7-year-old “trans activist” used in campaign by Transgender Europe, a German NGO partially funded by US State Department

US taxpayers, did you know that some of your hard-earned money goes to a foreign NGO which uses a 7-year-old child to promote a trans activist agenda? Transgender Europe (TGEU), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, states on its website (see bottom of page) that the US State Department is a donor.

TGEU State Dept funding

How is it that a US government agency is funding a foreign trans activist organization?

President Obama issued a directive in December 2011 to heads of executive branch agencies (which would include the US Department of State):

I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.

President Obama’s memorandum goes on to list five areas for support of foreign NGOs: Combating Criminalization of LGBT Status or Conduct Abroad, Protecting Vulnerable LGBT Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Foreign Assistance to Protect Human Rights and Advance Nondiscrimination, Swift and Meaningful U.S. Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBT Persons Abroad, Engaging International Organizations in the Fight Against LGBT Discrimination.

Pursuant to the memorandum, the Global Equality Fund was established as a funding mechanism, “a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Department of State, bridging government, companies and NGOs with the objective of empowering LGBT persons to live freely and without discrimination.”

In September 2014, the US embassy in Budapest issued a statement on their website:

…Charge d’Affaires  of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, M. Andre Goodfriend, delivered opening remarks at the 5th European Transgender Council Meeting, a gathering of 200 transgender activists, allies, researchers, and funders, in Budapest, Hungary – the first such conference to take place in Central and Eastern Europe. …

He congratulated the activists on the success of their efforts thus far, and emphasized that holding the conference sent a strong signal that the human rights of transgender persons should be protected everywhere.

The Department remains committed to advancing the goals of the Presidential Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, and to expanding its support, through the Global Equality Fund, embassy and consulate outreach, partnership with like-minded governments, corporations, and private foundations, and by continuing to learn from and partner with civil society organizations – such as Transgender Europe and TransVanilla [a Hungarian trans activist organization]- to promote and protect the human rights of transgender persons.

If the US State Department was only involved in “promoting and protecting human rights” and helping people to live “freely and without discrimination;” if it were about the right to nondiscrimination in jobs, housing, education; the right to protection against violence for all LGBT people, I’d be completely on board. But organizations like TGEU are taking this further.

Production values on the 1.5 minute promo featuring the 7-year-old are high. The video was clearly made by skilled professionals, with excellent camera work, fine sound engineering, and a catchy guitar soundtrack. This is not the work of an amateur.

The child also has a “public figure” Facebook page (aka a fan page), adorned with stereotypically “feminine” trappings, and describing the child as “a 7-year-old trans activist.”

WN Facebook

What is the 7-year-old trans activist being used to promote? The “depathologisation” of trans people. On its website, TGEU “calls on the World Health Organisation and governments to ensure that gender variant children are not labelled as sick.”

So far? Sounds good. Gender nonconformity is not a pathology. Let little girls and little boys look, play, and behave any way they like.  Is this what TGEU is promoting?

The Depathologisation Resources page links to this proposal by the GATE working group, which argues for abolishing the “gender incongruence” diagnosis being considered for the next version of the international diagnosis codes (ICD-11). The group praises Argentina, which

… passed the first gender identity law in the world that recognizes the human right of trans people to access legal recognition and transition-related health care services (including hormone therapy and surgical procedures) without requiring any kind of diagnosis.

So depathologizing appears to mean dumping any “disorder” diagnosis and just giving trans-identified people whatever they want. But for children, TGEU seems to argue for a different approach:

Gender variance in childhood does not require any medical interventions such as hormone therapy or surgical procedures. Rather, children need information and support in exploring their gender identity and expression and dealing with sociocultural environments that are frequently hostile to gender variance…research indicates it is impossible to reliably distinguish between a gender-variant child who will grow up to become trans and a gender-variant child who will grow up to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual, but not trans. As such, by conflating gender variance and sexual orientation, the proposed GIC category amounts to a re-pathologization of homosexuality.

Later in the document, we find this:

Further, the imposition of a diagnosis of gender incongruence on a child contradicts the principle that childhood development is a process of change and exploration. Such a diagnosis, which attempts to establish a concrete definition of a child’s gender identity precisely during the phase of life when essential aspects of identity are most in flux, is likely to create the presumption that the child is transgender, whether or not that is in fact the case.

This sounds like TGEU falls squarely in the camp that would criticize labeling children as trans, doesn’t it?

Yet in the video, the 7-year-old isn’t talking about  being “gender variant.” The kid is a boy talking about living as a trans person. A girl. If TGEU believes that children should not be presumed to be transgender, why on earth are they promoting this child as a “trans activist”?

The child’s parents are also featured on the website. What are their views on the “depathologisation” question?

Bex and James are the Family Support Officers at Gender Liberation, and Willa is the youngest activist….

As parents of a trans child they were concerned that ‘gender incongruence in childhood’ is listed in the International Classification of Diseases, particularly because others could use this classification as a tool to deter them from supporting their daughter, and it could further stigmatise Willa and keep people from accepting her.

We made the choice, we made the decision that we had to listen to our child, because we love her unconditionally.”

“Trans children only need to go through social transition, and therefore having a category in the ICD-11 that pathologizes gender diversity in childhood is completely unnecessary.”

big special girl

“She’s my special big girl and always will be.”

And there we have it.  “Gender variant” children “need” to go through social transition. Yet the very document TGEU uses in their depathologisation campaign states that the majority of these kids will desist and perhaps grow up to be gay or lesbian adults. That there should not be a “presumption” that they are transgender.

In addition, there is a body of evidence, originating with and continuing to this day, from the Dutch team who pioneered pediatric transition, indicating that social transition can be harmful. It can lock a child into a transgender identity and make it more difficult for a child to “desist.” Not only that: Being a social media star and receiving plaudits from parents and other important adults for conforming to gender stereotypes is a powerful incentive and reward. And this particular child has had a law dedicated to him. Can anyone think it would be possible for him to change his mind, after all that?

So why do they “need” social transition?  Why can’t these kids just play and explore without being coddled in the notion that they are really the opposite sex? Why do they “need” to be called “trans activists” at age 7?  What does TGEU actually believe?

Watch the video and decide for yourself: Is this 7-year-old child being encouraged to “explore their gender identity and expression”? Or would you say the child is more being urged to assume a “concrete definition…precisely during the phase of life when essential aspects of identity are most in flux… likely to create the presumption that the child is transgender”?

My life having to live as a boy was very bad. Until one day I told my mum and dad that I felt I was a girl….so they let me dress as a girl indoors….they let me live as a girl…after that when they saw that this was truly who I was they let me live as a girl….Now I am very happy living as a girl… trans kids need to be listened to. We don’t have a disorder and you can’t change us. .. we should just be allowed to live as we are because we KNOW who we are.

butterflies

So there’s agreement between organizations like Transgender Europe and critics like me. These kids aren’t “sick.” They don’t have a “disorder” just because they aren’t conforming to rigid gender stereotypes. But we differ radically in the conclusions we draw.

Transgender Europe operates campaigns—partially funded by me and other Americans–that promote the idea that a boy who plays with fairy dolls and wears pink dresses is actually a girl who should be “socially transitioned” before the world on YouTube and Facebook, defined as transgender, and who, at puberty, will be ready for all the medical services that money (and the taxpayer) can provide.