K-12 schools morphing into indoctrination hubs: Parents share their stories

Seemingly overnight, US public schools have been transformed into no-questions-allowed re-education centers for inculcating the notion that children as young as 4 or 5 years old can be innately transgender, and that any student, of any age, who claims to be or “feel like” the opposite sex is entitled to use not just private bathroom stalls, but shared locker rooms and showers designated for the sex s/he “identities with.”

As a result of this imposed sea change in US school policy, there has been a growing pushback from parents across the nation; the battle is raging fiercely, having recently reached the Supreme Court in one important Virginia case. And yesterday, it was announced that a federal judge had issued a “nationwide injunction” to halt the Obama administration’s directive to open school bathroom/locker room facilities to any student on the basis of their stated gender identity.

The mainstream media continues to (inaccurately) present the issue as between two clear opponents: Right-wing, homophobic and transphobic reactionaries, vs. the virtuous progressives and forward-thinking people who unquestioningly support President Obama’s “guidance” to force public schools into compliance with trans activist demands.  (Regular 4thWaveNow readers will know that most parents who congregate here are of the liberal/Democratic persuasion.)

Parents who have questions about the wisdom of this exercise in social engineering are ignored, marginalized, and even deliberately excluded from decisions about how their children are treated during the school day (and on overnight field trips, as well). A few months ago, 4thWaveNow contributor Overwhelmed wrote a post about the situation in US public schools, and yesterday, a very important post, “Gender Activism in Schools,” appeared on the blog Youth Transcritical Professionals, written by a parent named Emily, who has been embroiled in a battle with her 4th grader’s public charter school and school district.

The brawl at Emily’s school–Nova Classical Academy, in St. Paul, Minnesota–started and then escalated when the parents of a 5-year-old demanded opposite-sex toilet access for their son-now-trans-daughter.  According to Emily’s account, the school went from being a place where all parents’ views were respected, and where they had consistently enjoyed a major role in setting school policy, to a very different situation: a school where administrators and teachers knowingly hide information from parents in the name of adhering to an ideology that may neither be questioned, nor tailored to the needs of all the children and families in the school community—not just those who claim a trans identity.

I highly recommend that you read all of Emily’s post, and then ask yourself: Is this the way major social change should take place in a representative democracy? Should the executive branch subvert the checks-and-balances of the US legislative and judicial branches of government to bend a balking populace to its will?

Here’s a slightly tangential thought experiment. Trans activists are forever comparing their efforts to that of the fight of gay and lesbian people to attain civil rights.  But twenty or thirty years ago, can anyone imagine that adult gay and lesbian activists would have dreamed of demanding that public schools identify and “affirm” those kindergartners most likely to grow up to be gay or lesbian (the adult outcome for most “gender nonconforming” children)?  Back in the halcyon days of the LGB and women’s liberation movements, the idea of bringing children as young as 5-years-old into a discussion about private body parts,  or whether LGB people are “born that way” would have been beyond the pale—let alone any such initiatives being mandated by the President of the United States.

Emily wrote to ask us to reblog her post. We went a step further: We asked parents in our blog community if anyone would like to share their own experiences with their children’s schools vis-à-vis transgender issues and rights. From the accounts we’ve received so far, it’s evident that private schools are also affected, and the situation in UK schools is very similar.

Several of the below contributors (most of whom are not at liberty to identify themselves publicly), as well as Emily, who wrote the original post on Youth Transcritical Professionals, are available to participate in the comments section below.  Please feel free to add your own school-based experiences to the discussion.


Parents weigh in: School experiences


Nervous Wreck says:

My 18-year-old daughter’s very sudden decision to transition only happened after she herself learned as a public high school senior about the whole concept of transgender from classmates. It provided her an answer that made sense to her…a highly intelligent girl who never quite “clicked” with other girls. For her it was the power of suggestion from a classmate. How much more powerful the suggestion might be if it had come from the instructor?

Where I live, the public schools give a presentation to the parents about the sex education/STD materials that will be presented to students in the various grades. Parents are allowed to watch the very same videos that our students will watch, and parents are given the option to opt their student out of these presentations. Our students are not mandated to learn sex education from our public schools. We parents have the choice to teach our own students at home if we so desire.

Why is it not the same with gender identity materials? Are the health instructors expected to teach these materials as scientifically proven when it is not? Even if I didn’t opt-out of these materials, I want to know what the schools are teaching so I have the opportunity to have my own discussion with my child.

This all makes me sound terribly conservative doesn’t it? But I’m a life-long Democrat. I just happen to have a spiritual life that helped me as a youth to accept that our bodies are a gift to accept as is, simply a vehicle for carrying our spirit around. One does not have to be “conservative” to have a spiritual life….let’s put an end to the “right/left” notion about gender identity.  I myself have certainly never felt pinned down by gender stereotypes.


 Gary (New London, MN) says:

Early in the spring of 2015, a number of NL-S school district residents met with the school board to express concerns about their proposed transgender policy. This controversial policy was presented without any advance notice to parents or the community.  We were stunned that the Board of Education and the administration chose to ignore our request to delay its adoption.  Very few have had the opportunity to become aware of the policy, or to read and understand its implications. A simple delay is a most reasonable request. Why the rush?

Are we in this community ready for a policy that allows boys to use the girls’ locker rooms and girls’ bathrooms and to participate on the girls’ athletic teams? That will be the almost certain result if the school board’s proposed transgender policy is adopted.

The proposed policy states that the school is committed to “maximizing the social integration” of transgender students. This means that boys who at any time wish to see themselves as girls can do anything in schools that the girls do. These boys can use any of the girls’ facilities and participate on any of the girls’ sports teams.

We weren’t misled by the superintendent’s statement that it may be that transgender students could use “gender neutral” bathrooms and showers. Other schools tried that approach only to find themselves sued by GLTB lawyers and then forced to open all girls’ facilities to the boys.   “Maximizing the social integration” for transgender students does not allow for keeping the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms and showers separate.

Our Board’s proposed policy says that “sex is assigned at birth.” What kind of fantasy is that? My own experience is hearing the doctor or nurse say, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” I have yet to hear the doctor ask, “Which sex shall we assign this to baby?”

Aren’t schools supposed to teach our kids about the real world? This new policy requires our schools and teachers, by word, example and policy, to substitute a fantasy world for the real world and force our kids to conform to a make-believe world where biology isn’t real.

And what about the nonsense that putting our kids into a fantasy world will supposedly lower suicide rates? There is no evidence that such is the case. But, when we enter fantasy land, there are no limits to where it takes us, because truth and reality no longer matters.

We need to provide safety to all children, and many see this policy, as written, as harmful to every child. Keep in mind that most gender-confused children lose their confusion by the time they reach their 20’s. We all want all children to feel loved and accepted. Are we really helping them by affirming their confusion, rather than helping them address the underlying issues causing it?

After much deliberation and many revisions to the policy, the school board refused to remove the most objectionable wording that was contained in the policy; that being:  No one will be denied access to opposite-sex bathrooms or shower rooms.

We formed a community group in order to better equip us to oppose the ‘Gender Inclusion Policy’ (as they later labeled it), and with the help of numerous parents and concerned citizens did convince the school board to table the proposed policy until further guidance has been initiated either by the courts or other educational entities.


Miriam says:

Last February, a 15-year-old boy who claims to be a girl walked into the girls’ locker room at the school my child attends and began to undress in front of them. The girls, who were changing for basketball practice, some without shirts or shorts, were shocked and upset by the boy’s presence, so they ran out of the locker room wearing towels to a bathroom to finish changing. The boy tried to use the girls’ locker room again two days later, but was prevented by one of the girls’ boyfriends, who stood in his way. The girls in the locker room were devastated; they hadn’t been warned that boys would be allowed to use the girls’ locker room.

I got together with a few other mothers and we called the police to notify them of ongoing indecent exposure at the school. Then and only then did the school write an email to a few of the parents to inform them that there was a transgender girl (biological boy) using the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms. The letter looked almost identical to the one that the Palatine school district used to notify families of bathroom use regulations. Additionally, the school told parents that we did not have a choice in the matter. They said we could home school our children if we didn’t like it.

The school then hosted a LGBT information night for parents and a day training session for students and teachers. The gender training facilitator used the “Gender Unicorn” as a visual aid for the students. The concerns of parents about mixed bathrooms were dismissed and there was no interest in finding a compromise. We discovered that our school had been hiding the fact that there was a boy in the girls’ room for over a year. They never said a word until the police got involved. Also, we were told that the district is “required by law to allow the boy to use the girls’ bathroom and locker rooms.” The same boy, who has been allowed to be a member of the girls’ basketball team and the girls’ marching band, has also demanded to sleep in the same hotel rooms with girls on band trips, but he has so far been denied.

A district elementary teacher reported that she was told by the administration that she was required to allow her students to use opposite-sex restrooms if they “identified” as the other sex. A female elementary student was even told to use the boys’ bathroom, simply “because she likes to do ‘boy’ things” and prefers pants to dresses. They claimed the law required telling her that.

genderunicorn1

Don’t believe the rhetoric about gender identity laws simply allowing someone to pee in peace; it’s not just about the bathrooms!

I would encourage parents everywhere to go to school board meetings. Be proactive and ask your athletic director to make sure your children have access to an alternate changing, showering, and restroom area.


ThinkingMom says:

Emily’s story has struck a real nerve with me.  My children have been attending a school very similar to the one that Emily’s kids attended, in another state.  It has been a great school and was founded on classical teaching.  My older child started having issues with what we are now learning is a borderline personality disorder, and possibly autism spectrum disorder.  She struggled with the large amount of homework at that school so we moved her to an associated charter school.  There, she was friendly with several kids who were identifying as “gender non-conforming.”  They started doing lots of cosplay, and copious Internet use – YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, DeviantArt.  Suddenly, my daughter started dressing differently, cutting her hair short, and even started some drug use.

Now in public school, she started going by a male name and male pronouns.  The public school, of course, has the policy to accept whatever kids present as, without parent consent or knowledge.  Each of the teachers and counselors I have dealt with are very apologetic about not being able to respect the parents by using given names, but have apparently received a directive to “make the student feel accepted and comfortable.”

The longer my daughter has gone by male pronouns and a male name, the more anxious, depressed, and rebellious she has become.  At home, she generally acts the way she has always acted, no pretense of male persona, no voice altering.  But she becomes irate when we don’t use her preferred name and pronouns because after all, “HE is accepted and admired at school by friends for being so unique”– we just are ignorant and don’t see who HE really is.

I will tell you who SHE is: She is still the sensitive, creative, intelligent girl who loves to take walks in nature and collect wildflower bouquets and unique rocks and bugs.  She still gets compliments on her beautiful singing voice, on her beauty, and her kindness.  But now, with all the “support,” she cusses like a sailor, sits with her legs wide apart and talks loud and abrasively, rude and crude, when in public.

The schools are just making things worse by making this a part of the education system.  It is something that should be dealt with by professionals, therapists, counselors–and by the families.  It makes things so much worse with the open and blatant pandering to the activists.  These kids are suffering and the help they need is NOT to become the poster child for their school, or their community.  The pressure to continue on the path of transition is now so intense, just because everyone is now watching.

What it is becoming is another platform for activists who use children as pawns for their activism.  It keeps the real problems – mental health issues – hidden and undiagnosed.  Self acceptance is so important for every human being.  Why has it become such a taboo subject and so many are working against it for the sake of permanent damage – hormones, medication, surgery – that will not even touch the real issues?

I do agree with one thing: School should be a safe place for all kids.  ALL KIDS. 
So why are the rest of the kids, the ones who aren’t suffering from these mental health and identity issues, being pushed aside?  Their feelings about themselves, the world, their friends and life in general, are being squashed and treated as unimportant compared to the few kids whose parents are intent on pushing the agenda on everyone, maybe for their own 15 minutes of fame and attention?  I am not saying it’s the parents’ fault in every situation, since every one of these situations also have a lot of other professional adults involved.  I just see this as such a tragedy for everyone involved.  We need to stop it now.  With this new school year, I see the problem getting worse, much worse, before it ever gets better.  But it has to get better, for the sake of our kids and the future for all.


Jane says:

I took this photo over the summer. This appeared on the main bulletin board in a progressive private school that goes from grades 7 through 12. Tuition at this school runs about $30k per year. Most upsetting thing to me about this poster is that “female” has nothing to do with biology: “Female: identifies as a girl. Does not necessarily refer to genitalia.” Might as well teach creationism.

School poster

This is not the only progressive private school in the area to have swallowed trans ideology.


UKMum says:

This is happening in UK schools too. My daughter is one of seven other trans-identifying girls who live within a square mile of us that I know of (clearly social contagion).

One day, she and another trans student knocked on the door of the school counsellor’s office, and requested to be known by boys’ names and pronouns. She told them that we, her parents, were ‘not supportive’ and it was therefore kept secret from us. She was given a new ID badge, all the school records were changed and she was helpfully advised right there and then that she would have to change her name legally by deed poll if she wanted to write her new name on her exam scripts. (So of course, that is what she eventually did!)

The first I knew of this was when the school ‘slipped up’ and sent me a text communication with her boy’s name on. I was driving, pulled over to read the text, and then spent half an hour crying in a layby, until I felt stable enough to continue driving. What a shock!

I wrote to the school, telling them that we were considering having her assessed for Aspergers, pleading that this affirmation by adults in authority would not help at this stage, that this had come out of the blue, etc. I felt it was wrong that she wasn’t interviewed individually by the counsellor and that two kids going together on the same day to request the same thing, should have raised alarm bells about ‘influences.’ Also, as she was wearing a new ID card, with a male name, if she was involved in an accident, she could potentially receive the wrong treatment, since her emergency contacts (us and her grandparents) do not use that name, nor would hospitals be able to access her medical records. (How would they find them, since they are not in this new name?) I felt this was a duty-of-care issue, and the school relented and told her she would have to just use the first initial of her birth name on her card, whilst it was still her legal name.

Of course, within weeks of being known as male at school, she developed dysphoria and felt that she now could no longer go out without a chest binder. Next, she began to be dysphoric about her voice and to intentionally lower it…then a new way of sitting, and beginning to be aggressive and swearing a lot. All of this was completely out of character. Our family and friends have looked on aghast at the rapid decline of our sweet, sensitive, funny, overthinker. It is a nightmare.

Our scepticism has caused great damage to our relationship which has all but broken down, with both sides feeling hurt and disrespected.

During part of the time we were going through all this, our daughter attended a girls’ school. While one might think single-sex schools would be immune to some of this, the official GSA in the UK has now begun the process of replacing the word ‘girls’ with ‘pupils’ so as not to misgender anyone.

Now I don’t want my daughter to go to University because I am afraid that she will be encouraged further down the road. And as she is now an adult, we will just have to stand by and watch her disappear.


Skepticalmom says:

Well-meaning adults need to understand just what they are encouraging kids to do when they give blanket acceptance to all things trans.  Well-meaning school administrators and parents just don’t realize what sort of damage they are doing to kids when they apply transgender ideology within their schools. Although trans is associated with gay rights and acceptance, trans is a much different animal. Of course we want to be accepting of all children, but should we accept, without question, children’s fantasies and false beliefs? While compassion is admirable and necessary, it is not an act of compassion when adults lead children to believe they are or can become the opposite sex.

We are allowing young people to be drugged and even surgically altered, based upon their personal, self-identified beliefs — which have no basis in science. Not only is trans ideology based upon belief rather than scientific fact, the end result is kids who are tethered to the medical system, receiving ongoing medical treatment, for the rest of their lives. School are accepting this and encouraging it. They should be teaching science instead.

Well-meaning adults also may not know that most kids who say they are trans grow out of it if left alone (in other words, no social or medical transitioning) to mature into adults. Well-meaning adults may also not know that many kids who claim to be trans have pre-existing problems such as past sexual abuse or physical or mental trauma, or have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. There is also a correlation between autism spectrum disorder and kids who claim to be transgender. These issues need to be carefully, thoughtfully and thoroughly explored and sorted out by professionals. Unfortunately, however, current medical protocol allows kids to be socially transitioned immediately upon self identification and begin medical transition shortly thereafter.

My own family is quietly and privately struggling to get my teen daughter past her feelings of not wanting to be female. She is making progress with the help of a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist. She says doesn’t want to be a man — it’s just that she doesn’t feel comfortable as a woman. Yes, this is progress. Yet, if well meaning teachers, parents or administrators invite the trans political machine into our school, I can guarantee you all progress would be lost as she would feel encouragement or even pressure to further her male persona.

My child’s school doesn’t know what we are dealing with at home. In order to help other students who might be dealing with the same issue either now or in the future, I would like to warn our school’s administrators and counselors of the dangers and junk science behind transgenderism, and the fact that teen girls, especially, are falling prey to trans social contagion. I would like to help implement a program that teaches both boys and girls about the dangers of todays easy-access internet porn. However, I must wait until my child is out of our school system, as I can’t risk them finding out about her problem and encouraging it.

Families should be allowed to deal with these situations privately, allowing their therapists, psychiatrists and physicians to do what is right for each individual patient. It is harmful to our kids when schools encourage them to believe they are something they can never be (the opposite sex), or encourage our kids down the path toward dangerous, invasive, unnecessary and never ending medical “treatments.”


TheMom says:

My daughter goes to a very large public high school. As she has not come out publicly, she has not experienced any issues. I do know that her school last year was looking at changing bathroom and locker room policies in anticipation of accommodating trans students. They had one openly trans student a few years ago (FtM), and that student used the bathroom in the nurse’s office, which the student did not find acceptable. But the student graduated and moved on. The school board said that they have a dilemma because their current policy doesn’t allow students to use individual locking bathrooms. Students could go in there and commit suicide, do drugs, have sex, etc. and it would be very difficult for security to get in the bathroom. So they were looking at options. They already have changed their PE policy, stating that students are not required to wear a PE uniform, and that students don’t even have to change for PE if they don’t want to.

Announcing a new online survey for detransitioned women

Cari is a 22-year-old detransitioned woman who was interviewed recently on 4thWaveNow about her experiences as a former teen client of Transactive Gender Center in Portland, OR.  Cari wrote to us today to announce an online survey she has created for women who are reclaiming themselves as female.  I’ll let her introduce her work in her own words shortly. But first, if you have not had a chance to watch Cari’s very powerful YouTube video,  please do so. In it, she deftly takes apart a post on trans youth, desistance, and detransition by trans activist MtoF Julia Serano.

Cari is not the only detransitioner talking back to Serano. Several other women have come forward in recent days to eloquently and incisively describe the many facets of the female detransitioned experience, including Maria Catt and crashchaoscats. Transgender Trend also posted an excellent response to Serano.

Now I’ll let Cari introduce her Survey of female detransition and reidentification. Please share widely!


This survey is for anyone female/AFAB who formerly self-described as transgender. This includes women who transitioned, whether socially and/or medically, and have subsequently detransitioned, as well as individuals who still identify as nonbinary or genderfluid, but have desisted from medical or social transition. The purpose of this survey is to provide information about the demographics of those who detransition and reidentification, motivations of individuals to detransition, and survey general attitudes of female detransitioners towards transition.

I’m posting this as a way of getting some data about detransitioned women where none seems to exist, particularly regarding motivation to detransition and the efficacy of managing dysphoria without transition. This survey is short due to surveymonkey’s question limit, and not very scientific, however I may create a longer and more controlled one in the future, should there be interest in that.

An inconvenient survey: Activists scheme to squelch research on teen social contagion

One might think that purported pediatric gender experts would have a vested interest in investigating all facets of the current worldwide massive increase in kids wanting to chemically and surgically transition to the opposite sex. After all, in most civilized societies, adults want to protect young people and seriously ponder what’s best for them—all of them. Certainly, when it comes to permanent, lifelong medical interventions, most responsible professionals who work with youth would realize that not everyone who wants a treatment is necessarily a good candidate for it; as one bioethicist memorably put it, “a doctor is not a candy seller.

But at least one director of a well known pediatric gender center and national trans activist lobbying group in Portland, OR—a full-grown adult who nevertheless takes to Facebook to brand anyone not fully on board with the organization’s mission as a “TERF ” or “anti-trans hate group” —evidently cannot tolerate a researcher even studying the phenomenon of teens who came quite suddenly to the idea of transgender identity. [Note: All screen captures are from Burleton’s publicly accessible Facebook page.]

burleton on survey

The survey study, “Rapid onset gender dysphoria, social media, and peer groups” (still actively recruiting participants) seeks to better understand, via parent survey, the phenomenon of teenagers who (after never previously expressing gender dysphoria) suddenly announce they are the opposite sex.  Many parents in the 4thWaveNow community have teens who, in many cases, have demanded immediate access to medical transition, with all that entails—cross sex hormones (with concomitant permanent body changes, particularly for biological females), and major surgery, often involving removal of both breasts. Some of these teens changed their minds about transition, while others have not–but all are worth studying in the interests of discovering whether there is (as many of us have observed) a social contagion contributing to the increase in teens (especially teen girls) who express a desire to become the opposite sex.

Wouldn’t any reputable purveyor of a treatment which will change the lives of teenagers forever have even a modicum of intellectual curiosity about what such a survey might reveal? One would think, also, that Jenn Burleton might feel slightly chastened after recently hearing from a detransitioned, former teen client who was unhappy about the fast-track transition that was enabled by TransActive gender counselors. Instead, Burleton (whose Facebook description lists only studying “Resilience at the University of Life“ as professional credentials) would rather  cast aspersions on the MD/MPH conducting the “bogus” study, as well as the organizations and websites (including this one) which have publicized the research effort.

Commenters on Burleton’s post (who were obviously approved by Burleton) go even further, with one intending to deliberately “throw off the statistics” on the survey.

burleton commenters 2.jpg

Burleton obviously approves of the “throw off the statistics” scheme:

burleton+likes

If trans activists are so confident that kids as young as 3 or 4 can be legitimately and reliably diagnosed as “transgender” and in dire need of intervention by organizations like TransActive, why would the executive director need to stoop to childish tactics like screaming “TERF” and encouraging Facebook followers to gum up a survey study? What’s the worry? Why wouldn’t someone with such a huge responsibility for the well being of teenagers want to learn more about teens who were simply following a social trend, later changed their minds, or who actually might not be appropriate for treatment?

Burleton’s open hostility and the jeering, sophomoric reaction of the post’s followers lead inexorably to a question: Are some key activists in the forefront of pediatric transition genuinely interested in looking at all the evidence about “trans kids”? Or are they, instead, driven by a desire to shut down any and all inconvenient fact-finding efforts when it comes to promoting drastic medical interventions for other people’s children?

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the meaning of a Facebook “like” won’t have much difficulty answering that question.

Internet parenting expert berates mom of teen who grew out of trans identity

The quoted comment was submitted in response to a 4thWaveNow post about a teen who desisted from a trans identity.  Below the comment is the 4thWaveNow reply.


I’m honestly so surprised. There are so many comments on here that just blow me away. It surprises me that many of you call yourselves mothers. I barely know where to begin.

First of all, the transgender community is not a “Cult.”
Transgender people surround themselves with other transgender people because they understand each other. They feel welcome and accepted, which is important. From reading these comments, I can tell that many of you are not making your home a welcoming environment. If someone isn’t transgender, it is a very difficult thing to understand. It’s like this right here. Mothers flock to each other to talk about the issues they experience with their children. Do not even begin to say that trans people are an issue. The issue is close minded people. I’m not saying that you should be open to everything, but I am saying that this is something that you should learn to accept. I don’t know the whole situation with your family, but if one day your daughter just “dropped” all of the said “masculine traits,” then I’m going to assume that she was: 1.) Nervous and unsure 2.) Realizing that it wasn’t exactly what she wanted 3.) Feeling hopeless. From reading this, it sounds like you pretty much told her that you wanted no part in her life if she made any decision. News flash- this is the child’s body, not yours. This is the child’s happiness, not yours. From reading a lot of this, it sounds like many of you are purely selfish because you can’t even begin to understand something bigger than yourselves.

Secondly, there is actually proof. Don’t believe me?
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/
The fact that some of you said that no proof exists was out of ignorance, and I understand that. This was an easy source to find, please read it and educate yourselves a bit more.

Third, I’m not trying to attack you. I know that this is scary but you need to keep in mind that this isn’t your choice. No, I’m not saying that a child should transition at a very young age. Anyone going through this needs to take it slow. It’s a long and scary process. Then again, I wouldn’t have a say in every situation. I’m also not saying that every therapist is completely correct. The reason that therapists are so eager to label “Trans” is because they want people to understand that it shouldn’t be scary. They aren’t trying to sell you some “scary trans cult” or anything of the sort. It’s so upsetting to see mothers act like this.

You are treating the children- the young adults that you are raising- like objects. You need to listen to them. Being trans isn’t a trend. It’s becoming more known and more accepted. Please read this and think a little. If your kid just dropped their identity like that, I’m going to bet that there’s something going on that they’re not telling you. Please show them that you care. This is scary and a lot of these comments are scary. I can’t imagine being in a lot of these kid’s positions, especially with the way a lot of you bad mouth and degrade your children.

Sorry if I offended anyone, but this whole website is a bit ridiculous.


Maddy, you speak with righteous authority, presuming to judge and condemn the caring parents who have congregated here– one of the few places on the Internet where a diversity of gender-skeptical parents feel safe talking about what their families are going through. Your viewpoint is everywhere to be found—as are your efforts to shame us, and to shout down any critical discussion about major medical intervention on kids who not infrequently change their minds–as, it turns out, several of our daughters have.

You misread our critical thinking as being “scared” to accept an inevitably correct trans identity. We’ve heard everything you say umpteen times before, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve spent a minute contemplating the alternative views expressed on 4thWaveNow. Since you came over here, it might behoove you to spend more time listening to what parents on this site have to say, rather than bludgeoning us with the same stuff we all hear 24-7. You might actually learn something. Believe it or not, we aren’t actually in need of your unsolicited parenting advice. We’re smart, well read, and quite a fair few of us have formal education in child and adolescent development—which entails a lot more than simply “affirming” the self-proclaimed, temporary identities of our offspring. Oh, and yeah, by the way–we love our kids.

Here’s the newsflash: Adolescents have tried on and discarded different identities since time immemorial—one of the many well-established realities of human development which people like you choose to ignore. Permanent chemical and surgical alterations to validate those often-shifting identities? That’s a recent phenomenon.

Like so many who take it upon themselves to scold and berate the community of parents on this site, you refuse to acknowledge that there is a social contagion going on amongst tweens and teens. Perhaps your livelihood depends on not acknowledging it? Most of the parents here don’t have kids who insisted they were or wanted to be the opposite sex from toddlerhood. Instead, our daughters (and a few sons) were happy in their bodies, with no inkling of gender dysphoria, until a bout of social media bingeing,  or until an entire group of their friends decided they were some variation of trans, genderqueer, or nonbinary. My daughter was one of these, and her eventual desistance was not arrived at under duress.  (As if a teen can be forced to do anything; as if a teen will do something simply because her parents want her to–do you have any experience with teenagers at all?) It was undertaken freely, with time, and with the support—yes, support—of her family and friends to be a gender-defiant female without thinking she had to permanently alter her body with the two Ts—testosterone and top surgery. Extreme medical intervention was what the three gender therapists I talked to thought she should be entitled to immediately, on her own (sudden) say-so. That’s the current trend in “gender therapy” today: “informed consent,” not the careful, slow consideration you claim is the norm (again, if you had actually read much of this site, you’d see that this rubber-stamping of medical transition is rampant in the US).

If gender therapists recognize any distinction between a child who has wanted be the opposite sex since toddlerhood, and a (typically) lesbian or bisexual teen who thinks transition is the answer to her internalized homophobia or discomfort with puberty, they don’t let on. (Of course, even among the most persistently gender-dysphoric young children, most have historically desisted, but that is becoming less common now that so many are socially transitioned and puberty blocked, effectively conditioning them to believe they are the opposite sex.)

As to telling our daughters we want “no part in their lives” if they do eventually medically transition, there’s nothing in the post you responded to, or for that matter, anything on this website to indicate any of us parents are rejecting their kids as you so knowingly assert. Of course, this is just your veiled attempt to say, couched in more polite terms, that we awful parents are driving our kids to suicide because we are rejecting or not supporting them in their trans identification. Telling our kids that we won’t pay for medical transition, that they’ll have to wait until adulthood if they want to make those choices, is the opposite of not caring about our kids. It’s recognizing and understanding that trying on and discarding different identities is the work of adolescence, not a call to turn them into permanent medical patients. If people like you weren’t enabling and propagating the medicalization of the normal explorations of young people, this site wouldn’t need to exist. If organizations like Gender Odyssey didn’t market “workshops” like “Testosterone 101” and “Chest surgery Show and Tell” to teenagers, but supported young people in developing unique personalities, regardless of regressive sex stereotypes, 4thWaveNow would never have come to be. Where are the workshops entitled “How to be gender defiant without drugs and surgery”? or “Might you be lesbian instead of a trans man?” or “Medical transition has major consequences: Be very very sure before you do it”? Nowhere to be found.

If you bothered to read more of this site, you’d see that while many of us question the concept of transgender children in general, all we are trying to do (and all we can do) is protect our kids from the surgeon’s knife and the endocrinologist’s needle while their brains are still in development, until their ability to understand future consequences is more fully mature. We support gender nonconformity (what I prefer to call gender defiance) but we don’t think gender specialists, trans activists, and Internet strangers (like you) preaching to us from their high horses understand our kids (or for that matter, adolescent development in general) better than we do.

What else do you refuse to acknowledge, Maddy, besides social contagion? This: the fact that many young people with gender dysphoria used to grow up and out of it to be happy gay and lesbian adults. That many young lesbians don’t fully claim their sexual orientation until the early 20s—long after gender specialists have started them on testosterone, binding, and even top surgery. Does it occur to you that we are protecting our lesbian and bisexual daughters, as insightful parents ought to? Does it occur to you that some of the parents eager to welcome a straight, surgically and chemically altered “son” are more comfortable with that outcome than a lesbian daughter? Read some of the interviews and writings of detransitioned lesbians, on this site and elsewhere, if you think such parental and internalized homophobia is nonexistent. There are several writers who are beginning to question whether transition in many cases is actually homophobic reparative therapy in disguise. Take a look at this comprehensive post by theHomoarchy for one such blog.

As to brain science, I know the Russo study you mention very well.  But it’s hardly the be-all, end-all you make it out to be. What it points to (as one sexologist has deftly pointed out) is possible brain differences pertaining to sexual orientation, not innate gender identity (for which there is no proof). I expect you’ve seen the MRI study by Daphna Joel et al, which illustrates the opposite of your cherry-picked conclusions? In fact, as Joel and colleagues found, most human beings demonstrate a mosaic of traits typical of both sexes, with some individuals falling more at one end of the spectrum than the other. Instead of medical treatment, young people should be encouraged to express themselves in any way they choose—without the oppressive gender policing inherent in defining someone as “really” the opposite sex. But trans activists and gender specialists don’t tend to cite Joel’s study much—it harbors too many inconvenient and uncomfortable implications. In any case, the nature-nurture argument can never be won by either side, since (apart from in newborn babies) it’s impossible to disentangle neurobiology from life experiences and influences.

We don’t all march in lockstep at 4thWaveNow. We don’t all see the issues exactly the same. Some of us call our kids by their preferred pronouns; some of us don’t. Some have bought binders for their daughters, while some refuse. Some are only concerned about medical transition, while others believe that everything to do with gender identity and transition is bogus and to be challenged.

But 4thWaveNow is a forum for all parents who are raising their kids without simply bending to the will and dictates of people like you, who arrogantly presume to understand the complex family lives of the parents who have found safe harbor here. Such hubris you have, Maddy. How do you think parents of lobotomized patients might have felt some decades ago, if supercilious, know-it-all therapists told them the only solution for their troubled offspring was to have a chunk of their brains removed, lest they kill themselves? Or psychiatrists who told parents they’d be “literally” killing their kids if they didn’t agree to electroshock “therapy”?  4thWaveNow parents think for ourselves. We aren’t interested in simply deferring to professionals or activists who have no love, understanding, or parental wisdom invested in our teens —only their rigid ideology and a blinkered refusal to consider that they might actually be doing harm to other people’s children. Our children. Not yours. Guess what: Some of us have experienced those harms first-hand.

Rather than telling us what we’re doing wrong with our own kids, why not try some introspection?  Why not take a real look at why a website like this became necessary in the first place? Why would (mostly) politically liberal, feminist, pro-LGB parents feel they had nowhere else to turn?

Come back when you have something constructive and nuanced to add to the conversation; when you’re prepared to concede a few points. When you can demonstrate a little humility. Until then, your comments are pretty much only a candy-coated rendition of the tiresome, screeching accusations we’ve heard so many times: “YOU ARE KILLING YOUR KID!!!! You are a transphobic monster!!!!”

 

Queer camp, gender odyssey, & bigot bait: This week in trans kid news

Below is a smattering of links covering just a few of the latest happenings in the world of youth transition. Consider this a semi-open thread (comments moderated); weigh in on any of these stories in the comments section below this post.


Yesterday, Jesse Singal (who, in February, penned a controversial story about the firing of Kenneth Zucker) published a balanced piece in New York Magazine, daring to discuss the decades of research showing that a large majority of gender dysphoric kids will ultimately desist.

Singal’s article got linked on the WPATH Facebook page, engendering the usual dismissals from the usual late transitioning MtF activists, among others.  The below comment is emblematic.

WPATH commenter

The gist:

  1. Persistence/desistence rates are ultimately not that important.
  2. We should just trust the gender specialists and trans activists who take such a strong interest in the medical transition of other people’s children.
  3.  If the adult “trans community” trusts a particular pediatric clinician, that’s all we need to know.
  4. The concerns raised in Singal’s piece about medical transition of children are nothing but bigot-bait.

A couple of days ago, TransActive Gender Center in Portland OR posted a survey asking trans tweens and teens about their experience with bathrooms, locker rooms, and overnight accommodations.  The intro says that TransActive plans to “guide K-12 schools nationwide in becoming compliant with Title IX civil rights protections and beyond that, provide safe, inclusive environments for transgender and gender diverse students.”

Transactive survey

Among other things, the 6-page survey asks about locker rooms accommodations.

TA survey 2


Next week, the annual Gender Odyssey convention will be held in Seattle, WA. All the leading lights of youth transition will attend, with both professional and family sessions taking place. Gender Odyssey’s website is right in line with the increasing trend of subsuming “gender nonconforming” children under the trans umbrella. Given that very few of us rigidly adhere to Barbie-or-Ken sex stereotypes (after all, we all have different personalities are gender fluid), soon pretty much everyone will fit under the GNC-trans Big Tent. Whatever. As the ad at the top of the page says, “equality is good business!”

Gender odyssey family.jpg

There are events for kids and teens of all ages, with a teen program designed by and for gender nonconforming and trans teens.  Topics include “Chest Surgery Show & Tell,” “Testosterone 101,” and “Trans-er than thou.” Lest any younger kids feel left out, the site organizers assure families that “tweens are welcome to attend any teen workshop they are interested in.”

Gender Odyssey teen program

Workshops for parents are led by some of the top names in peds transition and trans activism—including Johanna and Aydin Olson-Kennedy and Asaf Orr (of the now-misnamed National Center for Lesbian Rights). Workshops cover everything from medical care, document changes, puberty blocking, and even “outside the binary” youth–who may still need “medical care protocols.”).

Gender odyssey workshops


There’s still time after Gender Odyssey for your teen to zip over to the East Coast to attend the Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer camp in North Carolina.

Qords camp.jpg

The six-day gathering takes place to “promote the creativity, confidence, leadership, and prosperity of southern youth queers.” The QORDS umbrella covers “queer and gender non-conforming  youth or youth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQQIA) families.”

Youth are “sorted” into cabins

by age not gender because many of our campers are non-binary or genderfluid. There are 6-8 campers in one cabin with a staff cabin in between.

Happy Summer!

Meet Dr. Winters: computer scientist, “empty nest mom,” & top pediatric transition expert

Some of the most vocal and vociferous proponents of early medical transition for other people’s children are late-transitioning biological fathers. (Note: While most of these individuals now call themselves “moms,” the fact that their contribution to reproduction was undeniably via biologically male gametes—aka “sperm”– cannot be simply “identified” away.)

Many of these individuals weaponize the fear that gender-defiant kids will kill themselves if not socially transitioned, puberty blocked, and moved on to cross-sex hormones and surgeries at as young an age as possible.  But there’s something hypocritical about their belief in the “transition or die” orthodoxy: Many of these MtF activists–who no doubt consider themselves “truly trans”–transitioned later in life, yet somehow managed to avoid suicide themselves, enjoying long lives as men with lucrative and productive careers (quite a few in typically male-dominated professions such as the military, technology, and finance) and the opportunity to father offspring.

Kelley Winters, PhD., is one of the most prominent trans activists agitating for medical treatment of trans-identified children. Dr. Winters is on the International Advisory Panel for WPATH, is a member of the Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE) Expert Working Group, and is a board member of the youth-transition-promoting organizations Trans Youth Family Allies  and  Gender Infinity. The TYFA bio page lists many other accomplishments:

She has presented papers on the psychiatric classification of gender diversity at annual conventions of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association and the Association of Women in Psychology. Her articles have appeared in a number of psychology and psychiatry journals and in two books.

The Gender Infinity website has more about the “empty nest mom.”

gender infinity

These are lofty achievements, but not unusual for a PhD.  What exactly are Dr. Winters’ credentials? Prior to transitioning, Winters, as a man, had a successful career in microelectronics design and research (mentored, as Winters says at the link, by another well-known computer expert and MtF activist, Lynn Conway, known for attempting to destroy the career of sexologist Michael Bailey, who had the audacity to write a book based on his research findings.) Winters’ PhD is in engineering and, in addition to trans-related activities, Winters is a photographer and retired computer engineer.

Kelley Winters is considered an expert on the medical transition of children, not because of any special training or demonstrated expertise in child or adolescent psychology, or a background in clinical research. Kelley Winters is a top speaker, writer, and expert on behalf of the medical transition of gender dysphoric children by virtue of the fact that Kelley Winters .… is trans.

As one of the most frequent commenters on the WPATH Facebook public group page, Winters’ commentary and opinions are almost always deferred to by the MDs, therapists, and other gender specialists in the group. Winters expends a lot of verbiage claiming that the top experts in the field of gender dysphoria have it all wrong in their decades of peer-reviewed research demonstrating that the vast majority of gender dysphoric kids desist from a trans identity.

Winters is most active on WPATH threads addressing the treatment of trans-identified children and teens—typically arguing, as yesterday, for less gate-keeping and more widespread availability of hormones and “corrective” surgeries for minors under the age of 18.

Winters corrective surgery for minors

Kelley Winters, PhD. in computer engineering, thinks there is “no basis in evidence” that teens ought to wait to make permanent life-changing decisions (aka “corrective” surgery). They can’t get a tattoo or use a tanning bed, but they sure as heck should be entrusted to undergo major surgery and sterilizing drug treatments. According to Winters, any reasoned suggestion that minors might lack the cognitive wherewithal to make such decisions is “purely political.”

Winters does raise one good point in that comment. Puberty-blocked kids do feel, rightfully, that they are left behind in prepubescence while their non-trans peers go through puberty and begin to explore themselves as sexual beings.  Gender doctors have created an iatrogenic problem, with an iatrogenic solution. The problem: Block puberty, thus freezing the kid in arrested childhood while their peers move on, making them naturally impatient for puberty themselves. The solution? Dose them with sterilizing cross-sex hormones and major surgeries as young as 12 or 14 years of age.

As does occasionally happen in the WPATH echo chamber, a commenter in the thread raises the question of whether youth are fully equipped to understand the magnitude of the decision they’re making.

 I am a little concerned about glossing over some of the sticky issues, though. .. For example, part of the socialization experience many youth experience can involve severe pressures to conform (including penalties for not conforming). Some unknown number of youth might be conflicted about genital reconstruction, or not want it at all, and yet be ill-equipped to resist these pressures. There is precious little support for gender-non-conforming girls or boys, or women or men, and even less for people who refuse that binary altogether. Can we spend as much energy on supporting people (youth and adults) who are in that middle or “other” ground as we do helping them move towards our culture’s comfort zones? Is it always a disaster to be different? I also wonder, should we be concerned about decisions affecting reproductive capacity? Many youth may have little awareness that as adults they may desire not only to raise children but also to play a specific role in genetic parenting. What discussions or support would need to take place in order for a youth to make an informed choice about a surgery that would limit reproductive capacity? (I never wanted children “of my own” either as a child or as an adult. But I know any number of people for whom this was a strong desire acquired in adulthood.)

The commenter makes some excellent points about supporting gender-defiant kids in general, as well as pointing out the fact that many young people have no clue what it means to choose to be infertile.  But Kelley Winters, PhD. in computer engineering, isn’t particularly worried about the maturity of trans kids. In fact, in Dr. Winters’ professional estimation, trans kids are more mature than their “cis” counterparts, endowed with the rather unusual adolescent ability to predict how they’re going to feel 20 or 30 years down the road:

Winters trans kids are more mature

“Virtually all of the trans youth I’ve been honored to know were remarkably conversant and thoughtful beyond their years on their own reproductive decisions.”In what universe are the judgments and assertions of 14- or 16-year-olds predictive of their future judgments and opinions? Young teens don’t get to vote, drink, marry, sign a contract (except, apparently, the one giving their “informed consent” to medical transition),  even get a tattoo—but by virtue of thinking they are the opposite sex, they are “mature beyond their years” when it comes to deciding on major surgery and chemical sterilization?

In the same comment,  Winters, who managed to live into adulthood to father biological kids, plays the suicide card, aka “better sterile than dead”:

Winters suicide

The specter of suicide (misused as always) is usually the conversation stopper, and this thread is no exception. But one point of interest here is how Winters started the thread– with a discussion about the trans reality TV star, 15-year-old Jazz Jennings, who has been on a testosterone-blocking implant and cross-sex hormones since at least age 14. Anyone who has recently watched TLC’s “I am Jazz” is aware that medical transition has not prevented this teen (by Jazz’s own admission—in episode 2, season 2) from feeling suicidally depressed, socially isolated, and in need of antidepressants (themselves known to carry a risk of increased suicidality in adolescence)—as well as a yearning for “the classical boobs you see on TV.”

I’ll ask the question I’ve asked before: Why are trans activists like Kelley Winters—particularly adults who transitioned later in life and are themselves parents (and grandparents in some cases)–so very interested in promoting early medical transition of other people’s children? Winters, like others who survived to transition as adults after passing on their genes, isn’t just agitating for the rights of transgender adults in housing, employment, or (even) bathroom access. They devote most of their advocacy to the medical transition of young people.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. They likely are convinced (or have convinced themselves) that this is the best thing to do for kids who say they want to be the opposite sex. Adult MtF transitioners who are also biological fathers, like Kelley Winters (and like this person I engaged on Twitter last month) believe that, in hindsight, if given the opportunity themselves in childhood, they’d have chosen medical transition with all that would have entailed–including, evidently, foregoing parenthood. How do they explain this to their own kids, I wonder?

But maybe–instead of promoting suicide contagion and the idea that a healthy young person’s body can be “wrong”–trans activists like Kelley Winters would be better off expending their energies on self-reflection; on the glaring fact that they themselves lived into adulthood without the need of a surgeon’s knife, an endocrinologist’s needle–or prepubescent sterilization.

The adolescent trans trend: 10 influences

The below post is written by Overwhelmed,  4thWaveNow contributor and the mother of a teen daughter who insisted she was transgender, but who subsequently changed her mind. Other parents in the same situation have shared their experiences on 4thWaveNow, and a new research study (currently recruiting) is the first to systematically examine the phenomenon of “trans trending” amongst tweens and teens.

Trans activists and gender specialists constantly assure us that puberty blockers are harmless and “fully reversible.” They claim these drugs “buy time” for a young person to decide if they really are trans. But given that social transition + puberty blockers are followed in 100% of reported cases by cross-sex hormones (see here and here),  the “buying time” assertion deserves a lot more scrutiny. If there weren’t other forces at work (like social contagion and the conditioning effect of being validated in the idea that you are “really” the opposite sex if you prefer the appearance and lifestyle of that sex), a 100% persistence rate in trans-identification simply wouldn’t be happening.

And when it comes to teens who experience onset of gender dysphoria in adolescence, parents like Overwhelmed, Penny White, and the founder of this website–who have personally observed their teens voluntarily desisting from a trans identity–are the ones who have actually bought time for their kids: precious time to realize that becoming a lifelong patient haunting the offices of endocrinologists and plastic surgeons is not the only way to live a gender-defiant life.


by Overwhelmed

Earlier this year, a Nature article reported on the May 2016 launch of a study aimed at documenting the psychological and medical impacts of delaying the puberty of trans youth:

 Funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US $5.7-million project will be not only the largest-ever study of transgender youth, but also only the second to track the psychological effects of delaying puberty — and the first to track its medical impacts. It comes as the NIH and others have begun to spend heavily on research related to the health of transgender people, says Robert Garofalo, a paediatrician at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Illinois, and a leader of the study. “We seem to really be at a tipping point,” he adds.

Garofalo and his colleagues aim to recruit 280 adolescents who identify as transgender, and to follow them for at least five years. One group will receive puberty blockers at the beginning of adolescence, and another, older group will receive cross-sex hormones. Their findings could help clinicians to judge how best to help adolescents who are seeking a transition.

Despite the fact that puberty blockers–followed in nearly every case by cross-sex hormones–have been prescribed for many years for “trans kids,” this study will be the FIRST in the United States to track the impacts of medical transition on this population. It has become increasingly popular for gender doctors to start trans-identified children on puberty blockers. The rationale is to avoid the potential psychological distress and the physical development of secondary sex characteristics associated with the “wrong puberty.” Based on the constant onslaught of celebratory articles about “trans kids” in the media, the public is likely unaware that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are not approved by the FDA for this purpose. These drugs are being used off-label and the science isn’t settled by any means. Even the gender doctors confess there is no medical consensus.

I appreciate that the Nature piece is not just another one-sided article touting pro-transition dogma. Although the journalist failed to mention that children who pause their natal puberty, and then directly proceed to cross-sex hormones, have the not-so-insignificant consequence of permanent sterility, she did include viewpoints not often seen in the mainstream media:

 “But some scientists worry that putting off puberty in older children may disrupt bone and brain development, reducing bone density and leading to cognitive problems.”


 “Because most children who question their gender do not do so past adolescence, many psychologists discourage “socially transitioning” until the teenage years.”


The debate is so heated — and evidence so sparse — that the authors of the American Psychiatric Association’s 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) were unable to reach a consensus. “People are making declarations of knowledge that are their belief systems, that aren’t also backed up by empirical research,” says Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City.”

 But there is one assertion in the article–touted as settled science—that raises a huge red flag:

 “But those who identify as transgender in adolescence almost always do so permanently.”

Many parents who read 4thWaveNow are VERY familiar with this assumption. When their child, out of the blue, with no prior history of gender dysphoria, claims to be transgender, most parents resort to internet searches to become more knowledgeable. They read articles like this one by Irwin Krieger, LCSW, which tells parents it’s pretty much inevitable their teen or young adult child will remain transgender:

 …I do acknowledge that most teens who have come out to parents and others as transsexual are truly transsexual so as not to give them any false sense of the likelihood of their child having a change of heart.

Parents are encouraged to just start “supporting” their child by using the correct pronouns, buying new clothes and aiding their child with social (and possibly medical) transition.

Historically (prior to the year 2000), the research data did show that many kids who consistently believed they were the opposite sex during and after puberty held onto this belief into adulthood. But in the last few years, something new has emerged: a wave of post-pubertal, self-diagnosed trans teens.  These youth may not fit the historical profile due to relatively recent influences like:

  1. The social contagion phenomenon. Many confused teens and young adults (and increasingly, tweens) seek out answers from strangers online. They say they don’t “fit in,” that they prefer clothing and activities usually associated with the opposite sex. They ask, “Does this mean I’m transgender?” The answers they receive frequently affirm they are and urge them to “Transition NOW!” Places like Tumblr, Reddit, and YouTube (MTF and FTM transition videos) are full of this “wisdom.” The blog Transgender Reality documents some of these conversations.

Sometimes it isn’t an online influence that sparks a newly realized transgender status. There are more students socially and medically transitioning in high schools and universities. On some campuses there are entire friend groups claiming to be transgender, and an impressionable child who is befriended by this group may suddenly decide he/she is trans as well.

  1. The ability to achieve an instant “special” status. There is an appeal for some to identify as transgender in order to receive extra attention or boost their social standing.

If a student announces to school administration that they’re transgender, it’s becoming taboo to question them. More schools are enacting guidelines (like this one co-authored by the National Education Association) that enable children to be treated as the opposite sex, regardless of maturity level or mental health status. And parents don’t need to be in agreement, or even informed, about these accommodations.

Additionally, some children and/or their parents may be enticed by the potential to become celebrities. After all, Jazz Jennings and Caitlyn Jenner have their own TV shows strictly based on their transgender identities.

  1. The reduction in gatekeeping. The current train of thought among gender doctors and therapists is that gender identity is innate, unchangeable, and is often realized at a very young age. If you follow this line of thinking (and assume that no one could possibly be confused or misled into believing they are transgender), then you likely feel it is unjust, and even harmful, to make a child jump through gatekeeping hoops before medical treatment.

As an example of this logic, Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, was recently quoted in this article about Sam who was given puberty blockers, then began testosterone injections and had a double mastectomy all by the age of 14:

 “It is pretty well proven that people know their gender by the age of 5,” said the Center for Transyouth Health and Development’s Olson. “If we accept and believe that people know their gender by the age of 5, why not accept that trans kids know their authentic gender?”

Treating young people with gender dysphoria is critical, Olson said, as puberty increases the chances they will harm themselves.

“One of the things that puts trans kids at higher risk is this period of time when they are going through puberty,” she said. “Their body is becoming the adult or permanent version of this body they are not comfortable with.”

  1. The push for transgender identities to be seen as a normal variation of human existence (like homosexuality). It has become more common for doctors and therapists to avoid labeling people who think they are the opposite sex as having a mental disorder. An example from Jack Drescher is in this article about the World Health Organization classification system:

When ICD-11 is published, being transgender will be listed in a different part of the document, potentially under conditions related to sexual health, said Drescher, who is a New York psychiatrist and a professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College. “So they’ll be diagnoses, but they won’t be mental disorder diagnoses.”

The medical community’s process of de-stigmatizing being transgender was also reflected in the last round of updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013.  The DSM, which is used by clinicians, replaced the diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria.” The diagnostic class was also separated from sexual dysfunctions.

Identifying as transgender shares some similarities with anorexia nervosa  and body dysmorphic disorder for which treatment consists primarily of therapy and possibly medication. But the regimen for gender dysphoric patients often includes medical interventions to physically alter their bodies to better align with their feelings, making this condition treated like no other mind/body disconnect.

  1. The popularity of early social transition. It’s becoming increasingly common to socially transition prepubescent children, to encourage them to live as the gender with which they identify. In the Nature article cited above, psychologist Diane Ehrensaft (a proponent of the gender affirmative model) and transgender rights attorney Asaf Orr comment on this approach:

But encouraging children to live as the gender they identify with is an increasingly popular choice. “There’s been a real sea change,” says Diane Ehrensaft, a psychologist at UCSF. She reports seeing more prepubescent patients recently who have already transitioned socially.

Many transgender-rights activists support this model, and liken any other approach to gay-conversion therapy. “You’re telling a kid, ‘I don’t believe you’,” says Asaf Orr, staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco. The best strategy, he says, is “to affirm a child’s gender exploration, regardless of what the end result is going to be”.

The gender affirmative model encourages children to “explore” their gender identity through social transition. It is often stated that it’s harmless to do so since no hormones or surgeries are involved. But this doesn’t take into account that children who are treated as the opposite sex are being conditioned to continue in their belief, potentially leading to future medical interventions. Even the Dutch researchers who pioneered the use of puberty blockers to treat transgender youth, do not recommend social transitioning in prepubescent children due to the “high rate of remission.”

dutch anti social transition

6. Transactivism. There is a burgeoning group of people who are out to educate the world about the importance of accepting transgenderism. Their pleas are often presented as anti-bullying or anti-discrimination campaigns. They tend to cite high suicide rates and imply that misgendering someone or questioning their gender identity may contribute to these statistics. Many of these activists are transgender themselves and feel they are the most knowledgeable about their condition. They pass themselves off as experts. Many conduct training sessions in schools, police departments, hospitals, etc. They write books, media articles, blog posts. Host conferences. Just one activist can have considerable influence. And there are so many voices shouting this philosophy that it drowns out opposing viewpoints.

7. Framing transgender acceptance as the new civil rights movement. Personally, I was elated when the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal. But, after that triumph, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) seem to be focusing more intensely on the transgender rights movement.

It is admirable to oppose discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing and appropriate health care. And I very much condemn violence against them. But there needs to be a balance. It should be acknowledged that some impressionable children, teens and young adults are confused and erroneously self-diagnose as transgender. This vulnerable population needs protection from unnecessary medical interventions. But since these organizations promote the “born this way” dogma, anyone who doesn’t blindly accept and support them as the opposite sex, is called misinformed or even abusive and bigoted.

In a short period of time, the transgender rights movement has made substantial gains. There have been laws passed in the United States and Canada that could be interpreted to mean any therapy that doesn’t affirm a youth’s gender identity is illegal. US schools are being pressured to allow transgender-identifying students into opposite sex bathrooms, locker rooms, and even bedroom assignments on overnight field trips. Overall, there has been a tendency in recent guidelines, legislation and court cases to prioritize gender identity over sex.

  1. The significant growth of the gender industry. There has been a rise in demand for gender clinics, doctors, therapists, endocrinologists, surgeons (and even “packers”—penile prostheses) due to the rapid increase in gender dysphoric children.

Back in January 2016, this pro-transition Cosmopolitan article stated that the first US transgender youth clinic opened in Boston in 2007. And since then 40 more have begun catering—exclusively to children—in the United States.

Surgeons are finding their services are increasingly sought after as well. Dr. Curtis Crane (who performs mastectomies on minors) has commented on how he cannot keep up with the demand for phalloplasties, even though he keeps training more surgeons in the technique:

 Crane says he’s one of only a few surgeons in the U.S. performing a high volume of phalloplasties — a booming surgical niche fueled by an increasing number of transgender men seeking to complete their anatomical transition. Even after hiring and training two colleagues to perform the eight-hour surgery, Crane’s patients must wait a year to have it done.

I frequently come across statements from doctors and therapists saying their transgender-based business is flourishing, often with a significant backlog. Due to their expertise, these are the professionals that I wish would speak out about potential over-diagnosis and over-treatment of trans-claiming youth. You have to wonder if they truly see the massive increase in patients as a positive (“more people are finally being treated because they are better informed and there is less stigma”). Or do they see trouble on the horizon (“I’m pretending everything is peachy, but I’m really concerned this may be a disastrous medical trend”)?

  1. Selective media coverage. Many media outlets portray positive “trans kids” stories, but choose to omit information not favorable to the transgender rights movement. Usually there is no discussion of the high desistence rates, or of the significant risks associated with medical treatments. And when facts like these are not included, the public is misinformed.

US media is chock-full of pro-pediatric-transition stories, many of which have been discussed on this site. You can also click on the Transgender Trend blog links below for examples and excellent analysis of biased programming from the UK’s BBC:

  1. The silencing of skeptics. Unfortunately, it is taboo to voice concerns that children, teens and young adults may be at risk of unnecessary medical transitions. This blog is one of the ONLY places online that parents and their allies can speak out, although most choose to do so anonymously to maintain their privacy.

Unfortunately, there are some trans activists, deeply offended by anyone contradicting the transgender narrative, who work to discredit anyone who dares to express opposing viewpoints. To these activists, it is fair game to try to get someone fired from their job or to post pictures of their children with sexually explicit captions (see the Michael Bailey link). Alice Dreger, Michael Bailey and Kenneth Zucker have been recipients of this treatment.

On a positive note, I’ve heard there are a growing number of professionals—doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists—whispering their concerns to each other. But due to the current environment, they’re afraid to speak publicly. Afraid they’ll be called bigots. Afraid they’ll lose their jobs.

We are living in a time when the number of gender dysphoric children is rising exponentially with no sign of a leveling off.

Guardian increase in peds transition graph

Kids are being medically transitioned regardless of the fact that there’s no medical consensus of what the best treatment options are. No one knows the long term consequences of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries in this population. This may very well be a disastrous fad similar to the false memory and ritual abuse scares of the ‘80s and ‘90s. And to top it all off, there’s significant pressure not to publicly express skepticism.

Mainstream media involvement would be welcome, along with brave professionals speaking up about their concerns. It is essential that the public be informed not only of the pros, but also the cons, of transitioning children.

Instead of focusing solely on treating the burgeoning number of gender dysphoric children, professionals ought to investigate the reasons for the radical shift in this population. Why are so many presenting to gender clinics? Why are there currently so many females vs. males seeking treatment (historically it was the opposite)? Why do so many have co-morbid mental health issues—autism spectrum disorders, OCD, ADHD/ADD, depression, etc.? These are important questions in need of answers. Especially because of the often irreversible nature of medical interventions, and that the patients are children with the rest of their lives ahead of them.

Today’s children are exposed to all kinds of influences that weren’t present until relatively recently. It would make sense to now reject the statement “those who identify as transgender in adolescence almost always do so permanently.” And to re-evaluate treatment protocols so that children, teens and young adults receive the thorough mental health care they need, and avoid any unnecessary medical interventions.