The trend of “socially transitioning” children as young as 2 or 3 years old to endorse the notion they are “born in the wrong body” is a very new phenomenon. But to read about it in the press, you’d think this was a settled area of clinical practice, with proven results and few doubts about its efficacy.
It is no such thing.
In a 2011 journal article, Dutch clinician-researchers who first pioneered the use of puberty blockers cautioned that early social transitions can be difficult to reverse:
As for the clinical management in children before the age of 10, we suggest a cautious attitude towards the moment of transitioning. Given our findings that some girls, who were almost (but not even entirely) living as boys in their childhood years, experienced great trouble when they wanted to return to the female gender role, we believe that parents and caregivers should fully realize the unpredictability of their child’s psychosexual outcome. They may help the child to handle their gender variance in a supportive way, but without taking social steps long before puberty, which are hard to reverse.
Even the Endocrine Society, which actively promotes puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for pubescent children, counseled against social transition in its practice guideline:
As recently as last year, a 17-clinic qualitative study reported on doubts some clinicans have about aspects of “affirmative” treatments for children:
As long as debate remains … and only limited long-term data are available, there will be no consensus on treatment. Therefore, more systematic interdisciplinary and (worldwide) multicenter research is required.
But among many clinicians and activists, social transition (which usually leads to puberty blocking and then to cross sex hormones) is now being actively promoted as completely harmless and “fully reversible.” Not only that: it is being shamelessly peddled as the only way to prevent suicide amongst children and teenagers.
What evidence do we have for these assertions? There is no historical record of desperately dysphoric “trans children” who demanded sex change lest they commit suicide. The constant media and activist drumbeat that very young children must be socially transitioned ASAP; must be called by the correct pronouns; must have their “wrong bodies” fixed prior to the “wrong puberty”– or they will kill themselves–is the most irresponsible thing the mass media and medical profession could possibly do. It is a form of emotional blackmail which has terrorized countless parents into handing their kids over to gender clinics and activist-run “charities” for transition to the opposite sex. And the media, by running breathless stories implying that the only way to support gender-defiant and gender dysphoric children is to “transition” them, may be contributing to suicide contagion, a phenomenon that has been well known for decades.
As far as evidence that social transition is “reversible,” which of these children is actually “reversing”? Certainly, the ones who have continued on to puberty blockers are not:
Imagine the pressures on any of the myriad trans-kid YouTube stars, or the children who are the subjects of the too-many-to-count fawning media portrayals we see in every major newspaper and magazine. Can a Jazz Jennings really change course?
None of the children who have been identified as “truly transgender” by clinicians like Norman Spack and Johanna Olson are going to get the chance to find out if they would have been just as happy not being socially transitioned. We won’t learn in any systematic way whether social transition and media validation could be creating persistence in children who might otherwise have grown up without medical and psychiatric tampering. We can’t know, because researchers aren’t studying them; they don’t have control groups of children who claim to be the opposite sex but who are not socially transitioned and subsequently puberty blocked.
What is a truly transgender child? According to activists and some clinicians, the key trait (along with being generally “gender nonconforming” and preferring the clothes, activities, and appearance more typical of the opposite sex) is that these children are more “persistent, consistent, and insistent” in saying they are the opposite sex (vs simply wanting to be, or wishing they were).
But what is the meaning of “persistent, consistent, and insistent” with children who have only been on the planet a short time, as are the many toddlers, preschoolers, and grade schoolers now being labeled as “trans kids”? Especially when a rather large percentage of these children also exhibit traits of autism—a disorder known to be characterized by rigid thinking, gender nonconformity, and obsessive/restricted patterns of behaviors?
Activists don’t seem troubled by any of this, nor by the decades of research showing most dysphoric children desist and grow up to be lesbian or gay adults.
The recent study most often cited by trans activists is one by Kristina Olson at the University of Washington, which essentially proved that children who preferred the activities and appearance of the opposite sex weren’t just pretending; they really meant what they said! (Why would anyone question that?)
But even Dr. Olson, whose confirmation-bias-riddled study includes no control group of non-socially transitioned children, admits that no one can know the outcome for this new generation of experimental patients.
These kids are, by any measure, guinea pigs being subjected to social engineering and then (in most cases) experimental medical procedures, the results of which won’t be known for decades. Researchers like Kristina Olson are fully aware of this, but they think it’s worth the cost of some regrets, some detransitions. Because hey–it’s science.
A commenter on the above article aptly points out the elephant in the room:
Fortunately, there is reliable data from other clinician-researchers which suggest a more cautious approach is still in order. We have a 2012 study by Devita Singh, which demonstrated that a very high proportion of kids—some 88%–happily desisted from a trans identification as adults. It’s worth noting that several of these children were “persistent, insistent and consistent” in their formerly intense gender dysphoria.
Dr. Singh shared her views about early transition in a recent, unusually balanced article in The Walrus magazine:
Singh is frustrated that, despite the findings of her study and others like it, there’s now more pressure than ever for doctors and families to affirm a young child’s stated gender. She doesn’t recommend immediate affirmation and instead suggests an approach that involves neither affirming nor denying, but starting with an exploration of how very young children are feeling. Affirmation, she argues, should be a last resort.
These days there can be a high price to pay for treating gender affirmation as a last resort. Dr. Ken Zucker, a renowned gender dysphoria expert, has approved puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for many adolescents. Nevertheless, he recognizes that children often change their minds, and takes a careful approach in his clinical practice. For this heresy, he was hounded from his position at CAMH in Toronto by trans activists hellbent on preventing any kind of therapy for dysphoric kids besides “affirmation.”
But Dr. Zucker is still actively publishing, having co-authored several scholarly journal articles in 2016 alone, and he continues to work with families and young people in his private practice.
In an age when too many believe that children, no matter how young, should be affirmed in their gender identities with no further investigation, clinicians like Zucker are very much needed. Desistance, despite trans activist protestations to the contrary, is a real thing. It’s just not as newsworthy as the latest trans kindergartener coming out story.
This places a heavy burden on parents who aren’t sure who their children are, or who don’t accept the notion that a 5-year-old, even an insistent and strong-willed one, has a set identity in the same way adults do. The current politics leave them behind, because their stories don’t fit neatly into the binary in which trans identities are either accepted or rejected, full stop. There’s no natural political grouping for parents of desisters, because desisting isn’t an identity-politics lodestone in the way persisting is. “We’re quieter,” said Amanda of parents of kids whose gender dysphoria desists. “There are a bunch of us scattered around, and we’re not acting collectively.” As Merry put it, “I feel like sometimes there’s no middle ground. You’re either trans or you’re not, and you can’t be this kid who is just kind of exploring.”
Thank you for putting this post together. It needs to be said. We need to start accepting little girls who like sports and hate dresses as little girls who like sports and hate dresses. We need to accept little boys who love dance and sparkly things as little boys who love dance and sparkly things. We need to respect children’s preferences for clothing and interests, and encourage a love for their healthy bodies.
It is completely ridiculous that we have parents worried sick because their 3-year-old girl prefers trucks over dolls and doesn’t want to do a dance class. We need to leave these children alone to grow and just be kids. I would venture a guess that the vast majority of these children do not insist that they are the opposite sex, and do not show aversion to their genitals. But we have parents terrified that their child will hit puberty and commit suicide because the parents didn’t socially transition them and get them on puberty blockers. The narrative feeds the parents inaccurate (or at least sugar-coated) information about what transition is like, and it is very difficult to get real solid facts. Parents are never told that 100% of the kids who go on puberty blockers for gender dysphoria go on to medically transition. They aren’t told how hard it is for a kid to detransition once they have socially transitioned.
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If all the little girls who like sports are encouraged to transition, who are sports-loving straight guys going to marry?
Notice all the professional sports leagues sell plenty of gear – shirts, hats, lingerie, etc., with sports logos, specifically designed for women.
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Yes, a lot of that gear is in my closet. 🙂 My daughter and I are both big fans of our local teams. We watch games together, go to games together, and talk about our favorite teams. Unfortunately, a lot of men and teenage males find our passion for sports and knowledge intimidating. God forbid we should know more about a sport than they do! My daughter has watched sports with me her entire life. She has also enjoyed playing sports, as I did when I was a kid.
I have said it before and I will say it again: socially transitioning young kids is training, teaching, indoctrinating – whatever word you want to use — kids to believe that they are the opposite sex, or that they will become the opposite sex as they grow up, or at the very least that they are transgender and transition is their destiny.
I am not a scientist, psychologist or researcher, but IMHO, it doesn’t take someone with those credentials to understand that young children believe what the adult authority figures in their lives tell them. Tell a boy he is a girl, have him use a girl’s name, refer to him as a girl, teach him to refer to himself as a girl, have him wear clothing typically worn by girls, introduce him to others as a girl, have him classified as a girl at school, chemically stunt his growth so that he does not develop adult male physical characteristics — all these things are training the child to believe he is a girl, or that he must live his life as a girl. How can a young child turn away from those numerous messages, after years of conditioning, to reject what his parents and doctors tell him, and what everyone in his life has been reinforcing?
I am not surprised at all that 100% of kids who go on blockers end up transitioning, as blockers are basically the second step in pediatric transition, with the first being social transition. Blockers are the step following social transition, and opposite-sex hormones are the step after blockers. The statistic we need to know next is the percentage of these kids who as adults come to feel that transitioning was a regrettable mistake, or feel they were misled or lied to as children. Unfortunately, we may never know how many children would not have needed or wanted chemical or surgical transition procedures at all, if only they had been allowed to be masculine girls or feminine boys rather than socially transitioned and put on puberty-suppressing drugs.
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What you are describing sounds like the life story that Walt Heyer reports as his own. His grandmother, a beloved authority figure, put him into dresses she made specifically for him and treated him like the granddaughter she would rather have had, leading to a lifetime of misery.
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To me it seems obvious that transitioning a child will make them more likely to persist. If they receive positive affirmation of their belief that they are the ‘opposite gender’ they will become invested in that. If they are called by different pronouns, they will become used to that, and – let’s not underestimate the importance of this – they will feel foolish, and as if they’ve let everyone down, if they want to change back after family and ‘professionals’ have bent over backwards to accommodate and support this huge and very ‘special thing’ about them. How easy is it going to be to say ‘Oh, I was wrong’? I am baffled and concerned by the medical and health professions supporting transition at all, and at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I am starting to think there may be darker things afoot at the centre of this cult- for make no mistake, it is indeed a cult.
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I also agree with this. It doesn’t seem to me, at all, that agreeing to “socially transition” a child (gosh how antiseptic all these trans words are!) is a neutral option. Anyone who has had young children knows, they have a terrific and abiding need for parental approval. This is how people have been socialized since time immemorial – we condone and give praise for conduct that we like and that we think is beneficial, like being polite, honest, clean and so forth… and we either stay silent or actively disapprove of conduct that is the reverse. And our children, hopefully, change their behavior accordingly because they want to please us.
Do the “professionals” involved with “transing” children not really understand that validating a child’s opposite sex “identity” will have coercive effects on that child? A parent “could” choose to do as parents have done all along – realize when certain behaviors or beliefs are not productive for the child and not encourage or promote them. In other words, a child might start to wish, as children often do when there is a new baby in the house, that s/he was a baby, too. Parents usually recognize those as being normal and natural feelings, but don’t “affirm” the child in the belief that s/he actually IS a baby. A sensitive parent will not shame or punish the child for wishing to be a baby, but that is a far cry from encouraging a belief that the child is or could be something the child can never be.
Becoming a trans teen or adult is not a neutral thing. It isn’t just one identity you can pick from a smorgasbord of potential identities. It is better to keep your natal body than it is to spend your life trying, unsuccessfully, to change it. The last thing a responsible parent or care-taker should do is endorse, especially prematurely, a trans identity for a child – or, worse, actively create one by engaging in “social transition.”
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“Social transitioning” really is a dangerous, one-way step towards medical and surgical transition. When everyone around this child has been reinforcing the delusion of being the opposite sex for his or her entire life, of course the child won’t question it and will keep taking steps towards permanent, irreversible body modification. So many of these parents in the new stories transed their kids over the most ridiculous things, like a two-year-old who yelled that her name wasn’t Melanie anymore, it was now Tom.
It’s so depressing when the woman I know with a transed son talks about or posts pictures of her “older daughter.” Ever since she was outed by the agender man with some really serious issues, I can’t see or think of this child as anything but a boy in “girls’ clothes,” with long hair and a girl’s name. That child has a clearly masculine face. She transed this kid really young, probably around age 3-4, and believes he “bravely came out” at a super-young age. I’m sure it was more like wanting to wear “feminine” clothes and play with “girls’ toys,” and thinking he was a girl because that’s a phase a lot of kids go through. I also know someone who has friends with a trans-identified teenager, and if this is the same story I’m remembering her telling about a trans-identified boy, this kid used the threat of suicide as emotional blackmail for the parents to greenlight hormones.
At least someone who makes the decision to leave the religious community s/he was raised in doesn’t have irreversible surgeries and effects of drugs to deal with as a result of saying goodbye to an identity that was strongly reinforced from a young age.
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I think you have hit on a hugely important point – this kid who has been “transitioning” for the majority of his life still looks to you like a boy with girls clothes and toys and long hair.
The trans activists, as well as the “gender” activists who believe there are humans who are agender (really? Do they reproduce by splitting into to copies of themselves? No?), bi-gender, all-gender (all two?), multi-gender (all two?), gender void, and so on, have been selling the public a bill of goods about how gender is so fluid, so mutable. But I was looking at a you tube video the other day of a youth who had surgeries and hormones to transition from female to male, but now identifies as “nonbinary”. Watching this person talk, with sound on, and with sound off, it looked like a teen girl chatting away. Even with surgery, hormone blockers, cross-sex hormones, new name, new haircut, new beard, this person’s affect, gestures, intense gabbiness, even word choice, screamed “female”. Even when you see a “partially” transitioned person, or someone who is trying to portray their gender “fluid” status, immediate recognition of male or female pops up. Even someone who is portrayed in the internet as a well-transitioned trans-gender person (who one doesn’t go along with all the extra tumblr genders), Blair White, who looks like a girl in thumbnails, when seen in a larger image, especially a video, I look at Blair and think, “Yeah, I can believe she was born a boy”. Biological sex is So Not Fluid that we have not yet created a way to successfully make people pass as the opposite sex, never mind Function, sexually or urologically, as the desired sex.
I think this is a lot of the motivation between all the fuss about bathrooms – including so many incidents where a 3rd option is strongly and publicly rejected as unsupportive of “muh identity”. Most adult post-surgical trans activists know that everyone can spot them a mile away, and this is so frustrating that they want the satisfaction of jailing anyone who refuses to at least pretend they look like the sex they will never be.
They act like sex/gender are about human identity. But it’s not, never was, never will be. Biology does not care about “identity”. Sex is one thing – reproduction, and what sex an individual is boils down to which reproductive function that individual can perform. The amazing thing about sex, male and female, egg and sperm, is that it is a remarkably robust set of structures and chemicals that propel genes into the future to create offspring that are both similar and different to the parents.
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Spack and Olsen are endocrinologists. They do not know what they are talking about when they talk about psychology.
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A lot of psychologists, especially the ones who are favored by trans activists, don’t know what they’re talking about, either.
You know what else they aren’t talking about? Surgery is a huge deal for people who transition. It has a small risk of death. The results aren’t perfect sexually. This is what’s at the end of the road when kids are socially transitioned.
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Indeed, a “trans male” is never going to have a functioning penis. Most don’t even bother with the “bottom” surgery because it is so awful. So, they will be women who have removed their breasts, still have a vagina, and may have facial hair because of hormones. Very few straight women or gay men will be interested in having a relationship with them – because they are still biologically female.
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I think male surgeons and therapists are able to look at phalloplasties and see that the penis being created isn’t the same thing. They seem to miss the huge differences between vaginoplasties and clitoroplasties and the complicated sexual organs women are born with.
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4th Wave, can you request an interview with Dr. Zucker? That would make for a fascinating post!
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I keep finding myself thinking that there are multiple phenomena being lumped together under the transgender/gender dysphoria label. Long before my daughter identified as trans I saw transwomen and transmen as differently situated because it is so much more socially acceptable to be gender non-conforming as a woman than as a man. Since she came out without any real prior sign it has also become clear that there is no obvious reason to conflate young children with gender identity issues and those who are teens and subject to media and peer influence. Whatever is going on inside these kids it seems unlikely that the 4 year old who insists that she is a boy is having the same experience as my 13 year old who was in the thrall of a full blown mental health crisis when she decided she was trans. And what about the fact that so many of these teen transboys were actively self-harming before they had their gender identity epiphany (that’s how my daughter described it)? I just read a comment on guideonragingstars in which Cari made an analogy that perfectly encapsulated my confusion about why this form of our children’s hatred of their bodies is somehow ok or even celebrated while we are furiously attending therapy multiple times a week to stop the other expressions of that rage (e.g. cutting and food restriction). She said that there were times when she would see the scars on her arms healing and feel that they her arms “looked wrong”, but that no one at the time would have suggested that she “had a body map that included open wounds.” The connection seems so obvious to me — my child has a deep seated discomfort with her feminine body caused by an unfortunate friendship with a boy who made frequent sexualized comments to her just as she was developing that torment her now because she just took them and maybe even appreciated the attention but internally came to really loathe that attention. Her first approach at dealing with the out of control feelings that emerged was to cut, when she decided to stop that she then switched to food restriction and lost over 10% of her body weight, and then having decided to eat again she became aware that she was a boy. To me it is clear as day that this is not some new awareness of an underlying identity as a male but a means to maintain constant loathing of her current body as well as mild self harm via trying to keep her breasts flat that is considered socially acceptable and even brave. Where I live I can’t stop her from socially transitioning at school and have been willing to use her preferred name and pronouns (although I won’t call her my son or her sibling’s brother) in order to relieve her very acute emotional distress. But I hate it and it makes it so much harder when I feel that my analysis of what is going on is treated by most professionals as simply my own denial and difficulty in coping with this transition (I am tired of hearing about how they know that this is really hard). But I’m not crazy, and my daughter is pretty seriously ill and almost no one is even trying to figure out what is going on with these girls or whether they can be helped without surgery and a lifetime of heavy dose hormone therapy. I am glad that I have a fair amount of time before she can take any steps to medically transition, but I know that every day that she lives with her male identity will make it that much harder to entertain any doubts or consider reconciliation with being female and that really terrifies me because I want to believe that some day she can stop attacking her body and learn to be at peace with it.
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It’s really scary. Every concern we have is written off as us being in denial, even if we know more than the other person.
I have often felt that what’s hard isn’t the idea that my kid is a different gender, it’s that my kid is getting experimental medical treatments and I’m not sure they’re right for my kid. And that I know we are in the middle of a craze – the pendulum will swing back eventually, but it may not be fast enough for my kid.
This is an incredibly painful place to be in and I have yet to find a positive way to look at it.
I wish I had good advice for you on how to handle this. Would it help to move or change schools or home school? Also, I wonder if more is going on than one boy who harassed her.
I highly recommend this study of Finnish girls with gender dysphoria.
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Oprah loves to say “denial isn’t just a river in Egypt”.
Yeah, but not in the way she thinks. Denial is just an accusation one who is involved in a cult or groupthink can throw at someone who makes an argument they don’t want to listen to.
Unfortunately, this poisonous form of argumentation has been firmly implanted into our culture by 12 step groups and pop psychologists.
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I keep finding myself thinking that there are multiple phenomena being lumped together under the transgender/gender dysphoria label… there is no obvious reason to conflate young children with gender identity issues and those who are teens and subject to media and peer influence.
Yes! This is such an important point.
I’ve become increasingly convinced that the trans phenomenon couldn’t exist without modern social media. In a pre-Internet world, trying to combine all the different “trans” groups into a cohesive identity-politics bloc would have slammed smack into the “herding cats” problem.
A teenage girl going through a difficult puberty who thinks that becoming a boy is the only way to stop men from treating her as a sex object. A middle-aged software engineer who decides after binging on social media that “I’m really a woman” is the reason he has trouble fitting in with other men. Conservative parents of a flamboyantly effeminate six-year-old who would rather have a “daughter” than a gay son.
People with bodily integrity disorders due to physical or sexual trauma. People with depression looking for a simple solution to their unhappiness. People with autism-spectrum disorders who truly don’t understand that hormones aren’t magic sex-change pills. Parents with Munchausen’s.
And, somewhere way back deep in there, the Really Existing Trans People we hear so much about but meet so infrequently, who just want to have the surgery and get on with their lives.
Online, these groups can come together under one umbrella because the basic set of trans slogans and tropes is very simple. You can master them in an afternoon, and they’re vague enough to mean whatever the person using them wants them to mean (“I’m an X, but my identity is Y. Are you saying that trans people don’t exist?”) On Reddit/Facebook/Youtube/Twitter/Tumblr, there’s no barrier to entry beyond a computer or smartphone, so you don’t have to make any real-world effort to surround yourself with like-minded people who will reinforce your identity through affirmation and repetition.
I think that even “responsible” trans activists are uneasily aware of this, which is one of the reasons that they’re so reluctant to make clear definitions and to honestly discuss the lived experiences of desisters. We saw this in Julia Serano’s response to Cari, which spent thousands of words playing semantic shell games to avoid having to answer the question of whether people who desisted after surgery were “really” trans or not.
Does “trans” mean clinical dysphoria that needs to be addressed with hormones/surgery, or does it mean anyone who’s not comfortable with their socially prescribed gender role? All too often, the answer seems to depend on the immediate rhetorical point that the speaker wants to make.
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Yes, and the changes in definitions for the DSM (diagnosis manual for psychologists) have not helped. There is no good way to say that anyone who claims to be trans doesn’t really have gender dysphoria.
Reblogged this on A butterfly's diary and commented:
Another good piece. Even more disturbing when we consider that it’s all based on kids not performing arbitrary roles assigned to boys and girls.
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I have commented about this childhood experience of mine before, but I think it bears repeating in this context: After 2 years of violin lessons, in 3rd & 4th grade, I found it incredibly difficult to tell my parents I didn’t want to study violin any more. And “violin player” was not an identity I had been insisting upon, it was just something I wanted to try. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to be a teen who has not only decided that this is “my identity” but also made it a central focus of social life to be “trans”, and come to the realization that this may have been a mistake, and how difficult it would be to inform especially a parent that the transition is off.
Also, my experience with the trans relative in my family is that this person seemed to want to see the adults as being shocked and unable to respond to the announcement of this new “identity”. I was presented with a fait accompli in declarative statements in a phone call, to which I said, “Well, we’re all still family, this makes no difference in how we love each other.” I heard later that trans relative reported my response as “shocked silence”. It kinda made me angry, since I, while not verbose, did respond in real time in a phone conversation, with what I had hoped would be taken as support and non-rejection.
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Interesting insight. I’m not sure why my kid does it, but we have also been frustrated by the way they see the support they have been given as not quite enough. I’ve always assumed they were being influenced by some crazy standard online of complete and immediate acceptance of their identity.
Your experience makes me wonder if maybe part of it is that you’re supposed to have parents who oppress you? I don’t know, but either way, I think we’re seeing something similar – we give unconditional love and it isn’t quite enough.
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I definitely think that being oppressed – by parents, by society, by a school district that offers a private, single-stall restroom on every floor instead of saying, “Go ahead, support your identity by peeing in the bathroom opposite of your sex” – is part of the “trans teen identity”. If oppression isn’t there, they will look for the tiniest “clues”. It’s like “oppression chemtrails.”
Something HUGE just now occurs to me – maybe, on some level, some of these kids want an adult to stop the madness, and so when they’re met with “great haircut”, conformity to the demanded new name & pronouns and new clothes and cooperation from all the adults (who’ve been trained by trans activists to fear their kid’s suicide), a kid who wants someone to say “knock it off” could try to push harder in search of a push back towards physical reality.
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Trish–I totally agree with your comment that kids, on some level, want an adult to stop the madness. To me, this is basic child psychology. Kids/teens will fight against rules and boundaries, no matter how strict or lenient they are. But rules and boundaries are key to them feeling safe and secure. Giving in to everything a child/teen wants to do does them NO favors. I’m sure we all know a teenager who is allowed to run wild. The kids who have no curfew, no requirements to help at home, no expectations in terms of behavior or grades, are the ones who have parents who “don’t care.” I have met plenty of these teens, and many of them feel that their parents don’t care ABOUT THEM.
Kids NEED to feel safe. It is a parent’s job to protect them, even from themselves.
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SNAP! I get “you don’t do anything to support my gender exploration”, then I list 5 or 6 things that we did immediately, and that is not enough. Each one was urgent at the time, now the issue is changing pronouns and when I refuse I am not supportive. Really pisses me off. If I say yes to that, what will the next demand be? I really regret taking so many supportive actions so quickly at the start of this journey, because I feel that if I had “argued” about each one, then it would have slowed this freight train down (not saying I would have said no, but I should have gotten more discussion going and drawn it out more).
I saw this thread on Reddit today. A trans teen felt pressured by their parents and therapist to go along with sexual reassignment surgery.
I would think it would be obvious that this is a possible outcome, that parents and other authority figures can coerce young transitioners to make choices that’s aren’t ideal for them, like SRS. But all the trans cheerleaders act like it could never happen
Thanks for sharing the link. I read through it, and I get the impression that this person was a young homosexual man who may have been pressured into transition so he wouldn’t disappoint his family. Maybe he’s from a country where it is acceptable to be trans but not to be gay. I feel badly for him that he was pressured into such radical surgery with lifelong consequences against his will.
I actually think that what the adults might not think is pressure might feel like pressure on the receiving end. As an example, in our family, our trans relative had gender typical interests & activities until the end of year one of college. This person admitted this is a new identification, not felt life-long. After a brief period of bafflement, the parents decided that no relatives or friends should find out on the internet, and told trans relative to announce it to everyone. Since then, all adults but me (and my spouse) have embraced the new identity (I haven’t rejected it to the relative’s face, but I don’t buy the whole transition thing either). While not intentionally coercive, I think that the events above could cause the person to feel that everyone would be disappointed if the new identity were to be abandoned. Also, the fact that making it known to relatives outside the parents was the parents’ idea and not trans relative’s idea seems to me like it would look like pressure on the receiving end of this request(demand?) I thought it was crazy.
And now, only a year after the new identity was first broached, it seems that the rest of the relatives have incorporated into their self-images as “modern, progressive people” “accepting trans relative’s transition” (basically a new buzz cut and not an opposite sex name, but a gender neutral name – and there is a family member with that name who is the trans relative’s original sex – to me this is a clue, but no one listens to the one who isn’t on board). When asked for my opinion, by other relatives (trans relative has never asked my opinion), I was honest that I don’t think sex change is biologically possible and the medical science available can’t even make most people who transition convincing as members of the opposite sex, and that with it being only considered for like a year not a lifelong self image, I was greeted with horror and treated as if I had announced that I was going to say these things to trans relative’s face (which I had no intention of doing – I was just honestly answering what they asked me)
This is interesting, Trish – for a long time I served as a volunteer leader for a support organization for parents of LGBT people. One issue that came up frequently was whether, how, and when to make the child’s sexual orientation known to the family circle. The advice we always gave was to let the person make the disclosure on his/her own terms, at his/her own pace, and at a time and place of his/her choosing. (This was, for the most part, the disclosure of being gay or lesbian, not trans.) Sometimes the parents wanted people to know and the kid was still in the closet, and sometimes vice-versa, but either way… we always told parents, in this regard the kid is in the driver’s seat. It’s too bad that it seems like your relative was almost forced into doing something that he/she may not have been ready to do (then or ever!).
My 16 year old daughter recently came out as transgender. She will be 17 in two months. Her entire life she has instinctively identified as female. Her “coming out” ended a two year relationship with her boyfriend as well. Thankfully she says she is happy in her body and does not want to transition. She uses words like I was “afraid” to let go of my femininity, and I didn’t realize I was questioning myself until I was “pushed” to pick a pronoun by a teacher at school. This post is interesting to me because it addresses the fact that a high rate of young children desist by adulthood. These are persistent and consistent children who have been identifying as the opposite gender prior to puberty. I am having a very hard time finding anything about children who, like my daughter, had no questions, no signs in her behavior, no nothing until 8 days ago when she came out. Parents are often the last to be told but usually the first to “know”. Not sure how we could have missed this for almost 17 years. I am very thankful for this blog. I found it 4 pages deep on a google search trying to find support for confused parents like me who aren’t ready to jump on the wagon and start using different pronouns or agree to name changes or chest binders, hormones etc…. (my daughter did ask for a chest binder) I said no. She also has a unisex name so when she asks to be called something different we have the advantage of falling back on the fact that she already has a boy’s name. We are letting her cut her hair and wear whatever she wants. While I feel like my “conservative” approach to her discovery is the best thing for her, I am finding it very hard to get support for that. Everything suggests that doing anything other than letting my child take the lead and make the decisions for herself I am not being supportive. It is a relief to know I am not alone. It is a relief to see a group of parents who recognize that my conservative approach is because I love and support my daughter and want her to be sure. That doesn’t mean I don’t accept her or that I won’t accept her if she feels this is where she needs to be. It simply means I love her, and until she is an adult, it is my job to protect her emotionally and physically. Right now, I am really confused about the best way to do that…. however, this blog is helping me feel like I am on the right track.
My trans relative is similar. Only in the past year or two, in the time after leaving for college, has the trans issue come up. Before that, the behavior & interests were gender typical, and when the trans issue first came up, the trans relative did admit that this wasn’t a situation of “I’ve always felt this way” but that it was a very recent development.
I actually think the biggest mistake the family has made is that after a very short time to digest the news, was to tell the trans relative that everyone must be informed (so as to not be shocked by discovering this person’s new identity on the internet). I can’t help but think that this self-image being so brief might not be so serious, but making announcements might: 1. cement the identity harder than it would have been, 2. make it much harder to say, “it wasn’t right for me after all”. But the adults other than me all seem to be terrified that not embracing the new identity might be damaging (and refusing to consider the possibility that accepting the new identity might be damaging) and I think they are trying to have their self/public images be in line with “accepting, modern” not “skeptical or conservative” (Ironically, I’m a political leftie. But I’ve always been a skeptical person – the first kid in the neighborhood to tell the others how I figured out Santa wasn’t real)
I also have a question that is troubling me, after looking at videos of many, many girls who don’t look like they are trying to pass as male but scream “Not a girl” on You Tube. It seems to me that a lot of them don’t so much want to become men as they want to become boys – I detect a never-never quality about a lot of them. I have been wondering if in the case of the rise in very young FTTs if it’s almost a rejection of adulthood even more than it is a rejection of womanhood.
“return to the female gender role”
Ugh. What does that tell us about the bias of the people running these programs, that they think acceptance of one’s sex requires complying with sex-role stereotyping.
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