“Insistent, consistent, persistent”: Autism spectrum disorder seen as no barrier to child transition–or sterilization

The headline I chose for this post comes from the oft-repeated axiom (unsupported by any robust research to date) that kids who are “insistent, consistent, and persistent” in their assertion that they are, or want to be, the opposite sex, are somehow innately “transgender.” Yet rigidity (a concise paraphrase for that three-word catchphrase) is also a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

In May, I posted about a recent Finnish study which found that girls presenting to gender clinics in that country have an increased rate of autism spectrum disorder as well as other mental health problems. The researchers found a 26% incidence of ASD in the study cohort.

Sixty-four per cent … were having or had had treatment contact due to depression, 55% … due to anxiety disorders, 53% … due to suicidal and self-harming behaviours, 13% due to psychotic symptoms …, 9% … due to conduct disorders, 4% … due to substance abuse, 26% … due to autism spectrum disorder, and 11% …due to ADHD…

…Gender identity issues could arise from autism spectrum people’s predisposition toward unusual interests, or gender dysphoria in ASD could represent OCD rather than genuine gender identity issues. The cross-gender behaviour in ASD minors could also rather represent non-normative sexual interests or unusual sensory preferences. Our clinical impression is that a long-standing feeling of being different and an outsider among peers could play a role in ASD children developing gender dysphoria in adolescence. In our clinical sample of gender dysphoric adolescents, autism spectrum disorders by far exceeded the prevalence of 6/1000 suggested for general population .

It turns out that the link between ASD and GD has been noted by many other researchers, clinicians, and (if the mothers and fathers who comment on this blog are any indication), many parents as well. Poor social and/or communication skills, a hallmark of ASD, as well as a tendency to have obsessive interests, to isolate socially and spend inordinate and unusual amounts of solitary time on the Internet, have been noted by both professionals and parents. I’ve also noticed, on several of the blogs run by parents who are supporting their child’s transition, a theme of frequent temper tantrums and refusal to wear certain clothing.

A 2014 study from Washington, DC found that

compared with normally developing children, young people with ASD were nearly 8 times more likely to express a desire to be other than their biological sex — a phenomenon the authors describe as “gender variance.” Those with a diagnosis of ADHD had more than 6 times the odds of communicating gender variance, according to parent-reported data.

Dr. Strang said they were initially surprised to find an overrepresentation of gender variance among children with ADHD. However, they later realized that prior studies have shown increased levels of disruptive behavior and other behavioral problems among young people with gender variance.

A 2010 Dutch study on found an increased rate of autism in the gender dysphoric children referred to their clinic.

Most individuals with co-occurring gender dysphoria and ASD fulfilled the strict criteria of autistic disorder. For several youth with ASD, their ASD-specific rigidity made enduring gender variant feelings extremely difficult to handle. After all, in our society a considerable amount of flexibility is needed to deal with gender variant feelings. Normally developing young children (age 3–5) display more rigidity in gender-related beliefs than older children; this rigidity decreases after the age of fiveIndividuals with ASD may not reach this level of flexibility in their gender development.

The implications of this are profound: If some of the very young children with GD (many of whom are currently being profiled in celebratory media portrayals) have co-occurring ASD, yet are being socially transitioned and then put on puberty blockers, how much of their distress is due to the rigid thinking and behavior characteristic of ASD?

Social difficulties are a key trait of people on the ASD spectrum. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that focused particularly on female-to-male transsexuals found that

 Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication, along-side restricted interests and repetitive behavior.

… A recent study of play by girls with ASC found they show masculinization in  choosing toys that do not require pretend play …, and women with ASC report higher rates of tomboyism in childhood.

…We speculate that this increased number of autistic traits is likely to have made the transmen (in their childhood and adolescence) less able to assimilate in a female peer group, instead gravitating towards males. This may also have led to difficulties socializing in a female peer group, and a feeling of belonging more in a male group, thus increasing the probability of GID.

One comment on my earlier post on the Finnish study submitted by a teen girl who says she is autistic, appears to support some of these findings.

I’m autistic and a LOT of autistic girls my age (teenagers) I know from support groups (to learn social skills, etc) are questioning their gender/thinking about transition. I mean a much much higher percentage than not-autistic girls I know… The majority of girls in those groups consider themselves genderqueer/bigender/nonbinary & some talk about transitioning or at least “presenting” as a boy…

I wonder if the number of transgender/gender questioning autistic girls is bc autism makes all this gender stuff really hard – there’s hypersensitivity to touch/smell/etc which means many of us can’t shave, can’t wear makeup or tight-fitting feminine clothing, can’t have long hair (bc it touches your skin in unpleasant ways), wear nail polish (it smells too strong) etc.

Also ppl think girls have better social skills than boys… so a lot of autistic teenage girls end up feeling like they’re “not girl enough”, like all the other girls can do those things easily and they can’t & that probably means they should be a boy.

Idk if this explanation is too simple, there’s probably more to it, but I’m really noticing how MANY autistic girls are in this situation, of wanting to be called “he”, to pass as a boy, to get breast surgery, etc, compared to not-autistic girls my age, and I wish the links between autism and transgender/discomfort with gender were explored more, so we could better help them. If autistic/other disabled people are more affected by dysphoria than the general population, we really should be wondering why? instead of just “accepting that their body is wrong for them”… Why would so many autistic girls’ bodies be WRONG? For no reason???”

An adult woman, also diagnosed with ASD, adds

People on the autistic spectrum feel very different from others, and often “wrong”. We often have trouble fitting in and understanding social situations. Since femininity is a social construct that requires a lot of work, autistic girls and women might not feel or be able to act feminine enough.

One common thing is “special interests”. People with AS can easily be obsessed with certain topics.

So, with the combo of feeling different and not like a real girl/boy and all the info about transgenderism on the internet, it could lead to people going from feeling wrong, seeing others online talking about being trans, to researching the topic intensively and thinking it could be me, that it could solve their problems to be trans.

In “Musings of an Aspie” (highly recommended), a blogger diagnosed with high-functioning autism offers insights about her experiences with disconnection from female stereotypes.

Women are expected to be intuitively skilled at social interaction. We are the nurturers, the carers. To be born without natural social instincts can leave you questioning your innate womanhood.

The first hint of what was to come arrived long before I’d given any thought to what being a woman would mean. At some point in sixth grade, many of the girls in my class became huggers. They hugged when they met each other and when they said goodbye. They hugged when they passed in the hallway. They hugged when they were happy or sad. They hugged and cried and squealed with excitement and I watched from a distance, perplexed. What did all this hugging mean? And more importantly, why wasn’t I suddenly feeling the need to hug someone every thirty seconds?

This was the first of many confusing conversations I was to have with myself.

In a very recent review of research (publication date November 2015), the authors observe that

…kids with autism spectrum disorder may hold more rigid views of what it is to be male or female and thus be more at risk toward developing gender dysphoria if they do not feel fit within their binary categories of girls and boys. …and that … the fragility of identity experiences in gender dysphoric minors leads to a more rigid fixation on gender-based stereotypes.

As a critic of pediatric transition, all of this research evidence, as well as the personal anecdotes I’ve shared here, lead me to question: Is it wise to subject children who might have autism to “treatments” that involve permanent administration of hormones, repeated plastic surgeries, and likely sterilization? And further, is a child with ASD even capable of giving “informed consent” for such treatments?

As you might suspect, trans activists–and increasingly, gender specialists and researchers–don’t appear to be much troubled by such questions.  In the UK, written evidence recently submitted to Parliament by the Tavistock clinic, one of the key providers of transition services, included this passage:

We offer assessment and treatment not just to those young people who are identifiably resilient and for whom there is an evidence base for a likely ‘successful’ outcome. We have carefully extended our programme to offer physical intervention to those who have a range of psychosocial and psychiatric difficulties, including young people with autism and learning disabilities, and young people who are looked after. We have felt that these young people have a right to be considered for these potentially life-enhancing treatments. This has involved careful liaison with local service mental health providers and Social Care, who may know these young people well and who have particular responsibilities for their well-being.  Indeed, the service has no record of refusing anyone who continues to ask for physical intervention after the assessment period. Some young people back off from physical treatment at an early stage, but the majority who choose to undertake physical interventions stay on the programme and continue through to adult gender services where surgery becomes an option.

This March 2015 article, published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, draws a similar conclusion.

Individuals with ASD have the same rights as other individuals to appropriate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of gender-related concerns. The challenge that exists surrounds being attentive to the particular concerns that may influence this presentation in ASD individuals; the goal should be to facilitate improved understanding and patient satisfaction and not to increase the number of barriers to appropriate treatment.

It’s likely that some parents might disagree with some of these statements when it comes to their underage kids (though they’d be out of the loop in Oregon, which recently approved gender “confirming” surgeries on children as young as 15 years without parental consent.) But judging by this comment on the publicly viewable Facebook page of Jenn Burleton, the executive director of TransActive, which lobbied for the lowering of the age of consent for gender “transition,” some family members of kids with ASD are aboard the bandwagon, too.

8 year old aspergers implant

“Gatekeeping”–the imposition of any restrictions on obtaining transition services–is a dirty word to trans activists, and increasingly, compliant gender specialists. “Informed consent” (essentially, giving the patient whatever they ask for, based strictly on self identification) is the new norm. And this push for an end to gatekeeping extends to children and people with disabilities; the hot term is personal  “agency,” and trans activists have little patience for the idea that perhaps not all people have equal capacity to make sound decisions. To take but one recent example, the mother of a young woman with Down Syndrome created a fundraising website, which, while mentioning that her daughter had been hospitalized in an intensive care unit, insisted that she still needed “top surgery.” A prominent Los Angeles gender therapist, who happens to be FTM, helped with fundraising for the double mastectomy on a public post on Facebook, which as of this writing is still a live link, despite some scathing coverage in the gender critical blogosphere.

But I digress.

Providers are now recommending treatments for childhood gender dysphoria (puberty blockers followed immediately by cross sex hormones to prevent the “wrong” puberty) that will result in sterilization of minor girls, at least some of whom will have ASD. This is a strange reversal, given that sterilization of minors with any sort of disability is controversial, to say the least. Another hotly debated issue is the sterilization of intersex children. In fact, as this article emphasizes,

Generally, consent of a parent or guardian is not legally adequate to authorize sterilization — a court order is necessary… How can a physician address this uncertainty? It is certainly prudent to consult with an experienced attorney before undertaking elective gonadectomy or other procedures that could affect fertility. To avoid conflicts of interest, the attorney should represent the medical providers, not the parents. The child may need separate representation. It will be important for counsel to understand the medical issues involved…”

In another strange twist, Lupron, a puberty blocker, is administered to prepubescent children (some, obviously, with diagnosed ASD), despite the fact that lawsuits have halted the drug’s use by some doctors to treat ASD.

So off-label Lupron is the answer for gender dysphoria in a child with autism, but is forbidden to be used to treat the autism? Well, given the current trend in medicine and psychiatry to treat GD as the core problem, perhaps this is not so strange. None other than the American Psychological Association, in its recent guidelines for treatment of trans-identified young people, actually supports the notion (on page 21) that treating GD is something of a panacea for all and sundry mental disorders:

In addition, the presence of autism spectrum disorder may complicate a TGNC person’s articulation and exploration of gender identity (Jones et al., 2012). In cases where gender dysphoria is contributing to other mental health concerns, treatment of gender dysphoria may be helpful in alleviating those concerns as well (Keo‐Meier et al., 2015).

With the lofty endorsement of the APA, what parent wouldn’t look to “transition” as the magic answer for their gender dysphoric, autistic child? And what APA-certified therapist would dare to question these guidelines? (We know of at least one who is raising concerns.)

The sister of an autistic FTM has written an article cheering on her “female-born” sibling. As is usual in such articles, the preference for stereotypical male clothing, interests, and haircuts is used as evidence that this natal female is actually male.

Draped in a royal blue wool cape, my female-born autistic brother wears a homemade pin that reads, “I am a transgender male and I’m proud.” The 23-year-old points to it whenever he’s at restaurants, anticipating people making pronoun mistakes, which have been aggravating him for nearly two years.

For several years, he has been dressing like a boy, though his interpretation of what is “masculine” differs from most transgender males. For him, the color blue signifies masculinity more than attempting to “pass” as a man, and so he chooses to wear only monochromatic blue athletic clothing all the time.

He has been cutting his hair at a man’s barbershop for a decade, but he only came to identify as male roughly two years ago. He said the epiphany came to him after waking up from a nap, kind of like in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, in which the male-born protagonist suddenly awakens a woman.

And Wenn Lawson, a trans-identified “highly regarded psychologist, lecturer and author” on the autism spectrum, pushes the idea that stereotyped interests and gender presentation in an autistic child are indicative of true “gender dysphoria”:

But, in children especially, the possibility of gender dysphoria must be considered, and parents need to watch out for the clues. These might be:

  • looking for gender biased separate interests

  • wishing they were a girl (or boy)

  • dressing in girls (or boys) clothes,

  • wanting to play with toys stereotypically used by the opposite gender

But what of the young people who are “on the spectrum” themselves? Are they all on board with the no-questions-asked, informed consent model of treatment? Put another way: Are the gender specialists providing these people with the best possible care,  care that actually provides the most benefit with the least harm?

There is a large online support forum for the autism community called “Wrong Planet.” A search for “gender dysphoria” turns up numerous threads, with commenters discussing their feelings of discomfort or confusion with their bodies and gender identity. Opinions appear to be mixed, with some commenters attributing their dysphoria to their ASD (and denying the need for “transition”), and others discussing their desire to change genders. Interestingly, another commenter on my earlier Finland post had this less-than-rosy observation:

[Wrong Planet] has been co opted by the trans community in other places, and they skew the facts about ASD, and some get kicked off the board for pushing an agenda and posting incorrect facts[which bother people with AS like myself]. I don’t even like to talk about my own AS, because- ‘Maybe you are trans’ gets forced on me[been there-done that] outside of a Wrong Planet board. Men also use this as an excuse to bully women online.

The trans community tries to convince non conforming ASD people to join their cult, but some can’t stand it if someone keep misquoting science, or making things up even after corrected[like they do].

That is a dead give away too, Many ASD people, if you can prove your facts, they will correct themselves with the new information, and not feel badly about having the wrong information previously. They will update everything accordingly. If you are saying ‘bullshit’ and non reality is true, they will kick you off that site for teasing them.

It does appear that at least some people on the ASD spectrum have come to terms with their childhood feelings of gender incongruence and resolved them as adults. Once again, we hear from the author of “Musings of an Aspie”:

At five, I wanted to be a boy. I don’t know what I thought being a boy meant. Maybe I thought it meant playing outside in the summer, shirtless and barefoot. Maybe I thought it meant not wearing dresses.

Dresses were all scratchy lace trim and tight elastic sleeves. Stiff patent leather shoes pinched my sensitive feet. Perfume tickled my nose. Tights made my legs itch and had maddening seams at the toes.

Too young to understand sensory sensitivities, I followed my instincts. While other girls favored frilly clothes, I gravitated toward the soft comfort of cotton shirts and worn corduroys.

Somehow, comfort got mixed up with gender in my head. For decades, “dressing like a girl” meant being uncomfortable. And so began a lifelong tension between being female and being autistic.

Dear well-meaning relatives: Back off

The following letter was submitted by “Sleepless Parent,” the mother of a boy who recently announced he is transgender.


Dear well-meaning relatives,

Yes, you. The ones who, when my son abruptly “came out” as transgender on his Facebook page, sent him a quick message of support and encouragement, and then promptly got on with your own lives without a second thought. Then when I offered to share just a page or two of the vast research I had done during many sleepless nights, you quite bluntly told me that you couldn’t be bothered to read it.

Perhaps you can’t be bothered to read this letter either. But since you claim to care about my son and his well-being, let me share with you his future that you are so blithely supporting.

The fit, perfectly healthy young man who never needed to see a doctor will now be a medical patient for the rest of his life. He will be taking extremely high doses of off-label drugs. These drugs may make him permanently sterile.

This drug regimen that he will be on forever, which you seem to believe is “safe,” comes with the risk of all of these side effects: [1][2][3]

  • Brain aneurysm
  • Deep venous thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Gall stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Pituitary gland tumors
  • Breast cancer

In addition, as a male-to-female transgender his risk of contracting HIV is now 50 times higher than the general population.[4]

He will spend tens of thousands of dollars for painful surgeries, each one of which carries with it the risk of serious complications, up to and including death. If he goes through with the genital mutilation euphemistically referred to as gender reassignment surgery, the best outcome he can hope for is a long, painful recovery and a need to dilate the “neovagina” with a dildo-like apparatus every day for the rest of his life. However, there is a high probability of complications, which can range from such “minor” issues as bleeding, a putrid smell, or trouble urinating, to far more serious complications such as a fistula tear, a complication which can result in wearing a colostomy bag for life.[5][6]

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that none of this plethora of scenarios happens, and he ingests enough drugs and undergoes enough surgeries in order to successfully “pass” as a woman. His gender dysphoria will finally be cured, right? No, even after he has reconstructed his body to be “congruent” with what his mind believes, the possibility that he will attempt suicide actually increases with time, and can be up to 19 times higher than the average person. [7]

So, dear relatives, by telling me that I should be “supportive” of his transition, you are actually telling me that I should be encouraging my child to increase the likelihood that he will suffer serious life-threatening diseases or commit suicide.

So please – back off. Because you’re not the ones who will be there for him when someone has to pick up the pieces – that will be me, his “hateful, transphobic” parent.

Thank you.


References

[1] Appendix B, pages 97-100

https://web.archive.org/web/20120920085610/http://www.wpath.org/documents/SOC%20V7%2003-17-12.pdf

[2] Pages 12-15

http://www.wagenderproject.org/resources/hormones-MTF.pdf

[3]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25415740

[4]

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/transgender/index.html

[5] Warning: graphic surgical pictures

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1677-55382012000100014

[6]

http://www.bilerico.com/2010/06/sex_reassignment_surgery_when_things_go_wrong.php

[7]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043071/

A tale of three parents

From time to time, I like to highlight comments I receive from parents who visit this blog. Today, we’ll hear from two of them, both mothers who question the pediatric transgender trend. At the end,  I’ll contrast these two with one of the many pro-transition parents to be found online. This particular mother happens to be 100% on board with surgical treatment for her own and other people’s underage kids–double mastectomies and anything else that will hurry their child’s transition along.


First, a mom who has successfully encouraged her daughter to think carefully about the transition trend:

Over the past few months my kid has been exploring some ideas I offered nonchalantly – she followed the trail from a MaryLou Singleton interview down the rabbit hole, spent some time processing and then the other day as we were driving through a local university campus, pointed to one of the blue light emergency phones and said:

“See those mom? Trans women who say they’ve always “been a woman” are full of shit. They have no idea what it’s like to walk in fear constantly. They have no idea what it’s like to be my age and have people looking at you and thinking gross things – you can feel it and see it in their eyes. I don’t want to be a boy. I just don’t want to be a woman in this world”

I had to pull over and hold her, I was crying so hard.

I’m furious that our kids’ recognition of a culture rotting at its core is being co opted by the medical community. Instead of bravely facing what’s really falling apart, the “center” that cannot, should not “hold,” the vast majority of parents/systems turn towards “fixing” the kids. Our kids aren’t in the wrong bodies, they’re in a fucked up culture. We’re seeing their recognition of that but turning them towards a road that only reinforces a detrimental binary.

Here’s the video I sent my kid
http://dgrnewsservice.org/2015/07/24/on-sacred-biology-interview-with-michelle-peixinho-and-mary-lou-singleton/


Next, a mother of a teen daughter who wants to transition shares her experience attending a support group for parents of trans-identified kids

I feel that I haven’t been able to give my daughter an understanding of how to be a female in this world. But, as I read these stories from so many mothers I’m beginning to realize that it’s just the time we are in and there was nothing that we could have done differently, unless we had known about it. We were all blindsided by this phenomenon, totally unprepared for such a thing. Had I known earlier that girls were succumbing to this trend, maybe I could have acted differently and discussed different subjects with her to cut it off from the beginning or before. Now I feel like I was too accepting in the beginning. I’m not sure if I would have brought her to a therapist so easily. I’m glad I stopped short of bringing her to the gender clinic in my area and began to really dig into the whole issue.

I went to a meeting this week for parents of “transgender” children. I will never go there again. I’ve been going occasionally, just to see what these parents (who are totally on board with the medical intervention) were up to in the community.

Being emboldened by reading this blog, I went into that meeting and challenged everyone who spoke. It felt good and I wasn’t intimidated this time as I had been other times. I questioned the status quo with the hope that there was some new parent in there who was also questioning, but didn’t dare speak up.

Unfortunately, no one supported what I said and one woman (who was being congratulated for just officially changing her 6-year-old daughter’s name to a boy’s name because “he is a boy and all children know what their gender truly is”) even questioned the facilitator if there were not limits on what could be said in the meeting – she was referring to me of course.

There was another woman there who was divorced with shared custody and her ex-husband was not letting their prepubescent child socially transition. One of the mothers was very upset with this and suggested to her that this was child abuse and that he was going against Canada’s human rights code. These ways of thinking are very frightening.


Stories like the two above are not easy to find on the Internet–that’s why I started this blog in the first place.

What is easy to find? Parent bloggers like this one, who here posts about her own 16-year-old’s desire for “top surgery,” preferably before college. The parent is fully supportive of this goal, and links to a “GofundMe” to help pay the mastectomy surgical costs (such fundraising sites are very common). The blogger also features comments from other parents who are eager to see their kids undergo the procedure as soon as possible:

“We are hoping to schedule next year. My son will be 16. For us it makes sense. I hate to see him binding, in pain and covered up in the summer on the hot days.”

“These years are so important never mind having these extra detours and they sit in their room feeling so bad.”

“We are doing surgery next month at 16 1/2. The past year the binding has been kind of bad. So we decided not to wait and just going to pay.”

My son is 12. In the beginning I said we’re not doing anything till he’s 18 since I really struggled with these issues myself. Seeing him cry the other day in the Old Navy change room because he can’t find a simple tank top broke my heart.”


Reading comprehension quiz: Who is more likely to be “reported to the authorities”: a mother who simply discusses alternatives to transition in a support group, ostensibly established to allow parents to talk openly about their experiences and concerns? Or the parent asking for money on the Internet to fund a double mastectomy for her 16-year old?

“Zero, zilch, nada” evidence to support gender transition of young children

I generally avoid direct criticism of parents who are struggling to raise a child who adamantly claims to be the opposite sex. After all, these are often desperate, distressed parents, just trying to figure out the right thing to do–like I am.

But some of these parents have turned into activists, eagerly promoting pediatric transition, even starting their own organizations with dubious policies–like sneaking free breast binders to 9-year-old girls behind their parents’ backs.  And a fair few seem to be capitalizing on the kid-trans-trend to make money or garner media attention, essentially trapping their kids into a transgender identity by parading them in front of TV cameras.

Recently, one of these online moms has been cited a lot by the early transition activists, so I thought I’d take a closer look at what she had to say.

What I found is that….she agrees with me!

Well, not exactly.

But in her attempt to justify the early transition of kids, her epiphany, her resounding conclusion is (boldface emphasis hers):

There have been NO (as in zero, zilch, nada, none) reliable long-term studies that follow transgender kids over time in order to determine how many of them “change their minds.” 

That’s right. Gendermom agrees that we just don’t know how many of these socially transitioned, then puberty-blocked, and ultimately sterilized kids will actually grow up to be happy adults with no regrets about what their parents and the “gender specialists” did to them in their tender years. But she has come to a radically opposite conclusion than I have. Somehow, she thinks this uncertainty justifies the social transition of little kids.

And while Gendermom and I agree that we have no way to determine exactly which young kids will identify as transgender adults, what she glosses over, either because she isn’t aware of it or is willfully ignoring it, is that we do have many decades of research, comprising multiple studies, indicating that most kids change their minds: something like 80-98% of them, depending on the study.  (More on that data shortly.)

In an accompanying video Gendermom made featuring cute stick figure “trans” kids, she dispenses with the high number of desisters by claiming that studies conducted in the past incorrectly combined groups of kids who were simply “gender nonconforming” with actual “transgender kids.”  So, according to her, that research is fatally flawed.

There is nothing in the primary body of research used by gender specialists to justify early transition, a batch of self-referential studies from Holland, that posits an actual criterion for determining which prepubescent child is “truly trans” versus simply “gender nonconforming.” In point of fact, the Dutch research actually strongly cautions against the social transition of young children under the age of 10 for the simple reason that it is impossible to determine who is going to “desist” and who will “persist” with wanting to change sex.  And, in the linked study, which is based on the experience of 25 adolescent subjects, early social transition made it much more difficult for the “desisters”–the children who did change their minds–to reclaim their natal sex. [The journal article is behind a paywall; excerpt below from page 16]:

As for the clinical management in children before the age of 10, we suggest a cautious attitude towards the moment of transitioning. Given our findings that some girls, who were almost (but not even entirely) living as boys in their childhood years, experienced great trouble when they wanted to return to the female gender role, we believe that parents and caregivers should fully realize the unpredictability of their child’s psychosexual outcome. They may help the child to handle their gender variance in a supportive way, but without taking social steps long before puberty, which are hard to reverse.

The “Dutch protocol” is constantly used as justification by pediatric transition promoters. But here we see Steensma et al strongly warn against the very trend we see today: parents and other adults doing everything in their power to cement a transgender identity in their young child, thus making it extremely difficult for the child to change their mind.

To take but one recent example, in this recent video that has gone viral on social media, the mom repeatedly insists that her 8-year-old girl “is a boy, regardless.” In fact, in all the recent stories I’ve read, I see no parent entertaining the possibility that their child might change their mind. There is no “might be.” There is no “we know it’s possible s/he will change back.” More and more, we see the label “transgender child” used to define these young kids who are simply exploring who they are.

Why don’t people like Gendermom (whom I have to assume are well meaning and loving parents) realize that socially transitioning their kids–using opposite sex names and pronouns, advocating for access to bathrooms and locker rooms, insisting to anyone who will listen that the child is unequivocally not their natal sex–could actually help to trap them in an identity they would otherwise shed?

What of the 4-year-old girls who are encouraged to wear “packers” and stand-to-pee devices? Can anyone really imagine those kids will abandon these devices a few years later, after all the adults around them have been applauding them for “passing” so well in their school bathroom and gym class?

Gendermom and others subscribe to the notion that a truly transgender child is one who states they are the opposite sex–“consistently, persistently, and insistently,” as the meme goes. But even if we use that criterion, isn’t there an inherent contradiction in claiming that a 3 year old or a 5 year old or a 7 year old is decidedly and already the opposite sex? They haven’t been alive long enough to persist or be consistent at anything—though they certainly know how to insist on what they want, as all young children do.

According to Gendermom’s video, youngsters who are currently being routinely socially transitioned at 2-10 years old, and who say they are the opposite sex are more likely to be “truly trans” than the ones who say they want to be the opposite sex. But the important thing is that these childhood feelings can change later on.

According to this 2008 literature review by Korte et al,

Multiple longitudinal studies provide evidence that gender-atypical behavior in childhood often leads to a homosexual orientation in adulthood, but only in 2.5% to 20% of cases to a persistent gender identity disorder. Even among children who manifest a major degree of discomfort with their own sex, including an aversion to their own genitalia (GID in the strict sense), only a minority go on to an irreversible development of transsexualism.

Gendermom implies that only the much-maligned Dr. Kenneth Zucker has provided evidence that upwards of 80% of gender dysphoric kids “desist” from gender dysphoria and (mostly) grow up to be non-transitioned gay or lesbian adults. Trans activists tend to discredit Dr. Zucker because one of his treatment protocols has been to discourage “gender nonconforming” behavior–like, don’t let Billy wear a dress, and don’t let Judy play with trucks and shave her head. This is a fair criticism. However, just because some of Dr. Zucker’s therapy techniques are questionable, it does not follow that all of his observations of gender dysphoric children published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are worthless.

Besides, a number of other researchers and clinicians apart from Kenneth Zucker have written about the fact that gender dysphoria in young children is most typically a phase. Nancy Bartlett and colleagues, in a review of the literature on childhood gender dysphoria published in 2000, conclude:

To summarize the outcome literature, then, though a significant proportion of adolescents or adults with GID may have childhood histories of GID, very few children with GID go on to develop adolescent or adult GID. The likelihood is relatively high that they will grow up to be homosexual… Ironically, it seems to have been generally accepted in the literature that children with GID are at high risk for adolescent or adult GID… 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.

Even the Global Action for Trans Equality, an organization that advocates for transgender people, has stated in a 2013 critique of diagnosis codes that

… childhood development is a process of change and exploration. Such a diagnosis, which attempts to establish a concrete definition of a child’s gender identity precisely during the phase of life when essential aspects of identity are most in flux, is likely to create the presumption that the child is transgender, whether or not that is in fact the case.

Anyone who has raised a son or daughter knows that, during the years of fantasy and make believe, a child will frequently pretend to be something they are not–sometimes consistently, persistently, and definitely insistently.  The entire medical, political, and media-enabled edifice of pediatric transition rests on a shaky foundation of adults interpreting literally the utterances of children at a stage of life when they are just as likely to claim they are really a dog, a cat, or a train engine. Oh yes, consistently. Insistently. Day in, day out. If you don’t believe this, then you haven’t spent much time around small children—particularly children with obsessive, vivid imaginations.

Do some kids throw throw temper tantrums when reality impinges on their magical thinking? You bet. I’m noticing a pattern in how often these parents of “transgender” kids mention frequent toddler tantrums, a refusal to wear certain clothing, and overall difficult and demanding behaviors. And they tell these stories of exasperating and angry kids as if this is somehow a hallmark that the child’s demands are proof of innate gender identity.

Nobody is denying that certain children would rather be the opposite sex, nor that they even believe they are the opposite sex. What people like me are challenging is the assumption that those desires, ideas, assertions mean these children should be “socially transitioned” in preparation for being pumped full of off-label hormones and, if all goes according to the assumptions these parents keep trumpeting to the media, permanently sterilized.

Let’s be clear. We are not talking about simply allowing children to express themselves. We are talking about something new under the sun: a treatment paradigm that leads, in most cases, to drugging, binding, cutting, and sterilizing minors. And gender specialists and activists are actively lobbying for younger and younger children to be taken at their word and “socially transitioned,” which conditions them to think they can achieve the impossible: change their biological sex.

There is zero, zilch, nada evidence that there is any such thing as a “transgender” 2 or 3 or 5 or 7-year-old child. All we have are adults claiming that if a little girl insists, “Mommy, I’m a boy,” this means she is a boy. There is only this quasi-religious, fervent belief in the idea that someone can be “born in the wrong body.” The growing number of powerful adults who promulgate what amounts to a weak theory based on a fantasy seem to be stuck in the childhood phase of magical thinking themselves.

For the parents who have been hoodwinked into believing that transitioning their kids is the best and most loving thing they can do, I have a question: Which is the path of least harm? The one that leads in nearly every case to irreversible changes, medical intervention, and likely sterilization? Or the one which simply puts off the question of a transgender identity until adulthood?

I want to dwell a bit longer on this question of sterilization. Trans activists don’t tend to talk about what happens to prepubescent kids who go immediately from puberty blockers to cross-sex hormones, which is almost certainly sterility, because the sperm or ova cells can never mature. The assumption is that this previously unheard of and truly outrageous consequence is worth it for these kids, who have no capacity to make such a monumental decision when they themselves are still children. And while there are certainly people who will choose not to reproduce as adults, it is still the case that the vast majority of adults—on the order of 95%–have or want to have children.

And before you chime in to say, oh well, adoption is always an option, ask yourself this:  in what other context would activists or, even worse, medical doctors, be advocating a treatment that denies children the future choice to have their own biological children?

The likely retort to this argument is: Well, surely sterilization is preferable to my child attempting suicide as a teenager.

But there is no evidence that “transition” cures suicidal impulses and self harm in these kids. Witness the rash of recent trans teen suicides in San Diego, the horrible tragedy of 14-year olds taking their own lives. According to the linked Advocate account, at least two of them were being supported in transition by their parents, friends, and other caring adults.

Just last month, a 16-year-old who was celebrated as a leader in the “genderqueer” and trans communities took her own life, as did a celebrated young activist and the first trans homecoming king in the US earlier this year. Identifying as transgender and being on the road to transition did not prevent these horrific events, nor apparently alleviate the terrible suffering of these teens.

I will here emphasize a point I have mentioned in previous posts: If experiencing strong gender dysphoria made most such children feel life was not worth living, the clinical literature from the time before pediatric transition became so heavily publicized and promoted would show that. There would be multiple accounts of young people insisting that living in the wrong body was intolerable, and that they planned to end their lives because of it. I will dare to suggest that at least some of these attempted and completed suicides we are now seeing are the result of young, impressionable, gender nonconforming people who –yes—are subject to bullying and depression–being encouraged in the idea that they must either transition or die.

Here is some wise advice from an anonymous reader who posted on my Tumblr blog:

The real way to reduce the rate of suicide among transgender teens:

1. Stop telling people that they have to hurry up and transition or they’ll regret it for the rest of their life. They can transition later and have a happy life.

2. Stop glamorizing transgender teens who commit suicide.

3. Encourage them to get good therapy for their problems and think carefully about whether or not they should transition.

4. Encourage them to stay connected to their family, even if their family is skeptical.

It is beyond irresponsible that activists and organizations that push pediatric transition are playing on the worst fears of parents, emotionally blackmailing them into entrusting their children with “gender specialists,” when there is no indication that transition cures the desire to self harm.

Where exactly does a child get the idea that they need to transition now or never? Ultimately, these messages come from adults. We should demand that adults stop promoting the idea that a child’s life will be less meaningful or worthwhile on the basis of how the child looks or what name or pronoun they use.

When I read all these accounts of parents insisting their kids are transgender, I want to ask them:

Have you really examined your behavior, language, and choices to look for all the ways that you reinforce gender stereotypes? Have you considered that it could be you who has put these ideas in your child’s head? Have you examined all the media messages that your child has been subject to since they were born? Have you closely examined the kinds of relationships your child has with people who encourage gender stereotypes?


In Gendermom’s video, she refers optimistically to future research that will settle the matter once and for all. She says “we’ll just have to wait and see.”

But “wait and see” isn’t what is being done with these kids. The innocent looking stick figure children, smiling and playing with toys that match their gender identities, belie a scary reality. In greater and greater numbers, kids are being diagnosed and defined as the opposite sex, at younger and younger ages: fitted with pretend genitalia, encouraged to “pass” as something they are not, implanted with GnRh agonist pumps, and paraded before a prostrate media. No one is “waiting and seeing.”

In the words of Gendermom, once again:

There have been NO (as in zero, zilch, nada, none) reliable long-term studies that follow transgender kids over time in order to determine how many of them “change their minds.” 

“We should all be very angry”: An interview with UK writer, activist, and critic of pediatric transition, Stephanie Davies-Arai

A few days ago, a powerful and unusual piece, “The Transgender Experiment on Kids,” appeared in the Wales Arts Review, written by Stephanie Davies-Arai. The whole article is superb, and rather than my excerpting it here, I recommend everyone read the piece in its entirety at the link.

Stephanie is the author of a blog called Communicating with Kids.  She has recently begun to write critically about the pediatric transition trend. In addition, along with several other gender-critical and women’s rights activists, she submitted written evidence to the UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, which conducted a televised hearing two days ago (October 13) into issues related to “transgender rights.”

Stephanie Davies-Arai

I interviewed Stephanie via email yesterday, with particular emphasis on the current situation regarding childhood transition in the United Kingdom.

Stephanie will respond to any questions or remarks you may have for her in the comments section of this post.

Thank you, Stephanie, for your important work!


Tell us something about your background and why you are interested in the issue of pediatric transition.

My specialist area is communication. I teach communication skills to parents and teachers. In the past I worked with a wide range of kids in primary school, for eight years, on relationship and communication issues. Part of my work was designing and implementing whole school anti-bullying strategies and behaviour management strategies based on respect. So through this work I learned a lot about how kids behave and how they absorb messages, from parents and teachers but also more subtly from the wider culture.

I am very specifically experienced in how children understand our messages to them, and how we understand what children are saying. I have worked training parents and teachers for over 16 years now, and I see the miscommunication (which goes both ways) very clearly! I am continually researching areas like neuroscience, anthropology, behavioural psychology and so on as part of my work. As my children have grown, I have become more and more interested in cultural messages that kids unconsciously imbibe.

How does your expertise specifically relate to the issue of pediatric transition?

I have four children and over their childhoods there was this very sudden aggressive marketing of extreme gendered toys – it was like we’ve gone backwards in forcing kids into really restrictive stereotypes. I felt angry especially on behalf of girls who were being pushed back into a ‘Stepford Wives’ role through ‘girl’ toys and books. It’s cultural indoctrination into rigid gender roles from the earliest age, when we should really be working to expand the definition of what both girls and boys can be. The transgender movement takes gender stereotyping to its logical conclusion: if you don’t like all this ‘girl’ stuff then you must be a boy.

I worked on the No More Page 3 campaign for over two years (for those who don’t know, ‘Page 3’ was a daily topless photo of a young woman in British national newspaper the Sun) and during this time I researched and refined my understanding of how media messages influence and condition us. The blanket uncritical media coverage of ‘trans kids’ in the UK – it’s all brave and cute and heartwarming – is shocking and irresponsible. Nobody is actually researching and challenging what we are doing to kids. Every gushing media and t.v. report convinces more parents, kids and young people that an ideology held by a few people is in fact a reality. The potential consequences for these kids are so horrific I feel a responsibility to speak out.

Modern parenting culture teaches us that children are psychologically fragile and therefore need constant affirmation of their reality and ‘who they really are.’ We are encouraged to centre feelings and self-identity in kids who don’t yet have a developed ‘self’ – so we burden kids with this expectation of self-knowledge which they don’t yet possess. Current parenting advice is ‘child-centred’ or ‘child-led’ and it became very clear to me over my years of working with kids that this approach results in a combination of insecurity and narcissism.

Children exist in a state of ‘magical thinking’ and if we take what they say seriously as ‘truth’ we can create problems that previously did not exist. This is what I see happening with all sorts of issues. The trans issue is just currently the most harmful and prevalent example.

You write your own blog, as well as for the Huffington Post UK.  Why did you choose to publish your recent piece in a more obscure journal like the Wales Arts Review?

I’ve blogged for various parenting sites, including Mumsnet and Mommy HotSpot, and other online magazines/blogs. I did submit my piece to HuffPo, but they didn’t publish. I then approached Wales Arts Review because they had been very happy to publish my last controversial piece criticising the recent political move towards decriminalising the sex industry. Wales Arts Review is left-leaning so I thought if they published that they might publish this! They were very enthusiastic, and I’m very grateful to them, because the popular press is not challenging the trans narrative.

Why do you think major news outlets shy away from articles critical of the current trend to transition children?

Bullying, in a word. The tactics of trans activists are classic bullying techniques: quash all debate with accusations of ‘transphobia’ so nobody dares to speak up. ‘TERF,’ ‘bigot,’ ‘hate speech’ – all these accusations silence people and in some cases make them genuinely afraid of losing their jobs. If you look at how ‘trans’ has become a protected category politically, it’s not surprising that people are afraid.

Nearly every day, there is another story promoting the idea that ‘gender nonconforming’ kids need to ‘transition.’  What can concerned parents who aren’t on board with this actually do to change things?

Find your blog for a start! It’s hard for parents to speak out, for the same reasons as above, but also to protect their kids’ anonymity, so they need support groups of people who are questioning this. I do think that parents should arm themselves with as much information as possible and challenge schools who are teaching not just the ‘trans’ child, but their child too. I know this is really difficult though, you’d really need a bunch of parents to join forces because you wouldn’t want to risk being ostracised from the group. Parents can also write to their local education authority, or local M.P. [member of parliament] to voice concerns about what their child is being taught in school.

What kind of organizations are there in the UK that push transition for kids?

There are over 150 transgender support groups in the UK;  ‘Mermaids’ is the most prominent. In the States there seem to be so many support groups set up by late-transitioning men; over here we have ‘All About Trans’ whose ambassador is Paris Lees, in my view quite clearly an autogynophiliac male (both in his appearance and his words). But generally these groups are set up by parents of ‘trans’ kids already fully on board with trans ideology. Mermaids was set up by the mother of a ‘trans’ child and the Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) was set up by a couple with a transsexual daughter; this group is a politically influential lobbying group. I don’t know of any support group set up by professionals outside the trans community. I am horrified by NHS guidelines, which are written from the unquestioned basis that gender non-conforming behaviour is a problem. The Tavistock and Portman Clinic is the main authority in this area, and I was heartened to see Dr Polly Carmichael, the consultant clinical psychologist, urging caution in a recent Guardian online article about transgender kids.

Does the UK fully pay for all aspects of medical transition–hormones, surgeries, etc? At what age?

Puberty blockers (potentially from age 9 if there is early puberty) hormone treatment and surgery are all available on the NHS.

Does the NHS promote the idea that puberty blockers are totally reversible? Do you agree with that assertion, and if not, why not?

The NHS Choices website states: ‘The effects of treatment with GnRH analogues are considered to be fully reversible.’ Although the Tavistock and Portman clinic was instrumental in introducing them as treatment, Dr Polly Carmichael’s latest statement in the Guardian was that ‘nothing is completely reversible’ so there’s a different message from the top gender clinic. I agree with Dr Carmichael – the fact is, we know of the potential harmful side-effects of these drugs on adults and yet we’re willing to administer them to kids. As you know, there have been no rigorous clinical research trials to ensure the safety of these drugs in this specific area.

I was pretty disturbed by the article about the Penguin storybooks being used to teach preschoolers about “gender.” Is anyone in the UK pushing back on this stuff? What are they doing?

I haven’t seen any specific challenge to the proposed re-education of children in schools, but various feminist groups and individuals (myself included) have submitted concerns about transgender rights v women’s rights to the Women & Equalities Select Committee.  We are still awaiting their conclusions. However, in my area there is already a schools ‘Toolkit’ and training available http://www.allsortsyouth.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Trans-Inclusion-Schools-Toolkit.pdf, low on science, high on propaganda. This horrifies me. Where are the biology teachers in all this?

What would you do if one of your own kids announced to you that they are trans?

Well, one of my sons reminded me recently that when he was in his mid-teens he had told me seriously that he thought he might really be a girl. He had always hung out with girls. He was accepted into the girls’ group as ‘an honorary girl’ and he went on holiday with them once and spent the whole week dressed in girls’ clothes and wearing make-up. I had completely forgotten he had ever voiced his concerns to me, but he said he was forever grateful for my response, which was to say carelessly ‘No you’re not, you’re just a bit more sensitive than a lot of boys.’  My son’s reaction was real surprise and relief; then he thought about it and said ‘But Mum I don’t know any boys like me’ and I apparently said ‘Yeah, you just haven’t met them yet.’ He told me that he went away from this exchange feeling that he was normal, but just a bit different. He said with a laugh ‘I still haven’t met any boys like me Mum!’ He is heterosexual and he does care work, he is that sort of personality. He told me that he was mostly grateful for my total lack of worry and concern. The fact that I didn’t act like it was a huge deal told him that it wasn’t a huge deal.

That would be my advice to any parent: be confident of what you know and your right (and responsibility) to say it, unscare yourself first, and don’t burden your kids with your own worry and concern (I know that’s not easy by the way). Don’t lecture, or try to convince or persuade. The less you try to force it, the more you sound like you know what you’re talking about. In the end, you want to keep the communication channels open, that’s the most important thing.

Anything else to add?

We need to recognise the fact that the language has changed over the last decade from ‘transsexual’ to ‘transgender.’ Nobody seems to have questioned the significance of this change.

‘Transsexual’ literally means a change in biological sex: it’s used to describe a small group of people who suffer extreme body dysmorphia, where the body is experienced as disgusting and wrong to the extent that a ‘sex change operation’ has been shown to be a valid way to ease suffering.

‘Transgender’ on the other hand, is a subjective term. The meaning of the word ‘gender’ is open to interpretation; some interpret it as social roles imposed on the sexes, some people think it is innate ‘natural’ characteristics of the sexes. In either case it is an abstract idea, not a biological fact. To ‘trans’ gender means going from one subjective undefined idea to the supposed ‘opposite’ subjective undefined idea.

We are saying that kids are transgender, and yet we are treating them as transsexual  (a term we would hesitate to apply to children). Transgender is a very convenient word to obscure what we’re really doing, which is changing children’s biological sex, not their gender.

Along with the change in language has been a change in the claim made that a ‘trans woman’ for example, is a real woman, was always a woman, and is no different to any other woman. Transsexuals did not (and do not) make this claim.

We have absolutely no idea what we’re doing, and yet we’re prepared to allow this very recent niche ideology to justify the butchering of healthy bodies of young people. We should all be very angry.

A note on gender jargon

I am somewhat well versed in the latest jargon related to gender. It seems that the newest trendy term is “gender expansive.” How ironic is this?  Instead of a woman or man actually expanding what it means to be a woman or a man, people now have to claim one of a kaleidoscope of “identities.” Expansive? It’s more like dicing the mysterious whole of a human being into smaller and smaller pieces; squeezing the entirety of who one is into a narrow definition. Psychological and political reductionism has been imposed on all of us–especially young people–by post-modern gender theorists and their activist and media minions.

Just as modern scientists have come to realize that you can’t reduce the gestalt of a living organism into a collection of parts, humanity doesn’t fit into a collection of micro-identities cooked up by a brain obsessed with its own ability to draw distinctions.

This plethora of “identities” imposed on the body politic is anything but liberating. It does not expand us; it confines us. Even the term “gender fluid” is constricting, because the very mental act of claiming that self-definition means the “gender fluid” person is dissecting and analyzing their own behavior from moment to moment, instead of just being.

In his “Song of Myself,” the poet Walt Whitman said it best in 1892:

Do I contradict myself?

Very well, then I contradict myself,

I am large, I contain multitudes.

walt whitman

Mom worried her 7-year-old “son” will be scarred for life if not taught that some mommies make sperm

Of all the issues related to pediatric transition, the indoctrination of very young children into delusional, anti-science ideology is among the most disturbing to me. Preschoolers programmed with picture book gender dogma. Confused kids of parents who transitioned from mom to dad considered “douchebags” for not using the correct pronouns.

And here comes another little kid brainwashing story, dutifully carried by Cosmopolitan magazine. This one is a double whammy: not only has the 7-year-old girl already been “transitioned” to a boy; “he” is being intentionally taught that people can defy the objective realities of human reproduction ….just because they feel like it.

Do boys have uta-whatevers?

And here came the tricky part. My son is transgender, meaning that he was assigned female at birth and transitioned to male. How did I explain this process without including gender?

Something I’m noticing lately about these daily trans kid stories: the parents seem to completely jettison any possibility that some of these younger kids might change their minds. Isn’t that the whole point, supposedly, of the “puberty blockers” they’ll get later? To “buy time” to allow the kid to make a final decision when they’re older?  This mom talks about her first grader like it’s a done deal. “Transitioned” to male. Past tense.  Said and done.

Because the truth is, some boys do have uta-whatevers. And some girls have penises. And there was a very real possibility that my son might give birth to a baby of his own someday and become a father.

No, “the truth is” your daughter has a uterus and might someday be a mother.

But parenting no longer has to involve teaching children about reality. If this first grader wishes she were a boy, mom’s job is to warp and bend the truth of mammalian sexual dimorphism into language that fits her child’s (and more importantly, her own) fantasy.

It’s bad enough that trans adults are insisting that midwives expunge any words describing actual science when they talk about giving birth. But that parents of little children are brainwashing their offspring with a belief system with no more veracity than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny is beyond mind-boggling.

But only if I managed to explain this process in a way that didn’t scar him for life. So here goes.

Scar “him” for life. So if she said that women have uteruses and vaginas, and men have penises, this would psychologically damage the kid beyond repair, just hearing such blasphemy? (I choose the word “blasphemy” deliberately, because this strict adherence to received truth, to the belief system promoted by the trans activists, is non-negotiable; any apostasy is forbidden.) But how can a first grader who is asking how babies are made, for the very first time, be permanently ruined by being taught a scientific truth so basic, so uncontroversial?

Are we entering an age when, if a child “feels” the earth is flat, we must teach the child this is true? But won’t s/he be psychologically destroyed anyway, on learning that the vast majority of humans on the planet know it is round? Which is more “scarring:” being taught a lie which this child will inevitably learn contradicts objective reality; or being taught the empirically verifiable truth accepted by most reasonably intelligent human beings on planet Earth?

“You remember how we talked about the different body parts that people have?”

“A bagina and a penis?”

“Vagina, and yes. Those parts are used in making babies.”

This ship was sinking fast. I tried harder. “We call them reproductive organs, and these organs produce different things. The penis makes sperm, and the vagina and uterus, along with some other parts, make eggs.”

Up until as recently as 5 or 10 years ago, mom would have been considered basically on the right track (except for the fact that the penis isn’t what makes sperm, and the vagina and uterus don’t make eggs, but whatever,  “A” for effort). But not in 2015. No, even talking about the actual body parts involved in sexual reproduction meant she was on a slippery slope. In danger of her child being scarred for life. Because reality was intruding a little too much.  So much that, uh-oh, the kid actually figured it out!

My son stared at me for a couple seconds and I could see the wheels turning, the thoughts flying, the cylinders firing off.  I was a little bit afraid of what was going to come out next.

“So a mommy makes an egg and a daddy makes a sperm and they put it together in the uta—”

Oops. The first grader was smart enough to grasp some facts that a steady diet of trans Kool-Aid had washed away from Mom’s 5th-grade-biology-class memory banks.

Uta-whatever, but no, that wasn’t quite right.

Sometimes mommies make sperm and sometimes daddies make eggs. Sometimes a baby has two mommies or two daddies, and that’s a whole different process to make those babies. Sometimes parents can’t make a baby at all and they adopt someone else’s baby. Or doctors help them make a baby. Or someone else carries the baby for them in his or her uta-whatever.

Except for the first sentence, Mom isn’t actually mis-educating her kid. But oh, that first sentence.

On first reading, these kinds of stories, which are appearing more and more often, strike me as parodies. Certainly, in the halcyon days of Monty Python, they would have been parodies. And the part of me that appreciates a good satire can get a chuckle out of them.

But it’s a short-lived mirth. Because this particular “struggle against reality” has succeeded far beyond what even the most clever satirist could ever imagine.