The Complex Issue of Childhood Transition

CW: Transphobia, mentions of self-harm


“On Thursday afternoon, conservative celebrity Ben Shapiro used the main stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, to criticize the notion of transgender identity. ‘You don’t get to tell little boys that they can become little girls,’ he said with audible relish.”

This quote from Newsweek in their article Transgender Activists At CPAC: We’re Conservatives, Too seems to be an offhand comment made on transgender children, a throwaway statement to please the audience. But even the subtlest attacks on transgender children hold much more weight than most would believe.

A common thing most (decent) people agree on is, “don’t attack children.” Children are innocent and aren’t aware of adult situations. So why do conservatives and leftists find it acceptable to inspire torment against transgender/gender non-conforming children?

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D,  describes himself as “the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, where he researches and writes about marriage, bioethics, religious liberty and political philosophy.” That sound pretty official to people, with credentials far superior to, say, the average SJW on Tumblr. But fancy names aren’t all what they’re made out to be (we’re explore more of this later).

Anderson’s anti-transgender book, When Harry Became Sally, just came out, and already became an Amazon bestseller. The main point of the book? “The best biology, psychology, and philosophy all support an understanding of sex as a bodily reality and of gender as a social manifestation of bodily sex. Biology isn’t bigotry.” Biology isn’t bigotry. Sounds familiar to other noted saying, such as Facts don’t care about your feelings. And of course, I agree. Hard, factual evidence doesn’t depend on your opinion. And that’s the argument for transgender children, not against it.


 

A few months ago, I started following Blaire White on social media. She’s described herself as a “transgender conservative commentator,” and in my opinion, brings some great topics to the table. I definitely don’t agree with her on everything. In fact, I disagree with her on most things. But one point in particular bothers me particularly.

Blaire White, like many others, is vehemently against childhood transition.

Now, if you were to know only one thing about me, it’s probably that I transitioned at the age of 13, and started my medical transition at 14. I have family friends who have transitioned their kids as early as the age of 3, and I support them in this.

(However, I have been vocal about being against the parent who insists on refusing to acknowledge their child’s biological sex and raise them gender neutral. I’m against this because A) Infants don’t even have personalities, so gender should not matter, and B) this is a risk to the child’s health. A common problem transgender people have is ignoring the fact that they are their biological sex. I understand that I’m female. All my doctors know I’m transgender because it’s an important part of my health. My driver’s license says M, but I wish it said FtM for insurance purposes.)

I think there’s a miscommunication what it means to have a childhood transition. When people hear the word ‘transition’, they tend to immediately jump to a medical standpoint, which is completely fair. Mainstream media tends to only portray transgender people who have medically transitioned. Associating the words ‘child’ and ‘transition’ together creates an image of young children being injected with cross-hormones.

This is just blatantly false. No sane person would inject hormones into young children. Causing an early puberty helps no one. When a pre-pubescent child gets a gender dysphoria diagnosis, they’re often prescribed puberty blockers. Puberty blockers have been used even before childhood gender dysphoria treatment; they’re used to treat (supposedly) cis children who start puberty too early. Here’s some more information on them, because I am 100% not a doctor, and I can’t explain them as well as this article can.

Mr. Anderson says in this article that, “…the best studies of gender dysphoria show that between 80 and 95 percent of children who express a discordant gender identity will come to identify with their bodily sex if natural development is allowed to proceed.” And there can be some truth to that. A kid I know from trans family groups had transitioned around the age of seven, and went on blockers. Recently, she detransitioned. And that was it. Allowing her to explore her gender identity in a safe environment that would prevent a need for corrective surgeries later in life is what gender-questioning children need, in addition to therapy.

I’ve noted on my own that kids my age tend to transition socially, not follow typical behavior for some of their new identified gender, and then detransition not too long later. And I ask: what’s the big deal? As long as these kids follow all medical criteria, and consult professionals so they are steered away from starting anything permanent (which all trans people need to do), there’s no harm done. A trained gender therapist can help detect which children do have gender dysphoria, and which don’t.

I’m going to be honest–no one really knows the extent of puberty blockers. Some claim they’re unsafe and are not a viable treatment. It’s a very split topic in the medical community. Forget the is it safe question, is it even ethical? I’m not sure. I  personally believe it is ethical if there are no long term medical consequences.

Now, onto the part where I can give information for a fact, and not feeling.

When a child transitions as young as 3 years old, it’s due to dire stress. Gender dysphoria can be seriously debilitating, and when children that young suffer that much mentally, it tends to get pretty bad (have you ever heard of young children expressing interest in self-mutiliation? It’s not fun). Doctors have a criteria of sorts to diagnose early onset gender dysphoria which has been summed up using the phrase consistence, insistence, persistence. If a child is consistently, insistently, and persistently adamant about a gender identity that differs to their biological sex, that’s a clear warning sign to take them to a professional.

And not conforming to the Western set of gender roles doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is trans. A boy just might genuinely love princesses. There is absolutely no harm in allowing children to play with age-appropriate toys, no matter the gender. Nowhere in your DNA does it say that if you are male, you MUST love the color blue.


 

Remember when I mentioned misleading names, back in the beginning of this article? Those tend to be transphobes’ favorite ways to spread their pseudoscience.

Ryan T. Anderson says in his self-blurb that he belongs to The Heritage Foundation. To an uninformed person, this sounds like a reliable credential. However, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think-tank, promoting propaganda on several issues. If you know me, I believe any partisan group promotes propaganda to an extent. But this is extreme. They have been debunked on numerous issues, but their biggest lie? ‘Transgender Ideology Hurts Kids’.

The American College of Pediatricians is a group of 400-600 people (they won’t release their own numbers), most of whom aren’t even pediatricians. They formed their organization several years ago to protest same-sex couples adopting children because of the belief that the only proper family consists of one man and one woman with kids. They have been designated a hate group because all of their stated positions are religion-based and anti-LGBTQ.

They purposefully gave themselves a names that is easily confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics, a group of 64,000+ pediatricians, who are affirming of trans youth. And it’s not only the AAP who support them.

American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Physician Assistants, American College of Nurse Midwives, National Association of Social Workers, National Commission on Correctional Health Care, American Public Health Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry are all professional, certified organizations supporting transgender healthcare. Here’s the proof.

Transgender teenagers who receive medical intervention are different from transgender children who receive support in social transition. Never let a transphobe confuse you into thinking this. They want to scare people who aren’t aware of the issue into thinking that the trans community is ‘pushing an agenda on children’.

There’s a difference between supporting your child and pushing an ideology on your child. There is no thing as ‘transgenderist ideology’. Being transgender is a recognized medical condition that we’re learning more about every day. Ignoring a child’s medical condition is the real case of abuse here.

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