On the Science of Changing Sex

Shameful History of Reparitive Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on June 11, 2018

Kay BrownThere is an ongoing ‘war of words’ concerning the best course of treatment for gender atypical & dysphoric youth.  Lately, as our society has learned to accept and even celebrate LGBT youth, there has been a reaction from religious and reactionary bigots who would wish to return to the days when parents and medical caregivers could treat gender atypicality as a serious psychiatric disorder that needed drastic interventions in and of itself, rather than a non-pathological variance found in all human societies.  So, perhaps its time to review the history of such interventions in the light of more recent scientific and humanitarian knowledge.

First, one must understand that historically, gender atypicality concerns were mostly focused on male children, sissies.  It was often assumed that ‘tomboys’ would outgrow it, but sissy boys would all too likely grow up to be homosexual or transsexual, both equally considered as disordered, criminal, and to be avoided at all costs.

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To understand the nature of a given intervention one must first understand the underlying assumptions about the etiology of gender atypicality, dysphoria, and sexual orientation that a given intervention was designed to address.  During the mid-20th Century several competing theories vied with each other but there was a common thread, that of a disturbance of nurture.  That is to say, that they rejected the role of biology and focused on the environment.  So, if the environment is broken, so will the child be.  From there, several theories emerge, first up, faulty family constellation, lack of “appropriate” role modeling, and the “Smother Mother”.

The faulty family constellation theory is from observations that many children grow up in so-called “broken homes”, where single mothers are raising children on her own, with no man in her life.  The theory is that a boy child simply has no male role model and thus learns only feminine behavior and identification.  But, this wasn’t true of all feminine boys.  So, another term was added, the “emotionally absent” father.  This was a man, who though physically present in the home, rejected his son and thus failed to mold the young boy’s behavior toward the “healthy” masculine norm.  Of course, a modern understanding would be that the boy’s femininity had been the cause of the rejection by a homophobic father, not the other way around.  Also, many masculine heterosexual boys had grown up in single mother households, so they had to add the term “vulnerable” to the description of the boys, that is to say, only those who were “vulnerable” to this absence developed into sissies.

The theory also holds that the mother in these families tends to ‘smother’ a boy, hold him close to her body for excessively long periods, ‘tie him to her apron strings’, etc., such that he can’t form a separate gender identity, or even any identity, of his own.

The intervention designed to ‘fix’ the faulty family constellation is to introduce a “healthy” masculine male role model to the boy and encourage identification and subsequent modeling upon that man.  Since it isn’t always practical to require a single mother to find a suitable husband willing to take on the task of ‘toughening up’ the sissy boy, the goal is to place the boy in therapy sessions with a suitable role modeling therapist.  For a pre-teen this would often mean “play therapy” with sex typed boys toys.  Ideally, there would also be family therapy where the boy’s father would be encouraged to take a greater role in the child’s upbringing and similar withdrawal of the mother’s involvement.  Playing with girl’s toys is to be actively denied, taking away beloved toys and dolls, often lampooned as “Drop the Barby” therapy.  Another aspect would be to restrict the boy from having female friends and require them to participate in single sex activities such as scouting, etc. where they are often exposed to peer disapproval and even bullying.  It sounds almost gentle and acceptable… but underneath, the message to the child is that they are not “ok”, that there is something wrong with them, that they are not lovable as they are, leading to reduced self-esteem and increased loneliness.

While we can all applaud the idea of family intervention to encourage more paternal involvement and bonding, the idea of decreased maternal involvement is simply not justified given that we now know that the faulty family constellation theory is just plain bogus.  Further, if a homophobic father can’t step up and bond with a feminine boy, that boy will need his mother’s acceptance all the more.  Further, placing the blame upon the mother for having “encouraged” the boy’s femininity in this manner is just plain evil.

{Personal Note:  At the age of ten, I was sent to such “play therapy” with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up), a tall bearded man in a large room filled with toys.  I don’t remember seeing any girl’s toys in the room, ever.  According to my parents, separately, since they divorced when I was a teen, I trust that they were both being candid with me, it had been the school psychologist who had insisted that I be refered to Dr. Peters and only Dr. Peters.  This would also explain why my teachers interfered with my female friendships and forced me to interact with boys in class, and there was nothing subtle about it.  —  What I find saddening about the episode is that in my case, the faulty family constellation theory is completely reversed.  My mother, though an amazingly capable and caring parent, was the one who became emotionally unavailable and rejecting.  It was my good fortune that my Dad was always a very warm, loving, caring, and devoted father to all four of his children… though, if we are all honest about it, I was likely his favorite.}

Another intervention that gained some currency in the mid to late 20th Century is, in effect, to place a child into a Skinner Box, that is to say, create a deliberate reward & punishment system, in therapy, in the home, and in the classroom, in which gender typical behavior is consistently recognized and rewarded, perhaps with tokens redeemable for desirable privileges, while gender atypical behavior is penalized.  This type of environment is often used in cases of extremely “disturbed”, aggressive, or violent children and teens where cooperative behavior is rewarded and aggression is penalized.  Here, the theory is that child is held to be “gender disturbed”, expanding the definition used for one class of children requiring extraordinarily harsh and controlling interventions to another.  There were a number of ‘therapist / researchers’ who have published and recommended such interventions using just this pathologizing language.

One of these, George Rekers, a self-hating closeted gay man, not content to label gender atypical boys “disturbed”, not satisfied with the stigmatizing term “effeminate” boy, coined the even more powerfully pathologizing and stigmatizing term “feminoid” in the manner of the racist stigmatizing of those with Down’s Syndrome as “mongoloid”.  One of Reker’s recommendations included abusively “spanking” (beating actually) young feminine boys when they committed some feminine behavioral infraction.  Interestingly, Rekers own research showed that such feminine boys were essentially like gender typical girls,

The amount of feminine play by the feminoid boys was found to be significantly greater than that of normal boys, but not significantly different from the predominantly feminine play patterns of the normal girls.”

Imagine putting a gender typical girl through this… yes, that’s the moral and psychological equivalent.  I can’t even begin to express how evil I find this so-called “therapy”.  And this is what some parents and pundits wish us to resume?

Special Note:

One of the most important and yet at the same time, distressing aspects of this shameful history is that these abusive interventions came out of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the late ’60s and ’70s.  At the very heart and center of this was Robert Stoller and Richard Green.  It was Dr. Green who gathered together these vulnerable gender atypical children to allow graduate students to conduct this shameful “research”.  Rekers, in his published paper on the “treatment” (read: torture) of Kirk Murphy (aka Kraig), thanks Dr. Green for providing him his victim.  Further, Dr. Green was personally involved in the research.  Knowing this has certainly lowered my esteem for Dr. Green who I had previously held in high regard.

External Reading:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Alan_Rekers

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/07/sissy.boy.experiment/index.html

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

References:

Rekers, G., Yates, C., “Sex-typed play in feminoid boys versus normal boys and girls”, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00917600

GEORGE A. REKERS AND 0. IVAR LovAAs, “BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT OF DEVIANT SEX-ROLE BEHAVIORS IN A MALE CHILD”, Journal of Applied Behaviorial Analysis (1974)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1311956/pdf/jaba00060-0003.pdf

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Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transgender Kids

Posted in Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on June 9, 2018

Kay BrownI’ve been interacting with parents of transkids for many years now.  What they go through is heart wrenching.  I’ve talked to both supportive and non-supportive parents.  I’ve talked to even more transfolk, both those who were transkids and those who were adult transitioners.  Each was impacted either positively or negatively by their parents attitudes… but none were hurt more than those transkids who had been emotionally abused or abandoned by their parents as teens.

TransSupportUntil the advent of ubiquitous social media, the main means of “trashing trannies” was mass media and churches.  But now, with social media, parents of transfolk are bombarded with conflicting messaging from all sides and can have difficulty knowing which information to trust.  Just as in politics, there is now a great deal of “fake news”, propaganda, misinformation, half-truths, even outright lies to be found online.  Some of it from people whose only interest is to hurt transfolk because of religious or socially formed trans- and homophobia.  Some of it is from transphobic parents of transkids themselves.  There are even websites and discussion fora created by these very same parents bringing together such like-minded folks to create a wave of disinformation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt in others so as to bolster their own decisions to deny their own children the respect, agency, and medical services they so clearly need.

In this post I will actively gather such propaganda and explore how it works and why it is wrong.  My goal is to help parents recognize when others are trying to manipulate their emotions to effect their decision-making.  This will be an ongoing effort so this essay will be updated whenever I see or remember an issue that needs to be addressed.

Therapy

In the past, it was near universal for therapy of gender atypical children, most often male, to mean attempts to “fix” them so that they were no longer gender atypical, as that was seen as a disorder in and of itself.  It was also believed, falsely it turns out, that if they could get these boys to be gender typical in their behavior, they wouldn’t develop into gay men.  Therapies ranged from gentle “play” with a masculine role model to direct punishing and shaming children for atypicality on one hand and rewarding gender typicality on the other.  Both philosophies encouraged parents to remove any and all cross-gender toys and activities and to shame children, especially boys, for such play.  Therapy for gender dysphoric teens was to “talk” them out of wanting to transition, usually by shaming them.  Today such therapy, along with therapy meant to “talk” gay & lesbians out of being homosexual, is recognized as being both ineffective and abusive.  Some states and countries have outlawed such practices.  Professional societies of therapists and physicians have declared them to be unethical.

{Personal note:  I was sent to play therapy as a ten year old with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up) a tall bearded man as a role model.  While at home, my mother would jump down my throat if I so much as looked at a girl’s toy.  Of course, that didn’t work, so I was sent to talk therapy at 15/16, but knew enough not to talk about either my sexuality nor my gender behavior and identity so as to avoid any opportunity to shame me.  Thus, I know about these practices first hand.}

Today, most caring therapists and other caregivers recognize that gender atypicality is not in and of itself a disorder.  They also recognize that most young mildly gender dysphoric children will desist on their own as they near adolescence, so there is no need for drastic measures either way.  However, extremely dysphoric children need outlets for their gender expression and that attempts to suppress or change their innate behavior is abusive and will only result in low self-esteem and shame.  They also know that such children need reassurance that they are loved by their parents.  If punished for gender atypicality and/or expressing the pain of dysphoria, the bond between parent and child is put at grave risk.  And yes, some therapists and their caring families recognize that some pre-adolescents and adolescents are better served by social transition.

This new kinder and gentler approach to gender atypicality and gender dysphoria has lead to disinformation put out by those who wish that they could continue to offer abusive  reparitive / conversion ‘services’, falsely claiming that such therapies do work.  Transphobic parents and members of the public also lament this situation and put out the lie that “affirming” therapists are forcing gender atypical children and teens to become transgender.

The basic truth is simple… just as it is not possible to “fix” LGBT people, it is not possible to force them to be LGBT against their nature.  Saying otherwise is an outright lie.

Another tidbit of disinformation is claiming that therapists regularly “ok” teenagers to get hormones with only one visit.  In over four decades of experience and discussions with literally… oh I can’t even guess the number of transfolk of all ages I’ve met or corresponded with.  It would have to be the hundreds now, the fastest I’ve ever heard of for someone to get their “letter” approving HRT from a psych professional was five one hour sessions.  And when others hear of that low figure, they are incredulous because most adults were required to have at least several months of weekly sessions and most had more, some over a year or more.  There’s a reason why therapists and psychiatrists are called “gatekeepers”.  For minors, it might be faster to get onto puberty blockers if they are seen in longer more intense sessions with at least one second opinion since the clock is seen as “ticking”, but to switch from blockers, or for an older teen, one already past puberty?  That will take longer.

{Personal Note:  I was that teenager who had only five hours in 1975, a record even for the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic: three one hour sessions alone, one hour with my mother, and one hour with my father.  You may read about those interviews here.  And no, I have no real idea why I got my letter with so few visits, but if I had to guess, it was because I still had to wait until I was 18 because my parents refused permission… and that I had previously been in therapy that had been anything but “affirming”.  Interestingly, when I was 23 and had the funds for surgery, the surgeon, a private doc in Colorado, required two recent “letters” from psychiatrists.  I had six one hour sessions with one psychiatrist and one hour for the second opinion… this too was considered a record.  This one I did know why… emotional maturity, intelligence, and five solid years post social transition with a great work and education history.}

 Social Transition

transkids

Transkids after social transition

I see over and over claims that merely allowing a child to cross-dress or socially transition is a form of “child abuse” in and of itself.  I’ve even seen transphobes complaining that letting non-transkids know that transkids and transadults exist and should be accepted and respected, is a form of child abuse!  These claims are usually from the most virulently transphobic and homophobic members of the public.  However, there is a more subtle form of this parental shaming in that people claim that because many pre-teens who are gender atypical will not be gender dysphoric, that they are “forcing” their kids to be transgender.  This meme even floats in the gay and lesbian community claiming that parents do this because they are homophobic and would rather have a transgender child than a gay or lesbian one (!).  My own experience has indicated that homophobic parents are universally also transphobic, so the logic of this assertion is faulty and groundless.

Parents should be advised that many pre-teens who are gender atypical will in truth grow up to be gay or lesbian, but there is no magic bright line difference between transkids and LGB individuals.  That is to say, that from our current state of research, we can’t tell them apart… and indeed, there may be no etiological difference, that the difference may in fact be one of degree and not of kind.  We see cultural and life experience differences leading to differences in rates of gender dysphoria in different cultures and subcultures in what may be the same biological groups.  Given this, loving parents should be open to listening to the needs of their children as they grow up and be flexible in their hopes.

A recent meme making the rounds is that if a child is allowed to cross-dress as a pre-teen, to use a new name etc. they will have social and personal difficulty later when they desist from being gender dysphoric.  Some go as far as to say that this will cause them trauma, having spent years growing up presenting as the “wrong sex”.  But this only shows their own transphobic bias, valuing the lives and welfare of desisting children over persisting transkids.   Consider this from the viewpoint of persisting transkids, if having to grow up presenting as the “wrong sex” is traumatic and that transitioning is a social and personal difficulty at that later age, won’t these kids have had a similarly bad experience if they are not allowed to socially transition earlier?  Either both are true or neither is true.  Actually, the truth is that children who will desist later are still in pain now.  And desisting children detransitioning is no more traumatic than either type transitioning in the first place.  But the transphobic propagandists aren’t interested in nuance and dealing with things in such a way as to reduce pain for everyone on a day to day basis.  Remember this.  Their goal is not to help your child be happy and emotionally healthy.  They are only interested in frightening the parents of transkids into NOT allowing them to socially transition in the hope that denying them this at a young age will force them to not get puberty blockers, which will them force them to endure a puberty which will make it that much more difficult for them to transition successfully as adults, which will keep them from being “one of those people”.

One of the ugly issues I’ve seen thrown around is that of impugning the motives and values of various researchers and clinicians, on both sides of the issue of pre-teen transition.  Most professionals have nothing but good intentions.  Each has nuanced views because this issue is not black and white.  But many insist that it should be black and white… and thus will smear those who don’t agree with their own position.

After the age of twelve, social transition is, or at least should be, a no brainer.  If a teen was gender atypical and dysphoric as a preteen, their desire and need for social transition is one that they should decide for themselves.  In fact, attempting to socially transition is a great “test” since if it doesn’t help them, it will be an obvious fact.

Surgery

Perhaps the most common propaganda seen bandied about is the oldest.  In the mid-50s, as the public began to learn about transsexuality and its medical treatment, many were quick to note that “there is no such thing as a sex change”, as though that proved something profoundly debunking.  Well, this is both a true and yet misleading statement.  It is true in that no surgery, then or now, can take a fertile individual of one sex and result in a fertile member of the other sex.  What is misleading is that the goal of surgery was never fertility, but palliative.  It is to allow individuals who suffer, and suffer greatly, from somatic gender dysphoria to inhabit a body that approximates that of the opposite sex to a close enough degree that it alleviates their dysphoria.  Although many transfolk would love to be fertile in their new gender, they are willing to accept this trade-off to enable a good enough life.

Some people will point out that SRS sterilizes transfolk as though that were in and of itself medical malpractice, even incorrectly invoking the Hippocratic oath “to do no harm”.  This is a puzzling attitude since many medical issues are treated in such as way that also results in sterilization and no one calls that malpractice.  In fact, many healthy men and women chose voluntary sterilization which is an accepted practice.  For young adults (even if under the age of 18) to knowingly make the trade-off of continuing to suffer somatic gender dysphoria vs. accepting voluntary sterilization is a personal choice for them and them alone to make.

The next bit of propaganda is to describe the result of surgery as ugly, monstrous, or diseased to invoke visceral disgust.  Mary Daly, an extremely transphobic author in the 1970’s described post-operative transsexuals as “Frankenstein’s Monsters”, invoking the image of people hacked together by rogue mad scientist doctors.  Other comments focus on and exaggerate the potential for surgical complications.  Very recently (in fact, just this past week), I’ve seen an outright lie repeated and amplified in social media in which the result of Male-To-Female transsexual surgery is an “open wound” which is easily “infected”, rather than a functional neo-vagina.  What loving parent would want their child to experience such iatrogenic trauma?

A more subtle bit of misleading disinformation is to combine the two memes above, to describe the result of MTF surgery as taking functional male genitalia and turning it into “dysfunctional male genitalia” in an attempt to invoke disgust on one hand and parental concern for their child’s future happiness on the other.  The lie depends upon parents not being familiar with the cosmetic nor functional results because, lets face it, that’s not something to be bragged about in public.  So, I will attempt here, while remaining within socially acceptable bounds, to answer that, given that I myself have such “dysfunctional male genitalia”…   Ummmm… well… I’m VERY happily married to a straight man… and neither of us is unhappy with the results.  ‘nough said.

Another reason these particular talking points work is that parents hang onto the false hope that their child will desist and be heterosexual.  While it is true that pre-teens who are gender atypical but not particularly dysphoric are more likely to desist than persist,  boys will most likely grow up to be gay, the girls may or may not be lesbian, given that many tomboyish girls are mislabeled as gender atypical.  These tomboyish girls will most likely grow up to be straight.  However, those teens who had been gender atypical AND gender dysphoric as pre-teens will not likely desist after age twelve.  Besides, one doesn’t perform surgery on pre- or even early teens.  One is required to wait until the late teens at the earliest and by then, it’s pretty obvious that surgery is right for those who know the trade-offs… and rationally chose to exchange genitalia which they will never use for those that they will joyfully use.

Another bugbear thrown around is the spector of post-operative regret.  I won’t lie in turn; this is a real phenomena.  However, what is not often discussed in the parental fora is that the vast majority of those who later regret SRS are “adult transitioners”.  (If you are not familiar with this term and its implications, please see my FAQ.)  These are usually males who have successfully lived as adult men, very often married to women, fathering children, etc.  They previously had extensive sexual experience as men, enjoying their ‘original equipment’.  Post operative regret is nearly absent from “early transitioners”.  And those few who were regretful weren’t regretting the loss of their ‘original equipment’ but complained of the rare complications that may occur with any surgery.

For parents of Female-to-Male (FtM) transkids, there is often fear that “top surgery” to remove/reduce unwanted breasts will be regretted as well.  This fear is especially potent in the mothers of FtM transkids because of the natural empathy one feels, of putting themselves into their child’s position and feeling angst at the thought of the loss of their own breasts.  Of course, this is putting their own shoes onto their child, instead of walking a bit in theirs.

Puberty Blockers

CoreyOne egregious lie that I’ve seen bandied about, even by physicians, is that puberty blockers cause permanent sterility.  They do not.  In fact, that was the whole point of puberty blockers, to reversibly delay the onset of puberty and its effects to allow teens some time to emotionally mature before making more permanent changes in the course of their sexual maturation.  Without such blockers, their bodies will make the decision for them… and this may be very much against their wishes (it certainly was against mine!).  Cessation of the blockers allows the natal puberty to resume, with no loss of fertility, unless other medical intervention is begun (such as cross-sex hormones).

Another outrageous lie that I’ve seen recently is the assertion that Lupron (puberty blocker) directly causes suicide.  I guess if one is going to lie, one may as well make it a whopper.  To be clear, there is NO reported association between puberty blockers and depression / suicidal ideation in transkids.  However, if a child who is extremely gender atypical and dysphoric experiences negative social and familial attitudes, that may be an independent source of stress leading to depression.  Depression is unfortunately common and people who are prescribed Lupron as adults are often under severe stress due to their underlying illness, leading to reports of depression.

I’ve also seen a rather strange assertion that having been on puberty blockers then switching to cross-hormone replacement therapy somehow leaves the child in a prepubescent state. In the sense that the child won’t experience the changes that would have occured had they not been on blockers, namely for natal females breast development or for natal males, enlargement of the penis and testicles, voice deepening, beard growth, along with increased upper body strength, this assertion is true… and indeed is the desired effect.  So why the strange assertion that this is somehow a problem?  The meme is also sending the false message that somehow the child will remain forever looking like a prepubescent child, never to appear to be as a sexually mature adult.  The fact remains that cross-sex HRT will allow the child to mature with all of the cross-sex secondary sexual characteristics in a manner closely approximating that of the opposite sex, which is, after all the goal.

Perhaps the most bizarre bit of misinformation is that somehow, if an MTF transkid doesn’t go through the typical natal male puberty to sexually mature, they will never be able to experience sexual satisfaction.  While testosterone does cause human male brains to develop at puberty, estrogen and micronized progesterone, both part of HRT protocols, will do much the same.  In fact, though never published, there is very strong anecdotal evidence that MTF transkids experience very strong libido development on natural estrogen (E2) compared to other sources (e.g. premarin or estinyl-estradiol).  If you think about it for a moment, this makes sense… given that women have sexual drives as much as men do… and they never went through a male puberty!

It could be argued (and indeed I have so argued), that it would be better to switch from puberty blockers to HRT earlier than some clinicians insist upon waiting, so that the final results are better and so that the teens will appear to be maturing on the same schedule as their peers, for better social functioning.  There are also concerns about bone strength later in life which may be impacted by extended use of puberty blockers.  This is an argument for earlier HRT, NOT against the use of puberty blockers.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The most common bit of propaganda about hormones is that their use will be “life long” as though that was somehow an evil in its own right.

To make a personal digression, swallowing a few pills each day has never been a major issue for me these past four decades and some.  Far more impactful in my own life is the fact that I’ve been dependent upon asthma medication since I was five years old, medication which has far more harsh side effects (theophylline caused insomnia for years, rescue inhalers cause the heart to race and the lungs to itch uncomfortably, steroid inhalers increase the risk of fungus infection in the mouth and throat… and if the meds fail to control the asthma, a trip to the emergency room is needed or one could die, no joke).  Those who have diabetes are similarly dependent ‘life long’ upon insulin, a life saving medication.

However, forgetting to take one’s hormones for a short period of time is NOT life threatening, nor even very uncomfortable.  A few weeks of not taking them, if one has not had their gonads removed, they will begin to produce steroids again.  If they have had their gonads removed, they may experience ‘hot flashes’.  While not comfortable, they are not life threatening.  The greatest danger is the potential risk for osteoporosis.  But this an increase in the risk, not a certainty.

A number of individuals point to HRT as being inherently dangerous, increasing the risk of blot clots, etc.  These risks are no greater than girls taking birth control pills and if one is seriously worried about it, one can simultaneously take baby asprin as a blood thinner.

Another bit of propaganda is to grossly exaggerate the risk of breast cancer from estrogen.  However, with decades of HRT use by transsexuals, we have only seen a small handful of cases which were certainly NOT indicative of increased risk compared to natal females.  In fact, the risk seemed to be at about the same level as natal males who were not transgendered.  (Yes, men get breast cancer too.)

Interestingly, the risk of some cancers is significantly reduced in transsexuals due to surgery and HRT.  For example, top surgery reduces the risk of breast cancer prophylactically.  Radical hysterectomy (as part of ‘bottom surgery’) eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer.  For MTF folk, SRS eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer, as does HRT itself.

As well as claiming risks of cancer, I’ve seen outright lies that HRT causes mental illness!

I think the silliest claim I’ve heard is that “Big Pharma” is pushing the diagnoses of gender dysphoria so that they can sell more hormones.  Given that gender dysphoria is extremely rare… but even if it is silly on the face of it, officials in the UK actually investigated that claim and debunked it.

Parents deserve accurate information, not propaganda and lies — from either side.

 

NOTE:  If you see anyone spreading these memes, please respond with a comment and a link to this post?  If you have seen other examples of false propaganda directed at the parents of transkids, please share them with me?   formertranskid@gmail.com

Further Reading:

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Shameful History of Reparative Therapy of Trangender and Gay Children & Youth

Further External Reading:

When Children Say That They Are Trans by Jessie Singal

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Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

Posted in Editorial, Female-to-Male, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on June 6, 2018

Kay BrownIs this a newly emerging etiology?

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past few years, you will have heard of what many are describing as a new phenomena affecting natal female teens, “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) to join the old duopoly of “Early Onset” and “Late Onset” gender dysphoria seen in natal males.  The description of the putative phenomena is that gender TYPICAL and not at all previously gender dysphoric girls learn through the internet and perhaps from friends at school about transgender issues and then suddenly, because of ‘social contagion’, seemingly out of the blue, declare that they are trans.  There have been a number of speculative hypothesis regarding the putative phenomena which I will explore here.

One hypothesis with a lot of weight of evidence is that this is merely the outsider’s term for “Tucutes” / “TransTrender” / “TrendsGender” in which teenaged girls with no real gender dysphoria take on the social position of “transgender”, from identifying as a pre-transition transman to more recently as “non-binary”, a social position that doesn’t require one to actually have to socially, and certainly not medically, transition.  Without doubt, this is happening.  I first met such an individual in 1980.  Their numbers have grown in the intervening years.  But this phenomena, annoying as it may be for some gender dysphoric transmen, is not a major cause of concern to medical professionals in that they rarely seek medical intervention.

Some within the transcommunity have argued that these young people, including those labeled “Tucutes” are in fact the female equivalent of “Late Onset” natal males in that they are autoandrophilic.  This too certainly exists.  While some sexologists and therapists will deny that autoandrophilia exists, I know for a fact that it does, as I had a very close friend since high school who clearly experiences it.  Absolute proof of existence N=1.  We have more evidence than just my one anecdotal one from the years of reports on the sexuality of androphilic transmen.  Such individuals do experience gender dysphoria, but of a notably different character and developmental arc than autogynephilic transwomen.  But just as with autogynephilia, not everyone with autoandrophilia will develop extreme gender dysphoria and thus a range of accommodations occur.

Of course, there is another hypothesis coming from the gay and lesbian community in which they claim that these teens are simply gender atypical lesbians who have been falsely convinced by “Transgender Ideology” that they must be transgender.  At the heart of this is a misunderstanding or deliberate disinformation about the nature of transgender etiology and experience.  Either there are true transsexuals and true lesbians and they shouldn’t be confused… or there are only lesbians and transgender ideology gives them a false sense of gender dysphoria.  The evidence suggests that neither is wholly the case. Gynephilic natal female people exhibit a range of gender atypicality and gender dysphoria.  How they accommodate these within a given culture is variable.  However, when extreme gender atypicality and dysphoria are accommodated by social and medical transition, these are typically labeled “early onset” even if they transition in their 30’s.  If with changing attitudes more such individuals are seeking to address their gender dysphoria at an earlier age, we would expect to see just what we are seeing today.

The question is, are all of those who are labeled with ROGD actually either tucutes or autoandrophilic?  Are some actually gynephilic gender atypical and dysphoric natal females who were simply not recognized or acknowledged as such?  I’ve come to suspect that many may be.

Consider that pre-adolescent tomboys have always been given greater latitude than sissy boys.  In today’s climate of empowering girls to pursue sports and allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts… but just like boys, over scheduled and constantly under parental supervision, with little time for personal choices and expression, these girls may not have been acknowledged as being gender dysphoric… until the social pressures of adolescence to be heterosexual and feminine.

In recent interactions via social media that I’ve had with parents of teens who they claim have ROGD and further claim that means that they are “not really transgender” and they should NOT be encouraged, acknowledged, nor affirmed, I’ve had an extreme sense of deja vu.  What I sense is not that these teens are tucutes or ‘non-binaries’… as most of them have very laid back parents who allow their children to explore their place in the world, knowing that kids do that.  No, I sense both angry denial, genuine concern for their child’s welfare, combined with homo- and trans- phobia, saying “my child is not one of those people“.

Deja Vu

About that deja vu.  At this point I have to switch from academic exposition to personal anecdotal mode:

In very early ’75, at the age of 17, I had “come out” to my father about being transsexual (the word “transgender” did exist at the time, but it was reserved for heterosexual lifestyle cross-dressers = autogynephilic men and specifically excluded androphilic gender atypical MTF transkids).  The time and place had NOT been my choice, having been forced to do so by my mother.  (That’s a whole other story.  My parents were divorced and my mother had custody, as was usual back in the ’70s.)  He seemed calm and concerned, no anger or lamentation.  Instead, he suggested that we should seek professional advice and help.  I recognized an opening.

I had for some months been in contact with the Stanford University Gender Dysphoria Clinic.  I literally had in my possession, in my pocket, the contact information for them.  I gave it to my Dad who said that he would be contacting them.  I was astounded.  The clinic had told me that they would love to help me but that I had to have my parents make the arrangements.  But my mother had made it abundantly clear that she would never help me transition.  Now my Dad was opening the door for me!

I had several intake interviews with Dr. Norman Fisk, the man I would later learn had coined the term “gender dysphoria”.  At the time, I had no idea how influential and expert he was in the field.  He was just a guy who might be able to help me get medical help.  He asked about my sexuality.  I told him about the boy I had a crush on.  He asked me about my dreams for the future.  I told him about how I hoped to find a husband and adopt children.  I told him about my summer job as a nanny and of the two summers I volunteered teaching little kids to swim.  And sadly, I told him about how unhappy my parents were about my behavior and how I had been sent to therapists (who had been anything but affirming).

Then I had a joint interview with my mother and a week later another with my father.

During the interview, my father made it abundantly clear that he thought transsexuals were sick perverts.  Dr. Fisk assured my Dad that transsexuals were NOT mentally ill and that social and medical transition was the typical course of treatment.  My father then became very agitated, objecting, “My son is NOT transsexual.  I’ve never seen anything feminine about him.  This is just a phase!  It will blow over!”  Dr. Fisk knew better, having talked to me and more importantly talked to my mother.

My father focused on the fact that he and I had over the years gone fishing and hunting together (ignoring that during their courtship, so had he and my mother).  That we spent hours working together on projects (that he usually chose).  That I was a Boy Scout (ignoring that he had insisted I and my two brothers join since he had been a Scout as a boy… and the deeply mortifying incident in which I had been kicked out of the first Troop though I had done nothing objectively wrong in any sense… but none of the boys wanted the “faggot” around… and that the Scout Master declared to my Dad with a sneer that I was “not Eagle Scout material”… and that my Dad had to find another troop for me to join that accepted queers).  At the end of the interview, my Dad stormed out making homophobic references to Dr. Fisk to me in the parking lot.  (Dr. Fisk was straight, married, and had a son near my age.  I learned that they lived only blocks from my mother’s house.)

The interview with my mother the week before was quite different.  Far from being in denial, she was petulantly resentful that she had such a first-born child.  “I have known for years that he wanted to be a girl.  But I thought that was (morally) wrong.  He was very different than his brothers.  All their friends were boys.  His were always girls,” naming several of my friends over the years, but couldn’t remember my friend who had been my only guest on my tenth birthday.  “Marian,” I interjected for the only time during the whole interview.  “He was always very prissy.  He would walk clear around even the shallowest puddles.  When he was little, I would put him in clean clothes on Monday and on Friday they would still be clean.”  She confirmed that I had been sent to a therapist about my behavior when I was ten years old… and again when I was 15/16.  She came away under the impression that she had spelled out all of the things about me that needed to be fixed, that Dr. Fisk and the clinic would endeavor to make me a normal, healthy, masculine heterosexual man and had shared that impression with my father.

So, it was a shock to my Dad that Dr. Fisk was recommending to him that my family accept that I was never going to be a masculine straight man.  That I was going to transition.  And when my Dad objected, offered this bit of advice,

“Denial will not serve.  You will win a few battles but lose the war.”

At home my mother began sharing comments such as sweetly asking, dripping with obvious false concern, “What will your friends think of you when they find out?”

“They already know,” I replied honestly, having grown used to the twisting knife within her tone.

“I could understand it if you were petite like your sister (she was 5’2″ – I’m 5’7″, our brothers were closer to 6′).”

“That’s funny, Cassie (school friend) is 5’9″ and she has no problems,” I demurred.

“No man will ever love you,” she taunted.  I couldn’t answer back, it hurt too much, but I could feel my eyes smouldering with suppressed anger.

My father came over to see me and begged me not to transition, “You’ll be throwing away a chance for a career.  No one will hire you.”  I couldn’t answer him, having the same fears.  He also tried to shame me, telling me that I was embarrassing the family, that we all have our “cross to bear” and that I should think of my siblings and how they might be treated at school and by friends.  I replied that it was unfair that they should ask that I be extremely unhappy my entire life so that they could avoid some mild embarrassment.  In that same conversation he begged me to live as a closeted gay man, promising that the family would look the other way when I had boyfriends.  My thoughts on this were bitter, as that would put me in the same position as his gay brother, the one we weren’t allowed to meet or talk about.  He then tried to sweeten the deal by offering to pay for vacations in which I could dress up as a woman (!).

I lost my temper at that and loudly replied, “I am NOT a part-time woman!”

Conclusion

I hear that same combination of denial, anger, embarrassment, resentment, desperation, and socially & religiously motivated transphobia in those parents who now describe their teens as having ROGD. Which to them indicates that they are “not really transgender” and should not be allowed to socially transition nor allowed to use puberty blockers much less actual HRT.  These parents sound suspiciously like my parents.

Epilog

I think it worth describing how things went down after the events above, as a sincere warning.

Candice_Caltech

Kay Brown in college

I had already been in the process of social transition, presenting as a girl after school but continued to dress as a boy at school until graduation day.  But had already made arrangements for my high school records to be changed to my new name, female gender, and even to have it say that I attended girls P.E.  It became very apparent that my family, led by mother, was going to do everything they legally could to stop me from successfully transitioning.  Although I had been accepted at a four-year college, I was made to understand that I would not be supported if I continued to present as a girl, so was unable to attend.  I was kicked out of the house by mother and my father was not to take me in.  I started HRT right after I turned 18, forgoing food to buy them.  Using documents from the clinic, I was able to have my driver’s licence and social security ID changed to my new name and gender that summer.  I was given a meagre allowance for about a year with the proviso that I was NOT to show my face anywhere near home.  I attended community college part-time, as they were nearly free the next few years.  I became, in the modern vernacular, a housing and food insecure student.  It took me a few years, having no financial or social support or capital.  But I managed to climb back out of the hole that being effectively disowned had thrown me.  I established a career in Silicon Valley, first as a secretary at age 19, then working my way up.  At the age of 23, I had saved and borrowed enough for SRS.

After SRS, it was perhaps ‘barn doors’ and all… but slowly my folks then began to extend more social and financial capital to me… perhaps also in embarrassment when comparing how they had treated me compared to my siblings.  One had gone to Stanford as an undergraduate and was then attending Baylor Medical School while living in a condo provided by my mother’s family money.  Another was working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, living in a condo also provided by her money.  My sister was going to a small private college… oh… you get the picture.  I had earned a BS soon after SRS, on my own resources, combining credits from four different community colleges and all of my upper division credits earned entirely by examination.  I was then admitted to Stanford Graduate School.  At that point, my father began offering emotional and logistical support and a couple of years later, my mother’s family provided the down payment on a condo for me.

family

Kay, Jeff, Liz, & Reese

Over the years, my mother never really accepted me and we haven’t spoken in decades now, just as I haven’t spoken with any of my siblings.  Oh… and she was wrong.  One man does love me… and we’ve been married these past two decades and I did become an adoptive mom.

And my father was wrong.  My career took off.  I rose to executive rank and even founded and raised venture capital for a start-up which I sold to Samsung.  My father and I speak often… and he makes it clear that he loves and is proud of me.

So, if you are a parent of a transkid or a so called “ROGD” teen.  Please recall Dr. Fisk’s advice to my Dad.

“Denial will not serve.  You will win a few battles but lose the war.”

Further Reading:

Essay on TransTrenders & Tucutes

Essay on Androphilic Transmen being Autoandrophilic

Advice to Parents of Transkids

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