This is not the legitimate, intellectually honest and neutral “space” that it claims to be.

We have a relatively new collection of anti-trans and anti-gender-affirmation advocates. It is called the “gdworkinggroup.” It doesn’t appear to be anything more than a web site but many of the participants are familiar to those of us who track transgender opponents, skeptics and obsessives. They have an entire section devoted to Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria which is nothing more than parental wishful thinking.

These folks do not get off to a very good start. On the home page is this welcome notice:

Pediatric and Adolescent Gender Dysphoria Working Group: An International Discussion Space for Clinicians and Researchers

In the past decade, the affirmative model of care has quickly become the standard when treating gender dysphoric or gender nonconforming (GNC) children and youth. This shift in treatment approach has coincided with a significant rise in the number of children and teens presenting with gender dysphoria. At the same time, the political nature of gender dysphoria has led to an increasingly polarized view of the diagnosis, making rigorous debate difficult. This site has been established as a space where clinicians and researchers can explore the evidence for different models or treatment. Our knowledge about gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and young adults is still very incomplete. The affirmative model has become standard of care before there is enough evidence to determine the long-term risks and benefits of this approach. Our aim is to share a wide range of informed views on the key research findings so that clinicians are empowered to evaluate these critically. In this way, we hope to widen the dialogue in this important field of health care.

I view that lengthy paragraph as self-contradicting. Whoever wrote it wants this website to be regarded as a legitimate and serious scientific effort open to competing points of view. However, this effort is home to folks opposed to the gender-affirming care model.

All of these folks have an agenda. Some are religious warriors, some are conversion therapy practitioners and some are feminists who regard trans women as some sort of threat.

Some of these people are exploiting the fears of parents who want their kids to be anything but transgender. Gay? Fine. Trans? Not so fine.

I want to pay particular attention to the US participants. Here are all of them:

Sasha Ayad:

I studied Psychology and History in undergrad, received a Master’s of Education, and then earned my Licensure as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) here in Texas. My therapy practice focuses on helping teens who struggle with issues of body image or gender & sexuality.

Ayad seems to specialize in online therapy but has no real training that would qualify her to do so. She opposes gender-affirming care. There is no indication that she is a religious zealot but she uses the conservative Christian talking points to oppose gender-affirmation. I gather that she is involved in conversion therapy of some sort. Her cites include anonymous, anti-gender-affirmation websites and the anti-LGBT hate group, American College of Pediatricians.

J. Michael Bailey:

Most recently, Bailey signed that December 4 letter written by Michelle Cretella, executive director of American College of Pediatricians. The letter argues that gender does not exist as a separate construct from natal sex. In 2003 Bailey wrote the controversial bookThe Man Who Would be Queen which many transgender people thought was offensive.

Michael. K Laidlaw, MD

Dr. Laidlaw seems obsessed with transgender people. He writes anti-trans pieces for the ultra-conservative Catholic Witherspoon Institute. Laidlaw is an endocrinologist. There is no evidence that he treats transgender people and his opinions are at odds with the Endocrine Society, his professional organization. Laidlaw also signed the December 4 letter from hate group, American College of Pediatrics.

Lisa Marchiano, LCSW

Marchiano is a Jungian analyst. She has an MSW from NYU. She wrote about “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” a year prior to Lisa Littman. The theory is based on the notion that teens can be influenced to have gender dysphoria. There is no direct evidence to support the theory. Littman might have plagiarized some of Marchiano’s Psychological Perspectives paper. Marchiano is a gender dysphoria skeptic in some respects but she seems sane and reasoned. There is no indication in her profile that Marchiano treats people with gender dysphoria.

Michelle Peixinho

Piexinho is a midwife. Her views on transgender people seem to be based on a “radical feminism.” perspective that transgender women pose a threat to other women. Piexinho is really a mystery. She hasn’t tweeted anything in eight years and she links to a clinic that she is no longer associated with. She is mostly a Google blank.

Canadians associated with this website include Kenneth Zucker, Susan Bradley, Ray Blanchard and James Cantor. All of these people are, or were, associated with the now closed gender clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The clinic was accused of engaging in pediatric conversion therapy. There are also participants from the UK and Australia.

The bottom line is that this endeavor has nothing to do with an intellectually honest debate about the proper care of transgender people (particularly trans youth). None of these people are consistent advocates of gender-affirming care which is now considered best practice by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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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.