Trans Youth Family Allies Suicides
December 3, 2011
I got the following message from TYFA’s Director Kim Pearson yesterday. It was such an alarming comment that I thought I would respond to it in a post. Trans Youth Family Allies is an organization dedicated to promoting medicalized transsexualization before the age of informed consent on minor children who don’t conform to sex-roles, even though all research shows that 97% of children who present for professional intervention for gender dysphoria distress-if left alone- grow up to be happy, healthy non-gender dysphoric adults (often, but not always, gay or lesbian).
Ms. Pearson advocates injecting these pre-pubertal children with experimental drugs that suppress puberty, followed by synthetic hormone treatments designed to sterilize the children before sexual maturation. Absent all scientific evidence, she believes that children who reject their assigned sex roles have been born with a congenital birth defect of the brain. Since there is no scientific evidence of such a brain defect, and thus no “cure” for one, she promotes medical sterilization, lifetime disability and drug dependence, and radical plastic surgery treatments for these formerly-healthy children. The organization is funded by adult transsexuals. Here is her comment and my reply:
Thank you all so very much for spreading the word about our organization; for raising our profile on the internet and driving hits to our website. There are many many families out there who will read what you write and be frightened and others who see through you and find the compassion and support they need with TYFA. The attempted suicide rate among transgender folks is 41%; in the general population 1.6%; in families supported by TYFA…LESS THAN 1.5%. Entertain the possibility that we are providing unconditional love and compassionate support to an under-served and misunderstood community.
Hi Kim. I’m glad you approve of my posts about TYFA, particularly since they’ve been quite critical of your program. You offered no critique nor dispute of anything stated in the post you commented on, which I take to mean that you confirm the accuracy of my report. As for your assertion that the facts as reported will “frighten” the families of gender rebellious children, I have to disagree. I don’t think the families of these children are as “frightful” as you seem to think they are. At least here on my site, the families of gender-nonconforming children are intelligent, inquisitive, concerned, and perfectly capable of doing their own research and making up their own minds. Perhaps things are different on your site. The families that click on my “transgender children” tag and read the relevant posts, and follow the references and links to supportive data are doing their homework, researching the facts, and making their own informed decisions, not cowering fearfully. Knowledge is power. From the feedback I’ve gotten from families- the more information the better. I notice your site does not cite any supportive data or research, so perhaps folks are different over at your place.
The only “compassion and support” I see you offering is the “support” of reparative treatment designed to promote sex-role conformity: experimental medical regimes that cause lifetime irreversible sterility, drug dependence, and physical disability, as outlined in the intro to this post, for kids whose parents are struggling, adjusting and looking for ways to be supportive of their kids just the way they are. Radical drug and surgical “correction” seems a heck of a way to support kids to be themselves.
Speaking of frightening the parents of gender non-conforming children, what I find so astounding about your comment are your suicide statistics. I know you’ve refused to cite any data backing up the claims you make in your “educational” presentations to church groups, and you have declined to reveal any source for the extremely controversial assertions you make about child development (assertions that run in opposition to all published research). You claim your mystical contrarian data will be revealed only after scientific bodies will support it (even though you have not ever submitted such data to any scientific board).
I’m addressing your comment here because I’m sure it’s in the best interest of all concerned if we deal in facts when presenting data, and I’d like to provide you with an opportunity to correct the inaccuracy of the statistics you have used in your comment here and elsewhere. Unless your intent is to deliberately distort the facts I am sure you will correct this information the next time you “educate” the public about the suicide attempt rates of children in your program.
We know that there are around 390 million people living in the United States, and that there are around 38,000 completed suicides annually. About one in 10,260 people commit suicide annually (0.0097 of the US population).
There is no reliable data available on the prevalence of suicide attempts, but there are estimates. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that for every suicide there are 11 attempted suicides. The CDC places that estimate at 25 attempts per completed suicide. So we can say that the estimated rate of attempted suicides relative to the 38,000 completed suicides is estimated to be 418,000 to 950,000 annually. This means that between one in 933 people, to one in 411 people are estimated to attempt suicide annually in the United States. (0.107 – 0.24 % of the US population are estimated to attempt suicide annually). These estimates are a far cry from the numbers you claimed as fact. The attempted suicide rate that you cited for the children in the TYFA program (1.5%) would be an incredibly high rate compared to the general population (0.107-0.24%).
I’m interested to know how you calculated your numbers of estimated suicide attempts for the general population and especially for the minor children you claim to be representing. Perhaps you were estimating the lifetime rate of suicide attempts, but since the CDC estimates the lifetime suicide attempt rate in the US to be 4.6% I don’t see how you arrived at your estimated figures which by any measure are in stark disagreement with any estimates that anyone else is proposing. If you are attempting to calculate lifetime attempt rates of a small group of children, then those lifetime rates should be far lower than the national lifetime average since the lifespan you are measuring is much shorter than the average US lifespan, which according to the CDC is now 77.9 years. In fact comparison of such a lifetime attempt rate between those who have lived 12 years and those who have lived 77.9 would be essentially meaningless, even if your control number for the average lifetime attempt rate wasn’t completely inaccurate. Which it unquestionably is. Any lifetime average for children should be far lower than lifetime averages for the general population.
I can’t find anyone, worldwide, presenting anything close to your 1.6% figure except one solitary source: The trans-activist group behind the “Injustice at Every Turn” report, which conducted internet polls and tried to pass them off as data. And they cited a source which contradicts that statistic completely. Incredibly sloppy and inaccurate false data that contradicts all known research to such a great degree that one questions whether it was simply a matter of incompetent, inept miscalculation. Child suicides are nothing to play fast and loose with. Dead children are not just “statistics” to be fudged.
I’m very interested to see where you find the calculations of the CDC and NIMH to be incorrect. I’m sure you wouldn’t just make things up out of thin air (?) -so if we could all see where these numbers come from it would be an excellent learning experience for us all. I look forward to your corrections. Thanks in advance.
Speaking of lifetime rates of suicide attempts, the 41% transgender rate you quoted comes from an anonymous internet poll conducted by the same group that fabricated the 1.6% figure: an activist group with the expressed intent of collecting evidence of high morbidity among online transgender respondents. Any time surveys are conducted online, particularly those with an expressed agenda, the results are essentially meaningless. Add in the fact that the publishers have been proven to fabricate data. Regardless, life-span rates (even fabricated ones) cannot be meaningfully compared with childen who have not even reached adulthood. As someone who heads an organization which purports to specialize in pediatrics you must be aware of that.
Have you even surveyed the children in your organization for their pre-TYFA suicide attempt rates? You should certainly have done that, particularly because you cite post-intervention suicide attempt rates as evidence of your program’s effectiveness. Comparison of pre-TYFA and post-TYFA suicide attempt rates is the only way to evaluate a change in attempted suicide rates. Seems like that would be common sense. So. What is that number? And is the 1.5% rate you claimed an annual rate or a lifetime one? Or an “after joining TYFA” rate with no set duration? (In which case it would be an incredibly high rate compared to that of the general public). How does that 1.5% compare with the “pre-TYFA” attempt rate- or did you neglect to poll for that? A comparison of pre and post TYFA rates might be illuminating. Look forward to hearing.
A skeptical person might think that inaccurate suicide statistics are being manufactured or misrepresented in attempt to “frighten” the families of gender non-conforming children into following and supporting your program, especially since you stated that you personally believe these families are prone to being steered by fear. Telling parents that their kids are going to DIE if they don’t follow your program is about as fear-mongering as it gets. Which is all the more reason why we’d like to see those suicide statistics. The real ones.
I think we would also like to know the TYFA participant rate of actual completed suicides. I know that your TYFA co-founder’s 16 year old daughter committed suicide two years after “transitioning” and being celebrated as one of the “success stories”of TYFA’s program.
How many other TYFA “successes” have committed suicide after following your program? What percentage of TYFA children have committed suicide after joining TYFA? That would also be a helpful statistic to know.
- For concerned parents that would like an alternate viewpoint to the TYFA program the following articles (several of which are written by concerned trans people) may be helpful. There’s much more info out there too. Follow links! It’s hard to be a parent when your kid refuses to conform. Hang in there! You are not alone!