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.
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.