The mother of a “transgender child” who blogs at TransformingFamily.net authors a long and thoughtful response to a few comments that were left about her blog by GenderTrender readers last week on this post: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/from-dirt-trans-trending-who-is-transitioning-the-violence-against-lesbians/#comments
Trans*forming Mom – who is “transforming” her 15 year old daughter into a lifetime program of dependency on sterilizing medical treatments designed to disguise her true sex, as well as “transforming” her into a 15 year-old recipient * of a medically-unnecessary double mastectomy- classifies the comments left on the GenderTrender post as “the most harsh criticism” she has ever received.
[*According to information on the TransformingFamily blog, Dr. Beverly Fischer of Baltimore MD performs “cosmetic” double mastectomies on healthy girls as young as 12 ]
Trans*forming Mom describes her background being raised as a Christian Fundamentalist and relates her experience of receiving a lifetime of violence and abuse from men. “I had not only experienced violence, objectification, abuse, and assault from men beginning at the earliest stages of my life, but i had seen other important women in my life experience this too,” she writes.
Mom writes about her daughter’s distress at her failure to adequately perform, or find satisfaction in, oppressive sexist gender roles assigned to females. “He has shared that, because he didn’t feel comfortable as a girl, he didn’t have an identity. So, he threw himself into ballet and “being the perfect daughter” as a way to distract himself from the reality of his male-ness. He has told me that there is only one thing that he ever felt that he had to do, and that was to be a girl, and when he allowed himself to accept that he was not one, he felt that he failed. This breaks my heart. And he wasn’t taught or told that he had to “be a girl” in any certain way, or be any type of girl. He just knew he was expected to be a girl because that is what we told him and how we raised him based upon his birth assignment, and he knew he was not one,” she writes.
Trans*formingMom makes repeated analogies between the medicalization of gender and homosexuality. She compares irreversible pediatric sterilization and surgeries on dysphoric children to young children who identify themselves as homosexual and implies that feminists should get right on board. For the record, I don’t know any feminists, gays, or lesbians including myself who suggest that children or adolescents should make permanent lifetime decisions regarding their future sexual interests or self-concepts. Trans*formingMom compares trans people who de-transition or come to reject genderism with the “ex-gays” of religious fundamentalism.
Mom also seems to have confused me with Dirt, since the post in question was re-blogged from Dirt’s excellent site.
The saddest part of her post for me was in the comments where she explains the lengths she went to convincing her daughter not to seek out and read the comments, and the blog, that Mom is writing about. Her daughter is old enough to opt into lifetime medical dependence and cosmetic disablility and sterility and breast removal, but is not old enough to be exposed to the world of feminist thought on “Gender”.
Unlike Trans*formingMom (and many gender believers), feminists aren’t afraid of exposure to other points of view. Her post is re-blogged here: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/criticisms-and-misconceptions-from-people-who-just-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/
[Note: The comment from “GenderTrender” on the post is not me. That is “Manfeminist” Natalie Reed – yes THAT one!- who enjoys harassing lesbians and feminists by running imposter accounts.]
“I saw the breasts and I saw the long hair and I thought, like, that’s what I wanted.” – Jait Jr., former transgender teen now a gay man trying to undo the damage to his body done by hormones and silicone.
“I’m always walking around with a secret”.
MTV “True Life” runs a segment on transgender teens- one male, one female, now forced to undo the damage as they grow up and change their mind about believing they should medically alter their bodies into looking like the opposite sex. “I’m questioning my gender again”- Full episode here:
The incredible sexism of their home environments (“Boys who play with Barbie must be girls”) is astounding and illuminates some of the cultural forces driving the “transgender children” trend. Both of these former trans teens were fully supported into transitioning by their families, and both families cautioned the (now young adult) transgenders against switching back.
“This is what I was afraid of. They don’t get it. They feel like I’m not being true to myself. I don’t know… I just feel like they think that I’m making a mistake.”- Jait Jr on his family’s lack of support for his de-transition.
“Right now I just want to shave off all my hair and be a man so that’s what I’m going to do”- Jait Jr, formerly “Daniella”.
“Detransitioning is what is going to make me happy”- Jait Jr.
“Growing up, I never really felt super-girly and I couldn’t put my finger on why.” -Amanda, former teen transgender “Anthony” now quitting testosterone and undergoing electrolysis to remove her beard.
“I guess my biggest fear is that right now I’ve got it all figured out but that I’m going to get confused again and not know what I’m doing or who I am. Forever.”- Amanda
“I just hope that this is the last transition I make. I don’t want to keep doing this”. -Amanda
“I hope I’m done with gender related surgeries for good this time”.- Jait Jr.
“I guess I kind of feel reborn”.- Jait Jr.
“I haven’t felt this comfortable in a while”. -Jait Jr.
“I think I prefer make-up to shaving because it’s easier and a lot more fun”- Amanda, still a strong believer in gender roles.
October 29, 2012
From the DailyMail:
“Ms Cooper who was training to be a hair dresser as Bradley, believed at the age of 16 she was old enough to make the life-changing decision to give her ‘peace of mind’.
In 2010 Ms Cooper- then Bradley- told the News of the World: ‘I hate my body as it is now. I’ve known for years I’m a woman – I think and act like a woman, not a man. I don’t want years of misery.
‘I want it done as soon as possible so I can be the person physically that I am on the inside.
‘People might think I’m too young to make such a huge decision but I know my own mind and this is what I want.’
From the Mirror Online:
Last night child psychologist Karen Sherr, formerly of Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “It’s absolutely ludicrous for young kids to make such huge, life-changing decisions… and for doctors and their parents to support it.
Ria has come full circle, now stating:
Ria admits to dabbling in prostitution – something touched on by a recent Channel 4 documentary which followed her life over a year. “If there’s one thing I regret it’s that but, as usual, it was all about looking for love and being loved.
Sadly, the second youngest gender patient in the UK, Angel Paris Gordan- who had his testicles removed by NHS doctors at the age of 17- was in the news last August after being arrested for buying crack cocaine.
Ria was only two months away from his scheduled surgical castration and sterilization which was ordered by doctors at the London Gender Identity Clinic.
No word yet if Ria will file a lawsuit against those who diagnosed and “treated” him. In 2009 the Monash Gender Clinic in Australia was shuttered while investigations were made and settlements paid to ex-patients who filed claims against practitioners for misdiagnosis and surgical mutilation. From TheSundayAge, which covered those events:
“’I will never be able to have sex again. Ever’
May 31, 2009
Three former patients of Australia’s controversial sex-change clinic say misdiagnosis and wrongful surgery destroyed their lives. Jill Stark reports.
HE WILL never forget the noise. Lying on the hospital trolley being pushed towards the operating theatre, he heard nothing but a primal wail. He looked back to see his younger sister sobbing, traumatised by the enormity of what he was about to do.
Andrew*, born male, was minutes away from an operation that would make him a woman. Psychiatrists said he had a female brain in a male body. Gender reassignment surgery was the only way to ease the mental torment he’d endured since adolescence.
But as the wheels squeaked towards the operating table he was struck by an unshakeable thought: “It’s not right.” He remembers telling the surgeon: “I think I’m doing the wrong thing, it’s not right, I think we’ve got to stop it.”
The surgeon stroked Andrew’s face, telling him it was natural to feel frightened before an operation. He protested again, insisting it felt wrong. Then it went black. When he woke up he was sure the surgery had been cancelled. The romantic tales he’d read of transsexuals who awoke post-surgery feeling “reborn” convinced Andrew the operation had been halted, because he felt no different.
“Then I remember lifting up the sheets and putting my hand down and feeling it all bandaged and packed. I just started bawling my eyes out and screaming … I remember saying to myself, you f–king idiot, Andrew, how could you be so bloody stupid?”
Twenty years after surgery that left him feeling like a “desexed dog”, the grief can still overwhelm him. Now 42, Andrew tells The Sunday Age the operation he had as a confused 21-year-old has shattered him.
After psychiatrists from Monash Medical Centre’s Gender Dysphoria Clinic referred him for reassignment surgery — including breast implants, the removal of his genitals, and the creation of a makeshift vagina — he tried to make the most of his new life as a woman.
He grew his hair long and wore make-up in a bid to fit in. Doctors told him it was normal to go through a period of adjustment. In time he would feel like a woman. But something wasn’t right. “I remember thinking to myself, what would happen if I admitted the truth to myself? I’m a man and I’ve just been mutilated, that’s all.”
Silent tears fall as he describes the anger he felt towards the doctors who led him down this path. But most of all at himself for believing them. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s when, supported by a woman with whom he was having a relationship, he returned to the clinic seeking help to return to life as a man. He says his psychiatrist, Dr Trudy Kennedy, told him she could not see him.
“I rang her up, I was telling her, ‘I’m suicidal, I’m not coping’. She said, ‘Well, if you’re that bad you should go to the emergency department’.”
Dr Kennedy says she has no memory of that phone call. But she concedes what happened to Andrew was wrong. “I think it was a terrible mistake that he was allowed to go ahead with it (surgery) instead of taking the time to think about it.”
She says Andrew’s surgeon is now dead. But Dr Kennedy, who assessed Andrew’s mental fitness, admitted to The Sunday Age: “I don’t know if he was ready for it (surgery) or not. He said he was ready for it. He’d been hounding us since he was 18.”
It’s true that Andrew thought he was a transsexual. However, the broken childhood that preceded his referral to the clinic is a recurring theme among those who feel they were misdiagnosed. Born to teenage parents, his earliest memories are of being hit and spat on by his father.
Latching on to his mother, he became distraught when he had to leave her to go to school. Confusion about his sexuality was compounded when he was raped by two men at the age of 16. As he aged and started to resemble his father, he began to hate his male appearance. A chance discovery of a book about a transsexual was a pivotal moment. The story resonated with him. Perhaps this was what he was.
Another former patient, Angela*, was also an abused child. Sexually molested by a cousin between the ages of four and nine, she grew up hating her femininity.
She recalls punching her breasts and working out obsessively at the gym to “remove anything that reminded me I was female”. She was a 22-year-old university student when she was referred to the clinic by her GP, depressed and struggling with her identity. Dr Kennedy diagnosed her as transsexual at the first assessment, prescribing her male hormones and suggesting female-to-male surgery.
Within months Angela’s body was covered in thick hair, her voice deepened and she had a full beard. She had to shave under the covers every morning to hide the truth from her conservative Catholic parents. Two years later she had surgery to remove both breasts and was scheduled to have a full sex change. Angela could no longer conceal the truth from her family and began living as “David”. Thankfully, she says, she realised there had been a mistake before undergoing full genital surgery.
“I remember at one point looking at myself in the mirror with this beard, my breasts gone and thinking, ‘Oh my God, what the hell am I going to do?’ … I felt ugly. I was the classic bearded woman, a monster trapped between two worlds.”
She claims her pleas for help were also ignored by the clinic and her return to life as a woman was a nightmare that involved two years of painful electrolysis to get rid of facial and body hair and surgery to reconstruct her breasts.
Now married to a “wonderful” man, Angela has three young children and has slowly rebuilt her life. Looking back, she acknowledges she gave consent for the procedure but believes it was not informed consent. She feels she was mentally ill and that her childhood abuse played a part in her gender confusion.
This nature or nurture argument is at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Clayton clinic. Like many psychiatrists, Trudy Kennedy maintains people with gender dysphoria are born with a genetic predisposition. While the condition is classified as a psychiatric illness, they believe it has a biological basis and can be cured only by gender-altering surgery.
They reject suggestions that a history of abuse, conflict with parents or underlying psychological problems can cause gender dysphoria. Indeed, just months ago, Melbourne scientists added fuel to this argument with the discovery of a gene that seemed to be responsible for feelings of being born the wrong sex.
But what worries other psychiatrists is the mounting evidence that surgery may not actually improve the lives of those who feel they were born with the wrong body. A review of more than 100 international studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham found there was no scientific evidence that surgery was effective and, in many cases, patients were left feeling more distressed. Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University — which housed one of the pioneer gender clinics — no longer performs sex-change surgery due to such concerns.
A recent British review found suicide rates of up to 18 per cent among people who had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Doctors from London’s Portman Clinic say they see many patients who feel trapped in “no-man’s land” after surgery, finding themselves with a body which is no longer recognisable as male or female. Psychotherapy, the experts believe, may have saved them from such a fate but few gender clinics offer it.
Reviews of the Monash clinic found psychotherapy was rarely, if ever, offered. While a patient would require a diagnosis as a “true transsexual” from two psychiatrists before being offered surgery, both opinions were from inside the clinic — one that operates under the fundamental ethos that surgery is the only cure.
Andrew describes his experience as like “being on a conveyor belt” — prescribed hormones on the first visit and getting breast implants and a nose job within months. He says he consented to the procedures, and the sex-change surgery, because he believed it was his only option.
Another former patient, a 66-year-old man who was sexually abused by his mother as a child, had his genitals removed in 1996 after a referral from Dr Kennedy, who said the abuse played no part in his feelings of gender confusion. The man says his GP described him as a “walking cloud of despair” following the operation, which he says he will never get over.
However, Vikki Sinnott, a Melbourne-based psychologist specialising in transgender issues, has seen many clients who have benefited from surgery. She believes the regret rate in Australia is “tiny … between 1 and 2 per cent”. But she concedes no studies have been conducted to test this.
Indeed, one of the most glaring problems uncovered by the government reviews of the Monash clinic was lack of patient follow-up. Ms Sinnott says this could be due to a lack of funding. “But it’s also about people’s willingness to be involved. Quite often people will say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m happy with where I’m at, I’ll now go and continue with the rest of my life’,” she says.
None of the misdiagnosed patients spoken to by The Sunday Age deny gender reassignment can be beneficial to people who are correctly diagnosed as transsexual. Some have even offered to be part of any research conducted by the clinic. However, the transgender community has harshly criticised them for telling their stories, accusing some of lying to doctors about their transsexuality in order to get surgery they later regret — an opinion voiced in the past by Dr Kennedy.
Angela’s husband, who has campaigned for years to make the clinic accountable for his wife’s ordeal, says even if that were true, a competent psychiatrist would detect the deception and conclude an underlying psychological problem was driving it.
“When patients report feeling like the opposite gender, that is genuinely how they feel at the time,” he says. “They are no more lying than someone with anorexia is lying when they say that they feel fat.”
For Andrew, it’s the small victories that keep him going. “I will never be able to have sex again. Ever. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with that, but now I can say it without crying,” he says.
“You can’t be angry forever. You’ve got to let it go for your own health, and the people who love you.”
*Names have been changed.
Here is the documentary covering Ria’s life as a “Transgender Child”
October 23, 2012
October 15, 2012
My son, lets call him Ellis has always been a sensitive child. Even when very young it was obvious he was not a typical boy. I remember at 3 years old him picking up an Autumn leaf and turning it over gazing at it intently. Then he turned to me and said, "beautiful". He always shunned playing football with other boys or physical games and instead preferred to play with the girls, or one other boy who was similar to him.
September 26, 2012
From Katie S., mother of a “Transgender Child”:
Submitted on 2012/09/23 at 5:54 pm
I find this entire blog very mean-spirited. I’m not sure why you have such strong feelings against transpeople. I feel sorry I stumbled onto it. Transgender people are already a marginalized population. They experience violence left and right. Honestly, why do transpeople bother you all so bad that you have to invest so much time and energy tearing them down? Maybe I’d have to be some kind of ultra feminist lesbian type to understand.
I’m actually a conservative-leaning woman. I’m married, and live in Utah with a girl and three boys. The baby of my family, a boy, has insisted he is really a girl from almost the moment he learned to talk. He’s eight now, and it’s been incredibly difficult to deal with this issue. Our church, family and friends are not supportive, but when his father and I force him into a male role, he gets so depressed that we become scared for his personal safety. When he was five, I found him in bed in the morning with his pants down. When I asked him why he slept like that, he said he wanted to make it easier for God to take his penis away. He’s ALWAYS believed he was really a girl, and that God made a mistake.
I’m sorry, but you’re missing something. I don’t know what it is, and obviously, you don’t either. I am an LCSW, and I’ve accessed lots of psych articles about brain and genetic differences in transpeople. From what I’ve seen with my son, and the other kids he plays with at Kids Like Me (a program for trans kids), I agree with the research. There’s no other way to explain my son’s early behavior. His feelings have not changed, no matter how hard his father and I push, or how much time he’s spent with counselors at LDS Family Svcs. It’s just what it is. I’ve come to accept that.
It scares me that he/she will have to deal with people like you someday.
Submitted on 2012/09/23 at 11:02 pm
I do not agree with your argument that human brains are not sex-typed. You might be inconvenienced or annoyed by the fact that male/female hormones and genetics influence the brain, but to deny it is also a form of “magical thinking”.The research I’ve read and the experiences I’ve had with my transgender child prevent me from believing any different.
I’ve noticed that most of your writing paints a very simplistic, black and white picture. In this post, it’s either “sex-typed brains explain all gender-specific behavior” or “social role conditioning explains all gender-specific behavior”. It’s all or nothing. In reality, nature working in tandem with nurture is actually the most plausible explanation for all human behavior. And do sex hormones, which have an effect on every single aspect of our bodies, magically skip over the brain? I believe that social conditioning plays a huge role in male/female performance, and when you compare outcomes between males and females, it almost always looks like two barely distinct normal curves. Performance and anatomy are two different things, and in my opinion as a mental health professional, there is something going on in the brain that guides us in some of our reproductive behavior.
My son is only 8, and our family believes in different gender roles for men and women. I actually enjoy being a mother, wearing makeup, and looking and feeling feminine. My husband enjoys doing guy stuff. Why then, has my son completely rejected his body and his role at such a young age? We’ve offered male socialization. Why does he reject it? What convinces a 3 year old boy, against all of our wishes, that he is really a girl?
Explain that to me.
How will laws against pediatric conversion treatments affect the medical trend of sterilizing gender-noncompliant children?
September 19, 2012
The California State legislature recently passed a law prohibiting therapies or treatments designed to change the presumed sexual orientation or “gender expressions” of children.
New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace has announced that he will introduce similar legislation in that state on September 24.
How will these new laws impact the emergent “cosmetic medicine” trend of chemically halting maturation of sex-role non-compliant children (“Transgender Children”) followed by the application of sterilizing lifetime cross-sex hormones? The children being sterilized and “electively disabled” and made drug dependent for life by the new wave of “Gender Treatment” clinics sweeping the country are below the age of consent, and have these profound and irreversible eugenics treatments performed on them at the behest of their parents.
Research shows that the majority of children referred for such gender “treatment” will grow up to be normal well-adjusted gay and lesbian adults if left medically untreated. Research also shows that the vast majority of all children who are referred for gender “treatment” report no continuance of gender distress into adulthood if left medically untreated.
Will these laws provide grounds for class action suits against medical providers that perform such treatments on pediatric subjects? Alternately, will these laws prevent parents from having the right to withhold consent for lifetime disabling “treatments” to be performed on their children -if their children are diagnosed as being sex-role non-compliant?
We don’t yet know.
Law professor Mary Zieger published an interesting commentary today exploring the issues. GenderTrender will be following these developments closely.
California Legislature Underscores Need for Better Gender Identity Standards
JURIST Guest Columnist Mary Ziegler of the Saint Louis University School of Law says that the US Supreme Court’s decisions in reproductive rights cases may complicate efforts to bring constitutional challenges against California’s recent legislation banning the use of sexual orientation therapy on minors…
JURIST recently reported on a law passed by the California State Legislature prohibiting the use of sexual orientation change or conversion therapies on minors. Sexual “conversion” or “reparative” therapy is designed to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of the patient. Its supporters include religious organizations and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). After the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued guidelines cautioning ethical practitioners against performing conversion therapy, the California legislature began crafting the first law prohibiting the therapy, described by the statute as “sexual orientation change efforts.” The law prohibits any psychologists or mental-health care providers from encouraging attempts “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic feelings” for persons of the same sex.
Two things struck me about the California law. The first involves the law’s relevance to transgender individuals. Noticeably, the legislature’s findings asserted only that homosexuality and bisexuality were not diseases. The legislation made no such statement about gender identity or gender expression. Although regulating efforts to change “gender expressions,” the legislature described these attempts as a form of sexual-orientation therapy, conflating gender identity/expression and sexual orientation and leaving open the issue of whether transgender individuals suffer from a disorder in a way that gay, lesbian or bisexual people do not.
This omission may well reflect the ambivalence that some progressives feel about describing gender identity (or gender identity disorder) as an illness. M.T. v. J.T., one of the few cases to recognize that an individual can legally change her sex, relied on a medical framing of gender identity, explaining the importance of relief for those “suffering from the condition of transsexualism.” Changing one’s sex becomes, in this account, the necessary treatment of a disease. At the same time, LGBQT activists argue that transgender identity is not pathological or inferior to any other form of gender identity or gender expression. The statute highlights this tension, and it makes clear that even sympathetic legislators do not yet always have the vocabulary or understanding to address gender identity issues. The law frames all conversion therapies as involving sexual orientation. This paradigm obscures important differences between sexual orientation and gender identity that the courts may well have to flesh out.
I was also struck by the response given to the law by the right-wing Pacific Legal Foundation. [CORRECTION: Correction: Professor Ziegler's link is to the Pacific Justice Institute, not to the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is a separate organization and takes no position on this matter. -GM] The Foundation suggested that it would argue that the law violated First Amendment rights to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment rights to privacy. I couldn’t help noticing what the Foundation did not say — that the law violated parents’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to custody and control of their children. In a series of cases involving the unwillingness of Jehovah’s Witnesses to allow their children to receive blood transfusions, the courts have balanced parents’ religious liberties and rights to custody and control of their children against the best interest of the child.
It is not clear how the courts will strike this balance in conversion-therapy cases. The US Supreme Court’s parental-rights cases, such as Troxel v. Granville, primarily address custody and visitation. Lower court decisions offer little additional clarity, since they most often involve situations in which a child faces a risk of death or serious bodily harm. If the sexual-orientation-change statute is challenged, the courts will have to decide how, why, and to what extent “conversion” therapies harm children. The Supreme Court may also have to elaborate on the parental right (or liberty interest) spelled out in Troxel. How far does this right go, especially when a child’s own sense of identity is at stake?
That the Foundation did not rely on a parental/religious rights claim was surprising. It was more than a little ironic that the Foundation did rely on physicians’ rights to speech and privacy, since the grassroots right, and the anti-abortion movement in particular, has effectively gutted both in the Supreme Court. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in the context of an informed-consent regulation, abortion opponents argued, and the Supreme Court held, that physicians giving medical advice were not speaking at all. Instead, they were practicing medicine, and the State had a good deal of latitude in regulating medical care.
Secondly, in the years leading up to Casey, abortion opponents argued that physicians had no privacy rights in the abortion decision — whether that right involved the freedom to practice medicine as one saw fit or privacy in the doctor-patient relationship. At most, the argument went, physicians had standing to assert rights that belonged to someone else. This argument effectively justified regulations that could be framed as affecting only physicians more than women, including laws banning particular abortion procedures or requiring physicians to describe an ultrasound. In the conversion-therapy context, arguments about medical speech and privacy probably won’t work precisely because the grassroots Right has undermined them so thoroughly.
Interpreted broadly, Casey leaves significant room for the state to regulate quasi-medical aspects of the culture wars. In the case of the California statute, Casey also makes clear that the courts may have a broad new role in adjudicating the truthfulness of all medical speech — not just statements made during abortion care.
The idea of courts deciding the truth of statements suggesting that homosexuality is a medical illness makes me uneasy. I am not sure that courts are competent to determine the truthfulness of supposedly scientific conclusions, especially when those conclusions address hot-button social issues. I am even less certain that courts should focus on truthfulness. The issue of “conversion” therapy raises important questions about the scope of parental rights, the reach of the Free Exercise Clause, and the meaning of equal citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment. Hopefully, courts will take on these issues directly rather than expanding sadly inadequate truthful-and-non-misleading standard from Casey.
“Conversion” therapy is part of an ever-larger medical front in the wider culture wars. In the abortion wars, the right has reaped substantial benefits from medicalizing a variety of constitutional, moral and social issues. I expect that the California law will show that both the left and right can play this game. What Casey has given social conservatives in one context, Casey may well, in other contexts, take away.
Mary Ziegler is an Assistant Professor of Law at Saint Louis University School of Law. Her publications include articles on the same-sex marriage debate, reproductive rights and the history of the American eugenic legal reform movement. Prior to her position at Saint Louis University, she served as the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fellow in Law at Yale Law School, and as a clerk for Justice John Dooley of the Vermont Supreme Court.
Suggested citation: Mary Ziegler, California Legislature Underscores Need for Better Gender Identity Standards, JURIST – Forum, Sept. 18, 2012, http://jurist.org/forum/2012/09/mary-ziegler-gender-standards.php.
Williams College awards Bicentennial Medal to Dr Norman P. Spack: medical proponent of Eugenics and Sterilization of Gay and Sex-role Noncompliant Children
September 13, 2012
Dr Spack pioneered the practice of medically halting puberty in healthy children with off-label use of medications which prevent puberty and reproductive maturation. This “treatment” is followed by application of cosmetic cross-sex hormone regimes, which sterilize the children and render them drug-dependent for life. Since the children are below the age of legal consent, Dr Spack performs these irreversible procedures on the minors at the consent of the children’s parents.
The transcribed excerpt below begins at 12:00.
From Doctor Spack’s acceptance speech:
“My remaining transitions came from a desire to do something innovative and take some risks. I was a pediatrician, but I was so involved in tertiary care I was really not suited to be a “Well Baby” doctor. I enjoyed the confidential dialogues with adolescents, particularly on matters of sex. So I immediately bailed out of General Pediatrics and did a fellowship in Adolescent Medicine. There I began to treat some transgender young adults, and feel badly that no one had gotten to them earlier, before they were already formed in a body that they found alien. I retrained in endocrinology in 1992 so I could become board certified with the support of my chief Joe Majzoub who is here, the Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at Children’s [Hospital Boston]. I was fifty years old at the time I retrained and probably the oldest fellow in the history of Children’s Hospital. But it was fascinating because my former students had now leaped over me and become my mentors. And that’s the way medicine really is transmitted. That same year, 1992, I’m fifty, Ruth’s not as old as I am. Ruth, my wife who had run the English second language composition program at Tufts, decided to begin a Phd program. That led to her being offered a tenure-track position leading to a full professorship of English at Bentley University. That year our son John was in high school. Our daughter Rebecca was in college.
What were they thinking as they watched Ruth and me who seemed content in our professional lives seek to make some changes? Well maybe it’s had an impact on them and in a brief, not necessary digression I want to tell you what they ended up doing . And I want to point those who are here, I want them to see – Rebecca couldn’t be here because Rebecca the oldest is a social worker by training and a guidance counselor for the upper half students in a K to 8 school in Brookline Massachusetts from where she graduated high school. Her husband Arthur took advantage of the co-op programs that Northeastern Law School had to offer. He was noticed to have particular talent in the courtroom and he was fairly soon thereafter hired as an assistant district attorney for Norfolk County. Moving up to the superior court as the only male on a five person sex-crime domestic violence unit. He now is running his own law firm dealing exclusively in family law. Our son… John? Are you here? I want them to see you because I think people may have questions for you. And his wife, Hagar, both of them immediately after college went into non-profit education work. John initially in after-school programming with Citizen Schools, then Hagar in a couple incarnations but was working for Jump Start. And, it can work folks. They both got Masters: interesting Masters. John got a Masters, a new Masters given by Penn in Non-profit NGO Leadership. One year, two semesters, no thesis. Hagar… John is now the COO of a significant non-profit that does mentorship programs, started in San Francisco and he’s taking it national. Hagar, who was working for Summer Search has been made the chief executive of the Bay area Summer Search program. Summer Search takes kids who are at risk at high school, mentors them, supports them all the way through. And in the Bay area they not only have- what is it? – 91% college graduation rate. COLLEGE graduation rate. And it’s in seven cities around the country. She got an interesting Masters in Education at Stanford in Educational Policy. Two semesters, one year, no thesis. So. There they are, they’re gonna be around, a bit, but you know, a lot…in a down economy sometimes non-profit work not only is available, because it’s privately supported, but provides incredible training, because one gets to do so many things. Around people who are excited about making a difference in the lives of others. So.
Personal transitions are like wooden Russian dolls. Open the outermost, and there’s another within. It’s equally shiny, often different, and hopefully pleasing to the eye. My transgender patients are transitioning into their affirmed gender. And my former trainees are now opening new dolls. As they inaugurate new programs for transgender youth in now- in the last three years: eight cities in the US have opened programs modeled after ours. Yes, including New York City and San Francisco. And finally: this Bicentennial Award experience has given me a chance to reflect on events that occurred at a pivotal time in my life. And in the life of this college. Indeed, I experienced transitions here that shaped my future year by year and in the process I was being transformed. Yard by yard.”
August 17, 2012
Today The Advocate published – uncritically- a glowing excerpt from a book written by a woman who diagnosed her daughter as transgender at the age of eighteen months. The author and parent, Tracie Stratton, describes being disturbed by her tiny infants lack of conformity to socially proscribed sexist feminine gender behaviors for infants.
She diagnosed her daughter as “boyish” and “different” at one year of age.
Hey guess what folks. People should not be examining one year olds for sex role compliance. No matter your politics, your religion, your horrific sexism, your munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, no one should be monitoring a one year old child for sex-role compliance.
But Stratton did. So much though that she claims that before two years of age her daughter was already parotting back to mom: “Me a boy, mama”.
“By eighteen months I knew that this child, my fourth daughter, was different from the first three. In particular, she was very boyish, a characteristic which I had never thought about much before.” Stratton says.
Hey guess what folks. Eighteen month olds do not even know what that means. HUGE red flags. Stratton claims that she “consulted with her pediatrician” about her infant daughter’s troubling “boyishness”. She does not report the result of that consultation. But the fact that she reports it occurred insinuates the deep, profound extent of her parental malaise with her infants non-compliance to infant sex-roles. WHAT? Infant sex-roles?!?! HUGE red flags. One can only speculate that the pediatrician must have been either horrified -or quickly disregarded such concerns as the random mutterings of a possibly somewhat quirky parent. Since Stratton declines to report the outcome of her infant sex-role stereotype “consultation” we can only guess. Whatever the outcome, Stratton remained deeply disturbed about her child at home for two more years before “reconsulting” her physician about her perception that her child was failing at performing toddler femininity. This time she requested a psychiatric intervention to “fix” her daughter’s failure to perform femininity at the level mom required.
It isn’t as unusual as feminists might wish for a parent who is committed to strict sex-role fundamentalism to become disturbed when they perceive their infant child to resist the gender roles the caregiver has tried to inculcate in them. We even saw a toddler in recent years get beaten to death for not complying with socially mandated toddler sex-role behavior.
Stratton did not beat her child to death, but she was extremely disturbed by her infants “gender behavior”, and attempted to correct the infant. After three years the child had (according to the author) already been taught that she was “doing something wrong”. Stratton was determined to correct this “wrongness” in pediatric sex-role behavior and requested and received a psychiatric consult for her child at the age of five.
Stratton does not go into depth about the psychiatric process she subjected her daughter to except to state that the psychiatrist did not see any problem and encouraged mom to let the child be- even if the child turned out to be a dreaded lesbian. Stratton’s reporting of this is interesting. She quotes the psychiatrist “who came with great credentials and was the head of the pediatric psych association here in Oregon” as stating “For God’s sake, just let her be a lesbian.” Fear of lesbianism was clearly on the consult agenda. Stratton found this offensive because for unstated reasons she rejects all of the rigorous recorded scientific evidence that lesbian and gay children tend to be less compliant with sex-role programming at an early age. Perhaps, as seems most likely, she just chaffed at the idea that her daughter was non-compliant and also had a higher than average chance of maturing into a flamingly lesbian adult.
After Stratton’s initial profound distress at her one year old infant’s lack of femininity, and multiple pediatric and psychiatric consultations that all assured her that her daughter was healthy and well, Stratton continued to be so disturbed by her daughter’s perceived “difference” that she rejected all professional advice and her malaise continued to fester on the child, day by day. “I was upset that there was so little help for children like mine, nor did I know of any other children like mine.”
Undaunted in her disregard of the advice of multiple highly regarded pediatric medical and psychiatric professionals (advice to just leave her daughter alone) Stratton states:
‘I then went to an endocrinologist, who drew some blood from Izzy for lab work. When discussing the results, we found that my child had been making both sets of hormones, estrogen and testosterone, in equal parts. We learned that in a child so young, however, hormones can ebb and flow, and that this was not conclusive to anything. So what could we think?”
Oh noez! Still not something “wrong” with her child!
Finally (!) she “consulted the Internet and found a gender therapist, who in turn recommended a child specialist. This specialist, [“super kink/queer friendly”] Cat Pivetti, has been and continues to be our lifesaver, helping us navigate life with an intersexed, transgender child.”
Some of the horror:
“So, I started letting Izzy be a boy at home, wearing what- ever clothes he wanted, and playing with whatever toys he chose. Most of these things had previously been removed from our home after some really bad advice from ill-informed “experts.” We had been trying for a while to have everything be “female” around the house, and we even created a special “girls’ club.””
It’s so incredibly sick that anyone would do this to a child. Just let the kid do what she wants! Just leave her alone! How hard is that???
“One day my husband, Izzy’s stepdad Buzz, was having a hard time getting Izzy ready for school. He decided to just let Izzy wear the boys’ shirt with the car on it that day. His message on my phone went something like, “Honey don’t be mad, I know we said not to let Izzy wear boys’ clothes out of the house, but I had to get the kid to school.”
WHY are cars things for sperm producing humans???? WHAT?
Hai. Guess what folks. Cars are not only for people born with testicles and penis! Females like cars TOO! And fluctuating testosterone levels in female children is NOT an intersex condition! If Stratton’s child had an actual intersex condition, she, or her endocrinologist would have named it, instead of stating that things were normal and fine and a-okay! Hello? AND childhood hormonal imbalances (which Stratton’s child apparently does NOT have) are easily correctable, and such conditions have NAMES and demonstrable PATHOLOGIES and are represented in MEDICAL LITERATURE! This child has NO such condition, and even if she did, such a condition has NOTHING to do with socialized sex-role stereotypes at any age MUCH LESS AT ONE YEAR OLD. If Stratton’s child has an endocrinolgical disorder or intersex condition, let her name it! Stratton is deliberately misrepresenting the lived realities and medical challenges of children born with endocrine and reproductive disorders and trying to re-frame sex-stereotype-noncompliance with medical PATHOLOGY. This is an insidious tactic we’ve seen many times before: in the widespread pathologization, medicalization, (including institutionalization, lobotomy and electro-shock “treatments”) of homosexuality.
The transgender lobby, which trans activist Autumn Sandeen has stated succinctly, NEEDS to create “transgender children” to “take the sex out of” the public face of the transgender movement. And the trans lobby is willing to eugenically sterilize children- most of whom would otherwise grow up to be gay and lesbian- to do so.
Gay and lesbian children do NOT have a disorder!
Why is The Advocate providing an uncritical platform to an agenda of pathologizing and medicalizing the behaviors of young children that in majority grow up to be well-adjusted homosexuals? Why is the Advocate uncritically providing a platform for the pre-mature sterilization (via maturity blockers followed by sterilizing cross-sex hormones) of lesbian and gay children? This is the ultimate in pediatric reparative “treatment” of homosexuality, using the methods of the eugenics movement. Lesbians and Gays should be fighting this with every voice, every resource of the gay rights movement.
Here are the proposed diagnosis requirements for pediatric sterilization of lesbian and gay youth as outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Americam Psychiatric Association. Children – including infants- who match six of the following eight criteria for a duration of six months will be treated medically as pathological and in need of treatment:
1. a strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that he or she is the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)
2. in boys, a strong preference for cross-dressing or simulating female attire; in girls, a strong preference for wearing only typical masculine clothing and a strong resistance to the wearing of typical feminine clothing
3. a strong preference for cross-gender roles in make-believe or fantasy play
4. a strong preference for the toys, games, or activities typical of the other gender
5. a strong preference for playmates of the other gender
6. in boys, a strong rejection of typically masculine toys, games, and activities and a strong avoidance of rough-and-tumble play; in girls, a strong rejection of typically feminine toys, games, and activities
7. a strong dislike of one’s sexual anatomy
8. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics that match one’s experienced gender
Who does this describe? This describes Lesbian and Gay children! And “tomboys”. And kids that just reject sexist stereotypes! And kids going through a phase of sex-role experimentation! And kids that have internalized the grave discomfort of sex-role fundamentalist adults that equate behavior with roles assigned according to biological reproduction!
SPEAK OUT NOW. Stop this new eugenics trend. Support children who defy traditional sex-role stereotypes. Say NO to gender! And say it widely and loudly and NOW. This “transgender children” epoch will be written in history as a criminal medical human rights epidemic based on sexism and homophobia.
The title of Stratton’s book excerpt is “Mother of Transgender Toddler Gets Lesson In Love”. Word up: Conformity to sex role stereotypes is NOT LOVE! Medically implanting pharmaceutical MATURITY BLOCKERS in non-compliant children is NOT LOVE! Placing infants on a pathology tract towards corrective sterilization to promote stereotype conformity IS NOT LOVE!
What is love? LOVE IS SAYING NO TO GENDER.
July 6, 2012
Excerpts From the APA Task Force on GID report issued this week:
Edgardo J. Menvielle, M.D., M.S.H.S. and Richard R. Pleak, M.D.
The optimal approach to treating pre-pubertal children with GV, including DSM-defined GID, is much more controversial than treating these phenomena in adolescents and adults for several reasons. Intervention, or the lack thereof, in childhood as opposed to later may have a greater impact on long range outcome (Crouch, Liao, Woodhouse, Conway, & Creighton, 2008); however, consensus is lacking regarding the definition of desirable outcomes. Further, children have limited capacity to participate in decision making regarding their own treatment and must rely on caregivers to make treatment decisions on their behalf. An additional obstacle to consensus is the lack of randomized controlled treatment outcome studies of children with GID or with any degree of GV (Zucker, 2008b). In the absence of such studies, the highest level of evidence currently available for treatment recommendations for these children can best be characterized as expert opinion. Such opinions do not occur in a complete vacuum of relevant data, but are enlightened by a body of literature (mostly APA level C and lower), including systematic experimental single-case trials as well as both uncontrolled and inadequately controlled treatment studies, longitudinal studies without intervention, and clinical case reports.
Opinions vary widely among experts depending on a host of factors, including their theoretical orientation as well as their assumptions and beliefs (including religious) relating to the origins, meanings, and fixity/malleability of gender identity. For example, do gender variations represent natural variations, not assimilated into the social matrix, or pathological mental processes? Even among secular practitioners there is a lack of consensus regarding some of the most fundamental issues: What are indications for treatment? What outcomes with respect to gender identity, gender role behaviors, and sexual orientation are desirable? Is the likelihood of a particular outcome altered by intervention? What constitutes ethical treatment aimed at bringing about the desired changes/outcomes? Adding to this complexity, service seekers as well as providers differ in their religious and cultural beliefs as well as in their world-views regarding gender identity, appropriate gender role behaviors, and sexual orientation. Primary caregivers may, therefore, seek out providers for their children who mirror their own world views, believing that goals consistent with their views are in the best interest of their children.
We begin by examining the natural history of GID as defined by outcome without treatment. We then discuss the goals of interventions in treating these children and the factors that influence clinicians in goal selection. Next, we describe various interventions that have been proposed. The empirical data available to inform the selection of goals and interventions are then reviewed and an opinion is offered regarding the status of current credible evidence upon which treatment recommendations could be based.
June 10, 2012
“My son, Aaron, is a seventeen-year-old transboy. Looking back, I realize that Aaron has never truly changed. Aaron has always been a boy – a boy that was dressed in girls’ clothes, given girls’ toys, and held to the social expectations of a girl. When Aaron was three, I registered him for an art camp for four- and five-year-olds. Aaron demonstrated exceptional artistic talent at a very young age, and I assumed that she would be able to blend in with the group of older children since her artistic talent far surpassed that of most young children. Upon arriving to pick up Aaron at the end of the first day of camp, the teacher approached me and said that he “needed to have a word with me.” Being a teacher, I knew exactly what that meant. Read the rest of this entry »