Better sterile than dead: How trans activists justify destroying the fertility of minor children

Note: All screenshots in this post are from publicly accessible websites.

Update 4/4/16: Lisa Toinen Mullin, whose comments on the WPATH Facebook page were featured in this post, has responded in the comments below. Please see the 4thWaveNow response here.

Update 4/1/16: How do the gender specialists and trans activists square their cavalier promotion of “trans-kid” sterilization with this: Many trans men have a fervent desire to be biological parents. By all indications, these people treasure their fertility. There are apparently so many of them that there’s a whole movement afoot to cleanse the language of birthing and reproduction of any trace of femaleness, in order not to offend trans men. For example, midwives are now admonished to say “pregnant person” instead of pregnant woman. And “vagina” and “breastfeeding” may be triggering, so must be replaced by “front hole” and “chest feeding,” respectively.

What say you, activists and pediatric transition promoters? Why would you want to deny trans kids the same opportunity to procreate that many trans men have?


I’m sure some of my regular readers must get tired of the constant reminder that puberty blockers followed by cross sex hormones results in permanent sterilization of preadolescent children. Many would probably call what I do harping. Why do I include this point in nearly every post I write?

Is it because I think every (or even most) trans-identified kids will grow up to want to be biological parents? Am I a proponent of replenishing the already overtaxed planet via endless childbearing? Am I biased in favor of reproduction because I am myself a parent?

Nope. It’s pretty damn simple. I just happen to hold the view, seen once-upon-a-time as a matter of common sense and ethics, that healthy minors should not be sterilized for any reason. That no adult has the right to sterilize a minor. That the capacity to bear offspring is a basic human right, and that a child’s reproductive capacity should be guarded by responsible adults against anyone who would even think about taking that right away before adulthood. That, by definition, no child or teenager can predict whether they’ll want to bear children later in life. (Having children is pretty much the last thing on the mind of tweens and teens—for good reason. How many 10 or 12 or 14 or even 20-year-olds have any concept of what that choice would mean?)

Duh?

But not sterilizing kids is no longer a “duh” to journalists who write parrot trans activist talking points about “trans kids.” In fact, evidently some global uber-editor has decreed that this side effect of pediatric medical transition is so unimportant, is so worth it, that it doesn’t even merit a media mention. Very rarely do I see even a sentence acknowledging the guaranteed future sterility of trans kids who have followed the typical path from blockers to hormones. And I have never seen a mainstream journalist take up the issue as a moral conundrum, something to investigate in more depth.

So as long as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the rest of the Fourth Estate (more like, the Fifth Column) continue to ignore that kids are being sterilized, this obscure blogger is going to keep drawing attention to that fact.

You’d think at least a scientific journal would deem child sterilization a worthy subject to discuss. But no. Even the venerable Nature, one of the most highly respected journals in science, which recently published a much-shared piece about new NIH-funded research on adolescent guinea pigs trans teens, says NOT ONE WORD about sterilized kids.

Very likely no one touches this topic because, well, it’s kind of a taboo. It’s a dirty little secret that trans activists would rather the general public not think too hard about. I mean, most sane people would raise a question or two about the wisdom of sterilizing kids.  (In my personal experience, there are two ways to get good liberals to do some critical thinking about trans issues: mention child sterilization or the fact that most gay/lesbian people don’t even fully realize and claim their orientation until their early 20s, long after medical transition commences.) After all, it’s even controversial (and, ahem, worth writing an article about) to talk about sterilizing severely disabled children. It’s even difficult for young adult women in their 20s or older to get their tubes tied.

The aforementioned Nature article is currently being discussed on the public WPATH Facebook page, and to my surprise, and to their credit, a couple of pro-trans clinicians actually put forward the fertility question as a troublesome aspect not covered in the article.

rixt

Who can argue with this simple declaration?  But as we’ve seen, activists and gender specialists are very eager to push the age for medical treatments lower and lower—be it “top surgery” for trans boys or genital surgery for trans girls. Why bother with the blockers at all, if (contrary to any evidence) little kids know they’re trans from the get-go? And sterilization? Nothing more than a “strawman” according to one trans activist:

LisaM strawman

Oh, pshaw. Only “cis” heterosexuals concern themselves with silly things like “protecting fertility”–in children.  And anyway. LGBT adults tend to have fewer kids, so we’re safe to assume these trans kids probably won’t, either.

lisam gay lesbian

Two concerned clinicians seem to recognize who’s really propping up a straw man here:

Rixt Arlene.jpg

Rixt Arlene part 2.jpg

She says it: “I do not think teenagers can really understand what this loss may mean to them.” Not only that. She points out another little detail that isn’t discussed in the mainstream media: Children who go from blockers to cross sex hormones can never develop mature gametes–that is, it will be impossible for these people to ever produce their own biological children, because their body’s capacity to generate sperm and eggs will have been forever curtailed.

Bravo, clinicians. Even though you are enabling these kids to forfeit their future fertility (despite your admitting there may be problems in “30 or 40 years”), it’s good to see someone standing up for the reproductive rights not only of “trans” kids, but also gay and lesbian parents.

But the activists (whose only claim to authority is their own transgender status) are unswayed in their fervor to promote sterilization of other people’s children.

LisaM cisnormative

Although society recognizes that minors don’t have the cognitive wherewithal to vote, drink, sign contracts, or even use tanning beds safely, it’s simply “cisnormative logic” to be concerned that they might not fully understand what it means to be irreversibly sterilized at 14.

And what argument by a trans activist would be complete without reference to the transition or suicide!!! meme (despite no evidence that transition is the cure for self harm in teenagers, and despite the constant misuse of the 41% suicidality figure by activists and a prostrate media)?

better sterilie than dead.jpg

Better sterile than dead. The adult trans activists have spoken. Other people’s minor children are “trans people” who will absolutely choose suicide over their future fertility.

Listen to your trans elders, kids, and ignore any doubts voiced by your parents. Statistics show that you’re less likely to want kids anyway when you grow up, and if you do? The Brave New World of medical technology will fix you up.

Not that you teens are the least bit interested in talking about having kids anyway. Childbearing? Who thinks about that? If anything, you’d be more interested in hearing about the latest advances in neovaginas or phalloplasty technology. And while you’re waiting for your genital surgery,  discreet panties with a “thick cotton crotch insert to mask the genitals” and teeny bopper packers can tide you over.

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The infallibility of the oppressed: Story of one influential trans activist

by Overwhelmed

I recently came across this well-written article from a former social justice activist. It reveals how people with good intentions try to change the world for the better, but can end up doing just the opposite. Here are some quotes from the essay that I thought were particularly relevant:

 “I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out.

This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions and noble causes, but metastasizes into a nightmare. In general, the activists involved are the nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know.”

“There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I’ve pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism.”

“Perhaps the most deeply held tenet of a certain version of anti-oppressive politics – which is by no means the only version – is that members of an oppressed group are infallible in what they say about the oppression faced by that group. This tenet stems from the wise rule of thumb that marginalized groups must be allowed to speak for themselves. But it takes that rule of thumb to an unwieldy extreme.”

“Consider otherkin, people who believe they are literally animals or magical creatures and who use the concepts and language of anti-oppressive politics to talk about themselves. I have no problem drawing my own conclusions about the lived experience of otherkin. Nobody is literally a honeybee or a dragon. We have to assess claims about oppression based on more than just what people say about themselves. If I took the idea of the infallibility of the oppressed seriously, I would have to trust that dragons exist. That is why it’s such an unreliable guide. (I half-expect the response, ‘Check your human privilege!’)”

I believe that many trans activists have good intentions when it comes to gender-defying kids. I think they feel noble, that they are rescuing children from inevitable doom. Since these crusaders are transgender themselves, they label themselves experts and, along with their social justice allies, conclude they know best. When someone questions their cause, they easily discount any concerns as “transphobic.” They are so focused on doing good, they are blind to the negative consequences of their campaign.

One of these likely well-intentioned activists is Aidan Key, who appears to believe that the lives of transgender children are at stake if not affirmed as the opposite sex. Key seems particularly driven to educate the public, believing that stamping out ignorance will remove the reluctance of people to accommodate these kids.

aidan-4

Aidan Key

(Before I continue, I want you to be aware that I believe no one can actually change sex, just their outward appearance. But for this post I will be referring to Aidan Key using preferred pronouns as a courtesy. I am not out to brazenly offend anyone and would actually welcome constructive dialogue on this subject.)

Who is Aidan Key? He was born female (and originally named Bonnie) but started transitioning to male in his thirties. A self-proclaimed Gender Specialist, Key has a BA in Communication, Program Development, but he counts psychotherapy and mental health counseling among his skills.

Key CV

Key has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the public that transgender children are a normal variation. He states that these kids don’t need to change their gender expressions or identities. Instead it is society that needs to change by accepting and affirming them as their authentic selves.

 The truth of the matter is that having a transgender child is an inconvenience to society because, instead of asking the child to change, we are asking society to change. This is a tall order.

Even though Key realizes that changing the world is a “tall order,” it hasn’t stopped him from trying. For over a decade, he has been involved in many different projects, attacking what he considers ignorance from all angles.

In 2005, Aidan and his identical twin sister Brenda were featured on an Oprah Winfrey Show titled “Transgendered Twins.”

 But early on, there was one major difference—Brenda was “the lady” and Bonnie was “the tomboy.” Bonnie hated wearing dresses. When playing house, she preferred to take the role of dad because she just didn’t feel like a girl. With puberty, the twins had trouble relating at all. “I got as boy crazy as I think you could get,” Brenda says. “I’d look at Bonnie and see her be so calm and levelheaded around these boys. [I’d think], ‘How does she do that?'”

During college Bonnie realized that she was a lesbian. Right away she came out to her twin sister. “She told me she had an encounter with a woman and kissed her,” Brenda says. “I got really upset about it because we’re twins. We’re supposed to be identical.”

For the next 15 years, Bonnie lived as a lesbian, married a woman and even adopted a daughter. But once again she began to feel that things were still not right. When she met two men who had transitioned from female to male, Bonnie felt a connection. She made the most difficult choice of her life—she decided to become a man.

(As has been talked about many times on 4thWaveNow, so many trans men formerly lived as  lesbians—but no one in the media ever really delves into why these women abandon their femaleness.)

Prior to this interview with Oprah, though, Key was already becoming well known in the transgender community of Seattle, Washington. In 1999, he founded the Gender Diversity Education and Support Services. And in 2001, he launched the first Gender Odyssey conference.

Gender Diversity,  a non-profit, has the goal of increasing awareness and understanding for gender diverse individuals of all ages. The organization facilitates many support groups for families with gender-variant children. And training sessions for workplaces, health providers and K-12 public and private schools are offered. The following is information about their school trainings.

Increased awareness and education regarding gender identity enables all children to achieve a more holistic and confident school experience. Our aim is to not only assist a school in the optimal inclusion of transgender students, but to highlight the ways that creating a more inclusive environment benefits all students.

Scheduling a training or consultation with Gender Diversity will help you…

  • Understand, adhere and fully implement a school’s anti-discrimination and inclusion policies
  • More fully incorporate the topic of gender within the school’s existing diversity programs and commitments
  • Support a transgender student through a gender transition
  • Increase the school community’s understanding of gender identity and expression as it relates to all students
  • Seek specific guidance relating to gender-segregated spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, sports and other team activities
  • Adequately and confidently answer questions from parents or other students
  • With one-on-one lesson planning or problem-solving with a teacher, staff or administrator
  • Develop age-appropriate classroom instruction on issues related to gender and gender diverse identities and expressions

An ideal educational package includes training for all school personnel, parent education and age-appropriate gender education for students.

Gender Odyssey  is an international conference geared towards transgender and gender non-conforming teens and adults. It includes “thought-provoking workshops, discussion groups, social events and entertainment.” Conference programming for 2016 has not yet been released, but the schedule for 2015 is still on their website. Last year’s keynote speakers were Kate Bornstein and Andrea Jenkins. Over the course of three days, there were numerous workshops with a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, the impact of trans identities on relationships, how to change identity documentation, increasing awareness of anti-discrimination legislation, hormones and surgeries.

Quite a few workshops focused on medical intervention. One workshop presenter was Dr. Tony Mangubat, who regular readers will remember from 4thWaveNow’s post on a 15 year old gender dysphoric girl who had her breasts surgically removed.

Mangubat workshop

Another surgery workshop is presented in part by Dr. Curtis Crane, a doctor with “penis-making skills that have won him a global following.” Crane’s burgeoning top surgery business was discussed in this 4thWaveNow post.Crane workshop

This show-and-tell workshop, with the euphemism “chest surgery” in its headline, makes me particularly sad.

chest surgery

The annual Gender Odyssey Family conference was started by Aidan Key in 2007. It is tailored for families with gender variant children and “provides real tools to support and encourage your child’s self-discovery in regard to their gender.” Below is a small selection of workshops from the 2015 lineup.

 Some presentations, like this one, concerned social complications that arise as a result of a transgender identity.

kid with crush
The next three workshops were presented all or in part by gender specialist Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the subject of a recent 4thWaveNow post highlighting Dr. Olson-Kennedy’s desire to lower the age for genital surgeries because trans kids are being left in “limbo” after being on puberty blockers–the theme of the third workshop below.

Olson non binary.pngolson puberty suppression

Olson limboThe Gender Odyssey Professional conference, the newest in the series of conferences, first launched in 2012. It is geared toward professionals, and participants can earn Continuing Education credits.

Leading experts will offer sessions discussing best practices for therapists, legal considerations related to transgender issues, current medical protocols, and educational considerations including model policies for gender variant students ages K-12. Continuing Education and Clock Hours available.

The 2016 conference includes this workshop by Asaf Orr, which sounds like it is designed for teachers and school officials. Orr was one of the lead authors of “Schools in Transition,” a set of transgender-inclusive guidelines for schools, which I wrote about here.Orr schools

And here’s a workshop that seems to focus on the inconvenience of pesky gatekeepers.

gatekeeping

Then there’s this talk by Mara Keisling, a trans woman and founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Because the trans rights movement needs even more momentum.

Keisling

School indoctrination is a big focus of trans activists, and the conference features another workshop geared toward elementary school teachers. Johanna Eager is part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools project.

welcoming schools

Aidan Key has accomplished a lot with these organizations, and his activism doesn’t even come close to stopping there. Besides juggling support groups, conducting trainings and putting on conferences, he has teamed up with Kristina Olson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, on the TransYouth Project.  You may remember 4thWaveNow’s analysis of the first study generated by the TransYouth Project here.

The TransYouth Project aims to help sci­en­tists, edu­ca­tors, par­ents, and chil­dren bet­ter under­stand the vari­eties of human gen­der devel­op­ment. Based out of the Social Cognitive Development Lab at the University of Washington, we are cur­rently leading the first large-scale, national, lon­gi­tu­di­nal study of devel­op­ment  in gen­der non­con­form­ing, trans­gen­der, and gen­der vari­ant youth . In addition to our primary goal of supporting the first major study of transgender children in the U.S., we are also conducting research about the origins of anti-transgender bias, and have plans for outreach projects in collaboration with some of our partner organizations.

Another one of Key’s many talents is writing. He authored the transgender child chapter of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and has written blog posts for the Huffington Post and Welcoming Schools.

In addition to the Oprah Winfrey Show, he has appeared on Larry King Live, National Public Radio, Inside Edition and Nightline.

And that’s not all. Due to his “expertise,” Key has designed and helped implement policies and procedures for the rights of transgender school children in grades K-12 with the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Washington Intercollegiate Activities Association, and Seattle Public Schools.

There is still more. He is also involved in film. In 2005, Key started the annual TransLations Film Festival, which shows movies featuring transgender personalities. And, more recently he has become the Primary Consultant for the upcoming documentary “Inside Out.”

Inside Out, a 90-minute documentary, takes us deep inside the world of transgender and gender non-conforming children. Ranging in age from pre-school through high school, these children feel they were born with bodies that do not match their innate gender identity. Each yearns to live an authentic life – and live Inside Out….

In a culture that is deeply invested in gender norms, the discovery that “boys will not always be boys” has frequently led to fearful responses and an attitude of intolerance. Indeed, many view transgender rights as the next civil rights front. The stakes are high: over 40% of transgender youth attempt suicide at least once before their 20th birthday. This forces many parents to ask themselves, “Would we rather have a live daughter or a dead son?”

You would think someone as steeped in transgender research and activism as Aidan Key would know that the 41% suicide attempt figure (repeated uncritically ad nauseum in the press) is based on a faulty interpretation of the survey by the Williams Institute. 40% of trans-identified people don’t actually “attempt suicide.” In fact, gender nonconforming people (not just those who ID as trans) have more suicidal thoughts and self-harming behavior over their lifetime, and it is not at all clear that “transition” is a solution for most. But scaring parents with the worst imaginable nightmare is standard practice for trans activists, and Key is obviously no exception in using this emotional blackmail technique to quash dissent.

Why did I just enumerate the prolific accomplishments of Aidan Key? Well, I intended to convey his great influence on countless numbers of children and adults, and point out that he is only one of many trans activists doing so. These people are the drivers of the international rise in transgender-identifying youth.

GIDS increase in trans kidsOf course many activists, like Aidan Key, think this increase in trans youth is a positive thing. Here is Key on a live chat at the Seattle Times:

Seattle times

I predict that unless something drastically changes, we will be seeing many more youth like ours caught up in this trend: Kids who have been educated that being transgender is a normal variation of the human condition; that it is possible to change sex; that society needs to accommodate them; and that transitioning will solve all of their problems. These messages are especially attractive to children who have difficulty navigating the turbulent adolescent years.

Initially, the goal of trans activists may have been to make it more acceptable for boys to wear dresses and play with dolls and girls to be on soccer teams and play with trucks (which I think is a noble aim), but the activism has gotten out of hand. Now there are many confused children that are convinced that altering their bodies is the only option for happiness. And it has literally become a nightmare for many families.

I wonder at what point, if any, trans activists and their allies will start to question their crusade. I hope for the sake of our children that more of them, like the social justice warrior quoted at the beginning of this piece, wake up to the harms that their campaign is causing.

And, I hope that more people will start challenging the premises of trans activism. We need more people to realize that members of an oppressed group are not infallible. Being transgender doesn’t mean they know best. They are human like everyone else and their views should be assessed as such–not as all-knowing experts.

 

Minor surgery? Top US gender doc agitates to lower age for genital surgery

Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy of LA Children’s Hospital is one of the better known “gender specialists” in the United States. She has achieved notoriety amongst gender critics for her controversial advocacy of early cross-sex hormone treatment and “social transition” of young children.

Her latest efforts to push the envelope on child transition are on display in a post she made two days ago on the public WPATH Facebook page, wherein she lobbies for the next WPATH Standards of Care (SOC 8) to support lowering the age of consent for “bottom” surgery (officially recommended to be 18 or older in the WPATH SOC 7).

To date, Olson’s post has garnered 52 “likes,” with plenty of enthusiastic responses. Only one clinician has raised a shadow of doubt.

What does Dr. Olson-Kennedy want? Nothing more than for immature preadolescents to be allowed to undergo–with full insurance coverage–major genital surgeries so they can impersonate the opposite sex at an earlier age.

Olson orig post

Because of the upside-down activist-driven reality we live in today, rather than helping gender dysphoric young people come to terms with their healthy young bodies, Dr. Olson-Kennedy and her colleagues socially transition children to believe they are the opposite sex.  By “affirming” a child’s (by definition, childish)  idea that they are born in the “wrong” body, pediatric transgenderists like Olson-Kennedy condition the child to reject and even abhor their “wrong” body, thereby making natural puberty an enemy to be “blocked” at its onset—in the example Olson-Kennedy cites in her post, as early as age 11. Everyone in the child’s life is “supportive” and “affirming” of the fiction that one’s sex can be changed, so it’s not surprising that 100% (the figure cited most often by these gender specialists) of socially transitioned, puberty-blocked children desperately want to move on to full medical transition (and into the waiting arms of surgeons and endocrinologists). Carving up, sterilizing, and drugging a child’s body is becoming more and more normalized.

It’s worth noting that the WPATH Facebook page is not only frequented by doctors and psychologists. Comment threads are often dominated by trans activists, whose views are typically received as expert opinion. One such activist is trans woman Kelley Winters, a PhD. in electrical engineering who has presented to WPATH and is deferred to as an authority on matters of pediatric transition. Winters is not the only one; typically these individuals have no training in medicine or child psychology, with their only claim to authority on pushing for mutilating surgeries and hormones for other people’s children being their own transgenderism and conviction that turning other people’s children into lifelong medical patients is the right thing to do.

Winters and Olson

So Olson-Kennedy and others have created a medical condition that can only be treated by massive infusions of cross-sex hormones and surgeries. The children are blocked early, and now we have a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course these “girls” are not going to want to stop feminizing hormones. Of course they feel their lives have been “put on hold,” and they are all going to want “functioning vaginas.” The gender specialists have quite successfully crafted a situation where these young people will long for a surgically-engineered body as young as possible. How could they not want that? And how difficult would it be to desist from these longings once the train has started down that road, with all their friends, their families, and a prostrate media cheering them on?

Just to establish (and for my regular readers, review) a few simple facts:

  • “Bottom” surgery aside, puberty blockers followed by cross sex hormones results in guaranteed lifelong sterility. This is a fact that is never disputed by any specialist, but which is downplayed and seldom mentioned by anyone. Sterilization of children in any other context would be considered a human rights abuse, not a social justice triumph.
  • There is no research or clinical evidence that gender identity is innate. On the contrary: There is decades of research showing that gender identity is a matter of identification with gender stereotypes and parental modeling. It is impossible to find a story about a “trans child” that does not include anecdotes about these children preferring typical gender-stereotyped activities, clothing, and hairstyles of the opposite sex.
  • Frontal lobe development—in particular,  sound judgment, the capacity to understand and care about future consequences, and impulse control—is not complete until the mid-20s.
  • Young brains are highly plastic. It is patently obvious that the very act of “socially transitioning” young children to believe they are “born in the wrong body”  conditions them to continue on to full medical transition, with all the attendant risks and consequences.

Olson-Kennedy’s thread is ongoing, with many enthusiastic commenters and supporters. I encourage readers to see for themselves and then inform others about what the leading lights of pediatric transition are doing and saying. This is the future for gender nonconforming children and preteens, and the public deserves to know.

US conversion therapy laws: Conflating homophobia with helping gender-defiant kids feel whole

One of the many unfortunate consequences of the marriage of transgenderism with the lesbian/gay movement is the wholesale acceptance that “conversion” therapy (also referred to as “reparative” therapy)—rightly condemned as coercive attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation—is equivalent to helping a child or teen feel at home with his or her body.

Why shouldn’t attempts to change “gender identity” be seen as identical to efforts to convince lesbian and gay people to abandon their homosexuality?

Because they are actually polar opposites. Anti-gay conversion therapy tells a healthy human being that they are not ok as they are, in the body they have, with the sexual feelings they have for other humans.  But therapy aimed at helping a young person accept and reconcile with their healthy,  evolution-molded body, as well as their gender nonconformity, actually encourages wholeness and the integration of body and mind.

In an Orwellian twist, the trans activists have hoodwinked the public into believing that these two approaches are one and the same, even though pro-trans “affirmative therapy” leads a young person not only to reject themselves as they are, but to start down a path which can lead to multiple surgeries, lifelong drug injections, and irreversible sterilization—with all the risks and hazards associated with being a permanent medical patient.

lady justice small

Never before in recorded history has every sector of society—political leaders, journalists, medical doctors, psychotherapists, and the legal system—enthusiastically promoted the mutilation, drugging, and sterilization of children’s healthy bodies. Never before have adults conspired to encourage a child in the warped notion that their very own body is a hated, alien monstrosity to be recoiled from in utter disgust.

What’s more, a side effect of this pediatric transition propaganda is the proactive conversion of same-sex attracted young people into surgically and hormonally manufactured heterosexuals. It has been well known for decades that the vast majority of “gender dysphoric” young people resolve those feelings and grow up to be gay and lesbian. We not only have peer reviewed research to back up that assertion. We have the anecdotal life experiences of gay and lesbian adults.  And not only that: Media story after media story reports about the trans men who started off as young lesbians—with no comment or question from the journalists about what happened to that former lesbian identity. And many of these young trans men start testosterone and even have “top surgery” before the typical age when women realize and accept their lesbian orientation—on average, from age 19-early 20s.

That anyone has unthinkingly accepted the false equivalence that anti-gay/lesbian conversion therapy is the same as helping a child avoid self hatred is absurd. That our legal system, from the President of the United States on down, is promulgating this fiction is something I predict will eventually go down in the history books as one of the greatest examples of medical malpractice, homophobia, and mass delusion ever perpetrated by the human race.

So just where do we stand in the United States vis-à-vis “conversion” therapy laws, as they apply to “gender identity”?

Before I provide summaries of existing US legislation, let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see which organizations are behind the conflation of LGB with T in the legislative arena.

Powerful, well-funded activist groups often write “model legislation” that is then cloned and heavily lobbied for in US state legislatures. Two of the pressure groups involved in the conversion therapy effort are the Human Rights Campaign, a major player in trans activism, and the absurdly named National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). A recent post on 4thWaveNow highlighted the role of NCLR in helping to push trans activist-crafted policy in US public schools. NCLR was also an original signatory to a damaging boycott-petition targeting the now-defunct Michigan Women’s Music Festival (a private event held for 40 years on private land whose only crime was politely requesting that only biological women attend).

So once again, we find NCLR involved in actually harming young same-sex attracted girls by working to prevent concerned clinicians from helping these girls come to terms with their lesbianism. Could it be any more Orwellian?

As you’ll no doubt notice in the excerpts from US state laws below, the wording of the “model legislation” peddled by the NCLR and HRC is strikingly similar to that in the actual conversion therapy laws on the books. Staff attorneys at NCLR and HRC know what they’re doing. Reading the profile for NCLR staff attorney Samantha Ames (the attorney listed as contact person in the model bill PDF), it’s clear her social justice heart is in the right place. But what will it take for women like Ames to have an epiphany: that the trans’ing of young same-sex attracted girls is actually homophobic conversion therapy perpetrated on minors who are being denied the possibility to even find out if they could enjoy a life free of medical intervention as happy lesbians?

So far, four states, the District of Columbia, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio have passed legislation that has tacked “gender identity” onto the definition of what constitutes conversion therapy. Summaries/excerpts from the pertinent sections of the laws are below, with links to the full legislation for each.

While the wording is vague and undefined—with the terms “transgender,” “gender expression,” “gender identity” and the like seemingly hastily appended to the language about sexual orientation—we should all be asking what, exactly, is meant by conversion therapy in regards to gender identity.

In a recent guest post by a psychotherapist whose preteen daughter has been questioning her gender identity, a lively discussion ensued in the comments regarding what is and isn’t conversion therapy. Does it mean (as more and more seems to be the case, in my own personal experience and in that of many other parents who contribute to 4thWaveNow) that a therapist dare not even ask why? when a young client announces they are transgender? Is it now verboten to explore a child’s mental health history, social media habits, or other possible contributing factors? What about social contagion? And what about the experiences and opinions of the child’s parents? If a mother says her daughter showed no signs until a month ago of any discomfort with her body, is the parent simply to be dismissed as a transphobe in need of reeducation (a type of conversion therapy in itself)?

The signs are not good, but ethical therapists owe it to themselves—and above all, their young clients—not to place anyone at unnecessary risk of the irreversible changes that will be induced by hormones and surgical treatments.

As grim as it seems right now, there is a glimmer of hope. The conflation of anti-gay reparative therapy with efforts to help children feel comfortable in their own skin is something new, and the legislation has yet to be tested in courts of law by intrepid lawyers who know better. The language in the bills is vague and open to challenge and judicial interpretation. There is a window of opportunity, for clinicians as well as for lawyers.

Note/caveat: Regular readers of this blog know that everyone at 4thWaveNow strongly supports “gender nonconformity” and rejects the enforcement and policing of stereotyped “feminine” or “masculine” behaviors or activities. To the extent that these laws protect young people from attempts to enforce such stereotypes, we applaud them. The problem is that gender identity and gender expression, while actually two very different things, are blurred and undefined in the legislation. So, for example, support for “gender expression” could protect a girl who wants a short haircut and “boys'” clothes; but how very harmful it would be to prohibit therapy that helps that same gender-defiant girl realize she is still 100% female, with a body perfect just as it is, even as she rejects gender stereotypes.

Thanks to overwhelmed for summaries and research assistance on this US legislation. The specific language varies somewhat from state-to-state, and it’s worth a close reading to parse the actual intent of each law. Click the name of each bill to access full text for the legislation.

 

California

SB-1172 Sexual orientation change efforts

“California has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”

(b) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

(2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.

865.1.

Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age.

865.2.

Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.

Illinois

House Bill 217: Youth Mental Health Protection Act.

 “Sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy” means any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, as defined by subsection (o-1) of Section 1-103 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex. “Sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy” does not include counseling or mental health services that provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a person without seeking to change sexual orientation or mental health services that facilitate a person’s coping, social support, and gender identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, without seeking to change sexual orientation.

New Jersey

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

 b.    As used in this section, “sexual orientation change efforts” means the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender; except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that:

(1)   provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and

(2)   does not seek to change sexual orientation.

 Oregon

House bill 2307

 A mental health care or social health professional may not practice conversion therapy if the recipient of the conversion therapy is under 18 years of age. (2) As used in this section: (a)(A) “Conversion therapy” means providing professional services for the purpose of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including attempting to change behaviors or expressions of self or to reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. (B) “Conversion therapy” does not mean: (i) Counseling that assists a client who is seeking to undergo a gender transition or who is in the process of undergoing a gender transition; or (ii) Counseling that provides a client with acceptance, support and understanding, or counseling that facilitates a client’s coping, social support and identity exploration or development, including counseling in the form of sexual orientation-neutral or gender identity-neutral interventions provided for the purpose of preventing or addressing unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as the counseling is not provided for the purpose of attempting to change the client’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

 Washington, DC

Amendment  to Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Act of 2001

“Sexual orientation change efforts” means a practice by a provider that seeks to change a consumer’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender; provided, that the term “sexual orientation change efforts” shall not include counseling for a consumer seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a consumer or facilitates a consumer’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices in a manner that does not seek to change a consumer’s sexual orientation.”. (b) A new section 214a is added to read as follows: “Sec. 214a. Prohibition on sexual orientation change efforts for minors.

 Cincinnati, OH

Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Change Efforts

Prohibits within the geographical boundary of Cincinnati, Ohio, “sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts,” commonly known as conversion therapy, by mental health professionals.  The prohibited therapy is defined as:

conversion therapy, reparative therapy or any other practices by mental health professionals that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or to change gender identity to a gender other than that with which the individual personally identifies, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

Excluded from this definition

psychotherapies that provide acceptance, support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, and psychotherapies that do not seek to change sexual orientation or to change gender identity to a gender other than that with which the individual personally identifies.

The fine for violating the ordinance is $200 per occurrence.  Each day that a violation occurs constitutes a separate violation.