My post (on my public Facebook page) on transgenderism in response to a question from a parent, has raised a lot of concerns and controversy. I’d like to add more information to the discussion.
First, I always respond to questions as serious as this from a medical perspective, not from an ethical or moral one.
Of course, we can make any argument from these perspectives, but we also need to know medical facts – particularly when it comes to issues as serious and confusing as transgenderism. When a parent is confronted with a situation as serious as this, he/she must not react too quickly and do whatever is necessary to help the child not make any decision until he/she is an adult. Far too many parents quickly respond to their child.
I am strongly opposed to reversing a child’s biological gender for the following reasons:
- Any medical treatment given to a person has to have a consistently reproducible outcome that helps a patient well over 90% of the time if it is to be given. Changing the gender of a patient DOES NOT have this. Transitioning a child would be like a doctor giving a patient an antibiotic for meningitis saying “Well, I hope this works.” No good doctor would even consider doing that. Therefore, it is malpractice.
- True transgenderism is very hard to diagnose. Children who are truly transgender, feel for many years that they are “living in someone else’s body”. Many kids today say that they “want” to be the opposite sex not that they feel they “are” the opposite sex. There is an enormous difference.
- There is strong evidence that when children who transition to the opposite sex hit their adult years (20’s – the overwhelming majority) about 75% identify with their biologic sex.
- Giving children hormones and surgery carries serious medical risks and must be taken as such.
- Children who transition have a much higher risk of serious depression and/or suicide when they are adults.
- Transitioning to the opposite sex renders the patient infertile. This is an irreversible event that has a profound effect on a person’s life permanently. So, if we are going to chemically castrate young boys, we’d better have damn good evidence that the reason for doing so is life-threatening.
- Children are not ready to make any decision about permanent life-altering changes. The teen years are complex psychologically and physically and are in constant flux. A child needs to come to full adult cognitive and psychological maturity BEFORE weighing in on changing his/her life permanently.
We cannot single out the issue of transgenderism and treat it counter to the way we treat all other medical issues but that is exactly what some physicians are doing.
As a culture, we have pressured children, parents and even physicians to jump in with treatments that are NOT medically sound. If an adult chooses to transition, that is his/her right. But we adults who oversee the mental, physical and psychological health of children must not allow anyone to persuade us or them to permanently change the entire course of their lives – particularly when we have no clear evidence that any benefits outweigh the very serious risks.
I strongly encourage anyone interested in understanding transgenderism and the medical studies that have been done read Dr. Leonard Sax’s Why Gender Matters. Dr. Sax has researched this topic about as well as any scientist has and his book helps illuminate much of the medical literature.