From the May-June 2018 issue of News & Letters
Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body, edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, 2018
A few years ago, medical and psychological gender clinics appeared, spreading rapidly in the U.S. and UK. Their aim was to identify Transgender children as early as possible and transition them medically and socially so they will pass more effectively as the other sex as they get older. However, contributors write, the reasons given by these children and their families as to why they identify as Transgender rely on outdated sexist stereotypes of clothing, toys, etc., a boy or a girl “should” prefer. They contend this has nothing to do with gender dysphoria, the real feeling that one’s body is of the wrong sex.
Coeditor Michelle Moore states, “There is no contradiction between my respect for adults who identify as transgender and my conviction that current theory and practice of transitioning children is harmful.” Miranda Yardley, who identifies as Transsexual, states medical and social gender reassignment should be the last resort as treatment for a person with gender dysphoria. This is echoed by Carey Maria Catt Callahan, a detransitioned woman who formed a movement with other women who were certain they were Transgender before discovering this treatment did not relieve their gender dysphoria.
One reason to be cautious is the unknown health risks of transition. There are no studies on the effects of cross-sex hormones on developing bodies or their lifelong use. The documented effects of testosterone on adult men include blood clotting, strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and more. One study of the breast binders used before mastectomies documents 28 risks including compression of the spine and ribs, broken ribs, punctured or collapsed lungs, damaged blood vessels, blood clots, and heart attacks.
WHAT DO THE DRUGS DO?
Children too young for hormonal treatments are given puberty blockers although documented effects on the lifelong health of women prescribed them for precocious puberty include brittle bones, chronic pain, and depression. This is supposed to buy children time to decide if transitioning is right for them. However, they are left sterile since their gametes have no chance to mature. Male-bodied teens are left with an undeveloped “micro penis” too small to form a surgically constructed vagina.
A UK clinic finds 90% of children given puberty blockers will progress to cross-sex hormone treatment, while a U.S. study shows 100%. Studies show that without the blockers or hormones, 80% of youth desist from identifying as Transgender. Many develop a Gay or Lesbian identity. Contributor Josephine Bartosch interviewed several well-adjusted adult Lesbians who hated their developing female bodies and wished to be male as adolescents. Callahan describes the same situation with her detransitioned women friends and discusses the role of sexist social expectations and sexual trauma on dysphoria.
The contributors agree that today’s gender roles have become more rigid. Stephanie Davies-Arai states, “‘Being feminine’ has replaced being female in the very definition of ‘girl.’” Girls watch social media glamorizing the seemingly magical transformation into manhood and are told that if they feel uncomfortable as women, they are definitely Transgender. Online friends coach them in a different set of stereotyped mannerisms to pass as male. Another contributor, Gender Critical Dad, states, “The joy of an ordinary moment…and your child just being herself and not performing gender is priceless.”
Frequently members of the media, teachers, therapists, and research scientists receive threats to their lives or careers if they say transitioning of children is a complex issue. The editors and contributors had to meet in secret. They hope this book will help people understand that the debate is not one-sided.