By Susan Nagel
Susan Nagel is the mom of a 17-year-old girl who identifies as transgender. Nagel wrote this essay as a way to educate people who assume she is transphobic because she is unsupportive of her daughter’s desire to medically transition. She hopes others may find this essay helpful if they are trying to educate friends, family members, teachers, doctors, therapists, or journalists. Nagel is using a pseudonym to protect the identity of her daughter, and is available to interact in the comments section of this post.
A PDF version of this article is available here.
About a year ago my then 16-year–old daughter told us she believes she is transgender. Soon after, she began begging to take testosterone, to wear a breast binder, to have others call her by male pronouns, and to legally change her name. Nothing about her childhood prepared us for this; she always had stereotypically feminine interests and tastes. She loved stuffed animals, preferred skirts over pants for school, chose bright pink paint for her room, and experimented with makeup and curling her hair. When she was little. I joked that I had to add a pink load to laundry day in addition to lights and darks. Over the course of a month or two after coming out, she changed from a generally cheerful person to a morose one who spent hours crying and who told me to hide the knives.
Before I go further, I think you should know the lens through which I view things. I am a liberal, and I fully support equal access to housing, employment, education, and healthcare for all marginalized people, including transgender people. I do not think being transgender is immoral or that gender diversity is disturbing. Still after spending many sleepless nights researching the transgender movement, I have come to be very afraid for my daughter. My fears are about the rush to turn physically healthy teenage girls and young women into permanent medical patients and to do so before their brains are fully developed and with almost no oversight by mental health professionals.
I encounter many well-meaning people who believe the transgender movement is simply a civil rights movement. They do not understand my concerns and assume I am ignorant or a bigot. I think it is because most people’s knowledge of the transgender movement is limited to mass media accounts focusing on discrimination against transgender people or on an individual’s struggle to be true to his or her self. Below are some things I wish people understood about how the transgender movement is impacting the health of children and young people along with some questions I would like people to ponder.
- Few children who experience gender dysphoria grow up to be transgender.
Gender dysphoria, a feeling of discomfort or distress with a person’s own biological sex, is a temporary issue for a sizeable majority of the children who experience it. Studies show that only between 6% and 27% of children who experience gender dysphoria will grow up to be transgender. These statistics do not come from a conservative source. They are from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care.
- The drug regimen used to treat pre-pubescent children with gender dysphoria causes permanent sterility.
Some parents whose young children experience gender dysphoria place their children on drugs called puberty blockers to stop the onset of puberty. The rationale: postponing puberty will give a child time to decide which gender the child is. If the child later decides to transition, the child will more easily pass as a member of the opposite sex because the normal development of secondary sex characteristics was blocked. If the child decides not to transition, the child stops the puberty blockers, and normal puberty occurs. Those wishing to complete medical transition, must follow puberty blockers with the hormones of the opposite sex. When puberty blockers are followed by cross sex hormones, the child never undergoes puberty for his/her birth sex and will be unable to produce viable ova or sperm as an adult.
Sterility is not the only problem caused by the typical treatment route of puberty blockers plus cross-sex hormones . The drugs being used to block puberty are being used off-label; i.e. they have not been approved for this use by the Food and Drug Administration. According to Eli Coleman, a psychologist who heads the human-sexuality program at the University of Minnesota Medical School quoted in The New Yorker, “We still don’t know the subtle or potential long-term effects (of puberty blockers) on brain function or bone development. Many people recognize it’s not a benign treatment.”
Puberty blockers have been used for a number of years to treat precocious puberty and to allow short kids more time to grow. The FDA is currently conducting a review of nervous system and psychiatric events as well as deadly seizures among pediatric patients using GnRH agonists including one of the most common puberty blockers, Lupron. Over 10,000 adverse event reports in relation to Lupron usage have been filed with the FDA. According to Kaiser Health News, “…thousands of women have joined Facebook groups or internet forums in recent years claiming that Lupron ruined their lives or left them crippled.” Complaints include osteoporosis, degenerative disk disease, and deteriorating joints.
My questions are: How can it possibly be ethical to sterilize children before they are old enough to give informed consent? If your child had a medical condition with a 73 to 94 percent chance of remitting without treatment, would you agree to experimental therapies with known serious side effects? What parent can predict whether his/her child will prefer to be fertile or to pass as the opposite sex as an adult?
3. Not every person who medically transitions stays transitioned.
Although trans activists claim otherwise, it is not uncommon for transgender people who have transitioned, medically and/or socially (social transition includes adopting the dress, hairstyles, names, and pronouns of the opposite sex) to eventually change their minds and detransition. For example, a 2016 survey on detransitioning that was posted online for only 10 days collected over 200 responses from detransitioned women. Blogs and videos of detransitioners are easy to find online.
- There is little research on the safety of the long-term use of cross-sex hormones for the purposes of sexual transition.
Using testosterone for the purposes of sexual transition is an off-label use of the drug. One observational study of the immediate impact of testosterone treatment on females transitioning to male showed that testosterone impaired mitochondrial function and created a state of oxidative stress in the subjects’ white blood cells. Oxidative stress is associated with neurodegenerative diseases, gene mutations, cancers, heart and blood disorders, and inflammatory diseases among other pathologies. Research on the long-term effects of using testosterone for transition is sparse. Given the effect testosterone has on the white blood cells of women, it seems reckless to me to prescribe this drug without further studies of its long-term effects.
Below are just a few items from a consent form that girls and women wishing to take testosterone must sign:
- “I understand that it is not known exactly what the effects of testosterone are on fertility…,”
- “I understand that brain structures are affected by testosterone and estrogen. The long term effects of changing the levels of one’s natal estrogen through the use of testosterone therapy have not been scientifically studied and are impossible to predict. These effects may be beneficial, damaging, or both.”
- “I have been informed that using testosterone may increase my risk of developing diabetes in the future because of changes in my ovaries.”
- “I understand that the endometrium (lining of the uterus) is able to turn testosterone into estrogen and may increase the risk of cancer of the endometrium.”
- “I understand fatty tissue in the breasts and body is able to turn excess testosterone into estrogen, which may increase my risk of breast cancer and decrease or impede the desired effects of testosterone therapy.”
- “I have been informed that testosterone may lead to liver inflammation and damage. I have been informed that I will be monitored for liver problems before starting testosterone therapy and periodically during therapy.”
My daughter sees nothing scary about this list. She is a teenager, and teenagers believe they are invincible. She reassures me that she would receive the treatments from a doctor, so in her mind, nothing could go wrong. She lacks the life experience that has taught me all medical treatments entail risks and side effects, many drugs are withdrawn from the market when they are later found unsafe, some medical professionals are motivated by profit, and that doctors make mistakes. In the study of detransitioned women mentioned above, the average age of transition was 17, and the average age of detransition was 22. I suspect the timing of detransition had something to do with young women reaching sufficient maturity to calculate risks versus benefits.
In addition to the health risks, testosterone causes irreversible cosmetic changes. Male pattern baldness, facial hair, and a deepened voice follow transmen who detransition to reclaim womanhood.
I am shocked by how readily some friends accept the idea of using synthetic hormones for the purpose of transitioning teenagers. Some of these people avoid drinking milk from cows treated with bovine growth hormone and avoid eating inorganic vegetables or food tainted by genetically modified organisms. If teenagers ingest risky chemicals for politically correct reasons, is the harm is somehow reduced?
- A thorough evaluation and therapy from a mental health professional are not required before a young adult medically transitions.
Several people have told me not to worry that my daughter might transition unnecessarily because a person must have a thorough evaluation by a therapist to assure he/she is truly transgender before receiving medical treatments. That may have been universally true at one time, but unfortunately it is no longer the case. In the survey of detransitioned women mentioned above, 117 of the surveyed women had medically transitioned. Only 41 (35%) of those women had received any therapy beforehand. The vast majority (68%) felt they had not received adequate counseling and accurate information about transition before transitioning.
Some trans advocates say evaluation by a therapist should not be required for medical transition because they say being transgender is not a mental illness. Consequently, there has been a move toward informed-consent clinics. Under this scenario, any adult claiming to be transgender is allowed to receive medical transition treatments with a letter from a therapist stating they have been informed of the risks involved in transition and are capable of giving consent.
The website of RECLAIM, a St. Paul, Minnesota mental-health center for transgender youth ages 13 through 25, explains that the informed-consent process may take as little as two sessions to 10 or more. It also explains that the resulting letter to medical providers “…does not involve the evaluation of readiness…” for medical transition by the therapist. Call me old-fashioned, but I think most 18-year-olds could benefit from an evaluation of readiness.
The website of a St. Paul therapist specializing in gender issues, Bystrom Counseling and Consultation, tells potential clients that a number of Minnesota physicians “…are now comfortable prescribing hormones without written documentation of completion of (the) Global Review of risks and benefits from a therapist.” The website goes on to list the medical clinics most often accessed for this purpose.
University of Michigan Professor of Social Work Kathleen Levinstein wrote about her autistic daughter’s medical transition for 4thWaveNow. Her daughter was a special-education student, who as an adult, qualifies for disability payments and is not capable of managing her own finances. She functions at such a level, that her mother had to explain to her that women who take testosterone do not grow penises. The day after her 18th birthday, the daughter‘s gender therapist approved a double mastectomy for the daughter after only two sessions together. The daughter began testosterone treatments several months later. The daughter who also suffers from Crohn’s Disease has been hospitalized three times due to adverse reactions to the hormone.
If transgender people are not ill, doesn’t that make their treatments elective and therefore ineligible for insurance coverage? If transgender people are ill, don’t they deserve a thorough evaluation and a diagnosis before undergoing medical treatments?
- When children and teens experience gender dysphoria, they are often allowed to diagnose themselves as transgender.
Parents who convince a child to seek therapy before pursuing transition should know that many mental-health professionals especially those calling themselves gender therapists use an identity approach to treating gender dysphoria, also called the gender affirmative approach. Lisa Marchiano, a Philadelphia social worker, wrote an essay contrasting the identity model of therapy to the traditional mental-health model. Under the identity model, gender dysphoria can mean only one thing: that someone is transgender. Therapists are not allowed to use their own clinical judgement to analyze whether there might be other reasons people are feeling uncomfortable with their bodies. Marchiano states, “Our role as therapists becomes limited to enthusiastic affirmation only.”
I witnessed the prevalence of this model in my own search for a therapist to help my daughter. I interviewed approximately ten therapists by phone before finding one who understood that teenagers experiment with identities and that teenagers’ beliefs about who they are may change over time, something that used to be common sense and common knowledge.
In contrast to the gender-identity model of therapy, Marchiano says the mental-health model sees gender dysphoria as a symptom. The therapist’s job is to help the client “…explore the symptoms without making assumptions about what the symptoms mean. In fact, while identity therapy knows what gender dysphoria means – i.e. that the client is trans – mental health therapy will start with the assumption that we have no idea what the symptom means. We must be open to the meaning that emerges for patients as we explore their experience with them.”
What besides being transgender could cause gender dysphoria? In a letter to the American Psychological Association, Marchiano says the survey of detransitioned women in addition to the online writings and videos of detransitioners indicate “…that many who underwent transition feel that they were doing so as a maladaptive coping mechanism to deal with trauma, anxiety, social difficulties, or other issues. The majority of detransitioners speaking out online now identify as lesbian, and many of them feel that internalized homophobia played a part in their believing that they were men.”
As a woman, I fully understand the impulse to transition to stay safe and sane in a misogynistic world. But please, let’s not view women attaining better camouflage through transition as progressive. Progress occurs when women no longer feel a need to hide.
Studies show most children no longer feel gender dysphoria as adults. It is easy to find examples of people detransitioning. So why do gender therapists assume that every instance of gender dysphoria indicates that a person is transgender? We used to require people to have advanced degrees and licenses to make mental-health diagnoses. Why are we, in effect, allowing children and teenagers to diagnose themselves?
- There is no persuasive evidence that gender transition reduces suicidality in children with gender dysphoria.
One of the scariest things a parent in my position encounters is the widely reported increased risk of suicide among transgender people. Many people believe transition is the only way to prevent suicides among transgender youth. A common sentiment is, “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a live son?” I encourage anyone with this concern to read a recent essay by Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard. Their key take-away is, “There is no persuasive evidence that gender transition reduces gender dysphoric children’s likelihood of killing themselves. The idea that mental health problems–including suicidality–are caused by gender dysphoria rather than the other way around (i.e., mental health and personality issues cause a vulnerability to experience gender dysphoria) is currently popular and politically correct. It is, however, unproven and as likely to be false as true.” There are, in fact, some studies that show higher suicide rates for transgender people who have transitioned compared to those who have not.
While there is no proof that transition reduces suicidality, teenagers are coached by others on sites such as reddit and Tumblr about how to use suicide threats as a bargaining chip. In one of the more chilling reddit exchanges reposted on the website Transgender Reality, an 18-year-old whose father is concerned about the wisdom of hormone therapy is asked by a commenter, “Are you ready to talk to him (the father) about the possibility of suicide? Or do you want to couch it more gently, and say you ‘can’t go on living like this’ etc.?” In another post, a 14-year-old is told, “…communicate to your parents that this is not optional. It is either this or depression, isolation, suicide.” Finally, a 13-year-old is told to tell his parents, “If you don’t help me like you need to as the parents who made me, I’ll wind up bitter, miserable or dead.”
- Some psychologists and mental health professionals believe teenage girls and young women are experiencing a new type of gender dysphoria caught from peers and through exposure to the concept online.
Up until about 7 years ago, more boys than girls presented with gender dysphoria at gender clinics in western countries. Around 2010, the number of girls started to exceed the number of boys and began to increase significantly. Many girls experiencing gender dysphoria in the past decade have a different profile than they did in earlier years. In the past, girls with gender dysphoria began expressing discomfort with feminine clothes, interests and toys during preschool. Most would eventually become comfortable with their biological sex while dysphoria would persist into adulthood for some. Now many girls are first experiencing gender dysphoria suddenly in adolescence. Some researchers are calling this phenomenon rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) and theorize it may be a kind of social contagion spread among friends and through the internet.
A 2016 survey of 164 parents of transgender adolescents and young adults demonstrates the current contagious nature of gender dysphoria among young women. Eighty-five percent of the parents surveyed had transgender youth who were biologically female with an average age of 15. In the general population, less than one percent of young adults would be expected to be transgender, however, many of the parents in this survey said that multiple members of their child’s pre-existing friend group were also declaring themselves transgender. To be exact, 50 percent of a youth’s pre-existing friend group became transgender in close to 40 percent of the friend groups described in the study. The average number of friends becoming transgender was 3.5.
Psychologists Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey recently reported that young people with ROGD (primarily girls) falsely come to believe that all their problems are due gender dysphoria. Girls with ROGD often become obsessed with the idea of transition, and their mental health and social relationships deteriorate. The subculture surrounding ROGD includes attributes found in cults including an “… expectation of absolute ideological agreement …and encouragement to cut off ties with family and friends…” who do not agree with them.” Since ROGD is “…based on a false belief acquired through social means,” Bailey and Blanchard believe transition will not help youth with this condition. They pull no punches: “If knowledge is power, then lack of knowledge is malpractice. The ignorance of some leading gender clinicians regarding all scientific aspects of gender dysphoria is scandalous.”
My own daughter’s experience of gender dysphoria matches the description of ROGD closely. She first began experiencing gender dysphoria as a teenager. Four member of her pre-existing friend group also began identifying as transgender in their teens. Because I have expressed doubts about her transgender identity and voiced opposition to medical transition, she refuses to talk to me about those subjects much as a cult member refuses to listen to anything that contradicts his/her beliefs. Her mental health and relationships with family have suffered.
- Many people stand to gain financially by the boom in children, teens and young adults seeking medical transition.
Quite an industry has built up around the treatment of transgender people. In 2007, there was one transgender clinic that served children in the United States; now there are 40 . Transgender people who medically transition become permanent medical patients. To maintain their transitions, they must take hormones and have regular blood tests for the rest of their lives. Puberty blockers, hormone treatments, blood tests, genital electrolysis, facial electrolysis, laser body hair reduction, breast augmentation, facial feminization surgery, orchiectomies, vaginoplasties, colovaginoplasties, metoidioplasties, phalloplasties, and double mastectomies are some of the expensive treatments that may be pursued by transgender people.
Additional treatments may be needed to address complications resulting from medical transition treatments. The Truth About Transition Tumblr blog has compiled posts by female to male transitioners who have experienced difficulties. One trans man posts a video about multiple doctor visits he made recently to correct his testosterone levels and stop bleeding, leading him to 1) increase his testosterone dosage, 2) start taking progesterone, and 3) to go on Lupron, usually used as a puberty blocker. Another young trans man expresses his weariness anticipating his 20th transition-related surgery. The latest surgery is a third attempt to treat an abscess that developed during his surgical pursuit of a penis.
Revenue from testosterone sales has increased dramatically in recent years. Testosterone sales generated $2.4 billion in revenue in the United States in 2013. The projection for 2018 sales is $3.8 billion, a 58 percent increase. While testosterone is used for purposes other than sexual transition, the increase in revenue correlates with the proliferation of gender clinics.
In addition to risky medical treatments, many girls and women use binders to compress their breasts and make their chests appear flatter. Binders have side effects such as back pain, shortness of breath, and rib fractures. When I Googled the term, “binder risks,” the first site that popped up was a plastic surgery clinic that does “top surgeries” for girls/women who want to transition to male. Yes, the folks who will profit by cutting off girls’ healthy breasts want to make very sure girls and their families understand the risks of binders.
What other civil rights movement has involved supporting body modifications for minors and young adults?
I have never felt so alone. People who would normally be allies for parents of a troubled child including therapists, doctors, teachers, and friends support this madness. I can only assume it is because they believe some or all of the following:
- Only transgender people experience gender dysphoria.
- Being transgender is always an innate and permanent condition.
- People with gender dysphoria receive careful evaluation and therapy before being allowed to medically modify their bodies.
- Transgender minors are not being allowed to make permanent changes to their bodies.
- Transition-related medical treatments are well-tested and proven safe.
- Children, youth and adults always fully understand why they are feeling dysphoric.
- Physicians and drug companies would never experiment on children or put profit ahead of patients’ best interests.
- Research has proven that transition prevents suicide.
None of it is true.
A friend told me recently that I have nothing to gain by resisting my daughter’s desire to transition. I strongly disagree. If resistance means my daughter postpones medical treatments until she can weigh the risks versus the benefits with more maturity, I gain plenty. If I can buy more time for her to discern whether her dysphoria really means she is transgender or whether something else precipitates her discomfort, I gain plenty.
I feel genuine rage toward the therapists and doctors who are complicit in the pursuit of medical transitions for kids, teenagers and young adults. You swore you would first do no harm. You should be ashamed!
If anyone working in the malpractice insurance industry happens to read this story, I have one final question specifically for you. Is it wise to cover the therapists and doctors involved in the transition of children and youth? When the lawsuits begin, I hope the settlements are breathtaking.
Thank you for your courage and honesty in writing this!! Reading your words, they could’ve come from our home as well, and it’s comforting to know we’re not alone in this situation. Every item you discussed are questions, comments & observations I had as well and to see them so clearly articulated is reaffirming. Great job.
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I just read about this website on Breitbart this morning; Kristie Sisson’s story is so identical to ours I went into the bathroom and cried…it’s been so incredibly painful for my husband and I to even get our daughter to have a conversation about this. It’s incredibly lonely and when our daughters’ doctor reported us for not supporting our 15 year old’s transgender demands. It’s been horrible. So happy I found this site.
Who did the doctor report you to? Child protection? This just makes me so angry.
At last! Something clear I can untdrsdane. Thanks!
Thank you so much for writing this. Finding out facts has helped me deal with my own child’s dysphoria – I’m so glad people experiencing this with their children are speaking about it.
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Thank you for the clear exposition of the many many questions that we all should be asking about the rush to child transition. This is a great summary.
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Very well written article. I also share your “genuine rage toward therapists and doctors who are complicit.”
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All these stories are so similarly harrowing. It is comforting to know we are not alone and hope we can effectively elevate visibility on this issue before more and more children are ensnared.
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It is amazing how many families are dealing with this very situation, and how identical they all are. My family has been torn apart by my daughter, now 15, who holds true the ideology that she is transgender. She was always very girly, loved make up, fixing her hair, wearing dresses… she played with dolls, couldn’t wait to be a mom, pretended she was pregnant like most little girls, played dress up with my clothes and couldn’t wait to wear my wedding dress for her future wedding.
Out of the blue, 2 years ago she announced she was a boy. She went from an optimistic, relatively cheerful person to a gloom and doom individual, where it’s transitioning or death. She went from loving her feminine body, accepting the changes as she developed into a young lady, to loathing her appearance in every way.
I’ve tried to be open minded, ask questions, and be supportive, without accepting her truth, knowing she is in fact not a boy. This whole issue has driven away friends and the acceptance of new friends. I only wish she could see the damage this has caused in her life.
These last two years have been hell for me, my husband, and our daughter. I fear for her safety and happiness on a daily basis.
Thank you for this post. My only question is How can we stop this?
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Thank you Susan and thank you 4th for another amazing article. So many families have experienced ROGD with their daughters and been given nowhere to go and absolutely no support.
No, this is not a civil rights matter akin to gay marriage. This is about maiming perfectly healthy bodies in young women who get caught up in this craze.
Yes, perhaps a class action lawsuit would bring more attention to this disaster. Testosterone is shockingly easy to obtain from a clinic, including a college clinic, and the effects are heartbreaking.
This is self-harm aided and abetted by the medical providers.
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The idea of a class action lawsuit sounds interesting, missingdaughter. Wasn’t there a class action lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies for men taking testosterone maybe 2-3 years ago. I remember when I visited my mom in the states I would hear this on TV stations. I bet that since their male clients were dwindling they needed a new market (transmen). They’ve done all the R&D just need a new population to push it on.
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Lupron, the hormone blocker that is used to stop puberty before beginning cross-sex hormones has the dubious distinction of being the cause of the 6th largest settlement against a pharmaceutical company of all time.
The manufacturer was fined a whopping $875 million in 2001 for violations relating to medicare fraud and kickbacks.
Doesn’t look like they’ve learned their lesson. Anyone surprised?
(reference: Wikipedia: List of largest pharmaceutical settlements)
I did want to bring up something about class action lawsuits. So, the idea of a class action is to take a group of plaintiffs who all pretty much have the same claim. The claims don’t have to be identical, but they do have to be extremely similar. The idea is to give people the ability to sue on – essentially – the same facts, so they get the same adjudication, and the courts don’t have to process thousands or millions of claims that are all the same. Also, in many cases, the amount at issue isn’t big enough to even make it worthwhile for a person to sue individually. Finally, if thousands of people all brought the exact same claim, you’d run the risk of courts deciding the same claim, different ways.
Class actions, then, really lend themselves to situations where the same facts can be established on behalf of pretty much everyone in the class. If I bought shares of XYZ Corp. between January 1 and June 1, 2017, we can assume that pretty much the same information was available to all the buyers like me. If we sue for stock fraud, we don’t have to show that each and every one of us was personally defrauded; it’s enough to make out a claim for fraud and then all of us class plaintiffs can benefit from that showing. Same with a drug lawsuit – if I took drug A from January 1 to June 1, 2017, and the same information was out there, and doctors used pretty much the same prescribing practices, then really all that would be at issue were my specific damages.
This is why I could envision, possibly, a class action arising in the transgender context in the pharmaceutical context. However, for individual kids, harmed by individual doctors, therapists, clinics, and other practitioners, the differences in each specific case would make a class action not the appropriate venue for recovery. Every sterilized kid would have a different set of facts and circumstances that led up to his or her outcome, and there would also be widely differing defendants. At best, perhaps all of the clients from one specific “trans-mill” could come together, I haven’t really thought that through yet, though.
This is not at all to say that I don’t see big-time medical malpractice verdicts on the horizon, just not in the class context.
Thank you for weighing in with your knowledge, worriedmom!
The class action lawsuit by men against the testosterone companies is specifically about how it caused heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues, just so everyone knows. (There seem to be a variety of ongoing suits against multiple companies, not just one.) As far as I know, all the plaintiffs took testosterone for its on label use, and not its off label one, being a performance enhancing drug.
So on that, would the fact that testosterone gel/injections for FTMs are an off label use mean that they couldn’t sue? I’m also curious as to what degree the informed consent model protects doctors from liability.
I’ve got to believe some day kids or their parents are going to come looking for compensation for lost body parts, complications of treatments, and infertility. The providers will have signed informed consent, but if there was no effort to determine if the kid was really transgender, if the provider didn’t make it his/her business to know about the different types of gender dysphoria much less to impart that knowledge to clients, if there was no therapy aimed at ruling out other causes for the dysphoria, and no treatment of comorbidities, that seems irresponsible.
I don’t know how off-label use of a drug would affect the ability of an injured person to recover for damages. And, I don’t know how that would play out in the class action context, if at all. Which is why anyone who eventually seeks to assign legal liability in this area should be well-versed in medical malpractice law, products liability law (if applicable) and class action practice. I know something about the third category from the shareholder standpoint but nothing about the first two, unfortunately.
There are lots of creative lawyers out there, for good or for ill. Sooner or later, somebody will find a way.
These are all the points that keep me off the trans-affirmation train w/my kid and keep me advising her to wait till her executive function matures. She’s doing ok in college, keeps busy with productive stuff for the most part, and certainly does not seem to be unduly depressed, much less suicide risk. The dysphoria and “I want to transition” seems to only come up when she’s super stressed with schoolwork or relationship stuff.
I love when the transactivists say that these teens don’t transition unless they have had careful psych evaluation, or that minors don’t have surgery. All of which is completely untrue, at least in the U.S. The narrative they put out there is fictional, but the media are generally content to promulgate that narrative. There’s at least been some good pushback lately in major media in the UK.
The points in this essay are the points that need to be made if we’re ever going to slow down the fast train to transitiontown for these kids.
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How could anyone call you a bigot. You have been very thorough in your research and presented facts that the trans ideology do not want published.
I hope this will help other parents like you find the strength to question the ethical, psychological, medical and social dilemma we are faced with. As an adult and a parent, we must remember the medical oath that practitioners take and ask them to consider that they must first do no harm. This seems to have been forgotten. Thank you for reminding the world that harm can occur with transition. This is the bit we are not being told about.
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Thank you for this excellent article! I appreciate how you’ve raised the questions so succinctly and clearly. It never ceases to amaze me that simply asking the questions – raising the issues – wondering, really – is somehow injurious and hurtful. Why? It must be that the underpinnings of the pro-child-transition “side” of things are so flimsy, that the slightest breath of doubt can blow them away.
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I don’t want my experiences used as an argument against transitioning. It misses the point of what I’m trying to say. I want a world where people like me are respected and treated like whole people, whether we transition or not. I never like it when people cite the mere existence of detransitioned people as an argument against transitioning because it doesn’t actually make sense and implies that we’re a bad outcome. You can’t use detransitioned people as evidence against transitioning without objectifying us, reducing and distorting our lives to fit an anti-transition narrative. Our experiences are more complicated than that. I don’t want people to look at me and see proof of how dangerous or harmful transitioning is. If that’s all they can see, they can’t see me at all.
We’ll remove the paragraph that refers to your blog from this article. Thank you.
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The fact that people change their minds *is* an argument against transition though. The fact that people change their minds means that everyone considering transition should be aware that is a possibility. Even people who are sure they want to modify their bodies may someday desist, and that should give people reason to pause. It makes sense to consider what might happen down the road, and observing what happened to others is a way to predict possible outcomes.
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And the author is talking about underage (minor) teens here, not adults, who generally are better equipped to carefully weigh costs and benefits of their choices and possible future consequences.
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What many of our daughters sorely need is mentors, formerly dysphoric women who thought about transitioning at one point, but changed their minds before proceeding to medical transition; adult women who fully understand the struggle, but share the goal of prevention (or at least waiting) that parents like Susan are talking about. There are generations of women who struggled with feeling uncomfortable with their bodies and overcame it. Certainly there are a few such women writing and vlogging, but wouldn’t it be incredible if a group of them formed a YouTube channel together, focused around preventing transition and helping teens resolve dysphoria without medicalization?
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I love your web page Purple Sage.
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I feel like Cari Stella (guideonraginstars)’s survey is invaluable in this regard because it gives a wide range of detransitioner experiences without the risk of objectifying any particular person’s story. I’m glad this essay prominently featured the availability and findings of that survey.
As a parent, I would agree that using detransitioners’ writing as “evidence against transitioning” isn’t exactly nuanced. But I do want my kid to be aware of the availability of those writings, because they are thoughtful and help to really offer a range of relevant thoughts, from people who share the experience of dysphoria in a way that I, as a parent, cannot. People like you, Crash, who’ve thought deeply about these issues — I want my kid to have access to a range of voices on the subject. Not as object lessons of “bad things that could happen if you do this,” more as — people who’ve been down the road and had more time to think about the whole thing. I want my kid to have access to a range of voices, and there sure are plenty of “transiton was great for me” voices out there. Before making a life decision such as this, to me it makes sense to listen to a variety of “been there” voices. Does that make sense?
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Thank you for writing up this comprehensive article.
I will go to the clinic that my daughter goes to and ask them for their consent form to see what they are actually informing them. But, like you said, these young people trust everything the doctors say because they don’t have the experience that their parents have due to years of experience. It’s so hard to penetrate their stubbornness. Thinking back, though, I was the same at that age.
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Reblogged this on Gay Pirate Roberts Living Off The Grid. and commented:
Ran across this post from a concerned mom, worth a read.
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Thaks for this, I’ve reblogged it on my own wordpress (for what that’s worth I don’t have a lot of reach there) and will post the link to my twitter timeline for followers that 4th wave and I don’t have in common. In this political climate, it’s getting harder and harder for parents to simply be parents to their children.
Certain questions are not only taboo but there are some places where legislation is being put into place so that the government can intervene on your child’s behalf if you as a parent dare to question their declaration that they are trans. Children are impressionable and very impulsive. I’m happy my parents intervened when, for example, I wanted to see if I could fly like superman.
Thank you for standing up and speaking out.
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Thanks for reposting.
Crashchaoscats. . I’m happy you posted here because I wanted to have the opportunity to thank you so much for your insight through your writings. While I certainly respect not wanting your experiences cited as arguments against transitioning I just want to say that your voice is so important. I’ve never thought of detransitioners as bad outcomes or broken or destroyed . In fact I find all of you to be incredibly strong , insightful and beautiful people. Your writings as well as those of other detransitioners has helped me to understand better what my own child may be experiencing. It has helped me to try to be more sensitive to her pain instead of dismissing it as a phase. Everyone of the detransitioners that has the bravery to write about their experiences ihelps to put a human face on detransitioners. Your experiences are just as important and vital to understanding what is best treatment protocol for people with dysphoria as the experiences of people who are satisfied with transitioning. Unfortunately, at least in the US, your voices have been dismissed or invalidated by the trans community and the media. So our children are not getting a balanced picture . Every valuable insight about dysphoria has come from detransitioners and trans people who are more cautious and balanced. I just wanted to say thank you and you should be very proud of your strength,sensitivity and kindness and bravery. All people have to struggle to become the best person we can be. Some of us have more placed on our plates than others but you have dealt with your struggles with grace and incredible strength. I think you are a beautiful person and I hope your life is filled with love.
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I feel the same way. I don’t see detransitioning as a “bad outcome” or transitioning as a mistake. I see it as a period of personal growth when a person tries something, finds it doesn’t work, and then tries something else. The detransitioned women I read online are strong, powerful, intelligent, and insightful. I think they’re excellent role models for all sorts of women.
The thing that I fear the most is that my daughter keeps saying people who desist or detransition at some point aren’t truly transgender. She insists that she, at 15, truly is, so my fear is she will stay on this route no matter what, otherwise she will be seen as a liar or just another confused teenager.
The truth is, growing up in this world, with this society, is much more difficult today than 10-20-30 years ago. The propaganda pushing people to believe one way or another is stronger. There are so many avenues to gain information on the internet, whether true or false, which is used to self diagnose ourselves. Back in the day, if we experienced dysphoria, we were told it’s normal, especially through puberty and the teenage years. We weren’t told that we had a mental disorder and that we were the opposite sex. How are our children supposed to function thinking that? How are they supposed to grow up strong and centered feeling that they are broken?
Do we have any hope? Our children have fallen prey to a new form of pedophilia – adults mutilating young children’s bodies. Our daughters and sons have become guinea pigs in an outrageous, psychological experiment. If a person is an adult and feels this way, then I guess they are allowed to do what they want. But leave our young children alone.
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Our 19-year-old daughter says the same thing. She “knows” that she’s trans and insists that none of the detransitioners were ever “really” trans.
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The very idea that some people are really transgender and some are not, was a sort of tipping point for me. If people experiencing trans identity cannot tell, how can anyone else? If anyone can BE trans based on feelings alone, what separates the real from the posers? If anyone can BE trans whether or not they medically or surgically alter themselves, then why is there a push to medically and surgically alter children? If a person has detransitioned, at what point were they trans and then not so?
Detransitioning is an odd term really. I wish there was a better one. The person inside the body is still fundamentally the same person that has grown and come to other mind/body conclusions about self. It is precisely that aspect that should warrant caution to medical transitioning in the first place. Simply knowing that people can and do come to other mind/body conclusions about self should be placed in a prominent position in the standards of care for transgender individuals. As long as the governing bodies of standards of care for transgender people, dismisses this key part, there will continue to be those that desist after transitioning. In the long term, it will do damage to the kinds of care transgender people get.
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I completely and totally agree with this sentiment:
“A friend told me recently that I have nothing to gain by resisting my daughter’s desire to transition. I strongly disagree. If resistance means my daughter postpones medical treatments until she can weigh the risks versus the benefits with more maturity, I gain plenty. If I can buy more time for her to discern whether her dysphoria really means she is transgender or whether something else precipitates her discomfort, I gain plenty.” It succinctly states my feelings on this issue. But I am working to resist feeling this: “I feel genuine rage toward the therapists and doctors who are complicit in the pursuit of medical transitions for kids, teenagers and young adults. You swore you would first do no harm. You should be ashamed!” It’s not that I don’t understand it or find myself in that place sometimes, but I am really and truly fearful that if we frame this debate in terms of parents who are trying to protect and medical community that is knowingly doing harm that we will be seen as conspiracist and delusional. What frustrates me in addressing these issues with my own child is her inability to see any nuance on these issues, and thus I think it is really important for me to model nuance and reason rather than rage and not assume bad faith or indifference or simple greed on the part of those who are aiding with transitions. We are in a terrifying political moment in which fear and rage are triumphing over reason in super scary ways. I concur completely that reason is on our side, and if nothing shifts in the next few years as it becomes increasingly apparent that not all trans youth are in the same position I may well be joining in the rage, but for now I just want us to stick the first approach you outlined with your friend — to repeatedly and calmly explain with love why we are waiting and how it comes from love and not fear.
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You could be right. I think I was choosing between anger and despair, and the anger keeps me going. Also, I feel like the behavior of the professionals has been so reckless and irresponsible, that anger is the appropriate response. My friend isn’t in any position to know better, and she isn’t making decisions that impact kids lives forever.
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I’m in Australia, and there seems to be no voice of reason to turn to in the medical field. If my daughter has decided she is male, then the only treatment for that is physical. There is no discussion of treating her dysphoria, other than the medical professionals entertaining her ideas, giving her her ammo and giving her T. As a parent of an almost 18 year old who has had mental health issues for years, this is so distressing. My kid needs mental help to ease her pain, but I can’t find it here without transition being the main aim. There is absolutely a contagion out there – and no common sense seems to be on the horizon.
If you’ve de-transitioned, by all means use a fake name to avoid the haters, but please, please, please share your stories!
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I’m sorry to hear the scourge has hit down under too.
I am sorry for your pain. Here in the US it is the same. There is social agenda to push this transgender belief that is so strong. Everywhere I turn the attitude is the same: teachers, doctors ,psychologists, the media. They are all on the same page. if I confide in other parents, (my peers), they are on my side and say that it would be horrible if their kid where in this spot. But no one can help. My son has been on this transgender thing for a year now with no end in sight. II have searched in our community (mid sized east coast city) for a year to try to get a counselor to look at him as a teenager with a mental health issue..not just another transgender. it has been very difficult.
where are you? I got my son away from this and am happy to talk to you. Im in Boston.
to concernedmomtoo in Boston: I am in Richmond VA.
Concise. Readable. Substantiated. I urge you to create this as a downloadable pdf or booklet for sale to parent groups. Seriously, get paid for your work, and distribute this. This needs to get into the hands of MDs, therapists, concerned parents, and school board members.
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I agree. I came on here tonight specifically to find something to give to my daughter’s pediatrician who thinks I am a bigot and keeps calling me to see if we can talk so that she can try to support me “through this time” and suggesting that I bring my daughter to a gender clinic to figure out where she is on this journey and what the next step should be. I could go on and on, but you have all heard it before.. If I try to talk to anyone about it, I become flustered and inarticulate and spazzy and come across as a lunatic, basically. So I would love to print this out and give it to her. It would be wonderful to have a pdf of this to easily print, and not only give it to doctors, teachers, etc. but also just to leave it in random places for people to read! Awareness. We need so much more awareness. When I suggest that not all “transgender” people might really be transgender, people look at me like I have 3 heads. It doesn’t even occur to them! They just keep drinking the Kool-Aid…
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I’m very sorry to hear. Thank goodness she has a Mom with her head screwed on right. That doctor sounds like one of the worst of the Koolaid drinkers. You’d think an MD would have more critical thinking skills. I fear she could create legal problems for you. Can you interview other doctors on this, and get away from this one? . .
And yes, I agree giving this to that doctor, and perhaps others in this clinic, and to others around town is smart. Such as the school district superintendent, school principals, the medical directors of local hospitals, pediatrics society, PFLAG, and clergy supporting LGBT groups. I need to do this, myself. Oh, and to reporters and the editor of the local newspapers and news stations. And university presidents. That a lot of printing and mailing. When I get a computer, I want to create an outreach organization about questioning transgenderism, with a printable brochure listing links to this blog and other gender critical resources. I wish you well regarding your daughter and her doctor(s), and glad you recognize the need for awareness. We have wonderful bloggers like the owner of this blog, and people working on various aspects of pushing back against transmania, but not really an outreach organization, and you are so right we’ve needed that. Greatly.
There is now a link to a PDF version of this story at the end of the introduction.
There is now a link to a PDF version at the end of the introduction.
Terrific! – thanks, I’ll go look.
Reblogged this on FeistyAmazon and commented:
COULDNT AGREE MORE SISTER!! WHEN THEY WAKE UP, THE LAWSUITS BE A’COMING!!!
I am breathing a sigh of relief. My daughter came to me three days ago to tell me she thinks she is trans and wants to be male. It came out of no-where! She is 17. I asked her when these feelings started. This has started in the last six months. I totally blame Tumbler. In the last three months she has been excited about makeup. Chosen a floral dress with lace and open shoulder for senior pictures, and asked for dangly threader earrings for a present. How do those things add up to wanting to be a male? She is mad at me for questioning the validity of her wishes. She came out as pan-sexual two years ago. We have been very supportive and are in no way homophobic. She has high anxiety and depression. I feel that ROGD is exactly what is happening.
If you haven’t found these yet, these are links to some essays you should definitely read.
Also, I encourage you to join the Gender Critical Support Board, an online forum where parents of kids with ROGD support each other. Here is the link:
Glad you found this story helpful.
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Thank goodness for this article!! I love you! It gives me so much comfort and validation to know that we’re not alone in this!! I am struggling in the same boat as so many here are – and my ex and I are not seeing eye to eye – he’s protecting our child from “me”, the “evil, unsupportive, dismissive” parent, which is infuriating and absolutely untrue – I am merely trying to use logic, science and knowledge to make an informed decision and/or opinion on the entire subject, and to protect our child from unnecessary medical treatment (trauma!). I love my child enormously!
I agree fully that this article should be reproduced as a pdf or booklet, and be widely distributed to schools, libraries, clinics, and anywhere else needed.
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There is now a link to a PDF version of this story at the end of the introduction.
“The drug regimen used to treat pre-pubescent children with gender dysphoria causes permanent sterility.”
I keep reading this one, what is the source for it?
These children are on the same kind of puberty blockers that children that start puberty much to early get, so if a girl starts puberty at 3 years old she gets the same blockers as the person wanting to stop puberty. For the children that started puberty to early there has been shown no decrease in fertility. So I would like this one explained to me if someone can?
The difference between children given blockers for precocious puberty, versus trans-identified youth, is this: Blockers are almost always followed directly (or given at the same time as) cross-sex hormones. That regimen permanently sterilizes, because gametes never mature to viability; natural, natal puberty is required in our species to enable later reproduction. The fact that blockers + cross-sex hormones irreversibly sterilizes is not a matter of dispute among pediatric gender clinicians. In the rare cases where a trans-identified child has discontinued blockers (before proceeding to cross sex hormones), yes, normal puberty would resume and presumably the ability to reproduce as an adult.
We are going through the same heartbreak with our daughter. She announced at 16 that she wants to be a man. She’s now 19, and today said she was going to a consult about taking testosterone. (This “consult” was at–guess where–Planned Parenthood.) My husband and I told her at the beginning we would not pay for nor otherwise support her efforts, but she seemed to have forgotten that part. So she was irked when I reminded her that we’re not helping. Thank God our insurance doesn’t cover the surgery.
Her gender dysphoria was also out of the blue, following on the heels of deciding that she’s a lesbian. Unfortunately, all of her mental health providers have been accepting of her delusion.
It’s been a difficult and lonely thing to go through. This site has kept me from going over the edge.
By the way, I recently learned that testosterone exacerbates bipolar depression, which my daughter has. This is a recipe for disaster.
“By the way, I recently learned that testosterone exacerbates bipolar depression, which my daughter has. This is a recipe for disaster.”
Could you please share your sources for this? Thanks so much MomOfGirl. Unfortunately, I know how awful dealing with this is.
The following link may be able to help with this. While it does not mention the injections/HRT for FTM’s directly, there is the discussion of higher testosterone levels, being associated with bipolar disorder. From that, one can do a logical inference as to what else can happen….
A little head’s up: it seems that if one were to change the search terms to ‘testosterone injections and biplolar disorder in FTM’s’ one gets listings, that seem to say that such a diagnosis should not block any FURTHER mental/cerebral damage via the cocktail. Case in point:
As someone with essentially the opposite experience of what you describe, I appreciate and am interested into the time and thought you’ve put into this.
I began transitioning at 23. This was intentional given the large number of people who detransition around the same age. I was someone who did display a number of “signs” from an early age. As a natal female I gravitates almost exclusively to objects and roles that society codes as masculine. This is not something I share because I strongly believe that gender nonconformity, even when early and persistent, does not guarantee that someone will identify as trans or that those who do end up identifying as trans will find medical transition necessary or helpful.
Despite a very early awareness that my gender expression was not one typical of a natal female in this society, I actually leaned into femininity at the onset of puberty as a form of social preservation. I never discussed gender dysphoria with my parents who were already struggling with my coming out and pursuit of romantic relationships with women.
As an adult, I essentially started from the position that most people on this site seem to hold. I identified as a radical feminist and was convinced that I was a self hating lesbian. I leaned into that and many other female oriented labels with all my might and was a strong advocate (and still am) for gender nonconformtiy as a separate (though at times linked) experience from transness.
I do not regret the time I took to consider multiple viewpoints and options. I think that in an age where secondary sex characteristics are able to be manipulated questions of gender identity will continue to get more difficult to parse out and I think that everyone who struggles to find a place in this gendered society would do well to see this as less of an inherent reality and more of a mix of inherent characteristics/ preferences and choices that externally signal things to society at large.
i do however, regret the ways in which I pathologized myself in order to justify taking the time I needed to be sure about my decision. I continue to find myself stuck in the middle of a discourse that insists that transness must be unquestioned and supported with medical intervention even for very young children on one side, and the statement that most or even all self identified trans people, especially natal females, are simply self hating and traumatized women.
I think that the answer, like most answers, lies somewhere in the middle. I am deeply concerned with starting an honest discourse between trans adults and the parents of trans identified children in the hopes that this will allow for a better childhood for all gender nonconforming children and teens whether or not they grow up to pursue medical transition or not. I also have the feeling that fewer teens would feel so adamant about medical transition if they lived in a society where gender non conformity was accepted and not pathologized. I have no doubt that misogyny plays a role as well but struggle with what it would mean to ask one group of natal females to complete the very challenging and perhaps impossible thought exercise of what their lives and choices would look like in a world without misogyny when we do not place that same requirement on gender typical females when they do things that arguably reinforce gender roles that are at least in part formed by society.
I would love to talk more. I understand and believe in the seriousness of this conversation and feel that there are so many more options than the ones I see presented even in spaces like this where the intelligence, thoughtfulness, and concern of parents is quite clear.
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Thank you taking the time to share these very thoughtful comments. More good-faith discussions are exactly what we need more of. Thanks for starting one here!
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the problem with ‘ the answer lies somewhere in the middle’ is that it is relational and so is empty of meaning. it gives the power to decide what is acceptable to the people holding the positions at the poles. if i want to shift the goalposts right, i just have to go extreme right then watch the left scramble to offer me a compromise and in so doing, follow me right. stop falling for this, lefties. hold your positions based on your values, not where they fall in relation to the other side. this person sounds like an obvious plant who wants to obfuscate by way of complicating this into infinity.