“Reportable trauma”? US gender docs “train” judges & call CPS on balking parents

The meteoric rise in kids diagnosed as transgender in the last five years has caught many parents by surprise. Gender specialists, trans activists, and their media handmaidens explain this accelerating trend as simply the welcome result of society becoming more accepting of trans people; a continuation of the tolerance that ushered in same-sex marriage. Indeed, activist-clinicians are quick to claim equivalence between trans and being gay or lesbian, despite their fundamental differences.

For one thing, lesbians and gay men ask only to be accepted for who they love, while we are asked to believe that being “authentic” as trans may require us to approve drastic medical interventions–for our own kids. And no mental gymnastics are necessary for parents to see with their own eyes when a daughter or son is homosexual. But a sudden pronouncement by one’s kid that they are really the opposite sex requires a suspension of disbelief; a demand to ignore one’s own insight, perception, and knowledge in order to “validate” the “identity” of our kids.

Despite the insistence that hormones and surgeries are “life-saving” medical necessities, the push is on to “depathologize” trans identity as a “normal human variation.” Yet nearly to a one, the parents who have gathered on- and offline as part of the 4thWaveNow community report a history of mental illness, social difficulties, frequently multiple diagnoses that predate the sudden announcement “I’m trans!” Indeed, a cursory hunt through decades of medical and psychological literature reveals that gender dysphoria occurs with troubling frequency in concert with a range of other mental disturbances, including personality disorders, depression, anxiety, and autism. To take but one example, this 2003 survey of nearly 200 Dutch psychiatrists found that a large majority of people with gender dysphoria had comorbid psychiatric problems.

2003-dutch-psychiatrist-survey-mental-illness

What has actually changed since 2003, apart from trans activism overruling sensible debate and clinical experience?

Given the experience of so many parents, corroborated by research evidence and clinical experience around the world, is it any wonder parents might balk at the idea that their (often troubled) tween or teen needs immediate “affirmation” and “validation” of their trans ID—complete with puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones?

But in 2017, at least in the US, pediatric gender specialists see co-occurring mental illness as no barrier to prescribing puberty blockers or cross sex hormones–even in the case of obviously troubled young people who have undergone multiple psychiatric hospitalizations. To these gender clinicians, puberty blockers are absolutely vital—even when the psychiatric team isn’t on board. (And even, apparently, when new information has come to light about the serious adverse effects of Lupron on children and adults.)

The inaugural conference of USPATH, the newly formed offshoot of WPATH, was held the first weekend of February in Los Angeles. At a session entitled “PUBERTY SUPPRESSION IN THE UNITED STATES; PRACTICE MODELS, LESSONS LEARNED, AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS,” gender doctor Michelle Forcier presented a case study of a young teen “K.” who had been seen in Forcier’s gender clinic. K., born female, had been hospitalized multiple times for suicidality, cutting, an eating disorder, and other self harm. K’s mother was reluctant to use a male name and pronouns, and was not initially willing to consent to Lupron.

During one of K’s months-long hospitalizations, Forcier pushed for the child to start blockers, despite the fact that the psychiatric team caring for K. was not in agreement, but was intent on medically stabilizing the child before contemplating other interventions.

After the child was released from hospital, the mother eventually consented to puberty blockers; the child was hospitalized again a few weeks after the Lupron injection. In her presentation, Forcier said that the time spent without blockers was one of many “missed opportunities;” she used the case as an example of how psychiatrists need to be better “educated.”

This notion that “gender care” (Forcier’s term) is the curative elixir, the pharmacological key to solving a whole host of other psychiatric issues, is a common refrain with US gender specialists. Parental reluctance to go along with this recommendation is viewed with, at best, condescension, and at worst, bald contempt. Do these providers stop for an instant to think maybe, just maybe, these parents have some wisdom regarding their own kids, whom they have raised and loved from birth? Nope.

Even young people who identify as “nonbinary” are encouraged if they choose hormones—or even surgeries. The USPATH conference devoted plenty of time to medical interventions for youth who want to dabble in irreversible chemical or surgical interventions:

Balking parents must be “educated”, cajoled into going against their deepest protective instincts. If this indoctrination process doesn’t work, there’s the frequent threat your kid will kill themselves because of your hesitations. This weaponization of adult self-harm statistics is wielded by activists, clinicians, and the media alike, to terrorize parents into handing their offspring off to be drugged, sterilized, and (increasingly) surgically “corrected” by therapists and doctors who are confident they know best when it comes to other people’s children.

Never mind that there is scant evidence that medical transition cures self harm in the long run; never mind that the constantly quoted 41% trans suicide attempt rate didn’t control for mental illness (a flaw readily admitted by the survey authors). Never mind that the 41% survey was of adults over 18, not kids. Never mind that there is no prior historical evidence of “trans kids” so desperate to escape their “wrong” bodies that they become suicidal; never mind that the highly publicized clusters of transgender teen suicides have mostly been young people who were supported in their desire to transition. Never mind that no one is studying the mental health of formerly trans-identified youth who were fully supported in gender nonconformity but not endorsed as being in the “wrong body.”  And never mind that only mentally ill people see suicide as a solution to life’s frustrations.  (As an analogy, the suicide rate for white Americans is much higher than for other ethnic groups, who by any measure face more discrimination and difficulties, yet manage to maintain more psychological resilience.)

But none of this stops irresponsible journalists and activists from spreading suicide contagion to vulnerable gender-confused youth.

dead-daughter

When it comes to coercing parents, the suicide trump card usually works. The daily onslaught of celebratory “trans kid” stories often includes a statement by a parent that they’d “rather have a live son than a dead daughter” (or vice versa).  Not surprisingly, scaring parents with their worst possible nightmare has been quite effective in many cases (including that of Ryland, one of the better known celebrity trans kids).

Hillary Googled the word “transgender” and came across a horrifying statistic: 41% of transgender Americans attempt suicide.

“This made things very clear to me,” says Hillary. “Did I want a living son or a dead daughter? I wasn’t going to take the risk by waiting around and doing nothing.”

So Hillary and Jeff spoke to psychologists, psychiatrists and gender therapists, who all reached the same conclusion: Ryland is transgender. As Hillary describes it, “Although Ryland was born with the anatomy of a girl, her brain identifies with that of a boy.”

That day, Hillary and Jeff – both churchgoing Christians who were raised in conservative families – made a vow: to bring up Ryland as a boy, without any strings attached.

Not only do the people most invested in medically transitioning children push suicide or transition as the only two alternatives; they are not shy about blaming the parents themselves for the child’s self harming behaviors.

judge-order-hormones-remove-child-from-house

Towards the end of a USPATH session, ADDRESSING SUICIDALITY IN TRANSGENDER YOUTH: A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL APPROACH, presenters Elizabeth Burke, Matthew Oransky,  and Sarah McGrew touched on what to do about parents who weren’t on board with “gender care.”­­

And the final piece on suicidality is family non-acceptance. This is where you have a family who is saying, no, no, no…and then you realize that actually the family is contributing to some of that negativity at home. So the family is creating a toxic environment. And that’s where we have let the young person know the potential ramifications of calling DHS and saying that this is an unsafe environment.  And that we’ve given the family every chance. To learn, to grow. And they’re continuing to be part of the problem. So thankfully this was an important time when I realized it was worthwhile in starting the clinic at children’s hospital to have lots of meetings with the lawyers in  risk management. To be able to say, “alright. I have the ethicist, I have the lawyer, I have the guru from risk management, I’m gonna sit down and say, I need to describe a case to you and make sure this is actually parents being negligent in the healthcare needs of their child.

Thankfully we’ve had a lot of support in that realm.  Because of the trainings we’ve done with DHS workers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. DHS workers will go and say you’re creating an unsafe environment for your child.  And we need to have that stop.…unfortunately staying in that home environment is going to result in a child’s suicide.

So we see that gender specialists and activists are being proactive about going after parents who are saying “no no no” to the dictate that they must “affirm” their child as the opposite sex. They are “training” child protective services workers to pressure parents into “gender care”—or risk losing custody of their sons and daughters.

This isn’t a brand-new strategy. For example, at least as far back as June 2015, Jenn Burleton, an MTF and director of TransActive Gender Center, put out a call for attorneys to intervene in custody disputes involving “trans kids”, to enthusiastic responses on Burleton’s Facebook page.

Asaf Orr, for those who don’t know, is the lead staff attorney for the inaccurately named “National Center for Lesbian Rights” (NCLR). Given the fact that an increasingly large number of same-sex attracted adolescent girls are being transitioned, it’s hard to imagine any organization straying further from its mission than NCLR.

Regular readers of 4thWaveNow know that Burleton has been in the business of sneaking behind the backs of “unsupportive” parents with TransActive’s “In a Bind” free binder distribution program. Previously offered to young women 22 and under, the program now only sends binders to 18 and unders—secretly, if need be, subverting the will of parents who might have concerns about the unhealthy effects on their daughters: crushing pubescent breast tissue, bruising ribs, breathing and musculoskeletal problems, and more.

The topic of bending reluctant parents to the will of gender experts is a popular one for WPATH. In mid-February, we find some familiar people scheming away about what to do about parents who won’t give in, again including Jenn Burleton, who has had “some success” in convincing authorities that a parent’s unwillingness to approve hormones for their minor children is a form of “reportable trauma.”

At the February USPATH conference, Drs. Johanna Olson-Kennedy and Michelle Forcier, during the Q&A portion of their aforementioned talk on puberty suppression, tell their audience that they’re not afraid to involve the courts when they must to “bring along” the “recalcitrant” parents.  One questioner, a psychologist who runs a gender clinic, wants to know whether there is a way to legally “force parents” to go along with the recommendations of a gender therapist to administer puberty blockers.

OLSON-KENNEDY: I can say that the stickiest situations I’ve had is where one parent is supportive and one isn’t and they share medical custody. And so we work really hard to bring both parents in and bring them both on board. Because even if you get a court order, the most protective factor for a good outcome is parental support.  So it’s not my first line to go to court to get somebody what they need.  But it is my second line and I will do it.  We’ve been pretty successful in 5 or 6 situations where…we really had a recalcitrant parent that we just could not bring along.

For her part, Forcier says 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

So there we have it. Activists/clinicians aren’t content to simply “educate,” cajole, or negotiate with parents. If parents aren’t terrorized into medically transitioning their kids by the relentless scolding that the only alternative is suicide, these people are perfectly willing to call the authorities on you; even to try to take your children away from you. And woe betide you if you’re a divorced or divorcing parent trying to put the brakes on hormones or surgeries for your minor child. The likes of Asaf Orr and other assorted attorneys assembled by adult trans activists will intervene in your custody dispute. (How ironic is it that an organization purporting to protect lesbian rights can be instrumental in forcing parents of lesbian teens to “transition” them to the opposite sex?).

Lest we simply dismiss all this as a form of mind-numbing hubris from people who should mind their own business, this excerpt from a letter written by four activist MtoFs in 2004 as part of a campaign to discredit sexologist Michael Bailey, might shed some light on the motivations of key activists who have been at the forefront of the pediatric transition explosion.

We are socially assimilated trans women who are mentors to many young transsexuals in transition. Unable to bear children of our own, the girls we mentor become like children to us. These young women depend on us for guidance during the difficult period of transition and then on during their adventures afterwards – dating, careers, marriages and sometimes adoption of their own children. As a result, we have large extended families and are blessed by these relationships. …

You may have wondered why hundreds of successful, assimilated trans women like us, women from all across the country, are being so persistent in investigating Mr. Bailey and in uncovering and reporting his misdeeds. Now you have your answer: We are hundreds of loving moms whose children he is tormenting!

So some trans activists fancy themselves the “loving moms” of (our) trans-identified kids, young people they consider their “extended family.” Not content to fight for their own rights to non-discrimination in housing and employment, activists like these were and still are the driving force behind the proliferation of pediatric gender clinics and activist organizations that have sprung up like mushrooms across the Western world in the last decade.

As should be clear from the examples in this post (representing only the tip of the iceberg), certain trans activists and gender clinicians will stop at nothing to force their will on parents who resist the affirm-only, puberty-blocking, sterilizing doctrine of pediatric medical transition. Rather than demonstrating a willingness to learn; rather than having the humility to consider that parents just might have a better handle on who their children are and what they need than a group of professionals beholden to an activist juggernaut, gender doctors and trans activists like Jenn Burleton may well try to take your children away from you.

What can be done? If you believe a gender specialist, psychologist, or doctor has rushed to “affirm” your troubled child as “trans”; if you believe someone entrusted with your child’s care has not adequately explored your child’s mental health and other underlying issues which may be contributing to their gender confusion, report them to their professional organizations and regulating boards.

US conversion therapy laws: Conflating homophobia with helping gender-defiant kids feel whole

One of the many unfortunate consequences of the marriage of transgenderism with the lesbian/gay movement is the wholesale acceptance that “conversion” therapy (also referred to as “reparative” therapy)—rightly condemned as coercive attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation—is equivalent to helping a child or teen feel at home with his or her body.

Why shouldn’t attempts to change “gender identity” be seen as identical to efforts to convince lesbian and gay people to abandon their homosexuality?

Because they are actually polar opposites. Anti-gay conversion therapy tells a healthy human being that they are not ok as they are, in the body they have, with the sexual feelings they have for other humans.  But therapy aimed at helping a young person accept and reconcile with their healthy,  evolution-molded body, as well as their gender nonconformity, actually encourages wholeness and the integration of body and mind.

In an Orwellian twist, the trans activists have hoodwinked the public into believing that these two approaches are one and the same, even though pro-trans “affirmative therapy” leads a young person not only to reject themselves as they are, but to start down a path which can lead to multiple surgeries, lifelong drug injections, and irreversible sterilization—with all the risks and hazards associated with being a permanent medical patient.

lady justice small

Never before in recorded history has every sector of society—political leaders, journalists, medical doctors, psychotherapists, and the legal system—enthusiastically promoted the mutilation, drugging, and sterilization of children’s healthy bodies. Never before have adults conspired to encourage a child in the warped notion that their very own body is a hated, alien monstrosity to be recoiled from in utter disgust.

What’s more, a side effect of this pediatric transition propaganda is the proactive conversion of same-sex attracted young people into surgically and hormonally manufactured heterosexuals. It has been well known for decades that the vast majority of “gender dysphoric” young people resolve those feelings and grow up to be gay and lesbian. We not only have peer reviewed research to back up that assertion. We have the anecdotal life experiences of gay and lesbian adults.  And not only that: Media story after media story reports about the trans men who started off as young lesbians—with no comment or question from the journalists about what happened to that former lesbian identity. And many of these young trans men start testosterone and even have “top surgery” before the typical age when women realize and accept their lesbian orientation—on average, from age 19-early 20s.

That anyone has unthinkingly accepted the false equivalence that anti-gay/lesbian conversion therapy is the same as helping a child avoid self hatred is absurd. That our legal system, from the President of the United States on down, is promulgating this fiction is something I predict will eventually go down in the history books as one of the greatest examples of medical malpractice, homophobia, and mass delusion ever perpetrated by the human race.

So just where do we stand in the United States vis-à-vis “conversion” therapy laws, as they apply to “gender identity”?

Before I provide summaries of existing US legislation, let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see which organizations are behind the conflation of LGB with T in the legislative arena.

Powerful, well-funded activist groups often write “model legislation” that is then cloned and heavily lobbied for in US state legislatures. Two of the pressure groups involved in the conversion therapy effort are the Human Rights Campaign, a major player in trans activism, and the absurdly named National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). A recent post on 4thWaveNow highlighted the role of NCLR in helping to push trans activist-crafted policy in US public schools. NCLR was also an original signatory to a damaging boycott-petition targeting the now-defunct Michigan Women’s Music Festival (a private event held for 40 years on private land whose only crime was politely requesting that only biological women attend).

So once again, we find NCLR involved in actually harming young same-sex attracted girls by working to prevent concerned clinicians from helping these girls come to terms with their lesbianism. Could it be any more Orwellian?

As you’ll no doubt notice in the excerpts from US state laws below, the wording of the “model legislation” peddled by the NCLR and HRC is strikingly similar to that in the actual conversion therapy laws on the books. Staff attorneys at NCLR and HRC know what they’re doing. Reading the profile for NCLR staff attorney Samantha Ames (the attorney listed as contact person in the model bill PDF), it’s clear her social justice heart is in the right place. But what will it take for women like Ames to have an epiphany: that the trans’ing of young same-sex attracted girls is actually homophobic conversion therapy perpetrated on minors who are being denied the possibility to even find out if they could enjoy a life free of medical intervention as happy lesbians?

So far, four states, the District of Columbia, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio have passed legislation that has tacked “gender identity” onto the definition of what constitutes conversion therapy. Summaries/excerpts from the pertinent sections of the laws are below, with links to the full legislation for each.

While the wording is vague and undefined—with the terms “transgender,” “gender expression,” “gender identity” and the like seemingly hastily appended to the language about sexual orientation—we should all be asking what, exactly, is meant by conversion therapy in regards to gender identity.

In a recent guest post by a psychotherapist whose preteen daughter has been questioning her gender identity, a lively discussion ensued in the comments regarding what is and isn’t conversion therapy. Does it mean (as more and more seems to be the case, in my own personal experience and in that of many other parents who contribute to 4thWaveNow) that a therapist dare not even ask why? when a young client announces they are transgender? Is it now verboten to explore a child’s mental health history, social media habits, or other possible contributing factors? What about social contagion? And what about the experiences and opinions of the child’s parents? If a mother says her daughter showed no signs until a month ago of any discomfort with her body, is the parent simply to be dismissed as a transphobe in need of reeducation (a type of conversion therapy in itself)?

The signs are not good, but ethical therapists owe it to themselves—and above all, their young clients—not to place anyone at unnecessary risk of the irreversible changes that will be induced by hormones and surgical treatments.

As grim as it seems right now, there is a glimmer of hope. The conflation of anti-gay reparative therapy with efforts to help children feel comfortable in their own skin is something new, and the legislation has yet to be tested in courts of law by intrepid lawyers who know better. The language in the bills is vague and open to challenge and judicial interpretation. There is a window of opportunity, for clinicians as well as for lawyers.

Note/caveat: Regular readers of this blog know that everyone at 4thWaveNow strongly supports “gender nonconformity” and rejects the enforcement and policing of stereotyped “feminine” or “masculine” behaviors or activities. To the extent that these laws protect young people from attempts to enforce such stereotypes, we applaud them. The problem is that gender identity and gender expression, while actually two very different things, are blurred and undefined in the legislation. So, for example, support for “gender expression” could protect a girl who wants a short haircut and “boys'” clothes; but how very harmful it would be to prohibit therapy that helps that same gender-defiant girl realize she is still 100% female, with a body perfect just as it is, even as she rejects gender stereotypes.

Thanks to overwhelmed for summaries and research assistance on this US legislation. The specific language varies somewhat from state-to-state, and it’s worth a close reading to parse the actual intent of each law. Click the name of each bill to access full text for the legislation.

 

California

SB-1172 Sexual orientation change efforts

“California has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”

(b) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

(2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.

865.1.

Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age.

865.2.

Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.

Illinois

House Bill 217: Youth Mental Health Protection Act.

 “Sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy” means any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, as defined by subsection (o-1) of Section 1-103 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex. “Sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy” does not include counseling or mental health services that provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a person without seeking to change sexual orientation or mental health services that facilitate a person’s coping, social support, and gender identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, without seeking to change sexual orientation.

New Jersey

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

 b.    As used in this section, “sexual orientation change efforts” means the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender; except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that:

(1)   provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and

(2)   does not seek to change sexual orientation.

 Oregon

House bill 2307

 A mental health care or social health professional may not practice conversion therapy if the recipient of the conversion therapy is under 18 years of age. (2) As used in this section: (a)(A) “Conversion therapy” means providing professional services for the purpose of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including attempting to change behaviors or expressions of self or to reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. (B) “Conversion therapy” does not mean: (i) Counseling that assists a client who is seeking to undergo a gender transition or who is in the process of undergoing a gender transition; or (ii) Counseling that provides a client with acceptance, support and understanding, or counseling that facilitates a client’s coping, social support and identity exploration or development, including counseling in the form of sexual orientation-neutral or gender identity-neutral interventions provided for the purpose of preventing or addressing unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as the counseling is not provided for the purpose of attempting to change the client’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

 Washington, DC

Amendment  to Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Act of 2001

“Sexual orientation change efforts” means a practice by a provider that seeks to change a consumer’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender; provided, that the term “sexual orientation change efforts” shall not include counseling for a consumer seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a consumer or facilitates a consumer’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices in a manner that does not seek to change a consumer’s sexual orientation.”. (b) A new section 214a is added to read as follows: “Sec. 214a. Prohibition on sexual orientation change efforts for minors.

 Cincinnati, OH

Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Change Efforts

Prohibits within the geographical boundary of Cincinnati, Ohio, “sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts,” commonly known as conversion therapy, by mental health professionals.  The prohibited therapy is defined as:

conversion therapy, reparative therapy or any other practices by mental health professionals that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or to change gender identity to a gender other than that with which the individual personally identifies, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

Excluded from this definition

psychotherapies that provide acceptance, support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, and psychotherapies that do not seek to change sexual orientation or to change gender identity to a gender other than that with which the individual personally identifies.

The fine for violating the ordinance is $200 per occurrence.  Each day that a violation occurs constitutes a separate violation.

 

NEA teams with trans activists to set school policy & secretly undermine “unsupportive” parents—even on overnight field trips

by overwhelmed

As more transgender-identifying children enter our educational institutions, school officials have scrambled to provide accommodations for them, sometimes at the expense of other students’ rights, and sometimes against their parents’ wishes. The complications introduced are legion—ranging from opposite sex pronoun usage to highly controversial bathroom and locker room access.

One such school that has been affected is Township High School District 211, located in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. School officials had granted a natal male trans-identifying student’s request to be treated as a female in all areas (including bathroom usage and sports teams) but drew the line at access to the girls’ locker rooms. An attempt was made to balance the rights of the trans-identifying student (referred to as Student A) with those of the girls, by providing a separate changing facility, but it was deemed unacceptable.

The District offered to install—and in fact did install—a bank of lockers there, and to let Student A choose several female friends who would be comfortable changing alongside her. However, Student A told OCR that she felt this arrangement would “ostracize” her.

…The former Superintendent stated to OCR that she based her decision not only on Student A’s rights and needs, but on the privacy concerns of all students. The Superintendent told OCR that Student A explained that she wanted equal access to the girls’ locker rooms because “she wanted to be a girl like every other girl.”

But this male-bodied student was eventually given access to the girls’ locker rooms. Student A’s parents had filed a lawsuit and as a result, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had become involved. The accommodation was made only after the school was threatened with the loss of millions in federal funding.

 After the student filed a complaint, the Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights ruled Dist. 211 had discriminated against the student “on the basis of sex.”

Some attendees at the Sunday meeting noted the transgender student had been using female locker rooms already for two years without the school notifying students or parents.

…The school board changed its policies to allow Student A into the girls locker rooms, so long as the student changed behind newly installed “privacy curtains.”

Student A’s parents were able to achieve these new rights for their child, but it came with a cost. The natal girls in the locker room, many who feel uncomfortable changing within sight of a born male, had their right to privacy taken away. Six of these high school girls bravely spoke up during a school board meeting:

 Those curtains, the six girls said, shield Student A from personal insecurities, but they leave the rest of them uncomfortably exposed.

“It is unfair to infringe upon the rights of others to accommodate one person,” the six girls, in a joint statement, told an audience of at least 500.

“Although we will never fully understand your personal struggle,” they said, addressing the transgender student, “please understand that we, too, all are experiencing personal struggles that need to be respected.”

Some parents, organized as “D211 Parents for Privacy,” are putting pressure on the school board and their legislators to try to regain the privacy lost to their children. On their Facebook page, their sensible plea is for a compromise for Student A that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others:

 “We should be able to agree that accommodations can be made for those who need them due to rare situations they find themselves in so they can get through school without undue stress. That same principle should apply to EVERYONE.

Accommodations should NOT infringe on others if it can be helped and especially if the accommodation takes place in a private, intimate space where minor children are getting undressed!

It is called balancing your feelings with others. There is NO BALANCING of needs here. It is all ONE SIDED.”

Unfortunately, the situation in which these parents and their children have found themselves is becoming less rare. There has been a steady increase in the number of kids claiming to be transgender since the early 2000s.

rise in cases

The graph is from 4thwavenow’s post “Why are more girls than boys presenting to gender clinics?,” showing the relatively recent rise in the number of gender dysphoric adolescents–especially girls, but also boys. It’s an international trend. The BBC reported last week that there has been nearly a 1000% rise in the number of young people referred to gender clinics during the last six years, with a peak around age 16. I’ve also seen several anecdotal reports of multiple “trans kids” in one friend group, and the phenomenon was noted by a psychotherapist in this post. It’s clearly becoming more and more common for students to identify as transgender.

In response to the increasing numbers of trans-claiming students, the government has been pressuring schools to implement policies to safeguard these students’ rights. On December 1, 2014, the Department of Education released a memo declaring that gender identities are now protected under Title IX.

In one short paragraph of a 34-page memo released on Dec. 1, the Department of Education articulated a clear stance on gender identity, saying transgender students in public schools should be enrolled in single-sex classes that align with how they live their lives day-to-day.

“We’re thrilled,” says Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “It’s so critical to the health and well-being of those students, and it’s going to be so helpful to have that guidance in writing so that schools understand what their obligations are.”

The memo is explicit that federal law protects students’ decisions made in accordance with their gender identity. “Under Title IX,” it reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

Yes, you read that correctly, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) was “thrilled.” If you’re like me, you wondered why an organization with Lesbian in the title would support the increased rights of so-called transgender youth. After a quick search, I found a Wikipedia article that revealed Shannon Minter, a “trans man,” is a civil rights attorney with an impressive track record of LGBT legal victories. Minter was even appointed by President Obama to a White House commission. Having Minter as the legal director for NCLR coincides with the organization’s aims to cover the entire LGBT, not just the L. “Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy and Public Education” are the goals of this non-profit, public interest law firm.

NCLR.jpg

In accord with the NCLR’s mission to promote transgender equality in schools, it joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gender Spectrum, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Education Association (NEA) to create a set of guidelines for schools. In August of 2015, NCLR issued a press release announcing the publication of “Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools.”

 Schools are increasingly being called upon to include and support transgender students. Recognizing that this can seem daunting or overwhelming, Schools in Transition offers practical guidance and field-tested tips to parents, educators, administrators, and community members on planning and supporting a transgender student through a transition at school. The guide is geared toward the needs of all students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, and incorporates recommendations that will allow schools to tailor those plans to the particular circumstances of the student and school. The authors include statements, recommendations, and resources which are based on data, research and best practices that have been tested in this field, as well as narratives of real experiences from students and educators.

So, “Schools In Transition” is a guide to help “schools understand what their obligations are” to transgender students. In fact, schools need so much guidance that this publication is a whopping 68 pages long. Bear with me, there is a lot of information to get through.

Who are the lead authors? Asaf Orr, Esq. (Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney for NCLR) and Joel Baum, M.S. (Senior Director, Professional Development and Family Services for Gender Spectrum).

Before I get into the details of “Schools In Transition,” I’ll warn you that sprinkled throughout the guidelines is trans activist lingo. Terms like “cisgender,” “gender-expansive,” “assigned at birth,” “wrong puberty,” and “authentic selves” are used liberally and unabashedly. There is neither acknowledgement that students could be confused about their gender identity, nor any mention that most gender dysphoric children desist. It is assumed that once children declare themselves trans, it is a fact and they must be accommodated, even against parents’ wishes, if necessary. (There is actually an entire section devoted to “Unsupportive Parents” in Chapter 5.)

Hang on as I take you on a quick trip through all six chapters (and appendices) of “Schools In Transition.” I will share various nuggets of wisdom from the authors that I deem especially troubling. But I urge you to read the guidelines yourself. The authors thoroughly address all of the complications that trans students introduce into schools.

Introduction:

Don’t ever doubt children who think they are transgender. Period.

 The expression of transgender identity, or any other form of gender-expansive behavior, is a healthy, appropriate and typical aspect of human development. A gender-expansive student should never be asked, encouraged or required to affirm a gender identity or to express their gender in a manner that is not consistent with their self-identification or expression. Any such attempts or requests are unethical and will likely cause significant emotional harm. It is irrelevant whether a person’s objection to a student’s identity or expression is based on sincerely held religious beliefs or the belief that the student lacks capacity or ability to assert their gender identity or expression (e.g., due to age, developmental disability or intellectual disability).

 Chapter 1:

If you don’t affirm their transgender self diagnosis, it will likely lead to suicide.

 The consequences of not affirming a child’s gender identity can be severe, and it can interfere with their ability to develop and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. In the school context, that distress will also hinder a transgender student’s focus in class and ability to learn. The longer a transgender youth is not affirmed, the more significant and long-lasting the negative consequences can become, including loss of interest in school, heightened risk for alcohol and drug use, poor mental health and suicide.

It is best to socially transition children who think they are the opposite sex.

 With the goal of preventing or alleviating the distress that transgender youth often experience, typically referred to as Gender Dysphoria,3 healthcare providers recommend that the child “socially transition” and live consistently with their gender identity. That includes dressing, interacting with peers and using names and pronouns in a manner consistent with their identified gender. For most transgender youth, social transition provides tremendous and immediate relief, allowing them to flourish socially, emotionally and academically.

 Chapter 2:

This chapter deals with bullying of “gender-expansive” youth. I agree that no child should be harassed due to how they present or act. And, actually, I strongly support this statement:

 No child should be prevented from pursuing their passions simply based on others’ perceptions of their gender. By sending a message that certain pursuits are off-limits simply because of a person’s gender, we lose access to an incredible source of human potential.

 Chapter 3:

Staff, students and parents may need to be trained to accept a student’s authentic self.

 A student’s desire to undergo a gender transition at school is borne out of a deep need to be their authentic self. The urgency and timing of the gender transition must be carefully balanced. Ideally, the student is not currently experiencing an unmanageably high level of distress at school, which will allow the student, school and family (if appropriate) to work together as a team to establish the most positive scenario in which the transition can take place. This process could include training for staff, students and parents and a carefully laid out plan for the student’s authentic identity to be shared with the school community.

If anyone has a problem accepting children as transgender, it’s probably because they are uninformed.

 It is important to keep in mind that many negative reactions boil down to a lack of knowledge or familiarity with the idea of transgender people, particularly transgender youth. While a public transition might make others (including you) feel uncomfortable, that discomfort does not outweigh the student’s need to be safe and supported.

 Chapter 4:

Students get to decide where they go and what they do based on gender identity. If anyone has a problem accepting this, they should try to be more open-minded.

 Another crucial element in supporting a transitioning student is giving them access to sex-separated facilities, activities or programs based on the student’s gender identity. Restrooms, locker rooms, health and physical education classes, competitive athletics, overnight field trips, homecoming court and prom are just some of the explicitly gendered spaces that tend to be the most controversial because they require us to re-examine our beliefs about who belongs in those spaces.

Concerning bathroom usage, a transgender student’s comfort level has a higher priority than a non-transgender student’s comfort level.

 Any student who feels uncomfortable sharing facilities with a transgender student should be allowed to use another more private facility like the bathroom in the nurse’s office, but a transgender student should never be forced to use alternative facilities to make other students comfortable.

Teachers, are you planning an overnight field trip? Gender identity determines the sleeping arrangements. And the school cannot disclose to roommates or parents if a student’s gender identity and sex do not match.

 A transgender student’s comfort level with sleeping arrangements will largely dictate the manner in which related issues are addressed. If students are to be separated based on gender, then the transgender student should be allowed to room with peers that match their gender identity. As with any other students, the school should try to pair the transgender student with peers with whom the student feels comfortable. In some cases, a transgender student may want a room with fewer roommates or another alternative suggested by the student or their family. The school should honor these requests whenever possible and make adjustments to prevent the student from being marginalized because of those alternative arrangements. Regardless of whether those roommates know about the student’s gender identity, the school has an obligation to maintain the student’s privacy and cannot disclose or require disclosure of the student’s transgender status to the other students or their parents.

Don’t believe that trans girls could have an advantage over natal girls on competitive sports teams. Seriously, don’t think about it. Stop.

 Even in states whose athletic associations do not have a written policy or rule on this topic, schools and districts should allow transgender students to compete on athletic teams based on gender identity. Unfortunately, schools often erroneously believe that a transgender student, particularly a transgender girl, will have a competitive advantage over the other players and therefore should not be allowed to compete on the team that matches their gender identity. Concerns regarding competitive advantage are unfounded and often grounded in sex stereotypes about the differences and abilities of males versus females.11

Focusing on the perceived differences between males and females too often obscures the fact that there is great variation among cisgender males and among cisgender females. Moreover, the very small numbers of transgender student-athletes who have benefitted from transgender-inclusive eligibility rules have integrated well within the size and skill level of their teammates, such that there has not been any concern with competitive advantage. Thus, while a transgender girl may have been assigned male at birth, she still falls within the wide range of athletic abilities of her female peers.

Similarly, the participation of transgender student-athletes does not compromise their safety or that of other student-athletes. The safety rules of each sport are designed to protect players of all sizes and skill levels and adequately neutralize any concerns regarding the safety of transgender and cisgender student-athletes.

Chapter 5:

Schools should affirm and accept students as transgender even if it goes against their parent(s)’ wishes.

 In these situations, the transgender student will often seek out an administrator or educator for support. Whenever a transgender student initiates this process, the educator or administrator should ask whether the student’s family is accepting in order to avoid inadvertently putting the student at risk of greater harm by discussing with the student’s family. Based on that information, the school and student should determine how to proceed through the collaborative process of figuring out how the school can support the student and balance the student’s need to be affirmed at school with the reality that the student does not have that support at home.

Unsupportive parents might need to be educated by the school on how best to support their child. To sway them, school officials may need to remind them about the high rate of suicide.

 Addressing the student’s needs at school provides a great short-term solution; but where possible, the goal should be to support the student’s family in accepting their child’s gender identity and seek opportunities to foster a better relationship between the student and their family. A parent’s initial negative reaction to indications that their child might be transgender is likely based on inaccurate or incomplete information about gender identity or out of fear for what this will mean for their child’s future. Such reactions often come from a place of love and protection, and are not intended to harm their child — rejection can be a misguided attempt at protection. Learning that transgender youth experience these behaviors as rejection, and that these behaviors can have serious consequences for their children, often helps families change their behaviors.

Schools can assist the process of family acceptance in a myriad of ways, including arranging a safe space for the student to disclose their gender identity to their parents, providing counseling services for the whole family or connecting them to local resources or other parents of transgender or gender-expansive youth. As part of this effort, it is important to educate the student’s family members about the serious consequences of refusing to affirm their child’s gender identity. Sharing observations from school personnel that highlight the effects rejection has had on the student may also help encourage parents to begin moving toward acceptance.

When all else fails, school officials may need to testify against unsupportive parents in court. Parents, unlike educators, can be biased about their student’s needs.

 If the parents are unable to resolve the dispute amicably, it is possible that an educator or school administrator may be called to testify in court.

School officials interact with the student on a daily basis and focus on supporting the student’s growth and development, which gives school personnel unique insight into the student’s needs without the biases parents can or are perceived to have. Sharing the school’s experiences with the student before and after the student began identifying as transgender can help highlight to the judge the importance of affirming the student’s gender identity. Describing the academic, social or emotional changes that school personnel observed will strengthen the testimony and give the judge a fuller understanding of the child’s needs and what would be in that that child’s best interests.

 Chapter 6:

This chapter focuses on ways to get legal protections for transgender students. Just utilize Title IX, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and state anti-discrimination laws.

 Appendix A (Puberty and Medical Transition):

The benefits of binders outweigh the risks.

 At the onset of puberty, gender dysphoria can become incapacitating for transgender youth as their body begins to develop secondary sex characteristics that are inconsistent with their gender identity. These inconsistencies are also visible to peers. Transgender youth often take special precautions to hide their developing bodies with the hope of presenting to the outside world a body that is consistent with their gender identity. For example, a youth who identifies as male may use clothing and materials to flatten the contours of his chest. Those materials can be tight, constricting and uncomfortable; however, the dysphoria caused by not taking those additional precautions far outweighs the drawbacks.

 Appendix B (Gender & Pronouns):

To reduce gender dysphoria, use incorrect grammar.

pronoun chart

 Appendix C (Talking Points):

I won’t reproduce all four pages here, but Appendix C includes talking points developed by Gender Spectrum to address concerns about teaching gender and supporting trans students.

Some examples:

  • So who decides if a student is transgender? What is to prevent a boy coming to school one day and simply declaring that he is a girl and changing in the girl’s locker room?
  • Why should my child learn about gender at school?
  • Isn’t my child too young to be learning about gender?
  • If you’re talking about gender aren’t you discussing reproduction and sexuality?
  • Ideas about gender diversity go against the values we are instilling in my child at home. Are you trying to teach my child to reject these values?
  • Won’t my child get confused if we speak about more than two gender options?
  • Won’t discussing gender encourage my child to be transgender?

Administrators at US public schools–without consultation with parents or the rest of the citizenry–have enlisted the aid of a well known trans-activist organization to set policy. San Francisco Bay Area-based Gender Spectrum provides “consultation, training and events designed to help families, educators, professionals, and organizations understand and address the concepts of gender identity and expression.” Put another way, they are really big into educating people who may have doubts about gender identity.

Gender Spectrum cap.jpg

I admit that the information on their site makes my head spin. On the one hand, I am in total agreement that society’s rigid definitions of gender are harmful. And, likewise, I believe that it “is detrimental to those who do not fit neatly into these categories.” On the other hand, I cannot grasp how rejecting sex role stereotypes would lead a person to believe they are transgender. Their website is full of this kind of faulty reasoning.

Well, let’s get back to Schools In Transition. We are close to the finish line.

 Appendix D (Gender Support Plan & Gender Transition Plan):

Gender Spectrum is also the brains behind creating official-looking, convenient, ready-to-print forms. Included is a Gender Support Plan form and a Gender Transition Plan form.

 Appendix E (Assessing Transgender Students for Special Education):

Make sure that anyone evaluating a transgender student keeps affirming and accepting their gender identity. Educate them if necessary.

 Determining whether a student qualifies for an IEP or Section 504 Plan typically involves an assessment. To ensure the assessment provides accurate results, the assessment must be conducted in a manner that affirms the student’s gender identity. Beyond referring to the student by their chosen name and pronouns, the assessor should become familiar with the literature on transgender youth. Having experience working with transgender youth can also help lead to a more accurate assessment of a transgender student’s needs. Lastly, the assessor must not recommend any supports, services or accommodations that are intended to change a student’s gender identity or otherwise shame them for who they are.

Overall, I am quite amazed at the amount of information crammed into “Schools In Transition.” It seems designed to help schools navigate through ALL of the trans-induced complications. Schools under the threat of losing federal funding may feel they have no choice but to embrace these guidelines. Especially since the National Education Association (yes, the organization representing three million teachers) is a co-author and is promoting it as an “extremely valuable resource.”

 “NEA is proud to be a co-author of Schools in Transition, a first-of-its kind guide to supporting transgender students in K-12 schools,” added NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. “This publication is an extremely valuable resource for the three million NEA members who work tirelessly to assure that their schools and classrooms are safe and welcoming for all students. And it will be a lifesaver for the increasing number of transgender students who are living as their authentic selves. Only when every school provides an inclusive, respectful environment can every student achieve their full potential.”

If there are any teachers out there reading this, I hope you are also skeptical about “Schools In Transition.” Many of you know your students quite well and realize that children can sometimes be confused. By “affirming” every student’s gender identity (because it is sanctioned by your schools’ policies), you may actually be causing them harm and setting them on the path to socially and medically transition with all of its attendant risks. If you share doubts  and agree that this type of “support” could be detrimental, please raise questions with your school administrators. There are many concerned parents who need your help.