“Rapid Onset” Gender dysphoria

The parents’ stories are heartbreaking. These usually involve a teen who was anxious, depressed, socially isolated, or suffering from PTSD coming to identify as trans after internet binges on social media sites. These parents report that mental health professionals are validating the self-diagnosis of transgender after a handful of therapy sessions, without any exploration of prior mental health issues, trauma, sexual orientation, or history of gender nonconforming behavior. This clearly violates APA recommendations, which urge special caution in treating adolescents who present with sudden onset dysphoria.

This is the basis of a great deal of hatred of “trans activists” and opposition to transition. So, is it true? There are stories of young women who went through a phase in their teens of desiring top-surgery, but their parents help them avoid that- and these young women feel they have had a lucky escape. Of course they are young women, not trans men. And here is a story of “wreckage”, where the child is distanced from their parents, who feel the diagnosis is wrong.

After a 30-minute consultation with a physician’s assistant, Molly was given an appointment for the following week to begin testosterone injections. There was no exploration of her other physical and mental health issues, and whether these may have influenced her belief that she was trans.

Testosterone can have a serious effect on a female body, even at the first injection. These are the stories feminists tell each other. I found it after an ill-advised attempt to find common ground on Mumsnet: the comment thread referred us to it, calling it “a heartbreaking tale of social contagion”. It contravenes the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) guidelines

(pdf)

which state,

The criteria for hormone therapy are as follows:
1. Persistent, well-documented gender dysphoria;
2. Capacity to make a fully informed decision and to consent for treatment;
3. Age of majority in a given country (if younger, follow the Standards of Care outlined in section VI);
4. If significant medical or mental health concerns are present, they must be reasonably well-controlled.

Dysphoria here is clearly not “well-documented”, arguably not “persistent”, and the mental health concerns should be assessed.

The PA (physician assistant) also suggested that Molly schedule top surgery – a double mastectomy – within a few months.

No wonder people are shocked, reading this sort of story. The WPATH guidelines say many people find comfort with altered gender expression without surgery, and qualified mental health professionals must make an assessment before surgery, and Assess, diagnose, and discuss treatment options for co-existing mental health concerns. Chest surgery may be carried out after one year of T and ample time of living in the desired gender role.

The parents said they wanted time to think and research, and at first the child agreed, but at college without telling the parents started T. The child- or young adult- kept repeating that she didn’t want to see us, that we were the reason she had been hospitalized because we didn’t support her transition.

Max “did not blossom into his true self”. He was more anxious and isolated than ever and rarely left the house, spending most of his time online.

I tell people you don’t get hormones easily or quickly, especially as a child. This story, contradicting the WPATH guidelines, says differently. I don’t believe it. T after half an hour with a physician assistant? A PA’s qualification takes less time than a medical degree, and they practise medicine supervised by a physician. They may diagnose and treat. I saw a consultant psychiatrist on the NHS.

The post alleges that teenage girls identify as trans because of social contagion, from visiting websites which valorize being trans. Other conditions allegedly spread in the same way: Bulimia was virtually unknown until the 1970s, but once described there was a common language for it, and it spread into culturally remote enclaves following the introduction of Western media sources. NYMag confirms that, and Lisa Marchiano quotes the researcher NYMag interviewed. Fiji first got television in 1995, and shortly after the first teenage girls there showed symptoms of eating disorders.

What do you think?

Partly it depends on whether being trans is acceptable. It could be unacceptable for conservative reasons, that God made us male and female, or for radical feminist reasons, that there is no necessary connection between sex and gender, and both sexes exhibit a wide range of gendered behaviour. It seems possible to me that I transitioned because of social pressure.

The stories are out there. People are angry. If girls imagine that transition is the answer to their problems, though they could have lived as normal women within the freedom of gender expression which other women carve out for themselves, perhaps they are right to be angry. You only learn that medical transition is not the answer to your problems when you have completed it, without robust gatekeeping.

In the comments, someone suggests autistic girls might find boys easier to grok than female teens, and it’s easy to see how a young woman who has no interest or patience for make up and complicated hairdos, who hates frilly clothes (too uncomfortable for those who are “sensory”), and who has a blunt communication style can come to wonder if she is “really” female or “actually” male instead, especially as adolescence brings on an increase in gender differences. Speculation becomes feverish.

Puberty blockers

No-one transitions on a whim. It is so difficult to transition that anyone who does probably is trans. That includes children.

There are 12.4m children aged 0-15 in the UK, and 1.4m 16-17 year olds. So 800 children on puberty blockers is a tiny fraction. Help, help, the sky is falling! cries the Daily Mail. They reported the fact, and sensationalised it- “Huge growth”- from what? Is not 800 out of 12.4m a tiny number? Then they interviewed and photographed a 17 year old trans woman who said puberty blockers saved her life, as she would have been suicidal suffering male pubertal changes. And then they started quoting transphobes. A spokeswoman for the Grassroots Conservatives campaign, who could be assumed to have no expertise whatsoever, said, This drastic notion that we should change our gender should be a last resort, as if a handful in a hundred thousand showed mass poisoning of children, or even the possibility that anyone who had the treatment did not need it. The children are diagnosed with life long gender dysphoria. The doctors predict that these are the children who will never regret their decision.

A woman speaking for Transgender Trend, a parents’ group speaking against transition, said These kids are not old enough to make life-changing decisions as if they were not diagnosed by doctors who were clear the treatment was appropriate. A doctor said the treatment relieved suffering, and three doctors said it was unsupported by rigorous scientific evidence, as if control groups could ever be ethical.

The treatment is puberty suppression. It gives children and families more time to make the final decision to transition surgically, before puberty changes the child’s body to appear irrevocably of the gender assigned at birth.

There were 2016 referrals of children and adolescents aged 3-18 in 2016 (yes, it is an odd coincidence). Children may remain under the care of the clinic for several years. Help, help, the sky is falling! said the Daily Telegraph. Chris McGovern, chair of the Campaign for Real Education so not obviously a medical expert called this a “politically correct agenda”. The Telegraph blames feminists! Feminists were attempting to reshape school policies on gender… children were being forced to “unlearn” the difference between boys and girls. If children did not know the difference, they would not know they wanted to transition. Liberating children from rigid gender roles would reduce the pressure to transition.

I feel that not all children who are trans will have been able to convince their parents, even if they have had the courage or desperation to try. I feel the children who are referred will be the strongest-minded and most certain trans children. And only a minority of those referred get any treatment. They are encouraged to transition and live in role, including at school, but most do not get puberty blockers, leave alone surgery.

Before puberty blockers, trans girls have their sperm frozen so that they might have children later in life. The Daily Mail opposes this. Storage costs £300 a year, and the Mail says the money should be spent on people with sympathetic health problems, not these weirdos. The article put “trans girls” in scare quotes, and referred to them as boys who believe they are female.

“Shouldn’t be allowed at all” was one of the highest rated comments. Consider the hostility to transition! No parent would accept it unless completely convinced. The barriers to a child’s transition are so great that children who do are trans.

I feel that schools which prevented gender indoctrination and permitted children to experiment with gender would produce more balanced adults. I am ambivalent about transition in children. What if it is wrong for them? I understand the worries- but surely all those involved are doing their best, for the best interests of the child.

Toilets in Texas

The Texas House of Representatives, which had previously blocked Texas Senate attempts at a Bathroom Bill, has now passed one. Schools must provide single-occupancy toilets, changing rooms and locker rooms. Schools which now allow trans children to use the locker room for their gender would have to revert. Separate does not mean equal.

The Bill goes to the Texas Senate, which will likely pass it, as the Senate had a much wider Bill requiring all people in Texas government buildings, including schools, to use toilets matching their “biological sex”. The wider Bill was blocked by the House Speaker, who refused to refer it to a committee.

The Texas Governor endorsed the legislation as a priority, and the lieutenant-Governor threatened to block periodic legislation which re-authorises some State agencies, unless it was passed. Without that legislation, those agencies would be shut down.

SB 2078 regulates school districts’ “Multihazard Emergency Operations plans”, considering things like school shooters, natural disasters, and now trans children. The right of each student to access restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities with privacy, dignity and safety [shall be accommodated by] requiring the provision of single-occupancy facilities for use by a student who does not wish to use the facilities used by persons of the student’s biological sex.

This section may only be enforced by the state Attorney General, but nutcase objectors will still demonstrate against trans children, to force him to act. It does not require or authorise a school to disclose intimate details about a pupil, but using a separate locker room will be noticed.

The stalled SB6, applying to all government buildings, is longer than the Bill concerning emergencies. The Texas Senate discerned an “utmost moral obligation” “to protect the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children… and all Texas residents”, and found that schools providing access to restrooms, showers, and dressing rooms based on an individual student’s internal sense of gender is alarming and could potentially lead to boys and girls showering together and using the same restroom prejudicing a safe and secure learning environment. It is wearying to read of trans children being seen as so dangerous. Trans boys are called girls. The cubicles which prevent me ever embarrassing others in a bathroom are ignored- I am in the presence of others in a state of undress.

All government buildings should require that each multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility located in the building be designated for and used only by persons of the same biological sex.

“Biological sex” means the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate. My birth certificate says I am female, and Texas allows amendment of sex on a birth certificate if ordered by the court.

The Bill which is to be passed makes monsters of children.

Report in Texas Tribune.

Not transgender: a tomboy.

A mother writes in the New York Times of her daughter, who wears track pants and t-shirts, who aged seven affects a Luke Skywalker hair cut, and who, having been told she is a “tomboy” identifies as that, though she asks why it is a tomboy. She is quite sure she is a girl and not trans. Wanting freedom and respect for children who identify as trans, we surely want the same for children, however they identify.

The mother has read up on puberty blockers, and is quite willing to accept if her child decides she is a trans boy; but the child does not say that. The mother accepts her child’s decisions, as when aged three she wanted clothes like her father’s. By her own words she is the model parent for a trans child, accepting and backing up her child, though the child does not identify as trans; I believe her.

Why would a child identify as trans? Would a child who is reassured that they can behave as they like, as far as gender roles go, never consider that they were really trans? If a boy wants a princess dress from the Disney store, does that make him a girl? Would a boy imagine he was a girl, because he picks up from the culture that those things are for girls?

That is, is there a gender identity or just motivation towards certain behaviour?

Parental support needs to be self-sacrificial, like Billy Elliot’s father scabbing during the miner’s strike to support his son’s ballet ambitions. Even then, the family need some support and recognition from outside, or the child may go along with their peers’ ways. They have, after all, to know they can survive in the world.

The mother criticises the teacher in the after-school club, who asked, Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again? The implication of the article is that if the child is non-conforming, there is pressure on the family to transition. People understand transition now, and the mother implies some think it appropriate for non-conforming children. I hope a teacher or doctor would want to ensure that the parent was not moulding a child to prevent transition, and such moulding could be done subtly- of course the child can climb trees, or wear what s/he likes, but must never talk of being a boy. Children can read their parents, what is approved or disapproved.

The mother writes of her objection to the child being asked- but it is the child’s decision, and a question is not a demand. Properly used, questions can help a child understand the range of her/his options. They had not known it was possible until they heard of it.

More generally, if gender roles are not enforced on anyone, will anyone transition? Commenters talk of when they were girls, or children they know, in the 1950s or 1970s playing with a pedal car marked “Police” or feeding ants to spiders. Others talk of now. I am a woman; I love fashion and am considered attractive. And yet I am a scientist, an atheist, and a science-fiction nerd. I despise romances and chic lit. I am not warm, supportive or nurturing. Another says Speaking as a short-haired, slacks-wearing adult woman working in a male field who nevertheless feels feminine, I think it’s important to keep looks/roles separate from deeper identities. She feels the feminine makeup skirts heels look is expensive and uncomfortable.

Trans folk need freedom for everyone. In a society where gender roles are rigid, trans people will be excluded. It seems to me that adults are freer to express themselves as they wish; and yet the numbers transitioning increase. This is because trans is real for people, not just adjusting to circumstances.

New York Times article.

Trans children

No child should be sterilised unless that is clearly in her/his best interests, and medically indicated.

Trans folk would pass much better if we did not go through the wrong puberty. Trans boys would not grow breasts. Their hips would not widen. Trans girls would not develop male pattern body hair. Their voices would not break. Surgical alteration of genitalia is easier with a child. And- some children who identify as trans grow up to identify as cis lesbian gay or bi. It is not clear that children likely to grow up trans can be identified.

Puberty can be blocked; I read that tends to be a “one way street”. Children whose puberty is blocked so they can decide for themselves at a more mature age tend to transition. This may be because puberty blockers are only prescribed in extreme cases. Even blocking puberty has an effect on the child.

Why tell children that they are boys or girls, anyway? Why tell them that boys and girls are different? We are different in our reproductive system, but our characters and abilities overlap so much that there may be no other difference between all males and all females.

For me the answer is to dump cultural gender. If Stephen wants to be called Clare today, that is a choice the child should be allowed to make. The same goes for clothes, pronouns, gendered behaviour. Let them play and experiment, that is how they learn. Let them be inconsistent: Stephen insists he is a boy, while wearing a dress. Next day s/he is thinking on something else and does not want to be bothered with gender presentation.

!!!!!!!!!!THIS DOES NO HARM AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!

(Breathe. Yes, I know. Shouting. I am intensely distressed about this.

Onywye. It has to be such a big deal. You identify as trans, see doctors, socially transition. That means you can go to school with a name you like, but still only one name, only one presentation. You can even be gender-queer, but still have one name, one painfully-negotiated rule about which toilet you use.

Hormones and surgery are a big deal. Names and clothes should not be.

There are people who do not fit gender norms. “Boys don’t cry” is untrue and damaging. Gender norms are still enforced. I want it open for children to express by gender as they wish.

No-one feels in a vacuum. We are influenced by others. We see what it is acceptable to feel, what feelings we can express or act on. We learn from parents and people around us. It is comfortable to have similar opinions with a group. The child J may have been unable to express feelings separate from his mother’s. So we shut down feelings because these are inappropriate for our gender.

Children should be given a completely free choice to take, or not, football, ballet or both. It is hard not to influence. Do they want influenced, they want to be shown what will be acceptable? Only if they have been hurt before, only if some feeling has been taboo and they have suffered for it. We need support, not constraint, as we learn to navigate the world, society, and ourselves. Children are cultural sponges: They absorb the mores that surround them — how to dress, what to eat, what to say. This is a good thing, all in all, since a major function of childhood is figuring out how to be a proficient adult in a particular society. This means picking up on social norms. These norms, though, need not include constraining gender norms, which cut across human nature without benefit to anyone.

This idea cares for gender non-conforming children across the whole range, from football for girls- which only gives the most conservative the slightest frisson- through gender non-conforming, to those who will have surgery and hormones for the rest of their lives. Only surgery and hormones require medical intervention.

How kids learn prejudice, New York Times.

The Christian Legal Centre

Attempting to gain publicity, the Christian Legal Centre have rushed out a press release just after the story of J broke. After a boy was forced to live as a girl until rescued by the legal system, they are supporting parents to force a boy to live as a girl. Christian family fear gender-confused daughter will be taken away unless they bow to social workers’ name change demands they trumpet.

Powys county council puts this in non-legal language: professionals are very worried that your child is not being looked after properly and he/she is at risk. There has to be “significant harm” from the parents’ lack of care. This is not some trendy social worker enforcing gender orthodoxy against Christian common sense, as CLC would have you believe.

Even the CLC press release indicates that harm. Until he was 13, the child “Gary” was home-schooled with his siblings. He started to self-harm. He ran away. Child mental health services told the parents that unless they allowed his name change, their [son] would be at risk of suicide. That’s a quote from the press release. CLC’s blind self-righteousness damns themselves.

The family now face a meeting with social workers in November, in which it is indicated and believed that the social worker will be pushing for Bethany to be allowed to use the name Gary in school and the family will be pressured into allowing her to receive ‘therapy’ from the Tavistock Institute in Leeds for its ‘Gender Identity Development Service’. Aged 14, Gary is too late for puberty blockers, and too young for T injections. Therapy will be talking therapy. There will be diagnosis. Is the child trans? He might start to wear a binder.

Forcing an agenda

That’s their heading. They really don’t see. They want the parents to be able to control a teenager. The child will only be this intransigent when denied age-appropriate levels of self-determination. Until we leave our parents, we negotiate ways of living together. Only where a child is far too controlled in every aspect of life would she insist on self-determination in this way, against her own gender identity.

The thing which makes me pause is that Gary is in a relationship with a girl. His “Christian” parents would oppose the child being lesbian as much as being trans. It is just possible that the child thinks

Girl with girl relationships are not OK
therefore I am a boy.

Or, that given that the parents hate lesbians, s/he insists s/he is a boy as an act of pure rebellion. Any LGBT child will be confused, disorientated and damaged by such a “Christian” upbringing. May God show the parents, and CLC, the error of their ways! However, the Tavistock centre are the professional experts able to discern this. Children like Bethany need psychiatric help, shrieked Andrea Williams, CLC chief executive, yet she opposes the CAMHS advice and referral to Tavistock.

It is very unfortunate that the social worker appears to have jumped to the conclusion that Bethany is transgender without even waiting for a formal diagnosis from the psychiatrist, Williams continued. Well, all that the child can achieve now is a completely harmless name change. If they is not trans, presenting as male will be uncomfortable. The self-harm and running away indicates “significant harm” to the child, which arises from the parents’ dogmatism.

The Daily Mail has quoted extensively from the press release, without criticism. Here’s the press release.

Oh, enough of this! Inspired by this New Yorker article informing me that people say “No, totally” to mean “yes”, I have been writing doggerel again.

So let us praise, with verve and vim
this holophrastic contranym
Though no means yes, we’re not confused
No, totally, we’re disabused
Can yes mean no? Of course it can!
to sarcastic contrarian.

Here’s my Donald Trump verse- note the internal rhymes!!- to a Chuck Berry tune:

Mr Pence and Mr Trump
get ye hence. I’ve got the hump
Mr Trump and Mr Pence
I’d like to thump you, you’re so dense.

Michael P and Donald T
After that come “S” then “D”.
Governor and bankrupt man
They don’t really have a plan.

Donald has some business tips
Grab their pussy, kiss their lips
Speaker Ryan’s naught to say
wishes Trump would go away.

Donny’s polls are down the hole
so he claims the elections’ stole
Now he tweets a dismal wail:
“Hillary should be in jail”.

Debating Donny’s on the prowl
Lip is wrinkled, mood is foul
As she speaks, behind he looms
His campaign he totally dooms………

An enmeshed relationship

A woman feminises her son against his nature, subjecting his will, because of her own emotional disturbance. A court rescues him, and places him in his father’s care, where he develops normal boyish interests. These demonstrate the harmfulness of the mother and the rightness of the rescue. That is the story you get from Mr Justice Hayden, who ordered the new care arrangements. It justifies greatly restricting the contact the mother has with the child- they must be supervised.

How would the mother, referred to as “M” to preserve anonymity, get her child J to wear a pink headband and nail varnish, leave alone present entirely female, unless J is a trans girl? Why would she?

CAFCASS, the children and family court advisory support service, investigated, and recommended that F[ather] not have contact with the child, as it would cause M and J “potential emotional harm”. Social services had anonymous referrals saying M was mentally ill and that J might access the skunk M smoked in front of him. The social services child and family assessment, completed in January 2015, concluded that there were no evident concerns suggesting that [J] was at immediate risk of harm. [M] is very clear that she is supporting [J] with whatever choices [J] makes and she presents with a good understanding of [J]’s needs. There were no concerns from the social worker regarding [M]’s approach to [J]’s gender presentation, and had appropriately taken on board support from the charity Mermaids. Upon completion of the assessment, no further action was taken by Children’s Services.

The judge finds this irrational and unsustainable, and draws attention to the schools’ concerns, that [J] behaved no differently than the other children but they felt that [M] was unwilling to accept this and on occasions she reduced a teacher to tears due to her ‘forceful and confrontational’ manner…in class, [J] doesn’t display any differences to the other boys.

What constitutes “difference”?
Who judges, and what are their expectations?
If J tries to conform in any situation, rather than following his own unconstrained wishes, what will he do?

One referral to social services said M was unwilling to accept help from local child mental health services.

The judge condemns social services strongly, saying the cry for investigation went unheeded. Social services combine both naivety and professional arrogance. However, social services reported those concerns were in relation to [J] presenting as a girl rather than concerns in relation [J]’s welfare and the care that is provided to [J]….the manner in which [J]’s gender identity is responded to by professionals could also cause emotional difficulties, as had been evidenced in research around gender non conforming children cited earlier. It appears that [M] is genuinely attempting to protect [J] from the impact of this.

M has accessed support from the Tavistock Centre, the child gender identity service. The judgment shows no evidence from them, only from psychologists. The first, Jean Sambrooks, refers to J as “she”, but the judge dismisses this, though he says that It is entirely counterintuitive to suspect that a boy who is consistently presenting as a girl may not truly wish to do so and may have been forced or induced into performing such a role by his mother. He draws attention to her concerns about the way M communicated, though Ms Sambrooks considered that the impact of these concerns was most likely to have alienated professionals to the mother’s genuine concerns.

The judge finds M highly manipulative and controlling with strong opinions, prone to exaggerate and distort, even “oppositional”. A mother defending a trans child from disbelief might need such qualities. He says As I have heard this case I have noted that these illogicalities often characterise M’s evidence. Nobody has doubted that M is both articulate and intelligent and so the reasonable inference is that she must recognise some of the illogicality of her own statements. I consider that she has learnt that by creating ‘confusion’, to use Ms Sambrooks’ word, amongst the professionals, she generates a situation in which her own distorted beliefs gain greater traction and are able to prevail with less effective challenge.

There were delays, which the judge reports were caused by M’s unjustified challenges of lawyers involved, and refusal to communicate. The family court transferred the case to the high court because lack of information of the child’s whereabouts raised concerns for his welfare. In November 2015 Mr Justice Hayden made a variety of highly prescriptive orders, reinforced by a Penal Notice. J, then five, was living in stealth, all the time presenting as a girl and registered at the GP as a girl. M said the Tavistock centre had advised this, but the judge says Though I was by no means certain, I very much doubted that the Tavistock would have given this advice in respect of such a very young child. I am amazed no-one asked them. Instead, the judge sought their file.

There was a hearing before Mr Justice Hayden where he ordered that J be delivered to F. He portrays M as controlling. What was perfectly clear however and requires emphasis is that M was determined that J should live entirely as a girl. At only five years of age that did not strike me as offering J choice or even the opportunity to express any ambivalence or confusion. I was also entirely satisfied that whatever choices J made and however he presented, he would be loved and cared for and his choices respected in F’s care.

The February hearing was very stressful for M. However what struck me forcibly, both then and indeed at this final hearing, was that M spoke of J only in the somewhat opaque and convoluted argot of social work and psychology. She offered an impressive, intense and highly articulate evaluation of the problems faced by children with gender dysphoria but she conveyed no sense of J’s personality, temperament or enthusiasms, notwithstanding frequently being encouraged to do so. Repeatedly she struck me as a professional witness giving evidence about somebody else’s child.

I was also left in no doubt that M was absolutely convinced that J perceived himself as a girl. M’s case on this point has not always been either consistent or coherent, but my overwhelming impression is that she believes herself to be fighting for J’s right to express himself as a girl. She has told me how J ‘expressed disdain for his penis’. I think it accurately summarises her position to say that she perceived it to be her responsibility in the face of widespread public, professional and indeed judicial ignorance to promote J’s choice of gender.

Why on Earth would M want to manipulate a child who was not trans into presenting as a trans girl? The judge does not say. How could she do that? Continue reading

Was this child trans?

The Press Association reports that a child living with their mother, as a girl, has been removed from her care by a high court judge and given to their father. Now, they is settled with their father. The judge says,

“I am entirely satisfied, both on the basis of the reports and [the father’s] evidence at this hearing, that he has brought no pressure on (the boy) to pursue masculine interests. [The boy’s] interests and energy are entirely self-motivated.”

The boy’s mother “told me that [he] was ‘living in stealth’ by which was meant, she explained, that he was living life entirely as a girl”, said Mr Justice Hayden. “He dressed, at all times, like a girl and, it transpired, had been registered at a new general practitioner’s as a girl.”

The judge added: “I was also left in no doubt that [the mother] was absolutely convinced that [the boy] perceived himself as a girl.” Hayden said his “overwhelming impression” was that the woman “believes herself to be to fighting for [her son’s] right to express himself as a girl”.

She said they had expressed disdain for their penis.

The judge heard reports from a psychologist and social workers. “I consider that [the mother] has caused significant emotional harm to [her son] in her active determination that he should be a girl.” 

The father had started litigation because he had not had contact with his child. They had been registered with a GP as a girl, but not referred to the Tavistock clinic: instead, the GP had requested that a social worker visit.

The Sun’s angle was that social workers were incompetent, rather than underfunded. Hayden J: Concerns were dismissed on the basis that it was the other agencies who ‘did not have a full understanding of gender non-conforming children’. In fact, it was (social workers) and senior managers whose understanding was lacking.

The mother had taken the child out of school.

All the papers refer to the child as a boy, with male pronouns. Having read the reports, I tend to agree, so now will too. I hope the judge was open to the possibility that the child was a trans girl. There is no mention of the child’s own opinion, but as he is seven it appears the judge has relied on reports.

I hope he has got it right. The Sun reports concerns about the mother’s mental health, from some source it does not name in a report to the police. Other papers do not mention that: it appears they think impugning her mental health is not justified from the report. I would go to the source, the Associated Press, but it does not makes its reports freely available.

Children are malleable. They can be forced to present as the other gender. But we don’t know: why would the mother be certain her child was a trans girl, if he were not? Is she charged with abuse or neglect? Would a child, taken by the court from her mother and given to her father, be able to assert she was a trans girl even if she wanted to?

I want to post this quickly, so will google more, but have been reading a Daily Mail report from 2012. Lorraine Candy, editor of Elle, allowed her son to dress as a girl until his fifth birthday, but then told him this must stop- because she thought he would be ridiculed. “He was mildly upset but not unduly worried”, she writes. How much cross-gender play by children goes to gender clinics? How much do parents influence it?

I am certain we would be better off if children were encouraged to play as they wish, including cross-gendered. Putting on a dress does not mean your son will have a vaginoplasty later. Why restrict children at all?

discuss the court judgment here. Read how the judge explains how, and why, the mother could force a cis boy to live as a girl.

Gender dysphoria in children

Far too many children are accused of “cross-gender behaviour”. This could lead to lasting damage. The Gender diversity and Transgender identity in Children factsheet of the American Psychological Association says 5 to 12% of girls and 2 to 6% of
boys exhibit cross-gender behavior
. With numbers that high, the definition of “normal gendered behaviour” is the problem, not the children. Let them play, experiment, be who they are!

It is hard to estimate the numbers of lesbian and gay people. Do you survey how many have ever had homosexual experience, or who have had homosexual experience in the last year? And people are still scared of saying they are gay rather than straight, and will identify as heterosexual despite gay experience. But asked to place themselves on the Kinsey scale, with six boxes rather than two, only 72% of British adults identified as exclusively heterosexual. Wikipedia is interesting on this, and that is as far as I have gone- I am not an expert, merely trying to form my own understanding of the best way to treat children. People are far too complex for either/or, gay/straight, trans/cis. My personal interest is in beta males with viragos, derided so long as not real men, as pussy-whipped. Such beta-males can be very feminine.

So I love the APA’s position now:

There are three main approaches to psychological intervention with gender diverse children including a “gender affirmative” approach, a “wait and see if these behaviors desist” approach, or actively discouraging gender non-conforming behavior. The gender affirmative model is grounded in the evidence-based idea that attempting to change or contort a person’s gender does harm. Psychological interventions should aim to help children understand that their gender identity and gender expression are not a problem. Providers should aim to non-judgmentally accept the child’s gender presentation and help children build resilience and become more comfortable with themselves, without attempting to change or eliminate cross-gender behavior. Children who experience affirming and supportive responses to their gender identity are more likely to have improved mental health outcomes. Gender identity is resistant, if not impervious to environmental manipulation. Moreover, attempts to change a child’s gender may have a negative impact on the child’s well-being.

Parents and schools are the problem. Most of the therapeutic work is with the parents, to prevent them suppressing the child’s harmless but surprising behaviour: Often, the most important intervention is helping the family to cope with and live for some time with the uncertainty about the child’s gender and sexual identity development. They need to be advocates for their children. Providers should advocate for children to be safe in schools while exploring gender diverse expression. Pardon me while I scream at the floor- “Children should be safe in schools”! It needs to be said!!!!!!! If children’s natural, harmless gender expression is not tolerated by parents, schools or peers, they may exhibit the usual extreme stress reactions of children, such as “Oppositional defiance” or “ADHD”; or depression, rocking, cutting…

The fact sheet at first appears to distinguish “gender diverse” children, who express their gender in ways that are not consistent with socially prescribed gender roles or identities, from “transgender” children, who consistently, persistently, and insistently express a cross-gender identity and feel that their gender is different from their assigned sex. Later, though, it conflates the two: Fully reversible interventions such as a social gender transition including changing clothing, name change, new pronouns, or changes in haircuts may be indicated for some gender diverse and transgender children. And why not exploration? Let little Stephen come to school as Clare occasionally, if s/he wants. Let Clare be boyish and Stephen girlish. We need to know which the child is at the time that hormone therapy is prescribed, and not before.

APA fact-sheet pdf.
beta males.
Wikipedia on demographics of sexual orientation.

Desistance

Trans children, treated with surgery before puberty then assigned-sex hormones to have an assigned-sex puberty, would pass so much better. They would have skulls and skeletons consistent with their trans sex. They would need far less invasive, far more successful, surgery. The problem is children who desist. Many children referred to gender clinics as children grow up to identify as cis, often lesbian gay or bi. Reverting after surgery or such hormone treatment, after removal of genitals and needing further surgery, a person might develop a deep resentment of the medical services s/he had as a child.

Who do you protect? Not knowing whether this child will revert, do you force trans children to undergo an unwanted puberty to protect a cis person who might be caught up in the treatment? All other things being equal, people are happier with a full set of working genitalia including gonads than without. So, someone has to speak up for the genuine trans children, forced through an alienating puberty to need more surgery with worse outcomes: I am sorry that it is not me.

What matters is how many referred to gender clinics desist, and whether one can detect them before puberty. In the New York Magazine I read of two recent studies. Some of the children who desisted were just as extreme [in their gender dysphoria] as some of the children who persisted, wrote Devita Singh, a clinical psychologist. The NYMag article raises my distrust when it says that Kenneth Zucker was sacked as director of a GIC largely a result of false accusations leveled against him, after a lengthy campaign from a segment of LGBT activists who accused him — wrongly, in light of the available evidence — of harming his clients. Um. “A segment”- who? The Bad ones? So his bosses sacked him, because of lies told by bad people, rather than finding the truth? Really?

Thomas Steensma studied 127 children referred to the Centre of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria in Amsterdam. He found that eighty of them had desisted. Singh found of 139 AMAB children, 122 had desisted.

Were those children referred to the clinics for true gender dysphoria, or mere gender non-conformity? Some boys are effeminate- get over it, as they say. It is no surprise if non-conforming children become cis non-conforming adults- for it really is OK to be an feminine man or a masculine woman, and adults, who learn to navigate the discrepancies between what others expect and their own internal leadings so much better than children, can live more happily with that. A child may be more comfortable transitioned because though the new gender stereotype does not fit their idiosyncratic self, it is still more comfortable than the stereotype assigned at birth.

Can you tell the difference between non-conformity and dysphoria? I don’t know. I hope the doctors are working on it.

Would that children could be transitioned to neutral, a childhood without gendered expectations. They could be allowed to experiment- different clothes, colours, hair, names, playing without being divided between girls and boys-

Only gender affirmation- if it is not clearly harmful, it is permissible. That might be better for everyone.

New York Magazine, What’s missing from the conversation about trans kids.

Carpioni, Narcissus and Tiresias