“…trans youth who make the social transition at a young age are doing remarkably well. They have depression rates comparable to their peers and only slightly elevated rates of anxiety. They also show very strong self-esteem.”

Dr. Kristina Olson, researcher and

founder of the TransYouth project.

Trans teen via Scientific American

At the Heritage Foundation’s blog, Cathy Ruse (an employee of Family Research Council) writes:

Transgender ideologues have tremendous power in our culture, and they’re wielding it against the least powerful. If children and their families can survive the pill-pushing gender clinicians, they still have to face the virtue-signaling politicians and their speech bans.

I do not know who these “gender clinicians” are. The parents of most kids with gender dysphoria will first consult with a psychiatrist. I presume and expect doctors to act solely in the best interests of their patients. “Pill pushers” are highly unlikely. There is no economic or professional benefit to being negligent. This is just the continuing spread of anti-trans mythology.

Those doctors who specialize in the treatment of pediatric gender dysphoria invest considerable time and effort to become specialists. There are far better ways for a physician to make money. Hell, the doctor for a state-issued marijuana card charges $300 for about 20 minutes including the paperwork.

But that is less important than what is really going on here. I will get to that in conclusion. Ruse continues:

Put Kids on Drugs, and They’ll Stay Trans

Last week I attended a panel of feminists, self-identified lesbians, and former trans-identified people at The Heritage Foundation, all speaking against the transgender agenda.

None of those people are qualified to discuss the matter and that includes those ex-trans folks. At least three of the four of the supposed feminists are affiliated with what appears to be a front group funded by Alliance Defending Freedom. There are feminists who oppose transgender people on the zero-sum premise that trans women take something away from cisgender women. The fact that I disagree is far less relevant than the simple fact that their complaint has nothing to do with the application of medical science.

I do not doubt that there are ex-transgender people. They exist. Each is an individual story. There are so many variables to consider including the age at which they became gender dysphoric, the qualifications of the person who diagnosed them, the treatment they received, the circumstances leading to transition, the extent of their transition, when they desisted, why they desisted, family support, religious convictions and so on. I would also like to know how a tiny minority of a tiny minority were recruited and why they agreed to participate in a religious-right forum. What is their agenda?

As the religious right endlessly reminds us, most children with gender dysphoria grow out of the condition. Along with the fact that no parent wants a trans kid, it follows indisputably that children are not being encouraged to transition. Clinicians do not transition kids. Kids transition kids. Desperate for relief those with acute gender dysphoria find ways (sometimes in secret) to affirm their gender to some degree.

Transgender people — adults and children — are transgender in order to relieve the suffering caused by a medical condition. It is neither an ideology nor a doctrine. No one — no adult, no child — volunteers to be transgender.

Transgender people are individuals who are willing to be persecuted, marginalized, abused and discriminated against because getting relief from their suffering is more important than those consequences. And one more time:

There is no intervention known to medical science to address gender dysphoria.

Neither Cathy Ruse nor Ryan T. Anderson have an answer. In fact they are contributing to the minority stress syndrome. They should think about that. Claiming that they should not be transgender is moronic unless they have a substitute supported by peer-reviewed research published to a respected academic journal — something that does not exist.

Their stories are tragically familiar. Experts tell parents they must affirm their children’s sex confusion and put them on puberty blockers to “buy them time” to explore their true identity. This is now the default position. But “buying time” is a line no parent should buy.

Nonsense. She is referring to people who are participating in an organized anti-LGBT venture. If their stories are “familiar” (and I have not had the patience to cull them from an hour, ten minute video) one has to wonder about the source of the script.

If the condition is severe, experts might recommend puberty blockers. Aside from giving the child some time they prevent conditions that would add considerable stress and misery. They prevent trans girls from growing beards and trans boys from growing breasts. These things can be catastrophic for an especially vulnerable and fragile kid.

A kernel of truth:

Anecdotal stories abound of puberty blockers being the first step in an inevitable march toward the transsexual life. In the only study to date following gender dysphoric children who were socially affirmed and put on puberty blockers, 100 percent of the children continued to identify as transgender, and pursued further sex-change interventions.

There is an omission on Ruse’s part. The same study concludes that kids in distress who transition function at a level comparable to their cisgender peers. Their levels of anxiety and depression are at, or near normal.

I also doubt that Ruse’s cite is the only study. I know that Dr. Kristina Olson (TransYouth Project) at University of Washington has numerous studies completed or in progress. Dr. Sari Reisner at Harvard has a number of transgender studies in progress. Yes, Dr. Reisner is a trans man. That has no effect on evidence.

All that aside, Ruse is claiming that, if puberty blockers were withheld, at least some of these children would not become transgender. Ruse sees zebras; I see horses. The more likely and simpler explanation is that, when gender dysphoria is severe enough to warrant puberty blockers, the desistance rates are minuscule because of the condition, not the treatment of the condition.

One. Hundred. Percent. This stands in stark contrast to gender dsyphoric [sic] children who are allowed to go through puberty naturally. The American Psychiatric Association reports that up to 97.8 percent of boys and 88 percent of girls experience an end to their sex confusion and do not end up identifying as transgender adults.

Ms. Ruse has not explored the research on this subject. Aside from the fact that those percentages are based on four questionable studies, what she is describing are the many children for whom the condition is not severe enough that they are compelled to affirm their gender. Nor does Ruse appreciate the importance of early diagnosis. Dr. Olson explains:

Transgender adults and teens who did not go through the early social transition of kids … who were often rejected by peers and even their own families tend to have highly elevated rates of anxiety and depression. Estimates suggest that more than 40 percent of these largely unsupported trans teens and adults will attempt suicide.

When people suggest withholding puberty blockers they are required to consider the consequences of doing so. They are increasing suffering for purposes other than the best interests of their child. They are vastly increasing the potential for self-harm.

The fiction:

Outlaw Talk Therapy, and They’ll Stay Trans

Why are adolescents suddenly announcing they’re in the wrong body? Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University examined this question in her study of hundreds of cases of rapid-onset gender dysphoria. She reported her findings in a peer-reviewed study that transgender ideologues tried (somewhat successfully) to squelch.

There is no form of talk therapy known to medical science that reduces or cures gender dysphoria. Littman’s study is still under review by its substandard publisher. It is based on anonymous adults who filled out forms. There were recruited from three crackpot trans-denial websites so they were already predisposed to make such claims. I am confident that so-called rapid-onset gender dysphoria does not exist.

For the record (link added):

Recruitment information with a link to a 90-question survey, consisting of multiple-choice, Likert-type and open-ended questions, was placed on three [trans-denial] websites where parents had reported rapid onsets of gender dysphoria. Website moderators and potential participants were encouraged to share the recruitment information and link to the survey with any individuals or communities that they thought might include eligible participants to expand the reach of the project through snowball sampling techniques. Data were collected anonymously via SurveyMonkey.

How this crap got published in the first place is a subject of some concern. What I have learned is that, once published, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get something unpublished irrespective of just how unscientific it might be.

Furthermore (emphasis added):

Many (62.5%) of the AYAs [adolescents and young adults] had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder or neurodevelopmental disability prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria.

As an aside, what worries me is that some of these kids might actually have gender dysphoria. They have parents in denial who relegate the condition to a crackpot theory which means that these children are not being treated properly.

But suppose I am wrong and that gender dysphoria is contagious. What bearing does that have on how clinicians seek to treat the condition? There is no evidence and no claim that anyone who supposedly “caught” gender dysphoria transitioned or felt compelled to transition.

Back to Ms. Ruse:

Some teens are rejecting their physical bodies because of trauma (like rape) and psychiatric distress (like abuse), but these influences are routinely ignored by gender specialists in their zeal to further the trans agenda. But the most eye-opening part of the study is the outsized role of social media and peer pressure in this phenomenon. The stories reported by Littman are tragic.

If there is any evidence to support any of that, Ms. Ruse has not cited it. The validity of testimonies requires interviews in a non-judgmental environment; one where they are not trying to please a questioner. Then it is subject to a standard set of questions. Littman, by the way, does not report “stories.”

How do we help suffering kids who find themselves sucked into this dangerous “social contagion”? Trans activists are making sure we can’t help them at all.

They have persuaded 15 states and the District of Columbia to pass laws outlawing talk therapy for teens who want to stop feeling they were born in the wrong body. These therapy bans, originally designed to deny help for kids who seek talk therapy to end unwanted same-sex attractions, have now been expanded to deny help for kids who want to accept their biological reality. New York is the latest to join this list.

Bans on conversion therapy do not preclude qualified clinicians from diagnosing the condition. Nor is there a ban on talk therapy which allows the child to come to terms with their gender (which might be their natal sex). What is banned is conversion therapy which strives to change a child’s gender identity. It is banned because there is no evidence that such therapy is effective and without considerable risk. To repeat:

There is no intervention known to medical science to address gender dysphoria.

At the end of 2016 (the last year for which financial information is available) Heritage Foundation reported a net-asset value of a quarter-billion dollars. They could easily fund research to support the theories of their employee, Ryan T. Anderson. They could try to get kids who are being treated with the gender-affirming model to desist. If it is not coercive it might be ethical. Heritage knows, however, that it would never work because it would have to be based on a theory relative to the underlying cause of gender dysphoria. Most of the parents who claim that their kids got the condition from contagion conceded that their children have an unrelated adverse psychiatric disorder.

So what exactly is going on here:

I am not a mind reader. Having written that, Cathy Ruse and Ryan T. Anderson are both ultra-conservative Christians; orthodox Catholics. People can believe anything they want and I am not wed to the idea that people of faith are stupid. However, the teachings of the Catholic Church preclude the recognition of transgender people as transgender. They are depicted as victims of “transgender ideology” or people who are “gender confused.” It is not a stretch to suggest that Anderson and Ruse are defending the Church’s teachings.

But there is more:

Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council are extremely concerned over gender identity becoming a protected class. Conversion therapy only exists to supposedly prove that sexuality is a choice and, therefore, not immutable and, thus, not subject to nondiscrimination protections. That is the reality and that is why these organizations persist in claiming that conversion therapy is safe and effective despite the absence of proof — evidence.

What was the purpose of this panel discussion? Why is it so important to weave this tale about the supposed dangers of puberty blockers while suggesting that the better alternative is talk therapy in spite of the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the gender-affirming care model?

It is the same purpose and is the same reason that the same people are still pushing “reparative” therapy for gay people. It serves as pretext for discrimination and their efforts to deny anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. It is a religious objection.

Last Saturday I had a lengthy telephone conversation with Nadine Smith. Nadine is the very effective CEO of Equality Florida. What they have accomplished in this very red state of Florida is remarkable. Anyway Nadine reminded me that “they” are attacking transgender people in exactly the same way that they attacked gay people (and still do).

The reason for the commonality, in my opinion, is because the grievance is the same. It is a religious objection to LGBTQ people.

Just today, a religious conservative told me that we should be doing “victory laps.” Doing so would seem premature. It is still perfectly legal in many states to discriminate against LGBT people. LGBT children continue to be put at risk with nonsensical and unscientific theories regarding their sexuality.

That fucking baker is still able to say: “No cake for you!” We are a very long way from taking victory laps which first require equal protection and due process for LGBT people. (The Equality Act scares the living shit out of these folks.) We require nothing more and nothing less. That will probably put an end to much of pseudoscience because it will no longer have a purpose.

The same way that they stopped dishonestly claiming that gays are crappy parents once we achieved marriage equality. The hyperbolic rhetoric ceased to serve a purpose. And by the way, if they thought that they had a legitimate gay parenting argument then they would persist in an effort to overturn Obergefell. They do not and they know it.

I remain deeply concerned about the welfare of trans and gender nonconforming kids. The kind of misinformation promoted by groups like Heritage Foundation is what parents might want to hear. All that we can do is to fight back. We must make our minority voices heard.

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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.