No menses, no mustache: Gender doctor touts nonbinary hormones & surgery for self-sacrificing youth

This is another in a series of posts examining statements made by top gender specialists at the inaugural USPATH conference in Los Angeles in February 2017.  (See here and here for more.)


Not so long ago, unremitting distress about one’s gender was the one and only reason for medical transition. Those days are over. With activists clamoring for a change from “gender dysphoria” to “gender incongruence” in the next revision to the international register of diagnosis codes, the ICD-11, the push is on for insurance-paid hormones and surgeries for anyone who believes their body is in any way “incongruent” with their “gender identity.” And this effort includes medical intervention for children and adolescents.

In this clip, excerpted from a USPATH symposium entitled “OUTSIDE OF THE BINARY – CARE FOR NON-BINARY ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS,” pediatric gender specialist Johanna Olson-Kennedy MD, discusses her views on medical interventions for “nonbinary” youth.

As always, we recommend that you listen to the recorded excerpt yourself, as well as reading the transcript included in this post. Time stamps are indicated by square brackets. []

 

According to Dr. Olson-Kennedy,

There are still people who want to embark on phenotypic gender transition—hormones and surgeries—who don’t meet this criterion [for gender dysphoria]. Well, what are we to do?

…And it’s great. I love this. I don’t like the word “pass” at all. Passing as a member of the other sex is not a criterion for treatment, whereas achievement of personal comfort and well being are. And that is really the crux of what should guide our care, as medical providers, as professionals in the mental health role.

How is this any different from elective cosmetic surgery? Trans activists will say it’s “medically necessary” because it is a guaranteed suicide preventative, a dubious claim at best. But how about a teen girl who hates herself and is self-harming because her breasts are (to her) too large or too small? What about her “comfort and well being”?

[:52] So, there are a lot of medical intervention possibilities for folks who have nonbinary identities. And again, this is really not for me to determine. It’s really for me to work with a person to determine what it is they’re interested in.

As we all know by now, the idea that a medical or psych provider should use diagnostic skills to determine whether a young person ought to undergo permanent drug or surgical treatments is so 20th century.

[1:06] Some people are like, oh! no menses, no mustache. You know, assigned female at birth, “I really don’t want facial hair, I don’t want [inaudible], I’m super dysphoric about bleeding.”

So, there’s lots of options, certainly for menstrual suppression. I love—I was so excited to be in one of  the first sessions that I went to, which was gynecologic care for trans-masculine folks, this “leave a gonad” thing.

So, it was this idea of, you know, maybe you don’t wanna have bleeding but you still want estrogen, and you want that support from a medical perspective. Or you just don’t want to go on testosterone.

It’s 2017, and designer endocrine systems are all the rage. Human beings should tinker and tamper with their delicate hormonal balance, because it’s what they want right here, right now. Mix and match–why not?

[1:48] There’s lots of these different things.  Maybe a central blocker and low dose testosterone. I had a young person who went on testosterone for a year, and it was like, that’s enough, I’m fine with it.  I’m masculinized enough, and that’s good for me. Or no medical intervention at all.  That’s absolutely possible.

The slide below,  from a different talk at the same USPATH conference, pretty well encapsulates this “treatment” approach:

nonbinary medical pathways slide

So we see the mindset of “affirm-only gender doctors here; why so many of them don’t acknowledge there might be permanent harm done to young people who eventually detransition. There are no mistakes. It’s all part of the gender journey.

 

[2:06] So, for nonbinary assigned males, maybe just Spironolactone [an androgen blocker] or using a peripheral blocker only. That might be something that people opt for. I had a young person who really [inaudible] nonbinary identity, but kind of, very very huge fear of a large nipple areola complex. Like, “I just can’t even deal with that.”

All you women with large nipple areolas that you just can’t even deal with, maybe you can get Medicaid to cover that in your state? Worth a try.

It would be one thing if these people were arguing for elective, cosmetic treatments on demand, for adults. But activists and gender specialists not only want to retain a medical diagnosis, gender incongruence in the next version of the ICD-11;  they want insurance to cover all trans-related treatments, for nonbinaries and anyone else who wants them.  In fact, some public and private insurance policies (such as that of the San Francisco Department of Public Health) already provide such coverage.

wpath-karasic-cultural-humilty-and-sfdph-cropped1

Back to Olson-Kennedy and her areola-avoidant patient:

[2:33] So, we put them on Spironolactone for a while, and then eventually she came back and said I wanna go on estrogen.  So there’s selective estrogen receptor modulators for people who do not want breast development. That could be a possibility.  Maybe hormones, no surgery. No medical intervention, another possibility.

No medical intervention: Just one of many dishes in the smorgasbord of options for nonbinary, gender fluid youth. Who’s to say (certainly not a medical doctor), which is the least harmful of those possibilities in the long run?

[2:51] My observations: Sometimes nonbinary identities are strategic…to protect themselves, to protect their parents. What I can tell you for certain about trans kids, youth, is they do a lot of taking care of the people around them.

Here we see a theme we’ve heard from other affirm-only genderists: Trans youth are more mature than “cis” kids. They are extraordinarily prescient about their future; they know for certain what they will want at age 20, 30, 40.

winters-trans-kids-are-more-mature

Prominent gender therapist Diane Ehrensaft lauds her tween clients for having the wisdom and foresight to opt for adoption in the future—unlike their balking parents, whose only reason for objecting to sterilizing a 12-year-old is a selfish desire for grandchildren.

But there’s something else crucial to note about Olson-Kennedy’s comments: After initially lauding her young enbies for pursuing smaller nipple areolas, or choosing to halt their menstrual periods without sprouting a beard, she is now implying to her audience that nonbinary is only a stopover for many of these kids. They are only claiming this identity to “take care of” their parents, when what they really want is to go whole hog to a binary transition.

[3:18] “I will sacrifice my own comfort for the comfort of the people around me, who I know I’m making very uncomfortable with my gender.”

What an extraordinary assertion. Trans kids aren’t just mature beyond their years when it comes to making irreversible decisions about their bodily integrity and fertility. They also emanate Buddha-like concern for the feelings of others, especially their woefully ignorant parents. How long before we have religious sects led by trans kid gurus, like Tibetan child lamas on steroids?

And how does the claim that trans kids are precociously mature square with the accumulating evidence of a strong correlation between gender dysphoria and autism? Young people with autism are not exactly known for their self-sacrificing nature or their ability to reflect upon the feelings of others.

[3:33] And so, marking that out is really important. Because again, because expressing that [they are nonbinary] is often used as evidence that they are not trans.  “No, well they don’t want to do this. Clearly, they’re not trans.” And having that conversation, and making sure that someone isn’t taking care of someone else at their own sacrifice.

 Are they “taking care of someone else” or perhaps listening to a family member who just might have the best interests of the child at heart, more than a gender doctor who hasn’t known the kid their entire lives?

So, on the one hand, we hear that nonbinaries need treatments “to feel more comfortable,” and at the same time, we’re told that a significant number of martyr-like trans kids are “sacrificing” themselves by feigning a nonbinary identity for the comfort of their parents. Which is it?

The Guardian recently produced a mini-documentary on nonbinary milennials and their quest for comfort. Meghan Murphy dissected this bit of puffery, and took on the living nightmare of feeling uncomfortable in this article.

Well worth a look.

meghan murphy enbie tweet.jpg

 

 

 

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“I just gave him the language”: Top gender doc uses pop tart analogy to persuade 8-year-old girl she’s really a boy

We’ve heard it over and over, ad nauseum, from gender doctors, trans activists, and their enablers:

  • Follow the child’s lead.
  • We don’t tell kids they’re trans. The child tells us!
  • You can’t “make a child trans.”
  • Just listen to the child.

OK, then. Just listen to this 4-minute excerpt from top pediatric gender doctor Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD and decide whether the 8-year-old in question arrived at the conclusion that she’s a boy all by her lonesome.

Olson-Kennedy is the Medical Director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the largest transgender youth clinic in the US. She delivered these remarks at the inaugural USPATH conference in Los Angeles this past February, as part of a symposium entitled “OUTSIDE OF THE BINARY – CARE FOR NON-BINARY ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS.”

The first four minutes of the audio are transcribed in this post. However, readers are strongly encouraged to listen to the whole clip themselves. Timestamps are in square brackets [].

Olson-Kennedy starts with background on the case:

An 8-year-old kid comes into my practice, and this is the story with this kid: Assigned female at birth, 8 years old, was completely presenting male whatever that means—short haircut, boy’s clothes–but what was happening, is, this kid went to a very religious school and in the girls’ bathroom which is where this kid was going. People are like, “why is there a boy in the girl’s bathroom? That’s a real problem.” And so this kid was like, so that’s not super working for me, so I think that I wanna maybe enroll in school as a boy. This kid had come up with this entirely on their own.

When the kid came in, mom was like, “oh we don’t know what to do, so please help us” and so we started talking about it and what was interesting is that …you know some kids come in and they have great clarity and great articulation [sic] about their gender. They are just endorsing it, “this is who I am, and yes there’s gender confusion but it’s all of you who are confused,” so there are those kids. So this kid had not really organized or thought about all these different possibilities.

Girl likes short hair and comfortable clothes: check. Kid goes to a religious school, where people aren’t comfortable with gender nonconformity: check.  Parent (who we can guess is conservative, given her kid was enrolled in a “very” religious school) takes daughter to a “gender clinic,” thereby signaling to the kid that something is wrong with you, you need a doctor: check.  Said doctor believes her role is to help the kid “organize” about gender “possibilities”: check.

[1:55] You know the mom had shared this whole history, and said, when the kid was 3, the kid said, “Could you stroll me back up to God so I can come back down as a boy” and the kid’s like,” Ah, I didn’t say that.” You know, 8-year-olds, [2:09] so I’m like, “I don’t think your mom made that up, that’s crazy.”

Hang on a damn minute. Genderists always want to have it both ways, and here we have another example. When a parent like one of us on 4thWaveNow says to a gender doctor, “No, my kid never said anything about wanting to be the opposite sex until a binge on social media at age 13,” the gender doc tells us we just weren’t listening. “Listen to the child. Follow the child’s lead.” But because this mom reports that her kid said God made a mistake at age 3, and the 8-year-old denies having said it, the mom in this case has to be right.

In other words: We should “just listen” to what a parent claims a child said at age 3, but openly dismiss what the more mature child says herself at age 8.

[2:10]:  So at one point, I said to the kid, “so do you think that you’re a girl or a boy? And this kid was like…I could just see, there was, like, this confusion on the kid’s face. Like, “actually I never really thought about that.” And so this kid said, “well, I’m a girl, ’cause I have this body”

The kid was brought to a doctor at 8 years old because she likes short hair and “boy’s clothes” and she has gotten flak from the school about it. What is this child going to say? This is a doctor, in a clinic, in a hospital; an adult authority figure, encouraging her to question her own already-voiced sense of reality.

[2:34] Right? This is how this kid had learned to talk about their gender…that it’s based on their body.

“Had learned?” Is Olson-Kennedy actually telling her audience that a little girl demonstrating her understanding of biological reality is something that was erroneously imparted, as opposed to the doublethink-newspeak indoctrination Olson-Kennedy is about to peddle?

[2:40] And I said, “oh, so …and I completely made this up on the spot, by the way, but …I said, “Do you ever eat pop tarts?” And the kid was like, oh, of course.  And I said, “well you know how they come in that foil packet?” Yes. “Well, what if there was a strawberry pop tart in a foil packet, in a box that said ‘Cinnamon Pop Tarts.’? Is it a strawberry pop tart, or a cinnamon pop tart?”

Your body is just a wrapper, a piece of foil to be discarded (more like: pumped full of hormones, sterilized and eventually surgically reconfigured) so the “real” self can be revealed.

[3:00] The kid’s like, “Duh! A strawberry pop tart.”  And I was like, “so…”

At this point [3:09], there is a staged pause and we hear the audience laugh loudly and knowingly.

[3:12] And the kid turned to the mom and said, “I think I’m a boy and the girl’s covering me up.”

[3:17] Audible murmurs and “wows” from Olson-Kennedy’s rapt audience

pop tartsJohanna Olson-Kennedy is not a developmental psychologist. Of course, it doesn’t take a PhD, an MD, or even a high school diploma to know that children as young as eight still believe in Santa Claus; that they can transform themselves into animals or super heroes; have not learned to distinguish fact from fantasy. (Then again, developmental psychologists like Diane Ehrensaft are jettisoning decades of knowledge about child development as they hop aboard the trans-kid bandwagon,  so there’s that.)

And the best thing was that the mom was like, [squeals] and she goes and gives the kid a big hug and it was an amazing experience. But I worry about when we say things like “I am a” vs “I wish I were” because I think there are so many things that contextually happen for people in around the way they understand and language [sic] gender.

Here we go again with having-her-cake-and-eating-it-too. Olson here is referring to the trans-activist talking point that a kid who claims they ARE the opposite sex is truly trans (vs one who just says they “wish” they were); it is claimed (without evidence) as a surefire diagnostic indicator.  But Olson is having it both ways: Because this kid did not fit that particular trans-activist talking point, it must be dumpstered (or put another way, the goalpost must be moved).

Regarding the evidently overjoyed mom, an aside: “Progressive” doctors/activists show no shame, none at all, when using religious conservatives as mascots for their trans kid cause. Take Kimberly Shappley, a conservative Christian mother from Texas, who initially (by her own admission) tried to spank and shame her effeminate toddler son into behaving “like a boy”. Shappley finally showed love and acceptance when the child essentially gave in and announced he must be a girl at age 4. Shappley is now a celebrated activist, who is trotted out by the transgender press, Slate, and the Huffington Post as a model parent of a “trans” kindergartner.

Back to Johanna Olson-Kennedy and her 8-year-old client:

[3:41] So, I don’t think I made this kid a boy.”

Again, a dramatic pause for appreciative laughter. No, Johanna, you didn’t “make this kid a boy.” You made her believe she is a boy, authority figure that you are.

I don’t THINK so.

More laughter.

[3:44] I mean, and if I did, and I’m wrong, then I’m totally gonna come to this conference and tell people that I was wrong. I will.

That probably won’t be necessary. You did a bang-up job teaching a young child that she can change her sex, that her defiance of gender norms means she’s not a girl, so desistance is unlikely at this point. We’re on the road to blockers, cross sex hormones, and sterilization. The whole enchilada.

Of course, Dr. Olson-Kennedy could study whether leading questions and kid-friendly analogies have any impact on persistence of a trans identity, using some of the taxpayer money she got from the NIH, but it doesn’t appear to be a particularly urgent research question for her at the mo.

[3:58] But I think giving this kid the language to talk about his gender was really important.

“Important” would be one word for it.

And actually, it did not make him a boy, it gave him language to understand his gender.

[4:03] An unidentified audience member or co-presenter interjects: Why are we talking about this again?

Oh, how do you talk to people about…Oh and are you a medical provider? Ok, this is something I learned from being married to a mental health person.

Another unidentified participant: “Tell me more about that.”

More raucous laughter and extended applause.

But “tell me more about that” isn’t what Olson said. Even if psychologically counseling children were in her scope of practice, Olson-Kennedy didn’t use what is referred to as “active listening” with this kid. That would have meant validating the kid when she denied saying God made a mistake (why doesn’t Olson-Kennedy give any weight at all to the insight of an 8-year-old vs a 3-year-old?). If she’d been “actively listening,” Olson-Kennedy would have taken seriously the little girl’s stated understanding that she was, in fact, a girl. Instead, Olson-Kennedy “gave him the language” that she was actually a boy.

Make no mistake: This approach is what is on the ascendant when it comes to gender nonconforming children and how such kids—our kids—are being treated in the United States of America in 2017.  Johanna Olson-Kennedy is one of the leading pediatric gender doctors in the US, running the largest clinic in the country.  She is not some fringe figure. She is one of the recipients of a $5.7 million grant from the NIH to “study” kids like this 8-year-old (with no control groups of non-transitioned children).

Olson-Kennedy favors lowering the minimum age for genital surgeries. She is not averse to calling Child Protective Services on parents who won’t transition their kids (something she and other gender docs openly discussed at the same USPATH conference).  Johanna Olson-Kennedy is a true believer in medicalizing gender nonconformity, with all the very grave repercussions stemming from that belief.

And she is not alone.


UPDATE 7/24/17: A reader sent us the following commentary in response to this piece via email today:

Olson-Kennedy appears to be unaware of the decades of research on suggestibility, which is defined as “the quality of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others when false but plausible information is given.” Research psychologists have demonstrated repeatedly that children are vulnerable to suggestion when being interviewed by adults. They can be influenced by an interviewer’s status, interviewer bias, and leading and repeated questioning.

In one study, children witnessed a staged event, and were then interviewed by adults who were given incorrect information about what they children had seen. The study found that “children’s stories quickly conformed to the suggestions or beliefs of the interviewer.”

In the cited transcript, the question Olson-Kennedy first asks – “so do you think you’re a boy or a girl?” – is leading. A leading question is defined as “a question that prompts or encourages the desired answer.” To ask the question “do you think you’re a boy or a girl” is to suggest that it is possible that either is an option. Olson-Kennedy tells us that the child provided a clear answer to the question that was based on the child’s knowledge of her own biology. However, Olson-Kennedy signaled to the child that she is not satisfied with this response. She did this by repeating the question using the pop tart metaphor rather than accepting the child’s answer. A repeated question carries with it the implication that the initial answer given was not satisfactory. We must assume that the child picked up that she had given the “wrong” answer by stating that she was a girl.

Within the repeated question, Olson-Kennedy offers an alternative explanation for the child’s experience – couched in alluring, child-friendly image of sugary pop tarts. The child complies with Olson-Kennedy’s implied suggestion that she is in fact in the wrong body, and receives affirmation for this compliance in the form of breathless acclamations by both mother and the high-status doctor. By “providing the language,” Olson-Kennedy encouraged this child to conceptualize herself as having been “born in the wrong body,” complete with the imprimatur of a major medical center. The kid didn’t stand a chance.

Insurance requirements are a “ridiculous” speed bump on children’s gender journeys

Yesterday, Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD, one of the better known US pediatric gender doctors, railed against insurance companies who stand in her way. It seems they have the temerity to demand written evidence that her prepubescent clients are mentally prepared for the chemical blockade of their natural puberty.

The insurance companies also, inexplicably, want to see evidence that the children and their parents have actually agreed to this off-label (not FDA approved) and very expensive drug treatment.

johanna olson april 12 2017 eradicate gatekeepers

Olson-Kennedy wants WPATH, in its next Standards of Care (SOC 8), to “eradicate” the requirement that minors have some sort of psychological evaluation before embarking down the Lupron road (which leads in nearly every case to cross-sex hormones, as Olson-Kennedy well knows):

So, what a lot of people want to understand is, “If I give my child this blocker, can I take it away, if at the end of a certain amount of time they no longer have a trans-gender identity, or they don’t want to continue on to pursue a transition with cross-sex hormones.” The answer to that is, “Yes.” They are reversible. You can take them off without any problems or major medical problems. But it’s very rare that that happens. In my practice, I have never had anyone who was put on blockers, that did not want to pursue cross-sex hormone transition at a later point.

Olson-Kennedy is also no doubt aware of the growing controversy about Lupron and other puberty blockers, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern when it comes to insurance reimbursements.

This isn’t the first time Olson-Kennedy has publicly complained about the foot-dragging of insurance companies. Last September, she posted “unfounded” denial letters from insurance companies on the WPATH Facebook page–mostly having to do with the fact that puberty blockers have never been approved by the US FDA for use in chemically halting the puberty of healthy “trans” kids.

Johanna Olson complaining about blue shield sept 21 2016 cropped

Should insurance companies be in the business of paying for experimental treatments on children–some who (on Olson’s caseload) were actively suicidal? Take a look at these denial letters. Do gender doctors like Olson-Kennedy deserve this level of oversight?

Is my use of “experimental” warranted as an adjective–apart from the fact that, a full ten years after Norman Spack, MD first began to use GnRh agonists in his practice, these drugs are still not approved for this use by US regulatory agencies?

Take a look at these remarks by Rob Garafolo, MD, another top pediatric gender doctor, made in a PBS interview two years ago:

garafolo admits experimenting

Garafolo is referring here to the multimillion dollar NIH grant he, Olson-Kennedy, Spack, and others have received to study “trans kids.” He hopes to have more answers after, as Garafolo admits, the kids have been experimented upon for 5 years–and beyond. As he says, it’s an “imperfect field” and how these children will fare through a lifetime is “entirely unknown.”

 

“Reportable trauma”? US gender docs “train” judges & call CPS on balking parents

The meteoric rise in kids diagnosed as transgender in the last five years has caught many parents by surprise. Gender specialists, trans activists, and their media handmaidens explain this accelerating trend as simply the welcome result of society becoming more accepting of trans people; a continuation of the tolerance that ushered in same-sex marriage. Indeed, activist-clinicians are quick to claim equivalence between trans and being gay or lesbian, despite their fundamental differences.

For one thing, lesbians and gay men ask only to be accepted for who they love, while we are asked to believe that being “authentic” as trans may require us to approve drastic medical interventions–for our own kids. And no mental gymnastics are necessary for parents to see with their own eyes when a daughter or son is homosexual. But a sudden pronouncement by one’s kid that they are really the opposite sex requires a suspension of disbelief; a demand to ignore one’s own insight, perception, and knowledge in order to “validate” the “identity” of our kids.

Despite the insistence that hormones and surgeries are “life-saving” medical necessities, the push is on to “depathologize” trans identity as a “normal human variation.” Yet nearly to a one, the parents who have gathered on- and offline as part of the 4thWaveNow community report a history of mental illness, social difficulties, frequently multiple diagnoses that predate the sudden announcement “I’m trans!” Indeed, a cursory hunt through decades of medical and psychological literature reveals that gender dysphoria occurs with troubling frequency in concert with a range of other mental disturbances, including personality disorders, depression, anxiety, and autism. To take but one example, this 2003 survey of nearly 200 Dutch psychiatrists found that a large majority of people with gender dysphoria had comorbid psychiatric problems.

2003-dutch-psychiatrist-survey-mental-illness

What has actually changed since 2003, apart from trans activism overruling sensible debate and clinical experience?

Given the experience of so many parents, corroborated by research evidence and clinical experience around the world, is it any wonder parents might balk at the idea that their (often troubled) tween or teen needs immediate “affirmation” and “validation” of their trans ID—complete with puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones?

But in 2017, at least in the US, pediatric gender specialists see co-occurring mental illness as no barrier to prescribing puberty blockers or cross sex hormones–even in the case of obviously troubled young people who have undergone multiple psychiatric hospitalizations. To these gender clinicians, puberty blockers are absolutely vital—even when the psychiatric team isn’t on board. (And even, apparently, when new information has come to light about the serious adverse effects of Lupron on children and adults.)

The inaugural conference of USPATH, the newly formed offshoot of WPATH, was held the first weekend of February in Los Angeles. At a session entitled “PUBERTY SUPPRESSION IN THE UNITED STATES; PRACTICE MODELS, LESSONS LEARNED, AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS,” gender doctor Michelle Forcier presented a case study of a young teen “K.” who had been seen in Forcier’s gender clinic. K., born female, had been hospitalized multiple times for suicidality, cutting, an eating disorder, and other self harm. K’s mother was reluctant to use a male name and pronouns, and was not initially willing to consent to Lupron.

During one of K’s months-long hospitalizations, Forcier pushed for the child to start blockers, despite the fact that the psychiatric team caring for K. was not in agreement, but was intent on medically stabilizing the child before contemplating other interventions.

After the child was released from hospital, the mother eventually consented to puberty blockers; the child was hospitalized again a few weeks after the Lupron injection. In her presentation, Forcier said that the time spent without blockers was one of many “missed opportunities;” she used the case as an example of how psychiatrists need to be better “educated.”

This notion that “gender care” (Forcier’s term) is the curative elixir, the pharmacological key to solving a whole host of other psychiatric issues, is a common refrain with US gender specialists. Parental reluctance to go along with this recommendation is viewed with, at best, condescension, and at worst, bald contempt. Do these providers stop for an instant to think maybe, just maybe, these parents have some wisdom regarding their own kids, whom they have raised and loved from birth? Nope.

Even young people who identify as “nonbinary” are encouraged if they choose hormones—or even surgeries. The USPATH conference devoted plenty of time to medical interventions for youth who want to dabble in irreversible chemical or surgical interventions:

Balking parents must be “educated”, cajoled into going against their deepest protective instincts. If this indoctrination process doesn’t work, there’s the frequent threat your kid will kill themselves because of your hesitations. This weaponization of adult self-harm statistics is wielded by activists, clinicians, and the media alike, to terrorize parents into handing their offspring off to be drugged, sterilized, and (increasingly) surgically “corrected” by therapists and doctors who are confident they know best when it comes to other people’s children.

Never mind that there is scant evidence that medical transition cures self harm in the long run; never mind that the constantly quoted 41% trans suicide attempt rate didn’t control for mental illness (a flaw readily admitted by the survey authors). Never mind that the 41% survey was of adults over 18, not kids. Never mind that there is no prior historical evidence of “trans kids” so desperate to escape their “wrong” bodies that they become suicidal; never mind that the highly publicized clusters of transgender teen suicides have mostly been young people who were supported in their desire to transition. Never mind that no one is studying the mental health of formerly trans-identified youth who were fully supported in gender nonconformity but not endorsed as being in the “wrong body.”  And never mind that only mentally ill people see suicide as a solution to life’s frustrations.  (As an analogy, the suicide rate for white Americans is much higher than for other ethnic groups, who by any measure face more discrimination and difficulties, yet manage to maintain more psychological resilience.)

But none of this stops irresponsible journalists and activists from spreading suicide contagion to vulnerable gender-confused youth.

dead-daughter

When it comes to coercing parents, the suicide trump card usually works. The daily onslaught of celebratory “trans kid” stories often includes a statement by a parent that they’d “rather have a live son than a dead daughter” (or vice versa).  Not surprisingly, scaring parents with their worst possible nightmare has been quite effective in many cases (including that of Ryland, one of the better known celebrity trans kids).

Hillary Googled the word “transgender” and came across a horrifying statistic: 41% of transgender Americans attempt suicide.

“This made things very clear to me,” says Hillary. “Did I want a living son or a dead daughter? I wasn’t going to take the risk by waiting around and doing nothing.”

So Hillary and Jeff spoke to psychologists, psychiatrists and gender therapists, who all reached the same conclusion: Ryland is transgender. As Hillary describes it, “Although Ryland was born with the anatomy of a girl, her brain identifies with that of a boy.”

That day, Hillary and Jeff – both churchgoing Christians who were raised in conservative families – made a vow: to bring up Ryland as a boy, without any strings attached.

Not only do the people most invested in medically transitioning children push suicide or transition as the only two alternatives; they are not shy about blaming the parents themselves for the child’s self harming behaviors.

judge-order-hormones-remove-child-from-house

Towards the end of a USPATH session, ADDRESSING SUICIDALITY IN TRANSGENDER YOUTH: A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL APPROACH, presenters Elizabeth Burke, Matthew Oransky,  and Sarah McGrew touched on what to do about parents who weren’t on board with “gender care.”­­

And the final piece on suicidality is family non-acceptance. This is where you have a family who is saying, no, no, no…and then you realize that actually the family is contributing to some of that negativity at home. So the family is creating a toxic environment. And that’s where we have let the young person know the potential ramifications of calling DHS and saying that this is an unsafe environment.  And that we’ve given the family every chance. To learn, to grow. And they’re continuing to be part of the problem. So thankfully this was an important time when I realized it was worthwhile in starting the clinic at children’s hospital to have lots of meetings with the lawyers in  risk management. To be able to say, “alright. I have the ethicist, I have the lawyer, I have the guru from risk management, I’m gonna sit down and say, I need to describe a case to you and make sure this is actually parents being negligent in the healthcare needs of their child.

Thankfully we’ve had a lot of support in that realm.  Because of the trainings we’ve done with DHS workers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. DHS workers will go and say you’re creating an unsafe environment for your child.  And we need to have that stop.…unfortunately staying in that home environment is going to result in a child’s suicide.

So we see that gender specialists and activists are being proactive about going after parents who are saying “no no no” to the dictate that they must “affirm” their child as the opposite sex. They are “training” child protective services workers to pressure parents into “gender care”—or risk losing custody of their sons and daughters.

This isn’t a brand-new strategy. For example, at least as far back as June 2015, Jenn Burleton, an MTF and director of TransActive Gender Center, put out a call for attorneys to intervene in custody disputes involving “trans kids”, to enthusiastic responses on Burleton’s Facebook page.

Asaf Orr, for those who don’t know, is the lead staff attorney for the inaccurately named “National Center for Lesbian Rights” (NCLR). Given the fact that an increasingly large number of same-sex attracted adolescent girls are being transitioned, it’s hard to imagine any organization straying further from its mission than NCLR.

Regular readers of 4thWaveNow know that Burleton has been in the business of sneaking behind the backs of “unsupportive” parents with TransActive’s “In a Bind” free binder distribution program. Previously offered to young women 22 and under, the program now only sends binders to 18 and unders—secretly, if need be, subverting the will of parents who might have concerns about the unhealthy effects on their daughters: crushing pubescent breast tissue, bruising ribs, breathing and musculoskeletal problems, and more.

The topic of bending reluctant parents to the will of gender experts is a popular one for WPATH. In mid-February, we find some familiar people scheming away about what to do about parents who won’t give in, again including Jenn Burleton, who has had “some success” in convincing authorities that a parent’s unwillingness to approve hormones for their minor children is a form of “reportable trauma.”

At the February USPATH conference, Drs. Johanna Olson-Kennedy and Michelle Forcier, during the Q&A portion of their aforementioned talk on puberty suppression, tell their audience that they’re not afraid to involve the courts when they must to “bring along” the “recalcitrant” parents.  One questioner, a psychologist who runs a gender clinic, wants to know whether there is a way to legally “force parents” to go along with the recommendations of a gender therapist to administer puberty blockers.

OLSON-KENNEDY: I can say that the stickiest situations I’ve had is where one parent is supportive and one isn’t and they share medical custody. And so we work really hard to bring both parents in and bring them both on board. Because even if you get a court order, the most protective factor for a good outcome is parental support.  So it’s not my first line to go to court to get somebody what they need.  But it is my second line and I will do it.  We’ve been pretty successful in 5 or 6 situations where…we really had a recalcitrant parent that we just could not bring along.

For her part, Forcier says her team has been busy training family court judges in her region:

FORCIER: Yeah, there’s no precedent but you can again work with the child protection team for medical neglect. Work with one parent…at least to get things started. And again, you can do some education. We did education with judges in Rhode Island. We spent a half day with family court judges, telling them this is what gender and transgender is

So there we have it. Activists/clinicians aren’t content to simply “educate,” cajole, or negotiate with parents. If parents aren’t terrorized into medically transitioning their kids by the relentless scolding that the only alternative is suicide, these people are perfectly willing to call the authorities on you; even to try to take your children away from you. And woe betide you if you’re a divorced or divorcing parent trying to put the brakes on hormones or surgeries for your minor child. The likes of Asaf Orr and other assorted attorneys assembled by adult trans activists will intervene in your custody dispute. (How ironic is it that an organization purporting to protect lesbian rights can be instrumental in forcing parents of lesbian teens to “transition” them to the opposite sex?).

Lest we simply dismiss all this as a form of mind-numbing hubris from people who should mind their own business, this excerpt from a letter written by four activist MtoFs in 2004 as part of a campaign to discredit sexologist Michael Bailey, might shed some light on the motivations of key activists who have been at the forefront of the pediatric transition explosion.

We are socially assimilated trans women who are mentors to many young transsexuals in transition. Unable to bear children of our own, the girls we mentor become like children to us. These young women depend on us for guidance during the difficult period of transition and then on during their adventures afterwards – dating, careers, marriages and sometimes adoption of their own children. As a result, we have large extended families and are blessed by these relationships. …

You may have wondered why hundreds of successful, assimilated trans women like us, women from all across the country, are being so persistent in investigating Mr. Bailey and in uncovering and reporting his misdeeds. Now you have your answer: We are hundreds of loving moms whose children he is tormenting!

So some trans activists fancy themselves the “loving moms” of (our) trans-identified kids, young people they consider their “extended family.” Not content to fight for their own rights to non-discrimination in housing and employment, activists like these were and still are the driving force behind the proliferation of pediatric gender clinics and activist organizations that have sprung up like mushrooms across the Western world in the last decade.

As should be clear from the examples in this post (representing only the tip of the iceberg), certain trans activists and gender clinicians will stop at nothing to force their will on parents who resist the affirm-only, puberty-blocking, sterilizing doctrine of pediatric medical transition. Rather than demonstrating a willingness to learn; rather than having the humility to consider that parents just might have a better handle on who their children are and what they need than a group of professionals beholden to an activist juggernaut, gender doctors and trans activists like Jenn Burleton may well try to take your children away from you.

What can be done? If you believe a gender specialist, psychologist, or doctor has rushed to “affirm” your troubled child as “trans”; if you believe someone entrusted with your child’s care has not adequately explored your child’s mental health and other underlying issues which may be contributing to their gender confusion, report them to their professional organizations and regulating boards.

Shriveled raisins: The bitter harvest of “affirmative” care

by the parents of 4thWaveNow

Note to readers: This is another in an ongoing series of posts which shine a light on the public statements made by gender specialists in various forums. The aim here, as always, is to inform the public, particularly parents, about the actions and self-reported thoughts and plans of individuals who are currently involved in providing hormones and surgeries to minors. All screen captures are from publicly accessible (i.e. not password-protected or otherwise private) websites. We intend to continue to exercise our free-speech right to report on these public statements, as well as publishing our personal opinions on pediatric transition and those who enable and promote it.

To anyone who may object to our work in this area, hear this: The backlash represented by 4thWaveNow, Transgender Trend, Youth Gender Professionals, and the increasing number of individuals and organizations who question the burgeoning increase in child and youth transition is precisely that: a backlash against the decision taken by trans activists and their media handmaidens to relentlessly promote pediatric transition—especially MEDICAL transition.

The final straw, for many of us, has been the shameless and daily attempts by activists, journalists, and some clinicians to misuse self-harm statistics as a weapon to bludgeon parents into submission. A recent article in Spiked Online exposed this immoral and deeply destructive tactic, and we will continue to expose it on 4thWaveNow.


Scattered through the posts on this site, we have discussed the fact that puberty blockers followed by (or used concurrently with) cross-sex hormones to prevent the “wrong puberty” in prepubertal kids results in irreversible sterilization. This is well-recognized fact, openly acknowledged by researchers and top pediatric gender specialists alike [see the bottom of this post for a collection of links on this matter].

rainbow-health

The reason is that gametes (sperm and ova) require natural, biological puberty to mature to the point that they are viable for reproduction. It is not currently possible to freeze immature gametes, as it is for those of adult trans people who have been allowed to go through natal puberty.

Our point is not that anyone and everyone should have biological children or that women are only fit to be baby machines (a red herring “argument” that has been used against us by trans activists). It also has nothing to do with the demographics of who will ultimately decide to bear or father children. (I notice none of these activists cavalierly argue for sterilization of disabled or gay people, both of whom have a lower statistical rate of becoming biological parents). The point is that it is a human rights violation to sterilize minors, who by definition cannot consent nor understand what it means to give up that future right.  And given that the majority of “persisting” trans kids are same-sex attracted, it is not a stretch to see that prepubescent sterilization of “trans kids” amounts in many cases to a form of proactive anti-gay eugenics—even if that is not the conscious intention. What’s more, as many parents know, the decision to reproduce may come later in life, even if we thought in our youth that we wouldn’t have wanted children. Most young people naturally don’t spend their time thinking about having kids of their own; they have other priorities at that stage of life, as well they should.

But does any of this matter if adult trans people aren’t particularly interested in reproduction?

trans-men-want-children

Well, it turns out that several studies have shown that a majority of trans men and trans women desire to have biological children of their own. 

 

But even setting aside research evidence, all you have to do is look at the increasing number of (sometimes sensationalized) media stories about “pregnant men” to know this is “a thing”.

There are a sufficient number of trans men becoming pregnant and giving birth that the premier midwifery organization in the United States has changed all its literature to be “gender neutral” in an ostensible effort to avoid “triggering” its clients with words like “woman” and “breasts.” Planned Parenthood now campaigns on behalf of “menstruators” and the venerable La Leche League has even scrubbed its language of inconvenient mentions of biological reality, to ensure that trans men who want to “chest feed” won’t feel excluded.

la-leche-chestfeeding

But when it comes to the fertility of trans people,  trans activists want to have their cake and eat it too: Celebrate and support adult trans who decide (often unexpectedly) to reproduce, while fiercely lobbying for medical intervention which permanently sterilizes prepubescent children. There is really no way to square this contradiction. They constantly claim that stopping the “wrong puberty” is the only antidote to suicide, yet that “wrong” puberty is the one and only pathway to possible reproduction in the future.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the very people arguing that the only alternative to these sterilizing pediatric treatments is suicide are very much alive, and quite a fair few of them (notably, several top MTF trans activists) have biological children of their own. “Do as I say, not as I do” is rightly ridiculed as hypocrisy when it comes to any other subject. How on earth did these people survive to adulthood, father children, yet now harangue us that the “wrong” puberty of these children must be stopped?

As to the weaponization of suicidality: There is no record in the history of medicine of children and teenagers killing themselves because they could not medically transition in childhood, or because they were “born in the wrong body.” (Since August when this piece was posted, we’ve been waiting for any evidence to the contrary.) Even the most frequently cited “41%” study of trans adults who have reported suicidal ideation doesn’t assert that medical transition cures suicidality.


So, given that

  • large numbers of adult trans men and women express a desire to have biological children;
  • no child or pre-adolescent can know for certain whether or not they will eventually want to reproduce;
  • it is a universally acknowledged human rights violation to sterilize minors;
  • and there is no evidence that early medical transition will ultimately reduce self harming behaviors,

we must ask: Why do gender specialists continue the reckless practice of promoting sterilizing hormones and surgical interventions on prepubescent children, who, by virtue of their undeveloped powers of reason and judgment, cannot meaningfully consent to such treatments? On what authority does any adult—including these children’s parents—have the right to make a decision for a minor that should solely belong to adults of reproductive age themselves?

Even if it turns out to be true that most of these kids won’t opt for biological reproduction in the future, what of the (already limited) pool of potential life partners they might fall in love with? It’s not at all uncommon for couples to part company over disagreements about whether to have children. And then there’s the issue of what genital surgeries do to sexual response and function. None of this is ever discussed in the glowing portraits of “trans kids” that we see daily in the mainstream media (though it is by the clinicians themselves—as you’ll see shortly).

The gender specialists are fully aware of the irreversible effects of their interventions. Gender clinics detail the risks of infertility and other permanent changes on their consent forms. Research articles, public statements, and news articles capture the admissions by prominent gender specialists (again, see the bottom of this piece for links). Some express reservations (but no accompanying intention to cease and desist or even slow down their caseloads); some mention it in passing. And some, as you’ll see in a moment, appear to lose no sleep at night over what they’re doing, but only express interest in the future market for even more high tech interventions for the young people entrusted to their care.

Last March, Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD (herself a parent), one of the world’s most successful and best known pediatric gender specialists, posted a call on the publicly accessible WPATH Facebook page for earlier genital surgeries on minors. We wrote about it at the time in this post.

Olson orig post.jpg

The irony is inescapable: By puberty blocking young people, endocrinologists create a situation where these youth naturally yearn for puberty, as they watch their unblocked peers mature and move on. Olson-Kennedy’s solution? More high-tech, expensive medical intervention; earlier cross-sex hormones, earlier sex reassignment surgery. An iatrogenic problem created in the first place by suppressing the perfectly healthy bodies of young people.

Just a few days ago, Olson’s original post was revived via several new comments supporting her radical idea. This one, by Susan Maasch, founder of the Trans Youth Equality Foundation (TYEF) is particularly striking. ( We wrote about TYEF—a purveyor of free breast binders (secretly to girls with “unsupportive” parents) and youth transition propaganda, last year.)

shriveled-raisins

“Shriveled raisins”: The outcome of years of hormone treatment unnatural to the female body.

Other activists and pediatric gender specialists, including Rixt Luikenaar (ironically, an OB-GYN), Kathie Moelig (founder of TransFamily Support Services), and others acknowledge that sterilization (which their clients may someday regret) will result from early surgeries and hormones, but place their faith in high-tech medicine to find a way around it—eventually.

rixt-et-al-on-sterlization

This unquestioning belief that medical technology will solve the problems created by zealous “affirmative” gender specialists is widely shared.  Just a couple of days ago, NPR ran an article acknowledging that immature gametes can’t currently be preserved for future reproduction. But by drawing on fertility preservation research  in cancer survivors treated with sterilizing chemotherapy, the pediatric-transition pushers hope that  puberty-blocked children’s ova and sperm can eventually be coaxed to reproductive viability in a petri dish.

Both groups — young cancer patients and trans kids hoping to transition early — have a demand for fertility preservation at an age where it has not usually been possible. But researchers say they are drawing closer to a solution with new techniques to freeze, or cryopreserve, immature reproductive cells…

… they started to look for ways to grow that tissue in a petri dish, so it can develop into a mature egg. “We’ve had to borrow knowledge from other disciplines and sort of figure out how that applies to trans people … What can be frustrating sometimes is having to adapt and extrapolate all of this information from work that is not done for trans people.” — Zil Goldstein, Mount Sinai

Brave New World. Puts a whole new spin on “test tube babies.” Not to mention a future boost for the surrogacy industry.

No one in the mainstream media—in this case, NPR– seems willing to point out the obvious: If you let these kids simply mature naturally–as their healthy bodies are desperately fighting to be allowed to do–they can preserve their fertility and decide whether they want to choose hormonal or surgical interventions when they reach adulthood,  with mature judgment and reasoning powers. There would be the added benefit of giving kids a chance to desist before it’s too late—as so many were allowed to do before “gender affirmative” treatment was advertised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Only a few years ago, this would have been seen as just common sense caution. Adults-only transition was the norm.

There are other ramifications besides infertility resulting from this reckless rush for earlier and earlier surgeries and hormonal treatments.  Here, Olson-Kennedy and other commenters analyze the impact of surgeries on sexual function—but disagree on how much should be discussed with the kids themselves about their future orgasm potential after their genitalia have been surgically rejiggered.

olson-orgasm

At least one “practitioner” seems not to want concerns about orgasm potential to be a “hindrance” to  a child achieving their “authentic self”:

low-orgasm

Bringing us into 2017, Jenn Burleton, head of Transactive Gender Center, assured the Facebook group on January 18 that orgasm is a discussion topic amongst “caregivers” in Transactive support groups. Good to know parents and other adults feel empowered to make decisions for these kids about their adult sexual function and fertility in their “support groups.”

Burleton orgasm.jpg

(Just a thought: how many of these people publicly pontificating about the sexual function of children consider how they’d have felt as teens if adults had been scheming about their orgasm potential, and the impact thereon from a surgeon’s scalpel?)

In January 2017, nearly a year after Olson-Kennedy’s original post calling for the WPATH Standards of Care 8 to support earlier genital surgeries, many clinicians, activists, and parent leaders of trans youth groups remain keenly interested in lowering age of surgeries for youth. From the sounds of it, “many many” surgeons are eager to oblige.

maasch-et-al-earlier-surgeries

Dan Karasic, MD, director of a gender clinic at UC San Francisco, moderator of the WPATH Facebook page,  and a key player in WPATH and the co-chair of the recently formed USPATH, helpfully informs us  that a discussion on under-18 surgeries will take place at the inaugural USPATH conference February 5 2017. “Advocacy” to pressure insurance companies to get onboard and pay for genital surgeries on minors is also an important part of the discussion.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Dr. Karasic advocating for lowering the age for surgeries. In this post, we discussed his public support for a mother obtaining double mastectomy for her 15-year-old and her attempts to get her insurance company to foot the bill for it.

Again: The people advocating for drastic and irreversible medical interventions on minors have enormous power over the future lives of children. The decisions they have taken with their careers and activism will impact a generation of youth for a lifetime. These adults, trans or not, were allowed to mature without medical interference in the era preceding this Age of the Trans Child.

Some of the people weighing in are trans adults, among them MTFs who have fathered children and had successful careers, who were not subjected to tampering and scheming about their most private and personal bodily functions as children. And as much as the trans activists may claim they’d have welcomed such interventions as children, the fact remains: Somehow they made it to adulthood, fertility and sexual function intact, without killing themselves.

Exactly what authority gives these people the right to advocate for and perform medical experiments on children, “trans” or not? This is a question a lot more people need to be asking.

Meanwhile, the USPATH conference  session on surgery in minors is on Sunday, February 5 at 10:15 AM  in Los Angeles.

Readers will undoubtedly recognize some of the names on this panel.

uspath-minor-surgery-1


For more information about the irreversible sterilizing effects of puberty blockers followed by cross-sex hormones on prepubescent children, see below. Readers contributions are welcome and will be added to this list.

Sahar Sadjadi, The Endocrinologist’s Office—Puberty Suppression: Saving Children from a Natural Disaster?

It must be remembered that puberty suppression as the first step to medical transition, if followed by cross-sex hormones, which has been the case for almost all reported cases, leads to infertility due to the permanent immaturity of the gonads and the reproductive tract. The absence of the discussion of sterilization of children as a major ethical challenge in this bioethics article, and many other clinical debates on puberty suppression, is striking. For any other group of children, such an intervention would be discussed extensively with ethics review boards. (What grounds might justify the permanent elimination of the child’s reproductive ability? Should parents be able to make such a decision for the child? Which futures are opened by the treatment and which ones are foreclosed? How might benefits be weighed in relation to the loss of reproductive capacity?) The media would likely react with investigations and questions about the long-term consequences of treatment. These “queer” children’s bodily integrity and reproductive rights should not be any less pressing than other children’s. Needless to say, children are not legally capable of consent, and 9–10 year olds are not capable of understanding all the health consequences of the treatment. Parents are asked to make life decisions on issues as critical as fertility for young children. Can they make an informed decision and evaluate benefits vis a vis risks when confronted with such horrendous forecasts for their children?

 Unique ethical and legal implications of fertility preservation research in the pediatric population

 Norman Spack, MD, founder of first US pediatric gender clinic:

The biggest challenge is the issue of fertility. When young people halt their puberty before their bodies have developed, and then take cross-hormones for a few years, they’ll probably be infertile. You have to explain to the patients that if they go ahead, they may not be able to have children. When you’re talking to a 12-year-old, that’s a heavy-duty conversation. Does a kid that age really think about fertility? But if you don’t start treatment, they will always have trouble fitting in. And my patients always remind me that what’s most important to them is their identity.

Brill & Pepper, The Transgender Child, 2008, p. 216

“The choice to progress from GnRH inhibitors to estrogen without fully experiencing male puberty should be viewed as giving up one’s fertility, and the family and child should be counseled accordingly”. For girls, sterilization is the outcome too, because “eggs do not mature until the body goes through puberty”

Diane Ehrensaft, video clip from conference. Time stamp: 5:06

“Another thing that’s a show-stopper around [parents] giving consent is the fertility issue. That if the child goes directly from puberty blockers to cross- sex hormones they are pretty much forfeiting their fertility and won’t be able to have a genetically related child.”

Robert Garofolo, PBS.org:

“It’s an imperfect field with regards to decisions we are asking these families to make,” acknowledged Dr. Robert Garofalo, who co-directs the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital and is also working on the transgender youth study. Garofalo hopes the team will be able to study patients far beyond the current five-year term to address a host of questions that currently have no answers. Does hormone use in trans youth increase breast cancer risk? How well do adults who have transitioned as teens grapple with their loss of fertility? “These are things that are entirely unknown,” Garofalo said.

 

“In the absence of solid evidence”: “Innovators” and “thought leaders” promote under-18 transition

by Overwhelmed

 

The University of San Francisco runs one of the most prestigious and well respected programs for “trans kids” in the United States.  Their publication, “Health considerations for gender non-conforming children and transgender adolescents,” written by Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD, Stephen M. Rosenthal, MD, Jennifer Hastings, MD and Linda Wesp, MSN, consists of detailed guidelines on treatment for gender dysphoric youth. It appears to be written for providers, not laypeople, with specific recommendations for GnRH analogues and hormones—when to start, options for delivery (e.g. injection, patches, gel), dosages, needle gauge sizes, and lab tests for monitoring. Other areas are addressed too, including the induction of amenorrhea in natal females and the importance of discussing infertility. Towards the end of the protocol, there is a section about genital and chest surgeries.

The authors state that current standards of care recommend waiting until patients are 18 years old for genital surgeries. But regardless of this advice, they advocate for underage surgeries in certain cases:

Both the Endocrine Society Guidelines and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care version 7.0 recommend deferring genital surgery for both transmasculine and transfeminine youth until the age of 18 years. As youth are transitioning at increasingly younger ages, genital surgery is being performed on a case-by-case basis more frequently in minors.

One of the authors of the UCSF document, Dr. Johanna Olson, has frequently argued for relaxing the over-18 guidelines on genital surgery, including earlier this year on the WPATH Facebook page.

Here’s what the UCSF guidelines have to say about “chest” surgeries aka mastectomies:

 While increasing numbers of insurance companies are covering the cost of male chest reconstruction, there are often arbitrary barriers to surgery citing that youth need to be at least 18 years of age prior to undergoing this procedure. Providers should participate in appeal processes so that patients can undergo chest surgery. There are currently no available data that report the positive impact of male chest reconstruction in minors, although a study is underway now.

Gender doctors don’t have the data to back up the double mastectomies and chest contouring they are performing on minor children. But regardless, providers are instructed to recommend health insurance coverage for the procedure—including intervening in appeals processes.

Throughout the guidelines, there are a number of times it is admitted that the science of pediatric medical transition is lacking in data:

 “While sparse data exist regarding the impact of puberty suppression and gender-affirming hormones administered during adolescence, there have been promising results from the Netherlands indicating that this approach in adolescents results in improved quality of life and diminished gender dysphoria.”

 “While there still exists uncertainty as to which GNC children will continue into adolescence and adulthood with transgender identities and/or gender dysphoria and which will not, it is been noted in prior studies that increased intensity of gender dysphoria is a predictor of a future transgender identity.”

 “While data are sparse, preliminary results from the Netherlands indicate that behavioral problems and general psychological functioning improve while youth (age 12 and older) are undergoing puberty suppression.”

 “While clinically becoming increasingly common, the impact of GnRH analogues administered to transgender youth in early puberty and <12 years of age has not been published.”

 No consensus exists on the length of time GnRH analogues should continue after youth begin gender-affirming hormones.”

However, regardless of these caveats, the protocol comes across as very thorough. Eighteen different sources are cited for justification. The authors appear to be knowledgeable and capable.

But at the very end, there is this disclaimer:

ucsf-disclaimer

And there you have it. We are relying on the “expert opinions of innovators and thought leaders” in a field that is in its infancy. “In the absence of solid evidence,” children are being given earlier and earlier irreversible medical interventions based on best guesses about the future.

As the guidelines note, though, studies are indeed underway. Olson and other gender specialists have received a $5.7-million NIH grant to study children and teens who are currently undergoing medical transition. But importantly, these studies aren’t recruiting a control group of untreated trans-identified children, and they are only set to run for 5 years. While any information is better than none when it comes to this modern experiment on youth, the long-term medical and psychological outcomes for the people who were subjected to irreversible medical interventions in their youth will remain a mystery for decades to come.

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.