"Crystal" is the pseudonym of a mother who cannot accept her gender-diverse son - Now daughter
Not all crystals are pretty. “Crystal” is the pseudonym of a mother who cannot accept her gender-diverse son – Now daughter.

The mother of a young adult with gender dysphoria is predisposed to believe all of the rhetoric from the Christian Right.

In is not an accident that the outlet for what amounts to anti-transgender propaganda and hyperbole is the Heritage Foundation blog.

I have a cynical view of people who write under pseudonyms. Perhaps Heritage Foundation could have done a more thorough job of vetting “Crystal.” More likely, I suspect, Heritage staff wanted to avoid finding out something that would contradict what she has to say. Nevertheless someone should have done a logic check at a minimum.

Before I get to the Heritage Foundation polemic. Crystal is trying to change New Jersey’s law banning conversion therapy: Remove GENDER IDENTITY from the NJ Conversion Therapy Law.

That is perplexing because, in the Heritage piece she writes:

At age 19, my son announced his identity as a woman, despite never having shown any prior signs of gender dysphoria. Though I did not understand what was going on, I acknowledged his discomfort. Truly, nothing pains a parent more than when your child is hurting.

19 years of age is an adult. Unless I have succumbed to rapid onset dyslexia, my understanding is that the New Jersey law is limited to protecting minors from a course of treatment that has no basis in science:

A person who is licensed to provide professional counseling under Title 45 of the Revised Statutes, including, but not limited to, a psychiatrist, licensed practicing psychologist, certified social worker, licensed clinical social worker, licensed social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, certified psychoanalyst, or a person who performs counseling as part of the person’s professional training for any of these professions, shall not engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.

Therefore, at 19 years of age, the law did not apply to her son. So what, exactly, is Crystal’s problem? As a legal adult, the guy could have gotten any form of “therapy” that he wanted; no matter how potentially toxic.

“Crystal is either very controlling or that she is relating information in selective-observation-plus-edit mode.”

There is yet another problem:

Time and time again, therapists told me that the only alternative to transition is suicide—despite the fact that chemical or surgical transition procedures have not been shown to alleviate suicidal ideation. In fact, even after surgery, transgender individuals are 19 times more likely to commit suicide that their comparable peers.

Actually, there are several problems with the above. A mountain of evidence exists that gender-affirming care relieves symptoms. Crystal has not done sufficient research.

Were I the parent of someone experiencing gender dysphoria, I would read every piece of literature I could get my hands on and then discuss the research with my offspring. The only filter that I would apply is that the article would have to be published to a well-respected academic journal with robust peer review. I would consider more recent research more reliable than older research.

In other words, I would pay attention to articles in the Journals of the American Medical Association and disregard articles published to Linacre. Linacre is the journal of the Catholic Medical Association.

Then there is the “19 times more likely to commit suicide” nonsense. That is a right-wing religious talking point that originated with a 2011 Swedish study. The subjects of that study had surgery as far back as the 1970s.

Therefore, Crystal is content to make judgements based upon the utterances of people with a religious objection to the very existence of transgender people. The lead investigator of that study — if Crystal bothered to read it — speaks better English than most people in Miami and would have responded to an inquiry. But Crystal obviously never read the paper.

Making that inquiry would require someone to want evidence-based truth. Not making the inquiry could be the product of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias causes people not to want to entertain information that might conflict with their preconceived conclusions.

To be fair, not making the inquiry could also mean that Crystal just isn’t familiar or comfortable with the process.

Furthermore, to refresh the quote: “Time and time again, therapists told me that the only alternative to transition is suicide.”

That is simply untrue. Unhappiness does not necessarily lead to suicide. Furthermore, I communicate with enough of these people to know — to a reasonable degree of certainty — that clinicians do not speak in those terms.

Moreover, why are the doctors speaking to her in the first place? Her son was an adult. It would appear that Crystal is either very controlling or that she is relating information in selective-observation-plus-edit mode.

Furthermore, there is more troubling rhetoric including:

“It is quite possible that, by not supporting her son’s gender identity, she eliminated herself from the discussion.”

Despite what the activists say, the effects of puberty blockers and hormones are irreversible. Not only do they lead to sterilization, they can contribute to other health problems, such as the loss of bone density and cardiovascular disease.

The leading experts in the area of hormones are the the folks at the Endocrine Society, one of the oldest medical societies in the world. According to the Endocrine Society, puberty blockers are reversible do not cause infertility.

Furthermore, at 19 years of age, puberty blockers would not have been on the treatment menu. Puberty blockers prevent puberty. They cannot reverse puberty. So why is this even a subject for discussion?

Moreover, this has nothing to do with mythical activists. This is about medical science. Crystal is correct in that puberty blockers and hormones could have undesirable side effects. However, she is repeating a one-sided religious right talking point.

The job of a clinician is to help their patient make a decision by weighing benefits against possible consequences. Clinicians seem to do a pretty good job. I can say that because I am unaware of litigation for transgender medicine malpractice.

Even a signed consent form does not waive liability, and does not eliminate the option of pursuing damages for medical malpractice. Doctors hate litigation because it drives up the cost of already very expensive malpractice insurance.

Yet, there is more:

Time and time again, I was treated by school faculty, doctors, and activists as “the enemy” for being unwilling to support my son’s sterilization and mutilation. And my son’s school kept me in the dark. While I was interviewing therapists, my son’s college campus doctor prescribed him estradiol, an estrogen hormone used to help biological males appear more like women, without ever notifying me. I found out six months later after the fact.

First, I take exception to the offensive hyperbole. Supporting a son’s gender identity — something that she did not do — is not comparable to advocating “mutilation.” It is quite possible that, by not supporting her son’s gender identity, she eliminated herself from the discussion.

If a parent does not support their son’s (now daughter’s) gender identity then they make themselves adverse to medical science. Doctors might treat them accordingly. It is impossible to reason with someone who is convinced that ancient texts are more authoritative than medical science.

In fact, this entire essay verifies that “Crystal” is a science denier. She seems unwilling to accept the fact that she has a transgender daughter.

Secondly, with respect to being notified, doctors cannot disclose adult medical information without the patient’s consent. It appears to me that this woman is all mouth and no ears. She might have locked herself out of being a medical participant.

Her son might have realized that mommy would disapprove of any gender-affirming treatment. That, in turn, suggests that “Crystal” has a religious objection. Once people get to that stage they cannot, as I previously stated, be reasoned with and they become immune to evidence contrary to their beliefs.

Crystal continues to kvetch about how she was “kept in the dark.” Then there is this:

Today, 20 states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws that prevent children who are suffering from gender dysphoria from obtaining a fair and balanced medical assessment.

“Getting someone with acute gender dysphoria to talk themselves out of the condition requires a gender identity conversion effort which is conversion therapy.”

The above is a deliberate falsehood. There is nothing in the New Jersey law limiting diagnostics. In fact, the law is specific regarding gender identity:

As used in this section, “sexual orientation change efforts” means the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender; except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another …

Eventually she gets to materials straight from Ryan T. Anderson or Tony Perkins:

Transitioning to the opposite sex is biologically impossible. Cross sex hormones and surgeries may alter a person’s appearance, but they can’t change a person’s sex.

The above represents the logical fallacy of the straw man argument. No one attempts to, or expects, to biologically transition their sex. Chromosomes are a reality; one that every trans person is aware of. She is refuting an argument that hasn’t been proffered.

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2

More incoherent bullshit:

Accompanying gender dysphoria are issues such as autism, which many counselors don’t take the time to understand. But, the gender affirmation-only approach in states like New Jersey only encourages our children and young adults to transition. We would serve our children better by providing them with proper mental evaluations as to why they experience anxiety in their real bodies.

Peer-reviewed research demonstrates no link between gender dysphoria and autism. This reminds me of the mythological link between abortions and breast cancer.

“Crystal” is intentionally misstating the applicability of conversion therapy bans. I no way, whatsoever, is an “evaluation” considered conversion therapy. Moreover, evaluations do not lead to any result other than an understanding of the condition.

Then there is just an outright compound lie:

Accepting your body is not conversion therapy. Talking through your feelings is not conversion therapy. Our elected officials need to hear from parents like us and they need to listen.

Getting someone with acute gender dysphoria to talk themselves out of the condition requires a gender identity conversion effort which is conversion therapy. She is correct that “talking through your feelings is not conversion therapy.”

In fact, it would be impossible for a doctor to diagnose gender dysphoria in the absence of a patient talking through their feelings. Despite her attempts to characterize it otherwise, nothing in New Jersey prevents obtaining a full understanding of the patient’s feelings.

I concede that it is difficult for a parent to accept gender incongruent offspring. The most liberal mother in Massachusetts would prefer to have cisgender, heterosexual children.

At some point, however, one has to accept the best medical advice available. If a second opinion (perhaps a third) coincides with the first then it’s probably time for acceptance.

Children — including young adults — need unconditional parental support. When they do not feel that they are being supported they might cut themselves off from the offending parent.

“Offering false choices based on pseudoscience says something about a parent’s priorities. They can choose their offspring over dogma. They should!”

This indifference or obtuseness is nothing new. For years a segment of the religious right has been urging parents not to attend their child’s same-sex wedding. Religious conservatives are focused on dispensing either approval or disapproval as shame.

I know gay men and women who made the decision not to invite their parents to their weddings. In doing so they removed the ability of parents to demonstrate their disapproval. No one wants to put themselves in the position of having to plead for parental approval of their sexuality.

This is even more true for transgender people. They do not want to solicit approval and risk conveying the falsehood that the approval of parents is necessary. They should not have to.

Some religious parents come to the realization that the doctrine is wrong. Some do not. Either way, it is their choice. In contrast, human sexuality does not offer choices. It is what it is. Offering false choices based on pseudoscience says something about a parent’s priorities. They can choose their offspring over dogma. They should!

I sent “Crystal” an email from her website. I doubt she will answer. I will send another in case she wants to offer a response which I will provide. I doubt that she will do that either.

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.