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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

WPATH commenter

The gist:

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

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

Transactive survey

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

TA survey 2


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

Gender odyssey family.jpg

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

Gender Odyssey teen program

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

Gender odyssey workshops


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

Qords camp.jpg

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

Youth are “sorted” into cabins

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

Happy Summer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

gender infinity

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

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

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

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

Winters corrective surgery for minors

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

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

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

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

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

Winters trans kids are more mature

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

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

Winters suicide

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

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

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

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

The adolescent trans trend: 10 influences

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

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

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


by Overwhelmed

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dutch anti social transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guardian increase in peds transition graph

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

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

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

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

International research study call for participants: Reversal of gender reassignment surgery

We’ve been contacted by a researcher in the United Kingdom who is launching a study of people who’ve chosen to reverse any kind of sex reassignment surgery. Please disseminate this announcement widely.

Also, a reminder that another study is still recruiting, this one for parents of young people who experienced rapid-onset gender dysphoria. See this post for more information.


RESEARCH INTO REVERSAL OF GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY AND CHEST SURGERY

 

I work in the gender field in the UK, and am based at a UK university and am carrying out research into the experiences of people who have undergone reverse gender reassignment surgery, and reversed a double mastectomy (chest surgery). There is no research into this, and very little into people who reverse gender transition, although there is evidence on the internet of people detransitioning. I would like to give a voice to people who have gone through this. I would like to talk to those who, having as part of gender reassignment first underwent Gender Reassignment Surgery (also known as Sex Reassignment Surgery), and have then decided to have this surgery reversed, and have undergone an operation or operations to do so. This could be genital surgery, but also double mastectomy (chest surgery).

You should be a minimum of eighteen months post operative, and can be anywhere in the world. All replies will be treated as confidential. Many thanks.

Please contact James at:   research_cpp@bathspa.ac.uk

Follow the money: Trans billionaire makes new $1 million grant to Chicago pediatric transition clinic

UPDATE 7/13/16: The Tawani Foundation is actually an alternate name for the registered charity “Colonel IL James N Pritzker Charitable Distribution Fund.” See below for details.


How did it happen so fast? That’s what so many of us keep wondering: the complete saturation of the media, government policy, school systems, psychology and medicine with unwavering promotion of the notion that people can change sex—with or without medical transition.

A societal upheaval this big doesn’t happen without a lot of funding, and the money has been flooding into medical clinics, summer camps, and every other conceivable outpost of the transgender child initiative, with a seeming acceleration in the last 2 or 3 years.

One source of gushing cash is the Tawani Foundation via its billionaire CEO and Director, 66-year-old Colonel (ret.) James “Jennifer” Pritzker, one of several family heirs to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, who announced a transgender transition a scant 3 years ago.

Forbes announcement

According to the 2013 announcement of Pritzker’s transition in Chicago Business, Pritzker’s net worth as of that year was roughly $1.5 billion. The article mentions Pritzker’s philanthropic work, including efforts to include transgender people in the military, Pritzker’s investment and real estate ventures, but nothing about child transition—even though Tawani’s money was used to launch the gender clinic at Lurie Children’s Hospital, an initiative announced several months before Pritzker came out as trans.

chicagobusiness bio

Oddly enough, the current website for the Tawani Foundation still, in 2016, makes no mention of that group’s ongoing philanthropic donations to the cause of transgendering children; all we see are military charities, military history, and a few museums.

tawani home page

Even under the grant guidelines (“not accepting inquiries at this time”) and grant history sections, there is no mention of the sizeable amount of Col Pritzker’s Hyatt Hotel fortune that has been devoted to the cause of transgender children. The annual reports section stops in 2012—the year before Pritzker’s transition was publicly announced.  A search of all grantees in that 2012 report does yield a $25K donation to Lurie Children’s Hospital for the “launch of new multi-disciplinary ‘gender management’ clinic,” as well as $9.5K to the Kinsey Institute for “the LGBT talk at Indiana University with Chaz Bono for Sexploration Week.”

Given the far larger June 2016 Tawani grant to the pediatric transition clinic at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, it’s very odd that there is zero evidence of current philanthropic giving to transgender causes on the Tawani Foundation website.  An exhaustive Internet search for more information on Tawani also came up empty, including the Illinois Attorney General’s database of charitable organizations–despite a clear statement on that website requiring philanthropic foundations to register with the state.


UPDATE 7/13/16: Further research reveals that Tawani is actually an alternate name for the private foundation registered as the “Colonel IL James N Pritzker Charitable Distribution Fund” (EIN: 300040386).  The so-named fund (with assets of around $50 million) filed with the state of Illinois and the IRS (latest filing 2014).

Tawani

The question arises: Why does Pritzker donate (and receive press accolades) under the Tawani name, which has no information on its website about grants made after 2012, while the legal entity continues to be registered under Pritzker’s male name, Colonel James N. Pritzker?


In addition to funding the Lurie Children’s gender clinic, in January of this year, the Chicago Tribune announced that Tawani donated $2 million to “the world’s first endowed academic chair of transgender studies” in Canada’s British Columbia. Global capital knows no national boundaries.

Chicago Trib donation annoucement

In June, Pritzker announced the $1 million grant to the Lurie Children’s Hospital “gender and sex development” program, run by Dr. Rob Garafolo, a US pioneer in pediatric transition:Lurie grant

 

“I am pleased to continue the Tawani Foundation’s support of the Gender & Sex Development Program at Lurie Children’s,” says COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Tawani Foundation President and Founder.  “The team at Lurie Children’s has done an excellent job of initiating and developing a program of local and national significance. Yet, there remains a compelling need for expanding access and developing comprehensive services for gender-nonconforming children and transgender youth. It is my hope that the community will join me in investing in the health and well-being of these young people.”

…“This gift is so important for the families we serve,” said Robert Garofalo…
“Col. Pritzker had the incredible foresight to invest seed funding in our program and I’ve been proud to shepherd its growth,” he continued. “We are now a national leader serving a diverse patient population of gender nonconforming and transgender youth from across the Chicago area and an increasingly broader regional reach. “

I’m struck by the now-common lumping of “gender nonconforming” with “transgender” in the Lurie announcement. This is becoming more and more common—broadening the definition of who fits under the trans umbrella. I’ve started to think of this as a sort of mission creep. Even the American Psychological Association has fused the “T” to the GNC, labeling anyone who doesn’t fit stereotypes as TGNC in its guidelines for how therapists should approach and treat kids.

Why do “gender nonconforming” children even need the services of a medical clinic which promotes medical transition? Gender nonconforming/gender defiant children need love and support, but do they need millions of dollars from a late-transitioning male-to-female billionaire to foster medical dependency and (likely) eventual sterilization?

One online Chicago news outlet dispensed entirely with the term “transgender” in announcing Pritzker’s big donation to the Lurie clinic:

 CHICAGO — The world’s wealthiest transgender person is backing a big fundraising campaign for nonconforming patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

The Streeterville hospital, 225 E. Chicago Ave., said Thursday it was launching a $500,000 campaign for gender nonconforming patients in its Gender & Sex Development Program launched in 2013. It was the first such clinic in the Midwest upon its opening.

“Nonconforming patients.” If they’re “nonconforming,” why are they patients in the first place at a clinic that will help them “conform” to the opposite sex? Nonconformists don’t need hormones and surgeries to help them conform to sex stereotypes—do they?

Col. Pritzker is evidently not averse to continuing with a male identity in some online venues. A bio on the National Guard Educational Foundation website unapologetically refers to Pritzker under his male name.

NGEF bio

There is even a photograph of Col. Pritzker still linked on the NGEF website,  though it appears to have been removed from the bio page.

Pritzker NGEF jpeg

Having it both ways seems to be a hallmark of the trans movement: Society at large is supposed to accept that any man—no medical transition necessary–who believes he is a woman, even part-time, needs to be respected as such, yet we should all also be celebrating the idea that children as young as 12 should be put on cross-sex hormones, or have double mastectomies at 14. We’re supposed to accept that “some girls have penises” but at the same time accept that teens absolutely need to permanently alter their bodies with hormones and surgeries as early as possible.

In another trans-typical expression of having-their-cake-and-eating-it too, many proponents of pediatric transition are themselves biological fathers.  Pritzker is no exception; as several of the websites referenced in this post note, he has fathered three children. Why do so many of these late-transitioning fathers take such an interest in turning other people’s kids into lifelong, sterilized medical patients? It’s one thing to advocate for the civil rights of adult transgender people (as Pritzker’s foundation does for transgender military personnel and veterans). But this involvement in the ever-burgeoning pediatric transition clinics springing up all over the US? Does Pritzker wish, as so many MtoF trans-activists also claim, that he’d had access to estrogen and sterilizing surgeries as a teen? That would have meant, of course, that he’d never have been a father (nor experienced 63 years of life as a fully intact man).

If questions like these result in any soul-searching or cognitive dissonance for trans activists like Pritzker, we don’t hear about it. Maybe, in the case of a billionaire philanthropist, having your cake and eating it too is just all in a day’s work.

Rapid-onset gender dysphoria: New study recruiting parents

UPDATE August 18, 2016: The National Review is reporting this morning that the study was “launched” by 4thWaveNow. While we are very glad to see this research effort take place, the study was initiated and is being carried out by Lisa Littman, MD, MPH at Mt. Sinai in New York. Please see below for details.


Many members of the 4thWaveNow community are parents of teens who became convinced they were the opposite sex after a steady diet of social media and/or peer influence. In most of our cases, the transgender identity came on suddenly and with little warning.

Our families’ experiences haven’t been acknowledged nor reflected in the mainstream media, but now a researcher has decided to systematically investigate the phenomenon.

The survey study is being conducted by Lisa Littman, MD, MPH, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Dr. Littman’s survey description is below. The SurveyMonkey link at the bottom of this post contains more detailed information.

If you are–or know of–a parent in this situation, please consider participating in the survey. Note that responses are kept anonymous.


Rapid onset gender dysphoria, social media, and peer groups

GCO# 16-1211-00001-01-PD

We have heard from many parents describing that their child had a rapid onset of gender dysphoria in the context of increasing social media use and/or being part of a peer group in which one or multiple friends has developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during a similar time frame. Several parents have described situations where entire friend groups became gender dysphoric. This type of presentation is atypical and has not been studied to date.  We feel that this phenomenon needs to be described and studied scientifically.

If your child has had sudden or rapid development of gender dysphoria beginning between the ages of 10 and 21, please consider completing the following online survey. If you have more than one child with gender dysphoria who fits the above description, please complete one survey per child.

This survey is completely anonymous and confidential and conducted through Survey monkey, an independent third- party. There is no way to connect your name with your responses. We do not track email or IP addresses. The survey should take 30-60 minutes. Participation in this research study is voluntary, and you may refuse or quit at any time before completing the survey.

If you know of any individuals with a similar experience who might be eligible for this survey, or any communities where there might be eligible parents, please copy and paste this recruitment notice and survey link to share.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCX9RZY

Littman ressearch study