Not only are they wrong but they potentially cause misery that can lead to self-harm.

Dr. Kristina Olson is one of the leading authorities on transgender youth

Image credit: University of Washington

James Risdon and Pete Baklinski (presumably catechists) have written a polemic about a Canadian doctor who charges $9,000 for a mastectomy on transgender boys as young as 14. Oh the horror.

The procedure that they are referring to is called “FTM top surgery.” It involves a double mastectomy, chest contouring and grafting nipples to what is a male breast. While puberty blockers prevent the development of breast tissue, at some point many transgender men will opt for the surgical procedure.

If a trans boy has the surgical procedure it is usually in consultation with his therapist, the surgeon and his parents. Parents and the boy provide fully informed consent. I am not qualified to know at what age this surgery is appropriate. Someone with “MD” after their name is necessary. Neither Mr. Risdon not Mr. Baklinski are qualified to opine on gender affirming surgery.

In spite of their lack of qualifications they write:

Dr. Marc DuPéré will perform the procedure, despite the vast majority of children with gender identity confusion eventually reverting to their natal sex, as long as the teen girl is “firm about the decision to transition,” he wrote in a now deleted post on his website.

If they want to weigh in on medical science then they should stick to the science. “Gender identity confusion” is not in the literature. They are referring to gender dysphoria and people who have gender dysphoria are not confused. They are quite certain of their gender.

An article in last September’s Scientific American concluded:

As science looks more closely … it becomes increasingly clear that a pair of chromosomes do not always suffice to distinguish girl/boy—either from the standpoint of sex (biological traits) or of gender (social identity).

Confusion has found a home with James Risdon and Pete Baklinski. In an effort to conform medical science to the teachings of the Catholic Church they are unable to appreciate the two constructs; natal sex and gender. They also want to dismiss the scientific fact that when sex and gender are incongruent, gender prevails most of the time.

With regard to desistance, again, they are unfamiliar with the literature. The applicable passage in the DSM supposedly reads:

Rates of persistence of gender dysphoria from childhood into adolescence or adulthood vary. In natal males, persistence has ranged from 2.2% to 30%. In natal females, persistence has ranged from 12% to 50%.

I cannot guarantee that the quote is accurate since in comes from a hate group, American College of Pediatricians (I do not have the DSM). The ranges are extremely large and note the absence of the word “transgender.”

Dr. Kristina Olson explains, in research published to the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (emphasis added):

The 3 largest and most-cited studies have reported on the
adolescent or adult gender identities of cohorts who had, in
childhood, showed gender “atypical” patterns of behavior.
Of those who could be followed up, a minority were
transgender: 1 of 44, 9 of 45 and 21 of 54. Most of the
remaining children later identified as gay, lesbian, or
bisexual (although a small number also was heterosexual).

However, close inspection of these studies suggests that
most children in these studies were not transgender to begin
. In 2 studies, a large minority (40%
and 25%) of the children did not meet
the criteria for GID to start with, suggest-
ing they were not transgender (because
transgender children would meet the
criteria). Further, even those who met
the GID diagnostic criteria were rarely transgender.

In other words, whatever the desistence rate is, it does not include kids who transitioned. Olson goes on to explain that once they transition they are highly unlikely to detransition. I cannot provide a link because the copyrighted material is not in the public domain. I had to purchase the article.

Dr. Olson heads up the TransYouth Project. She is the winner of the National Science Federation’s Alan T. Waterman Award. It is the government’s highest honor for scientists still in the early phases of their careers. The award comes with a $1 million grant which Olson will use to continue her study of transgender children.

I know that this set reads my stuff because I get the emails. They are very polite by the way. Nevertheless polite bigotry is oxymoronic. In spite of reading the science they persist in propagandizing desistence rates that are incorrect. It is like dealing with Scientologists or Moonies. There is no amount of evidence that will change their perception. I stopped responding to the emails because it is a waste of my time and energy.

The bottom line is that desistence rates for transgender children are very low and parents who prohibit transitioning are only delaying the inevitable while causing immense distress that can lead to self-harm. Moreover, the protocol of puberty blockers followed by hormones followed by elective surgery produces the best cosmetic result which increases the individual’s ego strengths and sense of self-satisfaction.

One more time: Religion is a belief system. It is based on faith. Science is based on evidence. The medical science regarding transgender people is unambiguous and important. Children in distress who transition end up having levels of anxiety and depression comparable to the general public. No kid should suffer because of religious dogma. It is cruel and spectacularly stupid.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.