“Assigning” gender at birth? Call Child Protective Services!

I got halfway through reading this, thinking it HAD to be satire, before realizing it was written in absolute seriousness. How long will it be before doctors are jailed or fined for daring to declare a newborn male or female at birth? [Bracketed comments by me]

Slate blogger considers newborn sex ID abusive


“Obstetricians, doctors, and midwives commit this procedure on infants every single day, in every single country. In reality, this treatment is performed almost universally without even asking for the parents’ consent, making this practice all the more insidious. It’s called infant gender assignment: When the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It’s a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring’s genitals.”

[It’s just the doctor’s OPINION, readers!  He barely glanced at the kid’s genitals, not that those matter, anyway. Humans are exempt from sexual dimorphism, unique among mammals!]

“… With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby’s life is instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished—both intentionally through bigotry, and unintentionally through ignorance. That doctor (and the power structure behind him) plays a pivotal role in imposing those limits on helpless infants, without their consent, and without your informed consent as a parent. This issue deserves serious consideration by every parent, because no matter what gender identity your child ultimately adopts, infant gender assignment has effects that will last through their whole life.”

[Oh, just come out and say it! This is a conspiracy by the medical profession–the “power structure”–and pure infant child abuse.  Call child protective services!]

“… Infant gender assignment is a willful decision, and as a maturing society we need to judge whether it might be a wrong action. Why must we force this on kids at birth? What is achieved, besides reinforcing tradition? What could be the harm in letting a child wait to declare for themself who they are, once they’re old enough (which is generally believed to happen around age 2 or 3)?”

[“Generally believed” by increasing numbers of people (and journalists), but absolutely refuted by decades of data indicating that the vast majority of 2-year-olds who claim they are the opposite sex grow out of it!]

“Is it better to play the odds, or play it safe? Think carefully. Infant gender assignment might just be Russian roulette with your baby’s life.”

[You bad, abusive parent! Don’t you dare let some sinister midwife or OB-GYN misgender your newborn baby!]

Where the HELL are the reporters with the courage to push back against this nonsense??

On the trail of the GID diagnosis, 2000: Into the heart of the homophobic beast

Nearly every day, there is a glowing media report about the latest 5-year-old who has been identified as transgender. But one of many examples:

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/04/23/parents-share-5-year-old-sons-transgender-journey/

This headlong rush to diagnose minors who are gender nonconforming as “transgender” children needing psychological and medical intervention is a relatively new phenomenon, picking up speed only in the last decade or so.

In searching the clinical and research literature for the origin and motives behind the diagnosis of GID, I came upon this paper by Nancy Bartlett et al, published in the journal Sex Roles, December 2000. This article (original behind a paywall, but a copy linked here), critiques the DSM IV and the diagnosis of GID as fundamentally flawed and homophobic. The paper is chock-full of citations to studies indicating that gender dysphoria in children is generally transient. I’ll let the authors speak for themselves with the below excerpts. Page numbers refer to the original (paywalled) version.

I’ll say it again (and again and again): The current medical and media message is: “trans until proven otherwise.” This should be seen as malpractice, because sending small children to “gender therapists” and supporting and amplifying their (most likely transient) conviction that they are the opposite sex puts them on the conveyer belt to later medically “transition”—a lifetime of drugs and surgeries.  How many of these young children being currently diagnosed, if left alone, would have grown up to be non-dysphoric gay and lesbian people? At the rate this is all going, we will never know.

Update: This blogger is likely one of those who would have been groomed to be a transboy instead of growing up to be a lesbian, had she been born later.

https://chekistocrat.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/i-try-to-think-of-polite-titles-for-fucking-wankery/


(pg 761)

There is a lack of empirical evidence to support the notion of distress caused directly by GID …Certainly, child distress does not seem to be a common reason for referral of children with GID. Rather, the basis for clinical referral is more often parents’ or teachers’ concern regarding the child’s “intense involvement in overt cross-gender play” or the parents’ desire to prevent homosexuality in their child.

 …It has been proposed that distress among at least some children with GID is simply a response to having their desired manner of behaving thwarted (Di Ceglie, 1995; Meyer & Dupkin, 1985; Stoller, 1975; Sugar, 1995; Zucker, 2000). In the literature there are numerous accounts to support such a supposition.

(p 770)

Regardless of the fact that homosexuality is not officially considered a disordered outcome, the prevention of homosexuality remains a significant reason for referral of children with GID. It would be naive to believe that prevention of homosexuality is not a motivating factor for at least some of the clinicians who work with children referred for gender-atypicality. Indeed, some researchers and clinicians in the area of GID in children are quite open about such a goal, writing books (e.g., Rekers, 1982, 1991) or belonging to organizations devoted to the prevention of homosexuality (e.g., L. Loeb: see http://www.narth.com/menus/advisors.html). Thus, although the issue of the risk associated with a homosexual outcome should be moot, it is not. It is crucial that researchers and clinicians in the area of GID in children recognize that the most likely outcome for children with GID, with or without treatment (Green, 1987), is homosexuality, and that homosexuality is a nondisordered outcome. Only a very few children with GID continue to have GID as adolescents or adults.

(p 773)

Retrospective data show that homosexual men and women remember higher rates of childhood cross-gender behavior than do their heterosexual counterparts (see Bailey & Zucker, 1995, for a review). Data from retrospective studies of gay men and lesbians tend to indicate similar childhood gender nonconforming experiences as do prospective studies (cf. Phillips & Over, 1992). Compared to their heterosexual counterparts, for example, more gay men and lesbians recall having enjoyed “cross-gender” activities, dressing like the other sex, and pretending to be the other sex (Bell, Weinberg, & Hammersmith, 1981).

( p775)

…Moreover, much empirical evidence points to GID in those children as nothing more than a conflict between the individual and society, given that the most likely psychosexual outcome, whether a child does or does not receive treatment for GID, is homosexuality. Several authors have noted that it is ironic that the DSM-IV has a category for a childhood psychopathology for which the most likely predicted outcome is homosexuality, which has not been formally considered a pathology for over a quarter of a century (Fagot, 1992; Green, 1994). Labelling children as gender-disturbed when their most likely psychosexual outcome is homosexual is of questionable value, when the DSM-IV does not include this outcome as disordered. It is troubling that in the current peer-reviewed literature, despite it not being officially considered a mental disorder, homosexuality continues to be labelled as a “sex-role disturbance,” a “severe sexual problem,” or even a “diagnosis” (e.g., Dahl, 1988; Rekers, 1986).

(p 773)

Ironically, it seems to have been generally accepted in the literature that children with GID are at high risk for adolescent or adult GID (see APA, 1987; Bradley & Zucker, 1990; Rekers, Bentler, Rosen, & Lovaas, 1977; Rosen, Rekers, & Bentler, 1978; Zucker, 1985; Zucker&Green, 1992). Indeed, this line of reasoning has provided much of the basis for endorsing treatment for children with GID, which is unsettling given that a relatively large body of empirical evidence points to GID in adolescence or adulthood as being an outcome for only a small percentage of children with GID.

(p 777)

The previous notion of sexual inversion, and more recently, of homosexuality as mental disorders should be a reminder to mental health professionals about psychiatry’s power to pathologize those who do not fit the social norm (Bem, 1993). With homosexuality as the most likely psychosexual outcome for a child with GID, APA’s Position Statement on Homosexuality is relevant. In 1993, the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues of the Council on National Affairs called on organizations and individuals to “do all that is possible to decrease the stigma related to homosexuality wherever and whenever it may occur” (p. 686). It seems as though the inclusion of GID in children as it appears in the DSM-IV does little in responding to this appeal. Although the focus of this paper was on GID in children, it raises a larger question about the concept of “pathology” in general. To what extent do other “disorders” represent conditions that simply violate societal norms?

The mastectomy worked fine until the nipple came off

I am not anti-Western medicine. Medical intervention has saved my life twice, and that’s not even counting the immunizations that have likely kept me from dying from a vaccine-preventable illness. I have no patience for homeopathy, vaccine denial, and the many other common beliefs of people who are critics of Western medicine. I’m a believer in evidence; when possible, evidence based on large, objective, double-blinded studies. 

Trans activists like to say they have science on their side. They cite the American Psychological Association (APA) and other medical/psychological bodies as if those organizations have an infallible track record. They don’t. Retractions and about-faces are common. Treatments come in and out of favor, and a lot of crow gets eaten by MDs and researchers.

What little scientific evidence there is to support surgery and hormones as the preferred treatment for gender dysphoria is sparse and inconclusive (e.g., the foundational claim that there is such a thing as an innate female or male brain has no scientific basis). Despite the huge increase in medical “transition,” subjects for longitudinal studies aren’t being recruited. An extreme medical intervention is currently in vogue for a subjective feeling some people have: the feeling that their actual, objectively verifiable bodies are somehow “wrong,” and less valid—less real—than the subjective, psychological experience of being the opposite sex.

The below is just a smattering of the medical treatments that were popular and widely used at some time in recent history.  Many of these “treatments” were used well into the twentieth century. Some popular treatments were more damaging than others. Tonsillectomy is an example of a surgery that, while not necessary, has likely not caused serious or widespread damage to people who had them. But others—like lobotomy, insulin shock therapy, radioactive water, and mercury treatments—caused untold destruction to people’s bodies and brains.

What they all have in common is that they were seen as an answer, a panacea, the correct treatment“best practice,” and they were performed needlessly on hundreds of thousands of people. They all made money for the professionals who administered them. And you can bet that for some of these treatments–notably, shock therapy and lobotomy–the patients’ families were likely told that if they didn’t go ahead with it, the patient would commit suicide.

Time will tell whether the current societal and medical infatuation with hormones and plastic surgery will turn out to be just another medical fad to be discarded in the dust bin of history.

Update: A commenter rightly pointed out that this list is woefully inadequate, mentioning the Thalidomide debacle as one example. There is a long list of dangerous or worthless drugs that were once seen as magic bullets. Deserving of another post, for sure. Commenters, feel free to add your favorites.

[an Internet search will turn up many corroborating links for the information below]

“The radium worked fine until his jaw came off”

“Radium pendants were used for rheumatism, uranium blankets for arthritis, anti-aging radioactive cosmetics, radioactive water, and more…Radioactive water became particularly popular when radiation was found in well-known hot springs that people thought had healing properties. Thinking radiation was natural in water, radioactive drinks were marketed to the public. Eben Byers, a well known industrialist, claimed to drink three bottles a day. His death inspired the 1932 Wall Street Journal headline ”The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off“.

Mercury

Mercury was used to treat syphilis for four centuries

“Although elemental mercury was clearly toxic, this did not stop its use in pharmacy for hundreds of years. In the 1500’s mercury was used in the treatment (albeit ineffective) of syphilis. 

Initially mercury was used as an ointment, but the patients often got worse. Then there was the tub, which was a mercury vapor bath, and even calomel was used, but with little effect. These treatments were used for over four centuries, but none provided a cure, despite claims at the time.” 

http://cnx.org/contents/fb2244d4-3210-4b3e-baa1-5957b557ed95@5/The_Myth,_Reality,_and_History

Lobotomy

“The lobotomy was first performed on humans in the 1890’s. The procedure was thought to be a cure for mental illness. During its popularity between the 1940’s and 50’s it was performed on about 40,000 people in the US.

Neurologist Walter Freeman developed a quick method called a transorbital lobotomy or “ice-pick” lobotomy. A patient would be made unconscious by electroshock, then an instrument which resembled an ice-pick was inserted above the eyeball and through the orbit. When the brain was reached the pick would be moved back and forth to destroy neural pathways. This process was repeated on the other side.”

http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2007/07/24/inventing-the-lobotomy/

Insulin shock therapy 

“The disturbingly named insulin coma therapy, or insulin shock therapy, was a type of psychiatric treatment widely used in hospitals in the 1930s through the 1950s. It involved repeatedly administering large doses of insulin to patients, with the aim of causing daily comas over a course of several weeks.

Predominantly used to treat schizophrenia, the treatment was introduced to the medical community in 1933 by the Austrian-born psychiatrist Manfred Sakel. During a standard length of treatment, injections of insulin were given six days a week for around two months, although courses lasting up to two years have been recorded.

The decline of the treatment was sharp. It was heavily criticized as early as 1953 when the British psychiatrist Harold Bourne wrote of “the insulin myth,” claiming that the treatment had no effect on schizophrenia at all. By the end of the 1950s, the therapy had fallen out of favor, mostly because of the length of time it took and the nursing supervision it required. However, it has been recorded as continuing until as late as the 1970s in China and the former Soviet Union.


“Why did patients and families allow these dangerous treatments to be administered? Indeed, why did families plead for family members to be enrolled in the treatment, even impoverishing themselves to assure ICT at a prestigious hospital? At the time, ICT and ECT were the only treatments that offered the possibility of successful resolution of a dreaded disorder, especially when time alone did not bring about a spontaneous remission.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/nash/filmmore/ps_ict.html

No longer “Free to be…you and me”

https://corinejudkins.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/my-parents-taught-me-it-doesnt-matter/

Been thinking more about how regressive things are today, with kids being pigeonholed into boy/girl slots as toddlers, and teens feeling like they have to claim some gender identity to be real…to be themselves. I can’t count the number of blogs I’ve read where teens are asking and re-asking the “experts” (usually other teens or people in their 20s) what gender identity they get to be.

The author of the blog linked above was a lucky girl, like me. But you know what? Parents like mine (and hers) weren’t that rare. All the kids–boys and girls–in my neighborhood just played.  Nobody was concerned about “gender identity”  (or any other identity, for that matter) because it was totally irrelevant to the experience of being a child.

From childhood, my parents told me and my two sisters that we could be “anything you set your mind to.”  I played with Barbies AND trucks. I had make-believe tea parties, AND I climbed trees and pretended to be a (male) train conductor.  I played dress-up with one of my male friends, and whiffle ball with the other rough-and-tumble girls in the neighborhood. As a tomboy, I spent a lot more time with boys than girls. I didn’t see myself as separate or different from the boys–or the girls. It wasn’t pertinent. We all just were. 

When my sisters and I got to be teens, our parents would object if we put ourselves in physical danger (drugs, alcohol, abusive partners, things like that) but apart from that, the message was:  get out there in the world and show ‘em what you got as a strong woman. And we all did just that.

What are some parents teaching their little girls today? That if they step over the brightly repainted gender lines (I say repainted, because in my day, those lines had begun to fade nicely) and start saying they are actually boys, it’s time to book that appointment with a “therapist” who will monitor them throughout their childhoods for a diagnosis.  These kids are having their childhoods stolen from them. The best thing for growing brains and bodies is to leave them alone, not slap a DSM code on them. (As an aside, I’ve had the same reaction to the over-diagnosing of kids with ADHD. How is it pathology for a  6-or-7-year-old child to want to move around and not sit in a damn chair for seven hours in first grade?)

The trans activists will protest that allowing kids to self-identify as whatever gender they choose IS leaving them alone. If that’s all it was–if that’s where it stopped–it would be ok. But as soon as a kid picks an identity, the question arises:  does that identity “match” the body they are (not even that they “have”–we ARE our bodies)–and the pressure is on.

New blog from a nurse who is also the mother of a daughter wanting to transition

https://myheartandhope.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/putting-it-all-out-there-and-hoping-for-understanding-not-backlash/

I am a Registered Nurse. I work with a family doctor who is seen as being “trans friendly”. I worked with him for 2 years before my daughter first spoke of her feelings. I have cared for a number of both MtF and FtM transgender young people. I am keenly aware that many of them have co-morbid psychological issues, not the least of which is Depression. And I have yet to meet any of them who are truly “happy”. I have had to change the dressings from a lower arm donor site on an FTM patient who recently had a phalloplasty surgical procedure. The donor site was ¾ the diameter of the lower arm and ran from just above the wrist to just below the elbow.  The diameter of that arm now is substantially smaller than the arm which has had not surgery done to it. The donor arm will never look the same again.  I have absolutely no issue calling this surgery “mutilation”, as this donor/muscle and tissue removal surgery was not performed to remove anything dangerous like cancer or flesh eating bacteria.  Also, the vagina was not cancerous or dangerous, and yet it’s been obliterated.  The patient is only 24 years old.  Will she end up having “regrets”?  I don’t know…

There is no other mental health issue which “requires” surgery as a treatment.  This current focus on “transgender” as “normal” could actually be a smoke screen for other mental health issues- which could be treatable or manageable without surgical or harmful medications.

“But Mom remembered who I REALLY was”

https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/our-daughter-in-college-just-announced-herhir-intent-to-start-taking-testosterone-what-should-we-do/

This is an excellent, active post started by a parent of a 21-year-old who wants to start testosterone. So much good advice and commentary here from several posters. Please take a look if you haven’t already.  The original post:

***********************************

Our almost 21 year child just announced yesterday her/hir intent to start taking T and said that she was considering top surgery eventually as well but “that’s all”. Ze has been wearing men’s clothes for a couple of years now, hates having a period, and appears very butch. Seems most interested in/connected with other butch/lesbian individuals. We have tried to understand and have asked if hir intent is to transition to a male, but she claims not; stating that she’s just tired of being seen as a female, despite the butch clothes etc but does not want to be a “full male”..more like androgynous or “non-binary”.

It’s a long story, like many, but it started when she went to college and found her “place/home” in the LGBTQ community, and then changed her major to “Gender & Women’s Studies”. We are so concerned about whether this T medical treatment and surgery is truly what will make her happy versus being pressured by the environment she is currently in. She wants to change her name legally this summer. She seems attracted to other lesbians from what I can tell which may not be much! I know this may not be PC but what we’ve seen develop in her school experience feels “cultish” to us. Maybe we’re in denial? We are so very concerned about the permanent nature of this “transition” and that it is being done without any in-depth psychological evaluation or counseling. There is a possible history of abuse from a male babysitter when she was 4, but it was never possible to establish exactly what happened..she was examined and no physical evidence of anything was found. We did take her to counseling of course. She was also bullied in both middle and high school. She does suffer from anxiety and has trouble handling “stress” She has done extremely well academically and is very bright. She has always been quite nurturing and wonderful with babies and young children and even thought about becoming a preschool/elementary school teacher up until fairly recently.

What should we say to her about this upcoming transition? Should we give her any advice or information? We have tried to be accepting/loving parents but we are so afraid she is making a mistake that she could seriously regret later in life once the changes are permanent and that her decision to do this is encouraged so much by the community she is now involved with.

Thank you so much for reading this and any suggestions you can make would be very welcome.

Sue

One response from a woman who considered transition–but pulled back:

“But mom was too devastated to be anything but perfectly honest. My choice broke her heart and she didn’t try to manipulate or bargain with me, she was just openly sad. Ashen faced, red eyes, trying not to speak so she wouldn’t cry. And she said that she just deeply felt that something was very wrong about all this, and that she wasn’t going to be able to get used to it.

Then I guess she just waited, tolerating the idiocy I was going through.

When I realized I had made a mistake, I knew I could talk to her, because she never “drank the kool aid” but she also hadn’t been aggressive or mean about it. At that point, when I expressed my doubts, she let it all out. She told me how and why she thought it was wrong, what her concerns were, and how it was never too late to turn around. Other people had told me that once I started, I couldn’t go back, because “this is who you are.”

But mom remembered who I REALLY was, and was there to help me remember.”

Yeah, I know: I sound like your mother

This critical comment appeared as part of a Tumblr thread today:

Okay but what you’re describing sounds dangerously close to conversion therapy.

I know a lot of people (especially since John Jolie-Pitt started becoming a big media sensation) think that parents of transgender youth are the ones with all the agency when it comes to their children’s transition. In reality, a lot of us have to *beg* our parents to let/help us transition.

My response:

I think what I, and maybe some other parents, are trying to do is suggest that young people explore alternatives before–or better yet, **instead of**–making the huge, permanently life-altering decisions involved in hormones and surgical treatments. And parents like me (and I am not like the religious nuts who talk about sin and hellfire), because we want to protect our kids from making decisions they may regret later, just aren’t down with financing and supporting these invasive medical interventions.

With respect, I totally get that you and some others have felt thwarted by parents when you really, really feel medical transition is the right thing for you. But what alarms me is that the trend in society is toward speeding up transition, dismissing any doubts, even when those doubts are based on legitimate concerns about the permanent effects of hormones and surgeries. There is really no going back from many of the effects, especially for girls who transition. If you’ve spent any time at all reading the writing of women who have detransitioned,  they now have to struggle for the rest of their lives with the changes wrought by “T” to their vocal folds, their reproductive organs, their hair follicles, and (in some cases) their brains (many talk about being much angrier than they were before). Yes, I know it all seems like the right thing now. Maybe it will STILL feel right to you when you’re 40, 60, 80. But you don’t know now. You CAN’T know.

Why not just be gender nonconforming without tampering with your body until the frontal lobes of your brain are fully developed? Look it up: That doesn’t happen until the mid-20s. Why does that even matter? Because that part of the brain is in charge of things like awareness of future consequences; impulse control; perspective; judgment.

Do whatever you want short of medical intervention, then see how you feel in a few years.  And you know, making big medical decisions is an ADULT thing. You can be angry at your parents for not agreeing with, and not paying for, a decision you want to make;  but it seems fair to me to ask a child to reach the age of medical majority, then work a job, or do whatever else it takes, to pay for and cope like an adult with all the expenses and difficulties of transition, if that’s what they really want at age 18+.

It’s hard, because a lot of therapists, and the media, are telling you that transition is the way. Why don’t those adults sway your parents? Well, I don’t know how many of you have parents who have bothered to look more deeply into this, but the long-term effects of medical transition have not been studied  and there are some worrying indicators. (My blog is full of those indicators.)

And this is the part where (if you’re under 30 especially) you will probably stop listening: Trust me when I tell you that I was 100% certain about a lot of things between ages 15-25 that I have totally done a 180 on as an adult. For what it’s worth.

You guys forget that parents were adolescents once. Yeah, I know. I sound like your mom. It’s easy to hate us for not granting you exactly what you want, when you want it. It’s much harder to realize most of us are asking you to slow down because we actually do love you.