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

Fear, loathing and bathroom bills

Another month, another bill to exclude “biological males” from women’s toilets. North Carolina takes discrimination very seriously, and this Bill is necessary, its senate says, to prevent biological sex discrimination. So no county or city can deviate from its requirements, or require a contractor to deviate. Trans women can be allocated a separate, single-use loo, but on no account use the women’s.

You can download the pdf. Biological sex is defined as The physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate. In NC you can change your name and birth certificate, though the requirements are onerous. Trans girls could not: you have to have undergone sex reassignment surgery.

Local boards of 46 education shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility that is designated 47 for student use to be designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex. They can provide single occupancy facilities in “special circumstances”. A similar rule applies to all public agencies; public accommodations may choose whether to apply it.

I found it here. There was a link to a you-tube video of cross-dressed individuals who had been convicted of crimes in or near toilets or changing rooms. Some self-identified as trans. I watched a bit, and then felt sick. Whether or not the video exaggerates, that is not me. I really do just want to pee.

These groups are desperate to call us men. The “American College of Pediatricians” is a group of about two hundred conservative specialists, not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has 60,000 members. It is named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Recently it published a statement on transsexuality.

No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. Well, so what? Everyone is born into a culture which strongly differentiates what it means to be male or female. We observe rough, tough boy toddlers and sweet, huggy girl toddlers; and sweet little boys, and more rarely sweet little AMAB children who say they are girls. The far right and the evangelicals might not be pleased: “Male and female created he them” trumpets “Applied Faith” but this is only in the most literal sense: producers of sperm or ova, but there is no biological gender role. My gender is female.

A lie: According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys …eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty. DSM-V says,  In natal males, persistence has ranged from 2.2% to 30%. Of course this matters: puberty-blocking hormones are risky; but no-one is suggesting puberty-blockers for children where there is a one in fifty chance that they are appropriate. I will have a look at the WPATH guidelines, and blog on them shortly, but puberty blockers are used in the most exceptional trans children.

I read this and watched that video, and felt sick. Still. I have supportive friends, and strangers do not care enough to confront me. What matters more than anything is that I feel I have the right to be me.

Hammershoi, tall windows

Bad advice for parents

There is a great deal of bad advice for parents of transgender children on the internet. You may be angry and frightened, but it is not about you. You can calmly and rationally care for your child. You need to consider what to do: angry outbursts are counter-productive. Avoid anyone who encourages an angry response.

There is suppressed rage in every word of 4thwavenow. She is revolted at the thought of transition, and oblivious to any validity in my opposing view: one comment says the psychiatrists “are writing their own paycheck” as if that makes them corrupt, and opposed to the interests of their patients; and “Dear God, we must rally the sane people to stand with us”. This is not “skepticism”, this is denialism.

Because of the upside-down activist-driven reality we live in today, rather than helping gender dysphoric young people come to terms with their healthy young bodies, Dr. Olson-Kennedy and her colleagues socially transition children to believe they are the opposite sex.  

She claims to know better than the medical experts, who she thinks are driven by activists.

When I transitioned, I said to a friend, “Most women get a great deal of pleasure from a penis”. She replied, “Yes, but I would not want one of my own”. I would not want one, either. Can you imagine presenting for a week as the other sex? If the idea revolts you, ask why it delights your child.

She supports “reparative therapy” for trans children, but not for gay people, whom she says are healthy. I agree; but the “therapists” do not, and objectively gay people are less able to form a stable heterosexual partnership, conceive and bring up a child.

She is repetitive. In that post, “mass delusion”, “unthinking”, “false”, “hoodwinked”… This language prevents clear thought about the good of your child.

Transgender Reality is anything but that. She is entitled to a policy that comments by transgender people that do not take a stance critical of “brain sex” theory and current trans dogma will be rejected, but it does mean you get one side only. I do not support a cult, and have no interest in “recruiting” young people into transition: I want no-one to transition unless they are certain it is right for them. Her falsehoods shut down discussion. She is welcome to comment here should she wish. I look forward to engaging with her Eye of Sauron gravatar.

She criticises a particular Reddit. I will have a look at it, and may post on it. Like her, I oppose lying to therapists. But the advice Parents whose children think they are trans: Get them off reddit is out of touch with reality. You cannot keep your child off the internet, but if you listen to your child you will be able to talk with them about what they read. They may understand that lying is counter-productive. I was advised to lie. I did not. I transitioned successfully under medical supervision.

If your child wants transition, ask psychiatrists and specialists. It is quite understandable that you may not want your child to transition. You feel scared and protective. Talk over your feelings with supportive friends, but do not visit these sites, which allow no criticism of their extremist position.

Arthur Melville, A Cabbage garden

Advice to parents

If your child says they are transgender-

Hello. I am trans. I have transitioned and not reverted, so I feel transition is an option which may improve someone’s life. I won’t say it is the answer to all problems. I am not a parent, and I don’t know what you are going through. But I want to give a friendly perspective. I understand if you fear the thought of your child transitioning, and I agree that it may be wrong for them. If it is wrong for them, you want to protect them from the harm it could do, and so do I. But how?

Say your teenager objects when you call them your daughter. (Do you mind if I use neutral pronouns?) They want to bind their breasts and use a male name. They want to take hormones, and have surgery. Don’t worry too much yet. Getting surgery is a long road. They can change their mind right until the moment the anaesthetist starts the gas. What matters is what they do today. You need to know what they are doing.

My advice is to support your child’s decision. That means they can’t rely on you to protect them from it: if transition scares them, they have to protect themself. If you treat them like an adult you force them to behave like one. If you are cautiously supportive they will talk to you. They won’t transition as an act of teenage rebellion, and regret it later, because you don’t give them something to rebel against. You might persuade them not to get hormones over the internet- you don’t know what is in those pills- but seek proper medical evaluation.

If your child wants to bind their breasts, buy them a binder. The advantage of this is that it confronts the child with the reality of their decision. It is like a very tight sports bra: it does not do permanent damage, but is uncomfortable. If your child wants to transition to expressing female, you might even suggest facial electrolysis. That is painful, and takes a long time before the beard is significantly damaged.

Use of a different name is not much more extreme than the ordinary teenage exploration of their world, testing boundaries, discovering their feelings. Unless unhealthily constrained, teenagers play with identities and responses to find what works for them. Teenagers have always shocked parents. Let them play. You can’t protect them forever.

Please consider the possibility that transition is right for them. Of course it is completely wrong for most people. They will be unable to have children. They might never pass completely as the expressed gender. You can discuss these disadvantages with them calmly and without fighting, if you admit the possibility that transition might be right for them.

Of course girls should be supported if they are natural leaders or if they want to study engineering. Not every girl who kicks a ball or climbs a tree is a trans boy. Where it does not fit their personality, boys should be protected from macho culture- they can be feminine men. But for a tiny minority, transition is right. You do not want them to be miserable and directionless in their twenties, then transition in their thirties, and find it was right for them all along.

Giorgione, Judith with the head of Holofernes

In the locker room

The trans girl is in the girls’ locker room, in a cubicle with a curtain for privacy. Should the curtain be closed? Whose decision should that be?

The child retains her penis. Some teenagers can have puberty blockers- not without risk, but less risk than true-gender hormones, less final than surgery. She might want to be private about that, or no more private than the other girls, just getting changed together.

She might be less risk than a lesbian for staring at the other girls and getting aroused, if arousal is thought to be a risk to the cis girls. Androphile trans women claim they are more likely to transition young than us gynephiles. The trans girl is as attracted to boys as the other girls in the locker room. Teenagers have to learn to cope with not acting on arousal, both boys and girls.

Does she breach the other girls’ privacy?

There seem to be two principle risks in the minds of the transphobes: that the trans girl herself will assault other girls, or someone will pretend to be trans in order to get access to girls. But being trans is not necessarily attractive to girls. Judge us for what we do, not for what someone fears we might do. The hard right’s need to “protect” girls from people like me is a threat to me. People can get violent if they feel a need to “protect children”.

Whose decision should that be? The girl’s, herself. If she does not want to show her penis to the other girls, she should be entitled to her privacy. Forcing her to close the curtain, as if she were a threat, is harmful to her wellbeing, as her mother said.

Illinois school district 211 kept their federal funding, $6m of it. All the school pupils who spoke out, spoke in the trans girl’s favour. On other websites you will read what “Americans for everything Americans love” or whatever they call themselves- they would not call themselves “Transphobic Bullies Against Trans girls”- said. Ooh, ooh, they said something horrible! You will not read that here. You can imagine it. You know it’s bullying rubbish.

Her mother wrote, We knew that a big factor in whether our daughter would be fully accepted by her peers was whether the High School would treat her as a girl in all respects. If she was segregated, forced to use separate facilities, it would signal to others that it was acceptable to treat her differently. Not everyone would, of course- only the bullying cowards.

Trans children are normal and well-adjusted, if allowed to transition socially: see this research. This is International Women’s Day.

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