Consider Sex-Role as the Cure, Rather Than the Problem: Diane Ehrensaft’s Eugenics Solution
May 27, 2015
The following was written by Diane Ehrensaft, Director of Mental Health at the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at University of California, San Francisco. Ehrensaft’s clinic is devoted to the controversial practice of sterilizing pre-pubertal children with off-label medications which stunt the growth of their genitals and reproductive system, preventing them from ever maturing. The formerly healthy children are then made dependent on cross-sex hormones, and the medical system, for life. Ehrensaft’s rationale for this practice is outlined in the writing excerpted below. The full text can be read here.
[*For the sake of clarity, each usage of the term “gender” in the text below has been replaced with the term “sex-role”.]
“In traditional theories, it is assumed that children clearly know their own [sex-role] by the age of six, based on the sex assigned to them at birth, the early knowledge of that assignment, the [sex-role] socialisation that helps a child know how their [sex-role] should be performed and the evolving cognitive understanding of the stability of their [sex-role] identity. Yet if a child deviates from the sex assigned to them at birth or rejects the rules of [sex-role] embedded in the socialisation process, they are assumed to be too young to know their [sex-role], suffering from either [sex-role] confusion or a [sex-role] disorder.
Following this logic, if you are “cis-[sex-role]” (your sense of your [sex-role] matches the sex assigned on your birth certificate), you can know your [sex-role], but if you are trans-[sex-role] or [sex-role]-nonconforming, you cannot possibly know.
Yet a macro survey of trans-[sex-role] adults conducted in the US indicated that a large proportion of respondents knew at an early age what their true [sex-role] was – they just kept it under wraps because of social stigma in their childhood years. So we could say that [sex-role]-creative children can possibly know their [sex-role] – and do, at a very young age.”
“Over the course of time, if we do not impose our own reactions and feelings on the children, like the ones above, and allow a space for their [sex-role] narrative to unfold, the [sex-role] they know themselves to be will come into clearer focus. From there we can give them the opportunity to transition to the [sex-role] that feels most authentic, followed later by the choice to use puberty blockers to put natal puberty on hold and later cross-sex hormones to bring their bodies into better sync with their psyche.
If we do not give them this opportunity, they may feel thwarted, frustrated, despondent, angry, deflated – feelings reflected in the symptoms correlated with being a [sex-role]-nonconforming or [sex-role]-dysphoric child. The root of these symptoms is not the child’s [sex-role], but rather the environment’s negative reactions to the child’s [sex-role].
When acceptance and allowance of the child to live in their authentic [sex-role] replace negation or suppression of a child’s nonconforming [sex-role], the symptoms have been known to subside or disappear completely, much to the surprise of those caring for the child. We might even consider [sex-role] as the cure, rather than the problem, privileging the child’s ability to not only feel, but know their [sex-role].”