Repeating “lore” from the conservative Christian echo chamber can be very embarrassing.

Unfortunately, folklore is not confined to fairytales

Image origin:

On Monday, ultra-conservative Catholic apologist, Jonathon Van Maren, posted something about his favorite subject of late: transgender children. Van Maren’s only interest is defending the teachings of the Catholic Church. According to the wizards at the Vatican, trans people are confused and should never transition. My interest today is first how people like Van Maren source information. Consider the following paragraph:

It is important to note here that there has been no research in the past decade that indicates that gender “reassignment” surgeries actually help those struggling with gender confusion. The University of Birmingham analyzed 100 studies done on people who had undergone sex change surgeries and found “no conclusive evidence” that the surgeries have any psychological benefits. One of the only existing long-term studies was done by the University Hospital and University of Bern in Switzerland, which looked at the quality of life of recipients of sex change surgeries. The study found that almost universally, sex change recipients reported a lower quality of life as well as many negative physical side effects.

There are no links within that text. Just in passing, Van Maren’s tirade is about children. How we got to surgery is anyone’s guess.

Van Maren is trying to pass off a University of Birmingham analysis as research. Well, in 2004, according to The Guardian, “Guardian Weekend asked Birmingham University’s Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility (Arif) to assess the findings of more than 100 follow-up studies of post-operative transsexuals.”

Aside from the fact that there is much more research over the past 15 years, what Guardian Weekend requested was certainly not peer-reviewed research published to an academic journal. The Guardian concludes:

“There is huge uncertainty over whether changing someone’s sex is a good or a bad thing,” says Dr Chris Hyde, director of Arif. “While no doubt great care is taken to ensure that appropriate patients undergo gender reassignment, there’s still a large number of people who have the surgery but remain traumatised – often to the point of committing suicide.”

As I said, this is 2004. People likely remained unhappy after surgery because of the oppression and discrimination that they faced. Dr. Hyde did not take into consideration the minority stress model and we have no idea when these people had surgery. Dr. Hyde, by the way, moved on to the University of Nottingham where he is a member of the Gas Turbine and Transmissions Research Centre. May I question his ability to analyze findings of medical science?

Does Jonathon Van Maren even realize how dated this is? Does he know that this was not research but a rather spontaneous response to the query of a newspaper?

From there we move on to Van Maren’s remarks concerning a University Hospital and University of Bern in Switzerland study. Van Maren wrote: “sex change recipients reported a lower quality of life as well as many negative physical side effects.” Van Maren is clearly claiming that patients were worse off for having the surgery.

Here is what the 2018 study actually concluded (highlight added):

Both transfeminine and transmasculine individuals reported a lower QoL compared to the general population.

The study makes this even clearer with the following conclusion:

Medical GAI [gender-affirming interventions] are associated with better mental wellbeing but even after successful medical transition, trans people remain a population at risk for low QoL and mental health, and the nonbinary group shows the greatest vulnerability.

In other words, gender affirmation helps but the population remains vulnerable when compared to the general population.

Let’s get back to trans youth without responding to Van Maren. I have read a great deal of research published to … (you know the rest). For some reason I have never mentioned the following which is from a study out of University of Southern California:

Genetic contribution to gender dysphoria

Numerous studies have suggested a role of genetics in gender identity development. A review of earlier case reports on twin pairs yielded a 39.1 % concordance rate of transgender identities in monozygotic twin pairs versus 0% in dizygotic twin pairs, which implicates genetic factors in the development of gender identity. Studies aimed at identification of individual candidate genes have been inconsistent.

The intent of that same 2017 study is characterized by its title: Research Priorities for Gender Nonconforming/Transgender Youth: Gender Identity Development and Biopsychosocial Outcomes.

It is an admission that much more research needs to be done.

One common factor that is also common sense:

The key ingredient in the health of transgender and gender nonconforming youth is parental support. Think about all of the nonsensical, self-absorbed arguments that we entertain about Parental Rights™ to withhold treatment or provide treatment that is against the best available medical advice.

Parents need to make a decision. Either they are going to listen the irrational people on the Christian right and a noisy handful of doctors at the fringes of medicine (and society for that matter) or they are going to listen to the advice from mainstream doctors which is based on the latest academic research.

Jonathon Van Maren wants parents to listen to the advice from Vatican prelates, aged crackpots like Paul R. McHugh and a few other defenders of the faith. I am here to tell you that raising a transgender kid is a challenge. Being a transgender kid is an even bigger challenge. (It’s not about you, the parent).

The American Academy of Pediatrics has tried to make it easier for doctors to understand and employ the gender affirming care treatment model. It represents the very best thinking currently available. If you want a child who realizes their full potential then it is incumbent upon parents to think mainstream medicine.

Working against parents is the pervasive and pernicious propaganda which characterizes gender specialists as evil clinicians who are determined to create a world full of cross-dressers. If they can, the propagandists want parents to delay treatment on the premise that most children grow out of gender dysphoria.

If a child is in distress and treatment is delayed they are only going to be in more distress as, for example, trans boys develop breast tissue in the absence of puberty blockers.

Where do they think that those statistics are coming from and who do they think is treating the kids who do grow out of the condition? It is the same group of doctors that they try to demonize.

The religious propagandists have tasked a former pediatrician, Dr. Michelle Cretella, with spreading the false narrative. Cretella heads what sounds like a prestigious group, The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). ACPeds is just a tiny hate group. 2017 revenues were a mere $107 thousand. (Revenues for the American Academy of Pediatrics (including chapters) were over $150 million.) Cretella is more concerned with the dogma emanating from the Vatican than the health of children.

Related content:

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.