Gender-confused kids need parents who think straight

A 12-year-old may now consent to hormone blocking therapy. But why would parents allow it?
Mary Rice Hasson | May 4 2011 | comment  

I am not making this up.

Twelve-year-old children in the United Kingdom who feel confused about their gender now can opt to receive puberty-blocking drugs while they make up their minds whether to be male or female.

The hormone blockers inhibit development of sex characteristics, such as facial hair in boys and full breasts in girls. A child who later opts for a sex-change operation, the thinking goes, will have fewer “parts” in need of changing.

Gender-confused teens 16 and over already have access to the medication. But this latest decision by the U.K. ethics board allows younger children, even 12 year-olds, to receive the hormone blockers. Stipulations: the children must give “formal consent” and their parents must affirm their “full support” for the decision.

Why would any straight-thinking parent purposely “stunt” their child’s normal, healthy, sexual development so they can switch genders more easily later on?

Well, they wouldn’t.

From the first sonogram or moment of birth, parents everywhere delight in knowing whether they have a girl or a boy—a son or a daughter. The baby’s body reveals an unequivocal truth about who that child is--male or female. And a young child’s confused protests to the contrary can’t change that.

The reality of male-female sexuality becomes an inconvenient truth, however, to agenda-driven LGBT-types. They reject the “gender-binary” mindset, positing instead a sliding scale, a gender spectrum, with each of us eventually choosing our own comfortable spot.

And if that comfortable, self-identified place happens to contradict bodily reality? According to the gender-bending folks, it’s the person’s body that’s out of whack, not the person’s self-perception. And this is the fiction they sell to teens, parents, teachers, doctors and counselors.

That is why a 12 year-old boy who decides that he doesn’t quite feel like a male can instruct willing docs in the U.K. to halt his body’s developing masculinity.  

Instead of trying to clear up the poor lad’s confusion--teaching his parents to affirm his biological sex while counseling him towards self-acceptance--the “gender identity” evangelists prefer to validate his confusion.

In the process, they thwart his body’s normal sexual development in anticipation of pumping him with female hormones a few years later. (And once he takes cross-sex hormones, he will become irreversibly sterile—the same fate suffered by girls who “become” male.)

Just think--all this before he is even legally old enough to swig a beer.

The parents and doctors involved in this outrageous practice seem more confused than the poor children themselves. In the adults’ minds, pressing pause on the puberty button “gives us a window to explore together that they [the kids] are definitely making the right decision” to select a different gender, says Dr. Polly Carmichael, director of the lone clinic that treats gender identity disorder in the UK.

This medical madness may be new to the British side of the pond, but it’s old hat in the US, where one pediatrician routinely sends confused children speeding down the transgender chute.

Dr. Norman Spack, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Management Service Clinic (“gender” needs to be “managed?”), believes that children can self-identify as transgendered by age nine. His clinic website goes further, asserting that transgender feelings “can emerge early, even in the preschool years.”

I suspect they view the world through “gender-variant” glasses. [Don’t they know any parents with normal little kids? The moms I know don’t look for a diagnosis when their son grabs his sister’s pink sippy cup. They can laugh about toddlers who think they will “turn into” a boy or a girl by donning the other’s clothing. And they know how to creatively “lose” a preschooler’s favorite, but unacceptable, clothes.

Parents who know how to parent can tell the difference between personality traits and gender confusion. And they also know that even confused kids can be “un-confused” with unconditional love, strong direction, and a little time.

But agenda-driven, gender-inclusive experts are not a patient lot—nor are they directive unless it’s away from traditional sex norms. Because transgendered young adults often have difficulty passing as a member of the opposite sex (no surprise), Spack avoids later problems by diagnosing—and “treating”—children early. He advocates puberty-blocking drugs for confused girls, starting at age 10, and for mixed-up boys at age 12.

And that’s what he did for “Nikki,” born male, but now female after a sex change operation at 17. Nikki’s mother reports that he liked playing with girls as a preschooler and soon rejected his identity as a boy. 

What is a good mother to do? Let him dress in girls’ clothes, of course. That’s what Nikki’s mom did anyway, setting him up for playground teasing from peers who pointed out the obvious reality—that he was a boy.

It’s not clear where Nikki’s dad was during all this.  But, no matter. Dr Spack rode to the rescue, prescribing puberty-blocking hormones for the child, to help him pass himself off as a girl.

Success, for the champions of gender-inclusivity.  

Transgender “success” comes at a price, however. Messing with an adolescent’s hormones—turning the natural ones off and, a few years later, turning the desired ones on—has serious consequences.  Most children who undergo the full treatment will end up infertile—a consequence that Spack admits is difficult for a 12-year-old to fully appreciate.

Still, Spack believes the treatment is worth it because otherwise they will “always have trouble fitting in”. No one seems to have demonstrated, however, that “treated” transgendered individuals ever fit in, no matter how many devices, surgeries, medicines, and counselors they employ. I suspect that theirs is a terrible pain that needs inner healing first.

And where are the parents in all this? Absent or inept, it seems.

Childhood and adolescence can be confusing for any kid. But that is where adults come in.  When life is confusing, kids need to rely on parents and other adults for love, stability, common sense, and affirmation. Adults bring clarity out of a child’s muddled feelings and expand child-sized perspectives with adult knowledge and wisdom. Parents who project unflappable sureness about a child’s identity and inherent lovableness provide the emotional anchor for a child who may be bobbing about in a sea of fears, needs, and insecurities.

Children confused by identity issues are vulnerable. But it’s worth considering whether their problems are caused by the parents’ own issues--or by clueless parenting made worse by flawed advice from gender experts.

Consider, for instance, the tragic case of “Riley Grant.” Born a boy, he and his twin sister carried the hopes and expectations of parents so desperate to have a child that they endured eleven in vitro fertilization attempts before conceiving the twins.

By age two, Riley was jealous of his twin sister and her girly toys and soon protested that he wanted to be a girl too. The family’s pediatrician told the parents to affirm their son and encourage him towards more typical boy behaviors, which the family claims to have done.

But here’s where it gets really weird.  By the time her son was three, Riley’s mother decided her toddler knew best and that she would follow his lead on this boy versus girl thing. Without telling her husband, she and Riley began enjoying private “girl-time”, shopping for girl’s clothing for him and dressing him up in secret. Her reasoning? It made “that little girl trapped inside…so happy”.  I suspect it made Mommy happy.

Daddy, however, was not so happy. The parents fought and almost separated. Riley went to school at four, dressed as a boy but yearning to be a girl. Conflicted, he became progressively distraught. Mom sought advice from the principal who helpfully sent the family to a gender identity specialist.

Bad move. “Gender identity” proponents implicitly assume that biological sex matters little compared to a child’s “deepest feelings” about gender.

And Riley, at the wise old age of seven, undoubtedly felt it would be better to be a girl. Indeed, the gender specialist advised the parents to let Riley be a girl if that’s what he wanted. But in the rush to validate his feelings, no one cared to uncover and heal the “why” behind it.

So Riley began his transition. He would finally be a girl, like his sister.

Thanks to expert advice, Daddy is finally on-board, too. He admitted, though, that Riley’s transition did not solve the jealousy issues towards Riley’s sister. “Her twin was born with the right body…She [Riley] has to hate her sister in order to survive" because “[h]er twin sister is everything she wants to be"—a real girl. Now 14, Riley’s suffering must be intense.

What a mess.

The ordeal of this confused little boy was surely worsened, if not caused, by parents who did not know how to parent. And that’s terribly sad.

But the big picture looks even worse. Gender identity docs are churning out theories and medical protocols that affect real children in life-changing ways -- suppressing normal sexual development in healthy bodies--in order to advance their ideologically-driven agenda.

The website for Dr Spack’s Gender Management Services Clinic contains this postscript on patient follow-up: “We conduct follow-up research on the patients we treat throughout their adolescence and adult years. Keeping track of their progress helps us determine our treatment efficacy.”

Translation: We really don’t know how these experimental “solutions” will affect your child’s life—but so what? Full speed ahead.

And that’s unconscionable.

Mary Rice Hasson is a writer and attorney from the Washington, D.C. area.

Related articles:

Experimenting with children's sexual identity

Suppressing puberty with a view to sex-change surgery


Copyright © Mary Rice Hasson . Published by You may download and print extracts from this article for your own personal and non-commercial use only. Contact us if you wish to discuss republication.

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