by Nervous Wreck, SunMum, BornSkeptical, Snowyball, & FightingToGetHerBack
Nervous Wreck (Twitter: @nervouswreckmom) is the mother of a rapid-onset transgender gifted female who “came out” after turning 18, was promptly affirmed on her college campus, and who sought treatment at an off-campus Informed Consent clinic.
SunMum (Twitter: @Mum3Sun) is a UK academic and mother of a son who experienced sudden onset gender dysphoria.
BornSkeptical is the mother of a 15-year-old girl who suddenly began to question her gender at the age of 13, now identifies as a gay boy, and plans to take testosterone and get top surgery when she turns 18. BornSkeptical wants to help her explore other options first.
Snowyball (Twitter: @snowyball2) is trying to make sense of why her otherwise bright and happy teenage daughter is all of a sudden depressed and anxious following the unexpected realization that she is a boy born in the wrong body.
FightingToGetHerBack (Twitter: @FightingToGetHerBack) is the mother of a 16-year-old girl with autism who unexpectedly identified as a boy at age 13. After nearly a year of following the harmful advice of gender specialists, she has realized her daughter’s trans identity is the product of social contagion and autistic thinking. She is seeking therapeutic guidance to help her daughter, and pleading with journalists to expose what she considers the dangerous practices of gender therapists.
The following post is in response to a recent article and online chat in the Washington Post about transgender kids and teens; several 4thWaveNow parents participated in the chat.
On February 24, 2017, Steven Petrow, in his Washington Post “Civilities” column, used an email from a “worried mom” to kick off an article about transgender bathroom use in schools. He called it “Let’s remember, when we talk transgender law, we’re talking about our kids.”
Mr. Petrow describes receiving an email from a “worried mom” of a transgender teen. He assumes before he reads it what it is going to say: “I figured that the mom was about to voice her anxiety about what rolling back the school protections could mean for her child.” But because Worried Mom doesn’t respond as Petrow thinks parents should, her email is used as a public example of how not to parent a transgender child.
Petrow forwarded the letter to “several parents of trans and gender-nonconforming kids and teens to get their read” and quotes their exemplary responses. Debi Jackson, mother of 9-year-old Avery, the transgender cover star of National Geographic’s gender issue understands Worried Mom’s concern, but explains that “Showing your child that you’re not going to judge as they go through this process is so important.” (Whether putting your young child on the cover of a magazine is necessarily beneficial to mental health is another question).
Another parent (who requests anonymity to protect her child) is more openly critical: “Every day I try to figure out where the line is supposed to be between supporting a child and encouraging a transition…. It sure sounds as if this particular mom is not trying to figure that out, that she’s decided what ‘side’ she’s on about an issue where there needn’t be sides at all.” Her advice is simple: “Just love your child.” (Worried Mom presumably needs reminding of that.)
For an “expert” perspective, Mr. Petrow reaches out to Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., a developmental and clinical psychologist at the University of California at San Francisco and author of “The Gender Creative Child.” Her advice? “We should always listen to parents.” Yet “the parent [should] also listen to their child, as at the end of the day, that child . . . will be the arbiter of their own gender identity.” (Translation, maybe?: we should listen to parents only if they say what we think they should say.)
Mr. Petrow makes it clear that parents should affirm their child’s decision to transition. He advises, “Use the name and pronouns that your kid (or another trans young person) relies on. If you’re not sure, ask — without judgment.” So how about we “listen to parents” without preconceptions, “without judgement”? Mr. Petrow might have done this with the original email sent by Worried Mom, which we reproduce here in full:
Dear Mr. Petrow: I have been reading your column for many years, have learned a lot from your perspectives, and in general, share your political views. I sense that your writing comes from a place of compassion and thoughtful consideration. I am reaching out to you because there is an issue that you have been writing about lately that is of grave concern because it is very personal to me: that is, your reporting on the transgender issue.
The reason this is so personal is because my 16-year-old daughter told me she was transgender when she was 13. I was shocked. There had never been any signs of this. However, there were several kids at her school who identified as trans. She is also on the autism spectrum and very susceptible to mimicry and falsely identifying with groups in order to feel like she belongs.
What has happened is that therapists that I took her to for help did not question her beliefs but made her think she should transition and that I should blindly accept her assertion. They pushed me to accept hormone treatment, which I refused. As a compromise, I allowed her to wear a binder (which causes physical problems) and let her change her name and pronouns – and yet I know 100% in my heart that this is not real and I live in a constant state of anxiety about the psychological and physical damage this is causing. Mostly I worry about her future plans to fully medical transition as soon as she is legally able. I feel scared and powerless. The medical consequences are significant and irreversible. It is impossible to convince a teenager – especially an autistic teen – of something that is a belief that can neither be proven or disproven. It is especially difficult when the media narrative seems to portray anyone who questions these beliefs as a bigot.
Following publication of Petrow’s article with the truncated version of the above email, many commenters wrote in to point out that he had failed to recognize the validity of Worried Mom’s concerns. And Worried Mom, the author of the email, also left this comment:
Mr. Petrow responded to my letter by stating that he would like to discuss this with me. I provided him with my contact information, but never heard back. It was only by accident that I learned that I had been selectively quoted pushing the very narrative that I had hoped I could get Mr. Petrow to question. Such irony. The reason that I wrote to you, Mr. Petrow, was in the hope that you would see what is going on with our youth. The media seems very afraid to question the sudden increase in transgender identification in our youth. Common sense alone says that social contagion is a factor. And because of the politicization of this topic, parents like me are labeled bigots, told we don’t love our child…or as your “expert” stated, told that our child’s gender journey is “poetic.” I assure you that I am not a bigot, love my child unconditionally, and living with a teenage girl who thinks she is a boy is not a poetic experience.
Worried Mom also raised the issue with Mr. Petrow on Twitter. “I reached out because I trusted you would listen to me as the civil and respectful journalist that you describe yourself as,” she wrote. (Mr. Petrow’s Washington Post column is entitled “Civilities.”)
Commenters on Petrow’s article were overwhelmingly critical of his stance. To his credit, on March 7, 2017, Mr. Petrow returned to the topic in his Civilities online chat. This could have been the perfect opportunity to present various perspectives on this complex and controversial issue, and to consider them in a balanced way.
Instead, Petrow invited only Dr. Michelle Forcier, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Adolescent Health at Hasbro Children’s Hospital to answer questions. In 2016, Forcier had 400 patients on a transgender pathway. Rejecting “gate-keeping” or psychological evaluation as out of date, Forcier believes that “kids as young as two, three, four know what their gender is,” and compares gender identity to asthma: “You don’t have to prove to me you’re transgender, just like you don’t have to prove you have asthma.” (Unlike transgender identity, which is based on subjective feelings, there are objective tests of lung capacity in the case of asthma). Forcier, then, is no neutral “expert” but an evangelist for medical transition of kids. Perhaps Petrow’s plan was to allow Forcier to demolish the questions of “bigoted” parents. In any case, he did reach out in the hope of a lively confrontation, tweeting @4thwavenow and alerting his audience that “a sub-Reddit group of “gender critical folks” issued a “call to action” to get folks to join today’s discussion”.
You can find the complete chat via this link: Civilities: Taking all your questions about transgender teens with Brown U. expert Dr. Michelle Forcier and Steven Petrow. In this post, we will highlight a few excerpts. In addition, some of the parents who sent in questions will explain in more detail what they made of Dr. Forcier’s answers.
The issues raised repeatedly in the chat revolved around some common themes: challenging the belief that there is a single “scientific” position on gender identity; asking why gender dysphoria increasingly appears out of the blue in troubled teens and why doctors do not look at existing mental health co-morbidities; and why the warning voices of detransitioners are not heard and not heeded. This question is emblematic:
My daughter certainly never seemed like a son to me, just a very creative intelligent girl who had trouble “fitting in” socially. But to so quickly get a prescription for testosterone for this out of the blue self-diagnosis feels very wrong. Dr. Forcier’s position is that parents of underage transgender kids who hesitate about medical transition could be charged with medical neglect with a report to child protective services. This goes against parental rights. […] Late teens/young adulthood is also the time when many mental health issues first show up…this is well known and documented. For instance, bipolar shows up at that time and it is known to distort the sense of self/identity. There are a growing number of detransitioners speaking up wishing they had been offered other treatment options, including mental health diagnostic testing with time for mental health treatment first. What do you suggest these detransitioners do to help the psychiatric community adjust their “one size fits all” treatment for gender identity issues in teens and young adults?
There are clearly many points to deal with here, but Forcier chose to first focus on the allegation that her “position is that parents of underage transgender kids who hesitate about medical transition could be charged with neglect and be reported to child protective services.” Forcier seemed worried that “the writer seems to know my position and I am trying to figure out how they actually ‘know this.’”
We know Forcier’s position on calling the authorities on some parents via a session on puberty suppression that she co-led at the February 2017 USPATH conference. During the Q&A part of the session, Drs. Johanna Olson-Kennedy and Michelle Forcier explained that they are not afraid to involve the courts when they must to “bring along” “recalcitrant” parents. A psychologist who runs a gender clinic asked whether there is a way to legally “force parents” to go along with the recommendations of a gender therapist to administer puberty blockers. Forcier explained that her team has been busy training family court judges in her region:
FORCIER: Yeah, there’s no precedent but you can again work with the child protection team for medical neglect. Work with one parent…at least to get things started. And again, you can do some education. We did education with judges in Rhode Island. We spent a half day with family court judges, telling them this is what gender and transgender is…
In the WaPo chat, Forcier seemed to deny that she advocated such an approach:
And I do NOT take the position that as the writer suggests ‘that parents with underage kids who suddenly insist they are transgender but as a parent have grave concerns about the only treatment option being medical transition could be charged with medical neglect with a report to child protective services’.
Forcier went on to claim that her approach is evidence-based: “There is reasonable science that supports listening to patients in regard to learning more about their gender identity. It does not mean, not asking questions or asking for more time to explore with a patient–but it is important with any medical issue or developmental concern to start with the patient.” Fair enough, although you hardly need “science” to remind a doctor to listen to their patient. She reassured readers that she is flexible and responsive to individual patients:
We do espouse a very individualized, patient-centered approach to gender as with other types of youth care we provide. There is no one size fits all for gender. So first–it worries me that there is misinformation and mischaracterization of care and our practice. What is the harm of seeing how a child who is “different” explore their gender? Again, there just seems to be interesting bias against gender diversity and helping kids figure out who they are– a generally accepted part of adolescent development. So first and foremost–we want to get to know our kids well and there is not one size fits all…. second, accurate information is helpful for all parties!
But the parent who sent in the question was not reassured. She writes that her “big concern is with informed consent clinics, and the impact on young adults, newly on their own and full of youthful, optimistic self-assurance about their decision to live a transgender life”:
My perspective is as the parent of a transgender college student female who sought treatment after age 18, fulfilling her six months “real life” experience as a transman on a college campus…not exactly a real life experience. My child’s decision to identify as transgender was rapid onset after learning the concept only a year earlier at most, while attending a small high school where she felt a misfit, comparing herself to the other girls, as teen girls do. My child, the extremely smart yet highly anxious misfit who had a very stressful last two years of high school, picked up on the transgender option through online sites, a child who only the previous summer was happily frolicking in her swimsuit on a trip to the beach, not showing any signs of gender dysphoria, at least not beyond any other girl in puberty.
However, my child was able, at age 18, to go to an informed consent clinic only two times to get a prescription to start medical transition with testosterone. Two times. This has now become the norm. Teenagers are known for impulsive behaviors, and my child’s behavior is poster-child teen impulsive behavior. But apparently, no “asking for more time to explore with a patient” because this might be considered conversion therapy…simply exploring with a patient about gender expression. Hence, informed consent clinics in at least some states are indeed one size treatment fits all.
Another question took up the frequently reported link between autism and transgender identity: “Dr. Forcier, what is your explanation as to why kids on the autism spectrum are seven times more likely to have gender identity issues (and those at gender clinics 6-15 times more likely to have autism)? Do you believe that an autism diagnosis should be considered before a therapist tries to convince parents to support their child’s transition?”
The gaps in knowledge about autism and gender dysphoria did not translate to Dr. Forcier counseling caution in recommending irreversible treatment:
FORCIER: We don’t know for sure. What we do know there seems to an association … We do know that with other neurologic conditions- there are menstrual and other reproductive health associations (epilepsy for instance). We do also know there is an association for gender and autism as well. For autism spectrum youth- maybe it is that not being as clued into or bound by social messages and constructs allows them a more fluid approach to gender and a greater willingness to express that more openly. For autism spectrum we know there are some differences in brain and neuro function… for persons whose assigned gender and anatomy/physiology is different than their identified gender (brain heart soul personhood gender) … this might be another way or manifestation of different ways brains are built or function in different ways.
This is curiously unscientific: Forcier glosses “identified gender” as “brain heart soul personhood gender.” For the more scientifically minded, there is a growing body of work on the link between transgender and autism. This 2014 paper co-authored by John F. Strang (a pediatric neuropsychologist with the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Gender and Sexuality Development Program at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C.), reports that participants in a study with ASD were 7.59 times more likely to express gender variance. Initial clinical guidelines were published in 2016 by Strang, et al, in an attempt to provide consensus guidelines for the assessment and care of adolescents with co-occurring autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and gender dysphoria (GD). But “why” there is an overrepresentation of youth with co-occurring autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and gender dysphoria (GD) is not yet known. Noticeably absent from the list of participants of these “consensus” guidelines is Tania Marshall, a specialist in the diagnosis of ASD in females. She states that the “majority of females do not receive a formal diagnosis until well into their adult years,” largely due to their very different coping mechanisms (as compared to males). As reported in this article by Aitken, et al, there has been a significant change in the sex ratio of adolescents referred to gender clinics: natal males outnumbered natal females up till 2006 when the ratio changed. How many of these young females fall within ASD but have fallen through current diagnostic tests that are based primarily on males? Please see this post. 4thWaveNow has previously published several other articles about the issue of ASD and transgenderism; see this and this.
Another parent asked what happens when transition makes a young person feel worse and actually intensifies dysphoria:
Q: Gender clinicians claim that transition dramatically improves the mental health of gender dysphoric teens. If this improvement does not take place, is it right to reconsider either the diagnosis or the treatment? In the case of my child, who experienced sudden onset gender dysphoria aged 20 after a series of traumatic events, without any signs or expressions of gender dysphoria earlier in his life, transition followed by hormone therapy has been followed by a descent into social isolation, altered sleep patterns, anger problems and other symptoms of depression. We live in a socially liberal trans affirmative cultural setting and he attends a trans support group. I suspect other mental health problems and his family and general practitioner suspect that the problem is not gender. But gender clinicians refuse to consider any other diagnosis. In these circumstances, surely, a rush to accept the patient’s self-diagnosis is dangerous. Your thoughts?
Forcier conceded that “yes, many gender patients have other mental health comorbidities…” (thereby tacitly acknowledging that gender dysphoria can be seen as a “morbidity”). But whatever the co-morbidity, gender reassignment can go ahead: “Not sure that depression, anger, sleep issues after trauma negates an exploration of gender,” says Forcier. As this parent told us, “she didn’t address my suggestion that the problem may not be gender at all, a view held by the family doctor and by those who knew my son before he became ill. The fact that other professionals disagree with the transgender diagnosis evidently interfered with her upbeat narrative of brave kids and bigoted parents.”
Another parent wanted Forcier to recognize and respond to the fact that a large majority of gender dysphoric children desist and reconcile with their biological sex:
How is it ethical to put children on a journey of lifetime hormone medication plus to endure the health risks of surgery when if those children are left to work their own life out, 80% will come to accept their biological sex?
Ethical questions are great when it comes to gender care, as NOT providing care seems to be more unethical and have worse health outcomes than providing care in this population. For example: How ethical is it to negate a person’s identity–to tell them you know them better than they do? How ethical is it to deny a person access to medication that is very safe, effective and proven to help persons with gender nonforming[sic] /diverse brain/identity and body experiences? The bias inherent in the question is interesting and deserves a response!
No evidence is provided for Forcier’s belief that “NOT providing care seems to be more unethical and have worse health outcomes than providing care in this population.” The medications she prescribes are not “very safe, effective” as recent studies on the side effects of puberty blockers make clear. Nor did she explain why it is ethical to medicate non-conformity (what Forcier calls “gender nonconforming/diverse brain/identity and body experiences”). Why should being different require hormones and surgeries?
Forcier then used a comparison between physical and mental disease; a puzzling response, if gender dysphoria is a naturally occurring variation (an assertion frequently made by trans activists and gender clinicians) rather than a disease:
FORCIER: Another good medical example, in trying to help us deal with offering or refusing to offer known safe effective medical care might be to liken this experience to other health concerns. For example, would you also propose letting a diabetic slip into diabetic ketoacidosis and coma before offering them fluids and or insulin if you suspected a high likelihood of diabetes? Would you wait for an asthmatic to collapse unconscious before offering oxygen and albuterol? Gender care has many safe medical options that in many instances are safer than withholding care. Additionally, this question has some other interesting perspectives… Transgender persons are never forced into surgical care- that is something that they need true understanding and consent to be able to engage in….The 80% data is not representative or accurate for the bulk of children who move towards blockers or gender hormones–not sure where that number came from but it is not correct.
Both asthma and diabetes are organic diseases which can be fatal and objectively identified. Gender nonconformity is a rejection of socially defined conventions and is not fatal. It is in no way like “other health concerns.”
And no one claims that 80% of the children “who move towards blockers or gender hormones” desist. In fact, nearer 100% of children “who move towards blockers or gender hormones” persist because social transition (which nearly always precedes medical transition), and blockers themselves, likely make desistance highly unlikely. Indeed, most “affirmative” gender clinicians, including Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Norman Spack, and others report near 100% persistence rates.
Forcier says she doesn’t know where the statistic “came from” that 80 percent of children who wish to be the opposite sex go on to accept their natal sex. This widely cited statistic is based on a multitude of studies—including those with children with severe gender dysphoria, including :
- “Only 2.5% to 20% of all cases of GID in childhood and adolescence are the initial manifestation of irreversible transsexualism.” From Deutsches Aertzteblatt International, November 2008. Korte et al published a more recent metastudy in December 2016 with the same results.
- “the majority of boys with GID showed desistence of their gender dysphoria when followed into adolescence and adulthood: 87.8% of the boys did not report any distress about their gender identity at follow-up and were happy living as males.” Devita Singh, “A FOLLOW-UP STUDY OF BOYS WITH GENDER IDENTITY DISORDER”, PhD, 2012.
- “The exact number varies by study, but roughly 60–90% of trans- kids turn out no longer to be trans by adulthood.” James Cantor, “Do Trans Kids Stay Trans When They Grow Up?” January 2016.
Returning to the chat submissions, another parent who voiced genuine concern for her child was simply mocked as bigoted, and she asked Petrow to have a bit of empathy:
What would you do if your child suddenly, out of the blue, announced they were transgender, wanted to change their name, pronoun, and buy a breast binder? What would you do if you suspected your child might have been influenced by the media? What would you do if you suspected your child had other mental health issues to deal with? Walk in my shoes for one moment. What would you really do if it was your child? What would you do if your gut feeling was that your child was making the biggest mistake of their life? What would you do if everyone around you was telling you to celebrate your child on their brave journey? Please, what would you do?
In reply, Petrow equated transgenderism with homosexuality:
PETROW: Honestly, your question reminds me of those from parents in earlier generations who learned their kids were gay or lesbian. So, here’s what I’d do: I would try to read materials from the most credible experts, speak with other parents of similar kids (which you can find at PFLAG), and, of course, talk with my child. In other words, I would try to keep an open mind and learn as much as I can. Many parents of gay kids caused great harm to their young ones by not accepting them and but not helping them to accept themselves. I hope we’ve learned since then…
To this parent, Petrow’s reply was seriously lacking. She comments: “Despite my obvious concern and anguish you replied with absolutely no compassion. You chose to accuse me of being a bigot and to liken me to ‘earlier generations who learned their kids were gay or lesbian’.” This comparison misses the point. She explains:
My child did indeed inform us she was a lesbian, a few weeks prior to announcing she was transgender. When she told us she was a lesbian, we were happy for her and readily accepted it. I find it hard to believe that you cannot see the difference between a child who announces they are lesbian and a child who announces they are transgender.
Being lesbian does not require her to become a lifelong medical patient. Being lesbian doesn’t ask her to chop off her breasts. Being lesbian doesn’t ask her to spend her life in anxiety about whether she will or will not “pass” as a man. Anybody can see that the future for a gay or lesbian child is very different to the future of a transgender child and I think it is an extremely lazy tactic to label any parent who dares to question their child’s transgender declaration as like “earlier generations.
I have already read extensively from many credible experts; I have spoken to many other parents of similar kids and of course I have talked with my child. I am keeping an open mind and learning as much as I can. And it is with my mind fully wide open that I am helping my child to make the right choices in life.
Mr. Petrow advises this parent to “seek top notch treatment” for any “other mental health issues” her child might be experiencing. She respond: “You seem to have absolutely no understanding of mental health issues and how these could cloud a child’s judgement.” Oddly, given the comparison with homosexuality, Petrow also appearsto think that a transient transgender identity can be discarded without difficulty: “I’d also note that changing a name or pronouns, even wearing a breast binder, can easily be changed or reversed.” But this parent knows the lasting damage that binders can do:
You mention that changing a name or pronouns or wearing a breast binder are ‘easily changed or reversed’ without any understanding of real life. To think that you have no awareness of the damage done by wearing a breast binder shows that you have done absolutely no research (back pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, bad posture, rib fractures, rib or spine changes, shoulder joint “popping”, muscle wasting, respiratory infections, abdominal pain, breast changes, breast tenderness, scarring, skin infections – in case you were wondering).
Transition as gay conversion was the premise of another question:
How do we encourage kids and adults that being a feminine boy or masculine girl is ok, when trans communities use these stereotypes to determine if a kid is trans? Most homosexual adults didn’t conform to their gender as kids, will this mean the number of homosexuals is going to decrease because of transitioning? Could this be seen as homophobic?
Forcier’s answer is that “We encourage kids to be AUTHENTIC!” But if being “authentic” leads to medication with off label prostate cancer medication and later perhaps to surgery, it is a dangerous course. To truly encourage kids ‘to be AUTHENTIC!’ would involve accepting gender nonconformity and allowing kids to live in their own bodies without medical intervention. In her view
The clinical and research data do not suggest there are overwhelming numbers of parents or providers pushing kids into the trans box as suggested in some of the comments. In fact, historically, it has been hard for folks to access providers who listen and take them seriously or offer to engage in plans that explore gender.
History apparently began around the turn of the 21st century, when the category of ‘transgender kids’ was invented. Before this, kids were rebellious, or unusual, or gender nonconforming. Even in the 20th century, when medical transition started to become available, no one suggested that minors ought to be considered transsexual or in need of medical services.
From the mid-16th through the 19th century, boys were dressed indistinguishably from girls until between the ages of two and eight. ‘Breeching’ was the moment that a boy was put into trousers and had his hair cut. But Forcier asks us to accept current gender stereotypes as evidence of an innate identity. A body of research—including this 2017 longitudinal study of over 4000 young people—has repeatedly found that childhood gender non-conformity is strongly correlated with adult homosexuality.
Transgender suicidality is frequently used to coerce parents into supporting transition, as another questioner suggests:
Parents of transgender teens are often told about the high rates of attempted suicide among the transgender population. However, the studies from which these statistics are drawn do not indicate whether attempts occurred before or after transition. Given that several good quality studies indicate that suicidality continues to be high after transition (the Swedish study by Djhene et al. from 2011), what clinical evidence do we have that transition reduces suicidality?
But Forcier, similar to many trans activists, has no problem leveraging suicide as an argument. This is a “great question!” and she goes on to claim that:
There is both research and anecdotal evidence that both disclosure and appropriate care can offer relief to gender nonconforming youth who are at risk for self-harm and suicide. Data include Amsterdam’s early studies (no suicides and no street drug use) as well as later studies such as:
de Vries AL, McGuire JK, Steensma TD, et al. Young Adult Psychological Outcome After Puberty Suppression and Gender Reassignment. Pediatrics 2014.
Spack NP, Edwards-Leeper L, Feldman HA, et al. Children and adolescents with gender identity disorder referred to a pediatric medical center. Pediatrics 2012; 129:418.
We have good data that disclosure AND LOVE & ACCEPTANCE by parents and families is protective. See Ryan, See Olson and other Family Acceptance Project studies. Also we would not expect all self-harm or suicidality to “disappear” or resolve completely even with good treatment options as there is still minority stress status effects and other ongoing macro and microaggressions that harm gender nonconforming persons on a daily basis.
Forcier’s answer is both manipulative and misleading. Parents are told that “disclosure AND LOVE & ACCEPTANCE by parents and families is protective.” This is manipulative because it assumes that to love is to uncritically accept whatever your child says. No responsible parent would accept this advice in relation to any other parenting issue.
It is also misleading because there is no reliable evidence that medical transition prevents self harm, which is readily acknowledged in the widely cited 2014 Williams Institute report about suicide in the US transgender population (also cited in Petrow’s original article). According to psychotherapist Lisa Marchiano, “it may in fact be the case that suicidality is higher among those who have transitioned.” Studies such as this one found: “Those who have medically transitioned (45%) and surgically transitioned (43%) have higher rates of attempted suicide than those who have not (34% and 39% respectively).”
Another parent expressed concern that teenage mastectomy is a drastic surgical intervention:
Trans teens in this country now receive drastic surgeries, e.g. mastectomy, as young as age 14. How can such young kids truly give informed consent for such radical measures? There’s a good reason we don’t trust young teens with huge decisions — they are immature, by definition. Their brains have not fully developed.
Forcier did not like this framing:
This “drastic surgery” — again such biased language!–has really changed many trans boys and men’s lives- and has low risks and outcomes for complications and regret. Teens assent to surgery WITH parent consent… we are lucky that many parents understand waiting for arbitrary legal age of 18 for chest surgery for some young teens is cruel and harmful from a physical and psychiatric perspective.
“Drastic” is a term that has been used by more than one clinician who has worked with this population. James Barrett, lead clinician at the UK’s oldest Gender Identity Clinic, writes that “The treatment of disorders of gender identity is drastic and irreversible, so it should only be undertaken in a setting of diagnostic certainty.” By dismissing the parent’s concern about medical transition as “biased,” Forcier minimizes the serious and irreversible treatment she is dispensing. “Diagnostic certainty” cannot be possible in the case of teenage clients. There is a reason why many psychiatric diagnoses (including personality disorders, schizophrenia, and others) are not made until adulthood because it is known that young people are not fully mature and can and do change dramatically. (For a recent article by a professional who does acknowledge the need for more “gatekeeping” for young trans-identified clients, see “Careful Assessment is Not Happening” on the First Do No Harm website.)
Speaking of diagnostic certainty, those who regret medical transition and decide to detransition– whatever their number — present a fundamental challenge to the notion of diagnostic certainty in teens. A parent asked
Given the growing number of people, especially young women, who have detransitioned in recent years, don’t you think it does young women a grave disservice if we don’t help them explore why they might want to transition– especially those young women who never expressed gender dysphoria as a child? Many of the detransitioners have talked about the role that trauma played in their decision to transition. And even though my child experienced a traumatic event shortly before her announcement that she believed she was trans, the therapist was convinced not only that she was trans but that she might need to start testosterone even at the age of 14.
In response, Forcier brands parental worries about regret and detransition as the creation of “alternative facts”:
Forcier: I am unaware of your data–please provide. If you are a gender provider and doing research – please send – it would be important to look at this and incorporate into care. But for clarity’s sake- there is no large number of “detransitioning” kids… It is so important to stick to what is actually going on for the majority of gender care youth- not create “alternative facts” that support our opinions.
“Gender providers” have shown scant interest in studying the population of detransitioners, so some of them have taken it upon themselves to gather data:
- This survey, conducted by a detransitioned woman and posted on September 3, 2016 received 203 responses.
- Another detransitioner, Hailey Mangelsdorf, conducted a survey of Co-Morbid Mental Health in Detransitioned Females with 211 individuals from Nov. 2 until Dec. 1, 2016.
- Hailey Mangelsdorf’s second survey surveyed 359 individuals.
These informal surveys demonstrate the need for further research. The first formal survey study of detransitioners opened on March 17. It is being conducted by Lisa Littman, MD, MPH, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
In addition to looking at these survey studies, Dr. Forcier could visit any of the multitude (and increasing number) of blogs set up by detransitioners such as
The underreported experience of detransition is beginning to appear in the mainstream media: see Experience: I Regret Transitioning and the BBC documentary, Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? which aired in January 2017 (archived version available to US viewers here). Forcier should also be aware that USPATH, the U.S. branch of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health hosted a panel of detransitioners at the same conference she presented at in February.
Some of the parents’ stories sent in to the chat are harrowing, revealing the frequent association of mental health issues with sudden transgender feelings:
My female child turned 18 and only months after learning the concept transgender, was put on testosterone at an informed consent clinic in the LA area after only 2 visits to the clinic. We have a wealth of mental health issues in our families, including bipolar that is very genetic and shows up in older teens/young adults. My child is 19, technically an adult, now on T, but I very much see signs of bipolar. Do you think gender clinics should add controls back in to take longer time with young patients? brain science says the brain is still adolescent until at least age 25, not in any way an adult brain at age 18. My child never went thru any diagnostic testing for mental health issues or autism spectrum that could be clouding her/his judgement. I think only 2 visits to a clinic is way too fast to start any medical transition. Do you have some advice for what I might tell my child about getting this testing done now before getting too far with the HRT? treatment for bipolar could change how s/he thinks, and counsel for ASD would be needed first since ASD can also cloud judgement about social issues. And how can these gender clinics be made aware of the need for gatekeeping for young adults age 18-25 since they can definitely be impulsive and may be dealing with young adult mental health issues that need treatment first.
“More questions than we can really address here,” says Forcier, but she says that “bipolar and gender are two very different things.” She rejects
some of the very biased terminology…. gatekeeping, as reparative therapy has led to significant harm in the trans community. And recommending “gatekeeping” for consent age adults has an interesting paternalistic, controlling twist. Docs who provide adolescent and young adult care are clear on the literature about the 18-25 years continued brain development. But just as we might listen to a 9 year tell us they have a sore throat, take a history, consider taking a throat swab. Or we might listen to a depressed 16-year-old tell us they are sexually active and need chlamydia testing… we need to listen and incorporate a holistic approach to these youths’ care.
The parent isn’t satisfied with this response, and persists:
Actually there is documented overlap between bipolar and gender identity. There are some cases that have made it into the medical literature. See here and here and here.
And you can easily search online and find conversations within the transgender and gender questioning population about how bipolar episodes affect how they feel regarding their gender identity. Indeed, here is an interesting article about how bipolar affects the development of self.
For lack of a better word, “gatekeeping” is the due diligence that used to happen to ensure a low probability of regret following medical transition. There are mental health issues that, once properly treated, can resolve the desire for a change of gender identity. It is the slower approach of “Gender Identity Disorder” that has been replaced with the affirming approach that most are now practicing. Yet, how can a young adult struggling with undiagnosed bipolar be expected to accurately know that a change of gender at age 18 won’t be regretted at a later age after they are actually diagnosed and treated? All for the lack of mental health due diligence.
This could indeed be the case for my child….mood disorders are prevalent in her father’s family and I’ve documented behaviors that look suspiciously like bipolar disorder. This makes it particularly distressing that you should find “gatekeeping” (again read this as simply “first do no harm” medical due diligence) as “paternalistic and controlling”. A feature of someone with bipolar disorder is that they are highly unlikely to see it in themselves. Diagnosis relies on the observations of family and friends. Helping them seek mental health assistance is certainly not paternalistic and controlling.
The association of gender dysphoria with other psychological problems has been well understood by clinicians and researchers for some time. In recent years, however, activists have worked diligently to prevent that information from being widely discussed. To take just one example, a 2003 survey of 186 Dutch psychiatrists reported on nearly 600 patients with “cross-gender identification” with these results.
In her final remarks, Dr. Forcier dismisses the parents who joined the chat thusly:
There seems to be lots of bias, misinformation, making statements about “data” that are not supported in the actual medical literature. I am also always struck by how many persons without gender expertise or significant experience with a cohort of gender patients have such strong, absolute opinions.
But these questions came from “persons” with first-hand knowledge of their own kids; parents who have read widely (including the “actual medical literature”); parents who care deeply and who view bland reassurances with due skepticism. For these parents, simply “affirming” their kids’ transgender identity is not just a matter of “etiquette” and appropriate language. The decisions made by doctors who prescribe hormones and surgeries have real life implications for the lives of those we love, and it has become evident to many of us that transition is not the best solution for our kids. And as far as “gatekeeping” goes, it’s quite obvious that the easier it becomes to transition, the more transition regret we are going to see.
Speaking of “bias” (the word Forcier used repeatedly to denigrate the parents raising questions in the chat): If one were to go strictly by the comments of Steven Petrow and Michele Forcier, it seems to us that the professionals in the affirm-only gender field and their media handmaidens are the ones with the “strong, absolute opinions.”
And just a reminder: they are talking about our kids.
Thanks so much for this. You and everyone else showed so much courage in the face of the onslaught of smug, self satisfied, patronising vilification.
LikeLiked by 13 people
We need to stop talking and do something as our children and young adults are being brain washed by malpractice. Mothers against transgender drugs and surgery need to take to the streets against these quacks!!! Organize, come out of the closet, protest!!!
LikeLiked by 2 people
I found the huffpost journalists decision to shame a mom asking for help to be very ethically dubious for many reasons. Even if I agreed with his view, it would do no good to approach someone you view as misguided in such a way. In fact if you pity someone else’s kid and you make the parent feel maligned… the kid has to live with the consequences of that, not the journalist, so its really not even about concern for the children. It’s about feeling better than someone else. As for the rest…Dr forcier seems like she isn’t up to date about a lot of research that is relevant to her field. That will hurt her in the years ahead where these gender docs get the pants sued off them. Its documented now that these concerns were raised and she had no idea about available data… I know its frustrating to read her non answers, but believe me, this is going to end up in a court transcript someday, everyone who participated should be proud of that. You helped. Dr forcier has a lot invested in being some kind of savior to these kids so I don’t know if she could see evidence that she is hurting some of them. She can’t even pause to think she might be wrong. I know for a fact that she has a kid of her own, she’s playing dumb about some things related to parenting.
LikeLiked by 9 people
I also thank you for this. It took a lot of guts to stand up against this condescending “expert,” and to face off against the close-mindedness of Mr. Petrow. I am so disappointed in him and his newspaper… I look to WaPo for fairness and accuracy but this coverage of the transgender craze yields neither.
When I read over Dr. Forcier’s comments, most of it just looks like argumentation. She doesn’t answer the question asked half the time, and the other half, resorts to ad hominem remarks, shaming, and other dishonest tactics to avoid actually confronting the issue. It’s almost as if she feels compelled to protect the agenda at all costs, even as the evidence piles up that it’s reckless and wrong for many children and teens. Why would a professional who purports to care deeply about children and teens act this way?
LikeLiked by 12 people
“Why would a professional who purports to care deeply about children and teens act this way?”
My feeling at this point, is that school-based, non-parental gender diagnosis will become a socio-medical scandal as it falls apart. There will be retreat, disavowal, and potentially recriminations. Those are powerful motivators to maintain the status quo. It’s almost survival. And that means that this person likely sees the rocky road ahead, and actually understands that it DOES threaten to fall apart.
My personal opinion is that it’s pseudo-science.
On the one hand, I think it’s perfectly valid that gender identification and gender of attraction are both highly malleable, and can be set or modified in the human brain, naturally, artificially, deliberately or accidentally. But on the other hand, I don’t think modification of hardware to match a malleable software state should ever be the primary answer to a mismatch which is dysphoric to a patient. By my thinking, a WRONG SOLUTION (facile physical gender change) was moved forward inadvisably, and therein lies the resistance to backing out. It requires admission of error, or at least hastiness.
But if backing out is the smart way to go, the sooner, the better.
LikeLiked by 7 people
I have spent time emailing a lot of gender professionals. I found some of them to be quite self-assured and smug actually but when I would ask them for hard data to back up their claims that nothing they are doing is increasing persistence it would be crickets oddly. It’s one of the main reasons I started to research this more. I thought they would be extremely concerned about false positives. They really don’t behave as if they are at all.
LikeLiked by 8 people
This is all so hard. I’m a parent of a child who thinks she’s transgender at 13 but astonishingly agrees with me that she will wait until adulthood to treat it in case she changes her mind. She lives as a tomboy now. I let her wear boy clothes and have short hair, mostly because I did that too but never knew about transgender children in the 70’s. Anyway, I have less fear of cross hormones than I do of blockers. I just want her to grow up naturally, at least, before doing anything else. Why is this bigotry? It’s hard when you face criticism from both sides about parenting. Someone says abuse no matter what you do. We have to keep writing about our experience, it’s important. Thanks for keeping it up!
LikeLiked by 4 people
How come we never see anyone telling parents they should sign the paperwork to let their 16 year old son marry his boyfriend? Because nobody thinks that’s a good idea! http://www.today.com/parents/so-you-support-your-gay-teen-great-you-still-have-2D79442916 And here’s an article where gay adults say you need to set boundaries for your gay kids! Whereas if your kid is trans, you have to let them do whatever they want. That’s the difference.
There have always been gay people, and bisexual people, and gender non-conforming people and people who lived as the other gender and, in certain parts of the world, culturally normal ‘third genders’. But the modern, Western ‘transgender’ is inherently dependent on modern Western medicine, in a way those other identities are not.
LikeLiked by 10 people
Maybe this sounds cold or mean, but I’m honestly never shocked to hear of a couple who married as teens divorcing. Their brains aren’t finished maturing yet, and they’re too young to have to take on such a heavy commitment in the modern era, when we don’t have to worry about a 45-year life expectancy anymore. Come to think of it, a lot of these teen couples I’ve seen, particularly the girls, remind me of the teenagers demanding or getting cross-sex hormones and irreversible surgeries. They all seem to insist THEY’RE the magical, special, perfect exception that’s so mature, going to beat the odds, already know exactly what they want, and will never ever change their minds. If only regretting transition had the same relatively harmless consequences as realizing your teenage marriage was a huge mistake.
LikeLiked by 5 people
One of my mother’s friends in high school begged her parents to allow her to marry her 16 year old boyfriend (this was in approx.1974). They said yes, on the condition she stayed in school. She didn’t stay in school, got divorced from him, and went on to have several other failed marriages.
I would imagine a lot of the married-as-teens couples either grew up in a time or a culture like Evangelical Protestantism where divorce had/has a huge stigma.
It’s going to be…interesting to see what happens when many of these current trans people realize they’re not trans. Historically, by which I mean, like, five years ago, nobody got on T until their body was at least mostly physically mature, so like 22 or later. And those are the people that the fairly scant data on T comes from. What are going to be the effects of having started T at 15? There’s generally the feeling that a mastectomy is the next step after hormones, or is ‘more extreme’, and in a sense I’d agree, but you don’t really need to have breasts to have a healthy adult female body. You do need to have gone through standard female hormonal development.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Prick though he is, Dan Savage at least seems to understand how parenting works.
Parents do need to establish boundaries for their minor children. You’re right that in the case of trans the minor children are the ones in charge and the parents are supposed to let them do whatever they want.
When I came out, my parents didn’t offer to give me a fake ID to get into the lesbian nightclub. Same-sex marriage was not legal in my home-state until the Supreme Court ruling, but even if it had been my parents wouldn’t have given me permission to marry a girlfriend when I was 16-17. (And if I had wanted to get married in my early 20s, they still would have suggested that I seriously think about it, not out of homophobia but because marriage is kind of a big deal. Divorce is expensive.)
Transgenderism is modern medical experiment and so-called sex-reassignment surgery started as an attempt to cure homosexuality. That’s why it especially pisses me off that not turning a child into a medical experiment is equated to “conversion therapy”, ESPECIALLY in the case of the mother whose daughter was a lesbian before being brainwashed by the cult. Encouraging girls to identify with men and take testosterone instead of being a lesbian is anti-lesbian and it is conversion therapy.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I can’t really share in your complementing of Dan Savage. I’ve been listening to him since he had a radio show in Seattle in the 90s. I’ve sent him a bunch of stuff on the downsides of youth transitions and seen others do it on social media. He’s always been the person to adamantly stand up for protecting gay people but not in this case. He knows that these confused female teens are being misdiagnosed. He knows gay youth experience gender identity disorder. He knows some professionals question the safety of giving hormone blockers to eleven-year-olds. He knows all this. And instead of discussing it at least, he lets his friend Alice Dreger, a heterosexual woman and someone he knows fairly well and who already has taken tons of abuse from trans activists, go out and take the heat for raising concerns about youth transitions. Instead of he as a gay man doing it. The bulk of his listeners/readers are “queer” polyamorous urbanites, an extremely pro trans demigraphic. They will bail on him if he says anything critical about the trans movement. I used to love him (even though some found him offensive) for taking no flack from homophobic christians. I’m not a fan anymore and don’t really respect him or any other gays and lesbians in the media that don’t at least raise some questions about what’s going on.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Actually I agree with you. I do think that the article had good advice, but overall Dan Savage is a trainwreck. I also suspect that while he supports parents setting reasonable boundaries for a LGB child, that it would not be the case for a trans child.
I stopped reading him for a while, then I found out that he told a lesbian that she was the equivalent of a racist bigot for not going on pity dates with transwomen. So, basically this lesbian needs to spend her time and energy soothing the feelings of heterosexual men who think they are lesbians and put herself at risk for sexual violence. Real nice! So progressive! (It’s nice how he ignores his own vague racism for blaming mostly black people for passing Prop 8, ignoring all the homophobic white people who voted for that.)
I also used to like him for not taking smack from homophobic Christians. But I don’t respect him anymore either. He is in a much better position of power to raise questions about this than I am, but he’s afraid of losing his readership. I work in an academic setting as a teacher’s assistant and for a while I wanted to be a teaching professor. But I know without tenure I would get my ass fired if I had any of my radical feminist opinions linked to my name. And unlike Dan Savage I can’t afford to lose my job. So I think I’ll find a different career path with more freedom of expression.
My advice: lesbians do not trust any man who is super eager to be “friends” with you after he finds out your a lesbian. And especially never trust a heterosexual autogynophile!
(Actually the above advice also applies to bisexual women. And heterosexual women should watch out for clingy men too.)
LikeLiked by 1 person
In your response about Dan Savage and lesbians going on pity dates, I listened to that podcast myself. I have a blog on LGBT issues (The Homoarchy) and one of my biggest peeves is the cotton ceiling mentality. Dan Savage knows it’s BS, I can tell by the way he has phrased similar comments but he’s not willing to take it on. But Dan Savage isn’t the only problem. There are many lesbians (all on the far left) that run LGBT orgs and women’s “queer” media that refuse to take on the cotton ceiling mentality or air anything that exposes some of the risks of youth transitions. The narrative of the LGBT “community” needs to be wrestled away from these, in my opinion intellectually lazy lesbians that are abandoning their own community. I’m trying to figure out a way to run a site for women as a non-profit that would focus on higher quality than the crap that is out there now and pay bloggers. But I don’t have the personal wealth to fund that right now, I’m hoping to in the future. If you don’t have a website already and are interested in blogging let me know. You could be anon.
I didn’t know he had a podcast about that. I just remember reading a section of his advice column that was posted on gendertrender a few months back. This lesbian who wrote in to him described herself as a “cis lesbian” (no one is cis) and talked about how she wasn’t attracted to “trans lesbians” (creepy heterosexual men) and Dan Savage gave her a guilt trip and compared her to a racist.
(I don’t believe men claiming to be women/lesbians anymore than I believe Rachel Dolezal when she claims to be black.)
I do agree the whole thing is intellectually lazy and some other not-so-nice words. The left (or I guess mostly neoliberals) are so into thought policing anyone who isn’t on board the trans train. People like Dan Savage and the lesbians who run LGBT new-sources (though it’s really just “T”, isn’t it?) are in more of a position of authority to question the trans trend, but they don’t. I don’t hang out at those websites because I can always just hang out with fundies if I want to be told I’m a terrible person for not liking penis.
I do think that the lesbian-hatred within spaces that are supposedly a “safe space” for lesbians is even more insidious than the fundie bullshit, especially since Gallus Mag has documented that many of these organizations can’t be bothered with background checks.
Kind of miss high school when the Gay-Straight Alliance was actually LGB-focused and there was no one transitioning because people would have thought that making such a big decision at that age was insane.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Interestingly, trans activists also *hate* Dan Savage for not being supportive enough of trans rights, and having said insensitive things in the past, supposedly. He really changed a lot of what he was saying (though I suspect, not so much his views) in response to what his readers seemed to want, though it still isn’t good enough for a lot of people in the trans community …
Yes, I remember a column some years ago when Dan Savage was just the tiniest bit snarky about all the pronoun stuff. I have not seen anything from him lately except a dutiful “they are born that way”.
I couldn’t believe how unbending Mr. Petrow was in the original article, the chat, and the follow-up mostly recapping the chat. Dr. Forcier was also ridiculously rigid and one-tracked. They couldn’t bear a critical look at the narrative they’ve thoroughly absorbed. Zero evidence of skeptical inquiry was demonstrated. I’ve changed my mind on issues I was convinced of, thanks to reading other sources and having an open enough mind to accept newer and/or better information. It can be really hard to admit you’ve been so deeply wrong about something, particularly if you’ve held onto this belief for a really long time (even written an entire research paper defending one of those issues, as I did), but it’s what mature, intelligent adults are supposed to do.
One of the few pro-trans commenters in the original article accused me of being a “concern troll” because, among other things, I dared use the older word “transsexual” instead of “transgender.” That’s the word I was introduced to back in the late Nineties, when almost all trans people were gay men, and a few lesbians. That was the word they themselves used, and they didn’t correct anyone using it either.
I also found it very disturbing how Dr. Forcier didn’t seem to see anything wrong with young people of different sexes rooming together on school trips. I wouldn’t have accepted sharing a room with a boy, even if he were a really close friend I’d known for years and years. The trans student can always find other accommodations instead of making the students of the opposite sex uncomfortable.
LikeLiked by 4 people
Carrie-Anne, I had the exact same experience when I used to participate on pro-gay blogs (this was before they became all trans, all the time). Most (all?) of the people who run those blogs are militant atheists, and require that as a pre-condition to being gay or an ally, you must also accept their ideas about religion.
I would point out that not all churches are the Westboro Baptist Church, and not all versions of every faith are crazy fundamentalist threats to life and happiness. I even pointed out that a lot of good, pro-GLB work is done in the liberal churches, and that acceptance and love for GLB people is consciously nurtured in those traditions nowadays. That telling people that they had to “choose” between tolerance for GLB people and religious faith was a false choice that would alienate more people than it converted.
For this, I was repeatedly condemned as a “concern troll.” I actually don’t even know what that means, it must be a synonym for “shut up, I don’t want to hear it.”
LikeLiked by 2 people
Dr. Forcier talks exactly like all the other trans ideologues. All her answers are ad hominem attacks. She is incapable of real thought or conversation and she does not know the literature. The parents asking questions were all better informed and had a larger context than this narrow minded, self assured doctor.
LikeLiked by 7 people
I heard saw a lecture this weekend where the speaker said something like, “it is impossible to convince someone that a belief is false, when there paycheck relies on them believing it’s true.” The context was something totally different but it seems equally apt in this case.
LikeLiked by 6 people
I agree with you. Dr. Forcier wants parents to allow gender exploration and all these parents are willing to do that as far as I can see if by exploration we mean experimenting with hair styles, clothes, and behaviors. However, she actually classifies drugs and surgeries which are irreversible as “exploration”. I would call this total commitment. However, She doesn’t make money by letting kids be kids. Gender specialists are on the gravy train for the life of these kids if they can medicalize the condition. The earlier they start them down the medical route, the more money they will make. The threat of suicide is used to force parents to transition their kids as young as possible. Have there been any reported cases of children under age 12 committing suicide because they were not allowed to transition? This is a real question; I have not heard of these cases, yet the treatments are always referred to as “life saving” and compared to cancer or diabetes treatments. Is there any data that justifies this comparison? We know that cancer will progress if untreated, but cancer is something that is not self diagnosed by a “feeling”. It is something with a verifiable physical basis. We also know, though Dr. Forcier seems unfamiliar with the phenomenon, that many people regret their transitions and wish to live again as their natal sex. I don’t know of anybody who just wishes they had their cancer back after being declared cured (though I do know of people who felt that the pain and suffering of the treatments did not really justify the small additional time they lived).
LikeLiked by 7 people
I kinda wish someone had been able to ask her what exactly could convince her that she is wrong.
LikeLiked by 2 people
This whole thing goes against medical ethics guidelines, standards for informed consent, clinical and risk governance and clinical risk management. Professionals here have crossed the line and there is a clear case for class action.
LikeLiked by 8 people
What are the underlying assumptions of a society where people are allowed to change sex younger than they are allowed to have sex?
LikeLiked by 6 people
I’m still confused as to why gender is so different when it comes to the hats kids try on. If kids try on a religious hat, different from their parent, what do we expect of the parents? Do we expect them to abandon their religion and go with whatever the child is interested in? Perhaps parents who have no feeling one way or the other would facilitate some sort of religious exploration for their kids but it seems that people are more willing to back off and let each parent decide that for themselves. Why is gender so different?
If you don’t think it has anything to do with beliefs or that people can be imbued with some sort of intrinsic knowing of gender that has nothing to do with gender stereotypes, then why aren’t we also seeing more trans-racialism? If gender is somehow intrinsic, wouldn’t race be intrinsic too? Couldn’t a seemingly white child have internal knowledge of being black? It seems like people who have tried that haven’t gotten such a warm reception in our culture. Why is gender so different?
LikeLiked by 2 people
My parents didn’t give me or my little brother a religion so we could choose our own at eighteen, a decision they now regret (for reasons too off-topic to get into here). I was first attracted to Judaism at age eight, because I thought the holidays were fun, and then spent some time exploring many other religions until my desire to be Jewish returned stronger than ever right after I turned fifteen. As hard as it was to wait till eighteen to convert, I’m glad I was able to explore all those options. While I remain very interested in religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, they obviously weren’t my spiritual home, since I lost my passionate desire to join them. My life would’ve turned out much differently had my parents not insisted on waiting till age eighteen, and forced me into converting to one of those other religions and staying in it no matter what.
So many of my neoliberal friends insist “trans kids” are very different from kids pretending to be dogs, cats, horses, dragons, wizards, helicopters, trains, and lions. It’s ridiculous how quickly society moved to seeing “gender identity” as so sacred and unchanging, unlike all the other phases kids go through.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I was taken aback when Dr. Forcier described parents as “biased” for describing a double mastectomy for a child as drastic. That’s the kind of comment that makes me feel gaslighted or like I am seeing everything upside down from the way the “gender health” community is seeing it. Like since when is a double mastectomy not a big deal? Especially when performed on a teenager?
LikeLiked by 11 people
It’s a very, very big deal!
LikeLiked by 9 people
It’s no surprise we see cute abbreviations replacing terms to mask their medical severity: “T” instead of Testosterone, “top surgery” instead of double mastectomy, “bottom surgery” instead of hysterectomy or penectomy, “cotton ceiling” instead of “male entitlement to women’s bodies”… This IS basic gas-lighting, and it seems to be a frequent tactic in this issue.
If a woman isn’t comfortable having someone with a penis who is attracted to women in her intimate bathroom space, then SHE’S the one with the problem. If a penis looks like a penis to a lesbian and she isn’t interested, SHE’S the one being hateful and creepy for not “just trying” to accept a trans woman partner. If a mom hears her little boy say “I wish I had boobs!” the same day he wanted to be a superhero and thinks “my friends are going to laugh when they hear this one!” then SHE is in the wrong. It’s always the (often male) trans person who is right, and never the woman, the gay or lesbian person, the parent who’s known her child since day 1. This all needs to be called what it is: gas-lighting… straight up psychological manipulation.
NO ONE has a “right” to someone else’s intimate space or body or their kids. I think a genuine desire to be tolerant and accepting of all kinds of people has been coopted by this movement to make every demand a matter of life/death, of bigotry.
LikeLiked by 5 people
Any kind of surgery is drastic! Even if it is something that you need to live, like when my cousin had her thyroid removed at the age of 20 due to cancer. Unless you have breast cancer or possibly if you are at an extremely high risk (like Angelina Jolie) you should not have a mastectomy. Every surgery has risks and antibiotic resistant bacteria and hospital acquired infections are on the rise. On gendertrender, Gallus Mag has documented cases of double mastectomies where the nipples literally fall off or rot off due to necrosis. Plastic surgery isn’t nearly as advanced and risk free as you’d think and the same goes for routine surgeries.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I may have related this before so if I’m repeating, my apologies.
When my 15 year old had his wisdom teeth out there was all kinds of stuff I had to sign, with witnesses present. I had to read and sign a big long list of the risks of anethesia and a big long list of side effects and aftercare I’d have to do. ME not him.
And that was just for teeth! Like the smallest thing you can have surgery on and there was a big to-do about it, but having your breasts removed is ‘exploration’ and calling that drastic is such an over reaction. I PRAY that people, parents, will see through this unctuous quack. I Pray they will see how little she cares for their children and how it’s all about the money.
One of the other posters hit the nail right on the head, she isn’t going to get rich by telling parents to wait it out and let their kid explore their identity and grow up a bit before making permanent changes. Creating a niche market for herself won’t happen with an 80% desist rate. Wickedness is the word for that.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 16 and my parents had to sign those same forms. I obviously couldn’t sign on my own since I was a minor, but I read the forms too (my mom said that it was good to learn how to read forms since I would be an adult soon). The forms were really detailed, because my teeth were coming in at 45 degree angle, so they had to carve them out, meaning more paperwork.
Getting them removed was necessary because they would have impacted my other teeth, but that didn’t mean the surgery was without risk. (It was surgery too; they put me asleep for it.)
Maybe these experts should start talking to more people out there, even those whose kids are not going through this directly. I was just catching up with an old college friend whose oldest child is in his first year of college. His son attended public school in an affluent and very progressive area and he says that a bunch of his son’s friends decided that they were transgender for a time during high school but that only one of them remains in that identity. This reality needs to be acknowledged by the experts. That the greater publicity about people who are living happily as transgender adults is leading a lot of teenagers to try it on as an identity that they may well discard like other teenage identities, and so it is critical to take it slow and not make assumptions about whether this identity will in fact persist. I know that this message is the very core of what 4thwavenow has been stressing since founding this site, but why isn’t the mental health/medical community or at least the media catching up? We are not making this up…And the fact that these kids may ultimately shed this identity in no way means that transgender adults are not deserving of dignity, respect, and civil rights protections or the right to change their names and bodies.
LikeLiked by 4 people
That’s one of the things that’s so frustrating and crazy-making about all this. Looking at Tumblr-style gender discourse from the perspective of a skeptical adult, it’s so blindingly obvious that so much of it is just ordinary adolescent identity exploration. And in just about any other circumstance, I’d be 100% on the side of nonconformist kids rebelling against the high school social hierarchy.
LikeLiked by 5 people
It is painful to read all of this but thank you authors for bringing this to light. How to get media attention? I still think it would be great to organize a protest at the annual APA meeting. Our stories would then be heard. We could be “Mothers of the Disappeared.”
Don’t use that name. In Latin America it refers to the mothers of people who were kidnapped, tortured and killed by repressive regimes. What is happening to your children is very disturbing but they are not being thrown out of the back of planes over the ocean. Maybe call it something like ‘Campaign Against The New Lobotomy’ to link it with another disasterous medical fad.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Or how about MATI, Mothers Against Trans Ideology.
LikeLiked by 3 people
I was aware that it was the name used my mothers of the missing in Argentina and that their children were tortured or killed. It was not my intent to misuse or misappropriate their name. For some of us, our children are simply missing, gone. It goes way beyond a lifestyle choice, sexual identity, or change of religion or values. In their youthful quest of identity- seeking, they have been encouraged to a path of self-destruction– not only of the body but of the mind (thought) and spirit (no matter your religion or non-religion). I was attempting to capture the poignancy of our plight.
I agree with you that our position as mothers is really strange and untenable. A daughter who you have been close to and open with for 25 years suddenly wants you to support their self sterilization, self mutilation, and body and mind altering drug therapies–all irreversible. She starts asserting that she “feels” a certain way when 25 years of prior thought, behavior, and emotion showed absolutely no signs that this feeling was present. Yet, they want you, the mother, to assert that they have always really been this way and they want, you, the mother, to support them by changing your own long held identity as a woman and mother as well as advocating for such things as the end of female sports teams, or the existence of female sports teams only as long as trans people get to game the system so that they win. It is heart breaking to lose a daughter this way, but their new found ideology, which is completely incoherent and so can’t really be discussed rationally, as well as their new found cruelty and viciousness to all who do not completely embrace their new form of existence is really too much. I do know plenty of parents in my position who have completely capitulated to these demands so as to have a continuing relationship with their child, but I have yet to meet a parent of a teenager or young adult who transitions who actually whole-heartedly believes the ideology or believes that it is by far the best thing that their child could have done for their own flourishing and happiness. I don’t say that there are no cases of this, but I don’t know any and by now I have communicated with many parents. I do know parents who transition their young children, and thus are in control of the whole process, who are all in with the project, but it does not seem to me that the children had any autonomy in these decisions.
LikeLiked by 4 people
PASS: Parents Against Self-Diagnosis Stupidity
Therapists asking questions and digging deeper should not be considered conversion therapy. It is simply therapy to avoid mistakes and future regrets. Why is that wrong these days?
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is such a cynical, underhanded rhetorical move:
For non-US readers who might not catch the reference, there was recently a kerfuffle where the White House spokeswoman described some demonstrable falsehoods by Trump as “alternative facts.” Dr. Forcier’s use of the phrase, of course, is meant to reinforce the Pavlovian partisan association in the minds of liberal Washington Post readers: “all trans skeptics are evil scary right-wingers, therefore all decent-minded liberals must uncritically accept the trans dogma.” The depressing thing is how well this strategy seems to work.
It’s so frustrating. Once trans became a ingroup-outgroup issue for Blue Team versus Red Team, all possibility of nuanced discussion was replaced by the simple partisan logic in which Their Side believes that, therefore Our Side must believe this. Sometimes I wonder — if a rural Republican state legislature passed a bill expressing skepticism of Morgellons, would the Times, NPR and Buzzfeed immediately run pieces about the terrible threat to human rights posed by Morgellons denialism? Would universities rush to create Morgellons Studies departments to provide “expert” opinion to eager journalists? Would earnest undergraduates hold emotional protests about how Morgellons-phobia is just as bad as slavery and apartheid?
Would parents and friends pointing out that their kids DON’T have wires growing under their skin be forced into anonymity by social media hate mobs?
Thanks to all the parents willing to stand up and speak out about this in the face of terrible opposition.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on a political rant here — and no offense or hostility meant to any rural/conservative/Republican 4thwavenow readers. It’s just been very frustrating lately — I’m in a liberal environment where people are “circling the wagons” politically post-election, and now more than ever it seems impossible to get in a skeptical word about the youth trans phenomenon.
LikeLiked by 3 people
This is for freenampeyo regarding your 25 year old daughter. I feel your pain. I did not get to weigh-in on my daughter’s choices. She likely knew what our reaction would be. She got sucked down a dark hole– is how I see it. If her younger self could see herself now, she would be horrified.
I do know a couple of families that capitulated to their delusional child in order to maintain contact. There is the public brave, false? face they put on to pretend that their child was born in the wrong body. They change up the pronouns and names. And then there is the private side. Do these families ever get over it and truly get re-educated? Not if they are being honest with themselves and others– but they have chosen not to be honest and snort the Kool Aid. I mean, I get it. It is a terrible thing to have your child suddenly hate you and then make a lot of outrageous demands– with the ultimate nuclear option of total estrangement if one does not follow.
If you capitulate, you will lose yourself and your rights. I think I will write an essay on Human Mother Rights.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Absolutely agree with you. My politics have always been to the left-of-center and then we got hit with this. And BTW, welcome people of all political stripes and religions and non-religions, as we have something in common: we are losing our children. I have discussed this issue with a few close friends. Many agree with me but think that somehow our daughter is the exception and it is a mental health issue. True, her mental health is a problem. However, none of my peers understand what a widespread problem this is. I tell them thousands of families are being ripped apart by this but all they see in the press and pop culture is the transactivist views. I would call it snorting the Kool Aid.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Can someone PLEASE tell these experts and all these struggling kids that puberty SUCKS? Your body does gross things you’ve never seen, gets lumps and shapes in the least flattering places, grows stretch marks, makes you horny at the WORST times, keeps you perpetually off-balance, and every other thing you say and do and think will be clumsy. You won’t know what to do with yourself for YEARS. But this does not mean anything is wrong! It does not mean if only you had the other body’s sex, it would be easier to grow up!
Social media and transactivists have gotten greater access to kids than even parents have sometimes. Even when I pretended not to listen, it really helped to have my parents tell me “don’t worry, I remember one time I really flew off the handle when my dad asked me to do something… You reminded me of how rough it is to be a teen.” That was well before social media.
Nowadays, we have endless glowing social media stories and news reports of how X hated her boobs since they came so that must mean she was really a boy, and now look, all her teenage body-hatred is gone the day after surgery. Just don’t check in on her in 5 or 10 years. Isn’t it all about instant results, instant relief from becoming an adult man or woman? But growing up doesn’t give a shit about “now, now, now!”
It’s not kids and teens telling each other puberty should be optional. It’s not parents either. It’s trans adults on internet forums and people who stand to make a lot of money getting patients for life. I feel so badly for ALL the parents on this site, doing their best against this onslaught of complete BS. Since when was puberty supposed to be easy, pop a pill and you’re done??
LikeLiked by 7 people
The best advocate for my opinion ended up being the endocrinologist. I point blank asked him about data on previous studies, side effects, etc. with my daughter in the room. I brought up every concern and he said that I was well educated on the topic and that I was absolutely right. Unlike therapists he didn’t sugar coat the possible problems. He can’t or he could lose his license. That was enough to get my daughter to choose to wait, luckily.
LikeLiked by 6 people
Barbara, I am so glad your daughter decided to wait. Unfortunately my 21 year old daughter heard all the side effects and still made the choice to start testosterone. She never expressed thinking she was male until she saw something on the internet. She also has a chronic disease that already puts her at risk for cardiovascular complications and taking testosterone adds to that. I believe the driving force behind this is that she is in a relationship with a “straight female who thinks my daughter is a guy.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Please keep speaking out. Thank you. I know many of you are waiting for an influential journalist out there in the mainstream press (I mean liberal press) to let us tell our stories– without the so-called experts weighing in. Just how many shades of wrong is this?
LikeLiked by 1 person
I pointed out to my transman “son” how complicated the sexuality aspect will get. Then after that “he” managed to get in a relationship with a man “he” said is a gay man. Which makes no sense to my old brain. They are still dating months later. However, body parts are body parts….eventually they fit together or they don’t, to put it bluntly.
hi– posting here b/c i think this “Dr.” needs to be reported to the FBI/Interpol/whatever for enticement of minors– have said so on twitter, where i follow you guys (i am @yalittleshit) and if you check my TL you will see a convo i am currently having with someone who is being harassed, possibly doxxed by the good doctor.
LikeLiked by 1 person
To all the concerned parents out there, are there any support groups for “us”? We are in such conflict and don’t know where to turn for help with my 14 year old son saying he wants to take estrogen. Would love to be able to get together with others who are dealing with these same problems. Please let me know if there is such a thing or possibly how we could start one.
Welcome Desperate – to my knowledge there are no in-person groups to support skeptical, questioning, or go-slow parents. All of the family support that is currently offered is of the “affirm only” variety (especially the support that is offered through large national organizations or gender clinics). I am a huge believer in face-to-face support, which can include hugs, and this makes me very sad!
My best suggestion at this point is that you gently and subtly see whether there are any parents among your son’s friends who may be facing similar problems. I have been very surprised at how many of my own friends are actually much more skeptical about the transgender ideology than I had thought (or even than their Facebook postings would have indicated!). With the meteoric rise in trans-identifying teenagers, there are probably a lot more parents in your same situation, in your community, than you realize.
Otherwise, there are several online communities, this one is by far the best, for gender-skeptical parents. Hopefully in the not too terribly distant future, this support will also move into the “real world.” Hang in there!
This woman, who studied for years to learn her craft, reminds me of a Michael E. Mann for the gender ideology side. Basically, when asked questions relating to her field of scientific study, she brushes them away with snark and a wave of her hand. I suspect Ehrensaft does the same, especially with her ‘Gender Creative’ book featuring children. Despicable all the way around.
How can she claim that these treatments are safe? Really… how? Has there been a new high quality long term study that shows testosterone used off label is safe? If so then she should have provided that update to all the concerned parents. If safe means it won’t kill you right away but you may need a liver transplant at age 30 and have a whole lot of other health issues then to me, that is the opposite of safe. Or at the very least, a very ambivalent usage of the term safe. Hell! If these experts are defining safe in this way then I don’t see why they should be against smoking for minors . Cigarettes don’t kill you right away either!!! It really kills me how these people just don’t want to hear our concerns! I really hope after listening to all these parents very intelligent and imploring concerns that she went home and did some deep thinking! Nah!!! That would just be crazy now wouldn’t it?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pingback: Nevertheless, she persisted… as a role model for girls in STEM | 4thWaveNow