, the hormonal influence on human brain structure goes beyond early developmental phases and is still present in adulthood.

Right. “Circulating sex hormones” make the man (or woman). So, aren’t the researchers then pretty much stating that people who claim to have brains “born in the wrong body” don’t actually have the brains of the opposite sex until they undergo cross-sex hormone treatment? 

This intriguing neuroimaging study of transsexuals before and after their female-to-male gender reassignment suggests that even adult men and women differ in brain structure within regions involved in language and speech. In particular, female-to-male gender reassignment resulted in local brain matter decrease within language processing regions, which may explain why verbal abilities are often stronger in women.

Here’s an idea. How about we start doing some pre-treatment studies and surveys of young women who are considering “transition.” Hell, let’s ask the prepubescent girls and teens too, since the activists and gender docs seem to think the earlier they get on “T”, the better. Let’s ask them how they feel about a “brain matter decrease” that potentially could make them less adept with language. (We don’t know this but it’s a possibility).

Just a suggestion. Just a few words from the zone of language in this female brain, which has not been marinated in extra androgens, thank you very much.

Some other press coverage of this research. None mention that loss of gray matter in the zone of language might be cause for concern in “transitioning” females. In fact, they are all essentially rewrites of the press release provided by the researchers. I’d expect more from well established news outlets with high circulation, but that’s just me. (Tangentially, I did happen upon an interesting study showing higher circulating testosterone in children who stutter, inspiring me to look more deeply into the effects of testosterone on communication skills in the future.)