On the Science of Changing Sex

Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transsexual Kids

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on June 9, 2018
Candice2

Kay Brown with her adopted daughter Liz

I’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.

With popular celebrities like JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame now spreading much of these lies and disinformation, it is more important than ever to separate what is fact from what is fiction.

If this essay seems overly long, blame the voluminous amount of such hateful propaganda that has been created and spread.

Quoting Transfolk Out of Context

This is so classic that it needs only to be mentioned in passing.  But I recently discovered a hideously anti-transkid propaganda website that takes it to a whole new level, including quoting and linking to my blog here out of context:

https://www.genderhq.org/trans-youth-controversial-schools-lgbt-science-dysphoria

Bad History

One sure fire propaganda tool is to set out a revisionist history of the treatment of Gender Dysphoria.  Those who control the memory of the past, control understanding of the present.

One trick is to lie and say that the term ‘gender dysphoria’ is new and replaced the older (and presumably more accurate) Gender Identity Disorder for political reasons under pressure from “transgender rights activists”.  The real history is that “Gender Dysphoria”, a medical term coined by Dr. Norman Fisk at Stanford University in the early 1970s, was included in the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic name and was incorporated in the name of the professional organization, Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association formed in the late ’70s (more recently renamed World Professional Association for Transgender Health).

Greens bookAnother trick is to falsely claim that transsexuality / transgenderism was only about adult sexuality and that children were never part of the picture until very recently.  They sweep under the rug such books as Green’s 1974 Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults.  Children and teens, transkids, were being seen from the begining.  Teenagers were being seen and very quietly transitioning, either as run-aways, throw-aways, or for the lucky few, living at home with supportive family.  Sadly, its also true that some kids were treated abominably in futile efforts to “cure” them (more below).  Transkids, then called “primary” or “true” transsexuals, have always been with us, but they (we) were largely invisible, a despised underclass, criminalized by the law, pathologized by psychiatry, problematized by society, church, and family.

“Transgender Ideology”

The moment you read or hear someone use that term, the material that person is going to share is propaganda.  Those familiar with the culture war against gay rights and marriage equality will recognize its propaganda equivalent “Homosexual (or Gay) Agenda” .  Of course that agenda was social and legal equality.  “Transgender Ideology” is a search for social and legal recognition, and access to medical services, nothing more.  Any other claims are just disinformation.  Both of these terms are meant to invoke nebulous distrust of the motives and actions of the LGB & T communities.

We also see people making calumnious claims that transgender people are trying to “indoctrinate” kids into being transgender.  This is very much in keeping with the old anti-gay equivalent of “recruiting” young people into the “gay lifestyle”.  Sadly, such false claims are even being made by transphobic gays and lesbians (no group is too small or too oppressed that it can’t turn and do the same to an even smaller and weaker group).

However, when you read claims of “Transgender Ideology”, there is an ideology that may be at play… theirs!

Another loaded term in vogue is “industry”, as in “medical industry”, “transgender industry” or just “gender industry”.  The term falsely invokes the concept of a large and uncaring medical industrial complex out to make as much money out of poor hapless kids and their parents, destroying lives, rather than the deeply caring doctors and therapists that actually exist.

Another means of subtly invoking distrust of transfolk is to describe various elements of the quite disparate transgender communities as the “transgender lobby”, likening them to powerful business groups that gain disproportionate power through chummy relationships with lawmakers and regulators.  This is a classic trick whereby one falsely paints a marginalized group as secretly powerful.

In the same manner, every transperson who speaks out is labeled an ‘activist’ (often shortened to the acronym, “TRA”) with a smug undertone that ‘trans rights activist’ means a person with a not to be trusted self-serving “agenda”.

A very recent and subtle twist is to use the term “transgender movement”, as though the existence of transfolk itself was a “movement” or fad, rather than the correct term “transgender RIGHTS movement”.  Consider that the push for equality under the law for non-white people was not called the “Colored Movement”, but the “Civil Rights Movement”.

A popular term meant to subtly disempower transkids and transsexual adults is “gender confusion” to replace “gender dysphoria”.  It implies that transfolk are just “confused” and likely mentally challenged and should just “look in their pants!”.  When you see that term, you know that the speaker / author is no friend of transfolk.

I recently saw a man post a whopper of a lie on a website telling parents that childhood gender dysphoria was an early sign of developing schizophrenia!

More recently, likely because of this very essay pointing out such disinformation and propaganda, some key anti-trans activists have been labeling efforts such as this blog as ” real propaganda”.  It’s a clever “Catch-22” style trap to silence transfolk.

One clever rhetorical trick is to create a false comparison by showing that their propaganda can’t be labeled “transphobic” because true / real ‘phobia is when people are physically abused, beaten, tortured, etc.  Transpeople aren’t being lynched or gay bashed (actually, we are…).  But they fail to acknowledge that dehumanizing language sets the stage for that treatment.  While working against one’s civil, legal, or human rights is just another tool of the bigot.  And in the case of transfolk, working to deny access to reasonable and affordable medical care is just as damaging and cruel.

Blaming the Internet and Other Transkids / Adult Transsexuals

A recent meme to question the validity of gender dysphoria in teenagers is the concept of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) in which being trans is described as a “social contagion”.  Gee… that’s just saying this is a “fad”… and like the old “phase” claim that transkids were discredited with in the past.  Of course, there is the problem that it has become trendy to claim a “trans” or “non-binary” identity, but these kids and young adults are NOT gender dysphoric.  I’ve written an entire essay on this.

The existence of these non-gender dysphoric teenagers and young adults falsely claiming a “trans’ or “non-binary” identity is easily weaponized to discredit the existence and sincere social and medical needs of transkids, especially as these non-gender-dysphoric teens and young people drop their claim to being “trans” to claim a new identity as “detransitioners”.  Detransitioning does exist.  It is usually found in adult transitioning autogynephilic males who later regret having attempted transition when they find it doesn’t actually help them.  However, detransitioning is extremely rare in actual gender dysphoric teenaged transkids and former transkids (adults who were gender dysphoric as children).

A classic trope is to falsely claim that transsexuals (or people in general) are telling kids that aren’t trans in any fashion that they are in fact transgender.  They may also use emotionally loaded, sexualized language like “seduced” into being trans. (See classic trope of gay and lesbian people “recruiting”, above.)  One way of making it (falsely) seem especially evil is to claim that the kids being targeted have some special problem, a vulnerability that can be exploited (e.g. claim that the “victims” are autistic, have “untreated trauma”, or have Borderline Personality Disorder), implying that these teens don’t have self agency.  Please note, transsexuals are the LAST people who want people to be living in a gender that doesn’t suit them.

One of the ugliest strawman I’ve seen cast about is deliberately misconstruing the known high rate of depression and distress found in transkids who live in unsupportive environments is claiming that transkids ‘blackmail’ or ‘manipulate’ others by falsely threatening to commit suicide if they don’t “get their way”.  The claim may be further amplified by stating that transkids (or transsexual adults) teach other transkids to use this threat.  By making this claim, they paint transkids / adult transsexuals as manipulative monsters.  Of course, this is actually an indication of their own lack of empathy and of their virulent hate.  Shocking and impossible as this may seem, this claim really does make the rounds of social media.

Creating False Testimonials

One of the easiest ways that anti-trans propagandists can create a false testimonial is to claim a bogus hypothetical harm, “If this transgender ideology had been around when I was a child, I would have been wrongly diagnosed as transgender.”  This is typically claimed by a mildly gender-atypical woman, a “butch lesbian”, but sometimes claimed by a typical heterosexual woman that liked to do a few “boy” things when young.  Given that perhaps a third of women were somewhat “tomboyish”, quite a few such transphobic women can make this false claim.

These false hypotheticals have the unique advantage that they can’t be tested, challenged, or proven right or wrong.  So they just exist, creating doubt, which is the goal.

Blaming Parents

An ugly, malicious, trope that has been around for years, especially from transphobic gays and lesbians, is that parents push their gender atypical, gay or lesbian, child or teen into falsely believing that they are transsexuals so that they won’t be labeled gay or lesbian.  The logic is twisted, but relies on the false notion that parents are more likely to be far more homophobic than transphobic.  Ironically, many transkids actually experience the opposite, that transphobic parents, as they wrestle with their grief upon learning their child is transsexual, plead with their child to “just” be a CLOSETED gay or lesbian so that they, and their family, won’t have to experience public embarrassment.

There is also the nasty lie that parents are abusing their children by “modifying their bodies”.  I’ve seen the lie that parents and doctors are prescribing such medications and conducting surgeries on pre-teens as young as three years old!  No, that is NOT happening.  No pre-teen is being given any medication (save possibly puberty blockers if they present with precocious puberty, which can and should be treated regardless of gender dysphoria).

Blaming Gender Clinics and Therapists

It has become fashionable to target specialized clinics that see gender atypical youth, especially in the UK, with false accusations.  One also sees comments that call into question the membership, leadership, ethics, and Standards Of Care recommendations of WPATH, the leading professional society for those providing care for gender dysphoric individuals, just because some (but not a majority) of the members are transsexuals themselves.  This is rather like dismissing the American Lung Society because some of its members survived lung cancer.

As some of these clinics have attracted new clients (not all of whom will persist), there is the hand-wringing over how rapidly the “epidemic” of gender issues has grown.  Let’s be real, going from zero to any number of clients is an infinitely large growth.  Most clinics treating transkids are fairly new.  Almost none are over twenty years old and most are less than ten.

We expect that an under served market should respond with high growth when services become newly available.

If zero to something sounds too obvious, the propagandists pick another, but still early date to start, with the same seemingly startling growth.  A common figure tossed about takes the form of 4400% which sounds really high… until one remembers that 100% = 2 times = double.  So, 4400% growth is going from some really small number, say ten kids, when just opening such clinics, to 45 times that low starting number to make it only 450 kids (out of hundreds of thousands of kids in their multi-city/regional service area).  But “4400%” sounds soooo much bigger and alarming!

The other way to make it sound really bad is to talk about how many children are REFERED to a clinic.  But a referral does not mean that they were DIAGNOSED as being gender dysphoric… and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are being tracked toward unnecessary medical treatment.

Another gambit is to point to transphobic medical providers who leave a given large institution because they have recently begun to provide services to transkids, as though it proved anything nefarious.  But transphobic attitudes have always been found in the medical community, at about 50% (which is about the same number in the general public).  Thus one expects to find such transphobic medical providers to jump ship as they find other employment and for propagandists to publicize it.

A more subtle propaganda gambit by anti-trans individuals and organizations is to describe themselves as merely concerned with “over medicalization” of gender variant youth.  That sounds so reasonable, until one understands that ANY medical intervention is considered “over” medicalization.

A corollary false claim is that many teens are being prescribed hormones with no “medical oversight”.  That would constitute medical malpractice and as such is not likely to be common as doctors are as a group unlikely to risk that.

One of the lies put out is that therapists and clinics aren’t providing full disclosure or “objective” advice.  What they really mean is that the therapists aren’t telling these kids and their parents what the transphobic people want them to tell them, including disinformation I discuss here.  The simple truth is that the Standard of Care for all patients, gender dysphoric or not, is informed consent, giving full information, by both ethical and legal requirements.  Claiming that these kids and their parents aren’t being given this information is slander and libel.

A recent tactic is to claim that such clinics and therapists “never tell a kid that they are not trans” as though that was somehow nefarious, falsely implying that they are encouraging / pushing gender atypical youth to be transsexual and also falsely implying that they know which kids are ‘true’ transsexuals (or implying that no one is actually gender dysphoric) and who isn’t.  The real truth doesn’t matter to them.  There is no external test.  No blood work, no magic words spoken in therapy.  Only the individual, as they consider their own feelings and real life options, can make this determination and ultimately their life direction.  No clinic or therapist, can from the outside, determine and say to anyone that they don’t experience gender dysphoria.

Finally, there is the perennial threat to file lawsuits claiming malpractice for prescribing “unnecessary” medications or performing surgery on minors as a ploy to frighten caregivers away from serving the legitimate needs of transsexual youth.  Consider this – how many such lawsuits have occured?  I’ve never heard of even one such – have you?  Certainly none that were successful.  IF there had been, it would have made the news and would feature prominently in transphobic propaganda.

(Update:  There is now exactly one legal case in Australia being touted by the transphobic press in which a woman is suing because she claims it is illegal to prescribe HRT to a teenager.  Bets on when the case is thrown out as specious?)

Creating Bogus Medical Societies

Doctors are not immune to bias and bigotry.  Research has shown roughly half of doctors and psychologists are biased against LGBT people.  So it would come as no surprise that a hateful minority ignore their professional duties to invest their time in creating alternative organizations specifically to create and spread false or misleading information about gender dysphoria.  Some are part of older organizations, such as the tiny American College of Pediatricians, who historically attacked gay rights, pushed abusive ‘therapies’ to “cure” homosexuality and with it, transsexuality in children and teens.  However, there is one very small band who specifically have targeted transsexuals and transkids, falsely and ironically naming themselves the Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine whose members are notorious for spreading much of the anti-trans propaganda I list in this essay.

Blaming Schools & Eductors

Schools are often the worst place for transkids, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and indeed anyone not in the majority in a given community.  Bullying, most often by classmates, but all too often even by adults is a serious concern.  That concern has been addressed by anti-bullying campaigns that may include empathy building by teaching youth in the school to be aware of and respect LGBT peers.  But that has met with opposition from homophobic and transphobic parents and others.  They decry that “Gender Ideology” is being taught in the schools.  They demand that like sex education, it should be left to families, which in practice provide tacit approval for the continued bullying.

Another area of contention is access to gender appropriate bathrooms and changing facilities.  Propagandists have seized this issue, looking to inflame the public with false stories or just insinuations that “boys will claim to be trans to molest girls in the locker room”.  Or worse, that MTF transkids ARE just boys who want to ogle girls in the locker room.

Just to be VERY clear.  Gender dysphoric youth do NOT want to be seen naked by others of either sex.  That’s one of the key presenting symptoms of gender dysphoria in children and teens, extreme dislike and embarassment of their sexed body.  (This may or may not be true in adult / older transitioners, who have a very different form of ‘gender dysphoria’.  See FAQ for more information.)

Therapy

EOFR3sFXkAEA8WW-2In 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 transsexuals or gay men.  Therapies ranged from gentle “play” with a masculine role model to direct punishing and shaming children (up to and including corporal punishment; i.e. beatings) 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, to deny cross-gender friendships, 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.  And at school, the teachers disrupted my friendships with girls and forced group activities with boys.  Of course, that didn’t work, so I was sent to talk therapy at 15/16, but knew enough not to talk about, nor answer his repeated questions about, neither 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.  Fortunately, in early 1975, at age 17, I was evaluated at the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic which recommended social and medical transition.}

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 led 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.  Some propagandists point to case history notes of reparitive therapists claim that their therapy is responsible for the ‘resolution’ of pre-adolescent gender dysphoria when in fact, they are falsely claiming credit for what is a natural process that would have happened without such abusive therapies.  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”.

A more subtle and insidious bit of propaganda is to point out that in speaking of the likely hood of a child desisting or persisting that a pre-adolescent social transition “predicts” persistence.  The sneaky part is, while there is a correlation between such a pre-adolescent social transition and persistence, the way that the word “predicts” is interpreted is one of causation rather than merely being a successful test of the level of gender dysphora that already exists and the natural affinity / social comfort that a child experiences post social transition.  That is to say, attempting social transition is a great diagnostic test that persistors will take to like a duckling takes to water, while desistors are likely to find social transition does not help them.

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.

A common ploy is to point out that surgeons are paid to perform these procedures and are “getting rich”, insinuating that they are evil and greedy.  I do hope those that say this never need a life saving operation so that they won’t have to pay an evil and greedy surgeon.

A very common ploy is to paint medical interventions as “destroying healthy bodies”, totally disregarding the emotional pain of gender dysphoria as worthy of medical treatment.  The underlying message that they are trying to implant is that there was no medical necessity, and thus it was monstrous to treat it.  But consider that nearly no one bats an eye when women have breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (cosmetic nose surgery), or even that there is no medical reason for the vast majority of male circumcisions (genital surgery) that baby boys are subjected to years before they can give informed consent.

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 permanent 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,  such 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 notably 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 specter 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 “late onset”.  (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’.  In female individuals, gender dysphoria that first present in adolescence has been associated with later detransitioning and regret, but in fewer individuals and certainly far fewer than in the public imagination.  (I’m refering to actual gender dysphoric individuals, not those girls who falsely claim a ‘trans’ or ‘non-binary’ identity.)  Post operative regret is nearly absent from “early onset” transsexuals.  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) teens and twenty-somethings, 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.

There has been a recent blitz of disinformation and propaganda about FtM transmen chest binding being “harmful” with little to no clinical evidence.  But consider that this binding provides no more flattening / compression, and indeed often far less compression of the ribcage and internal organs, than many feminine fashion undergarments in recent history such as corsets, girdles, etc.  I’ve even seen binding being described as ‘barbaric’ and likened to Female Genital Mutilation.  Except, no one is forcing transmen to bind.  Also, transmen are likely not concerned with any alleged harm to breasts that they revile and expect to surgically remove.  Finally, I have to point out that no on seems to be upset about pre-op transwomen “tucking”, which would seemingly come closer to the description of “genital mutilation”.  This is likely because the anti-chest-binding lobby is mostly lesbian whose natural, if misapplied, sympathy is for female bodied gynephilic people (which most transmen are) and have very little sympathy, and often great antipathy, for transwomen.

Puberty Blockers

CoreyOne egregious lie that I’ve seen bandied about, even by physicians, is that puberty blockers cause permanent sterility, often with the misleading term “chemical castration”.  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 young 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).

Some commenters falsely assert that puberty blocking is dangerous and experimental, often going so far as to profess that doctors who prescribe it and parents who allow it should be imprisoned.  They fail to note that puberty blocking has become a standard of care for precocious puberty and that the medications used are FDA approved for blocking puberty.  Thus this is NOT “experimental” nor any more dangerous than many other medically indicated prescriptions.

The next level of insidious misinformation is to claim that such medication hasn’t been specifically “approved” for gender dysphoric kids.  This is a fantastic Catch-22 because not matter how long its been standard practice, it will NEVER be so listed by the FDA because to do so, the drug company would have to spend huge amounts of money to conduct the study, which they have no need nor incentive to do; Gender dysphoric transkids are a tiny minority and not worth a drug company’s notice.

For instance, a cancer drug that was studied and approved in colon cancer that is later discovered to treat skin cancer would not need to be specifically ‘approved’ for that use.  Doctors would simply prescribe it “off label”, a well established and legal practice, as long as it meets established standards of care in the profession.

Use of puberty blockers is an established and recommended practice in this field.

Then, I read a whopper on social media that one can’t use the safety and efficacy data from precocious puberty studies with transkids.  Wow!  Who knew that transkids respond to medications differently than non-gender dysphoric children?  Are they a different species?  Seriously, one has to take much of this kind of propaganda with a sense of humor.

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.  Depression is unfortunately common and people who are prescribed Lupron as adults are often under severe stress due to their underlying illness, typically terminal cancer, leading to reports of depression.

To be clear, there is NO reported direct 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.

A very recent bit of wild lie is to say that “thousands have died on Lupron” insinuating that it was the cause of their deaths.  The truth is that these adults died of prostate or other cancers and were taking Lupron as treatment to slow (not stop) the cancer.

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 occurred 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.

In a bid to create confusion and doubt, one recent meme I’ve seen, mixed in the the usual disinformation, is that taking puberty blockers will leave MTF transkids with a penis that is “too small” to form a proper ‘inversion’ neo-vagina.  This is of course an effort to convince parent to refuse blockers so that their child will suffer all the damaging effects of a masculinizing puberty and fail to pass successful later.  They don’t actually care if transgirls have big enough vaginas for comfortable sex as adults.  Just to be clear, decades of transkids who have had successful SRS surgeries, etc. after having been on HRT from a very early age put the lie to this absurd meme.  Not to be too indelicate, but the inverted skin is very easily stretched over time, from both dilation and from coitus (as I know very well from personal experience).  Another factor that this meme fails to take into account is that even if we could fabricate a blocker that allows genital growth while eliminating all other unwanted effects of a masculinizing puberty, the genital growth in and of itself will dramatically increase gender dysphoric trauma and should itself be avoided.

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.

Moreover, I’ve seen a very clever bit of misdirection suggesting that MTF transkids, when they begin HRT bone density “fails to catch up” (oh dear!).  Fails to catch up with whom we should ask, but they don’t tell us that they don’t catch up with BOYS, who have larger bones.  These MTF transkids don’t want to “catch up” with boys, they want their bones to be female-like so that they can pass as typical girls, not big lumbering boys.

One of the most illogical arguments I’ve seen against the use of puberty blockers is twisting the statistics that most transkids who go on puberty blockers will persist and require HRT and perhaps surgery… as though being on puberty blockers caused them to persist (!).  This is a failure to note that desisters do so before puberty.  The fact that most persisters in puberty who go on blockers continue to be gender dysphoric is a non-causal correlation, in the same sense that taking antibiotics during infections does not mean that antibiotics caused the infection!  The fact is that persisters who are unable to obtain blockers or HRT at that age will also remain gender dysphoric and will seek out and obtain HRT at a later age (either on the street or legally when they reach majority as I did).  Refusing to provide blockers or HRT in puberty will not increase the rate of desistance but will increase the need for more medical / cosmetic interventions later on (e.g. mastectomy / electrolysis) and likely leave such an individual “funny looking” as an adult (e.g. wide hips on a transman, androgynous face and low pitched voice on a transwoman).

A recent lie I’ve seen is to talk about parents putting their children on puberty blockers as early as age eight (or even age six in one recent agit prop piece in the Federalist !!!) (age five in Breitbart – they keep pushing the age down)(Wow! Age three in another Breitbart piece).  Of course, this was a deliberate distortion of the truth that some children ARE placed on puberty blockers at age eight or nine.  But NOT because they are gender dysphoric, but because they have precocious puberty.  These children are on puberty blockers because entering a precocious puberty at age eight or nine is not good for their long term health, regardless of whether they are gender dysphoric or not, and most children placed on blockers at such a young age are NOT gender dysphoric.

Finally, I’ve seen comparisons of using puberty blockers by teens to NAZI medical experiments in concentration camps.  When such hyperbole is invoked, one knows it is propaganda.

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 be avoided at all costs (even including living a life of unhappy gender dysphoria and social awkwardness).

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) and far more expensive.

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 aspirin as a blood thinner.  A recent study showed that estradiol, today’s preferred protocol, had NO increased risk of blood clots.

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 30% lower than natal females.  But is higher than 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 and endometriosis.  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!

Another gambit is to point to a couple studies that show that estrogen “causes cognitive deficits” in MTF transfolk, specifically reducing their mental rotational abilities, while also saying that testosterone reduces FTM transfolk’s verbal fluency.  The HORROR, HRT causes mental problems!  Actually, what they are measuring is the very tiny subtle differences already found in men and women in which men are very slightly better, on average, than women at mentally rotating three dimensional figures and women are very slightly better, on average, than men at verbal fluency.  These turn out to be influenced by hormones in the brain, so no surprise that they should influence transfolk on HRT.  But the effect is so small as to be almost impossible to detect in any one individual.

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 Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Further External Reading:

When Children Say That They Are Trans by Jessie Singal

Sacred Bodies: A rebuttal to Jessie Singal by Alex Burasch

“Young Trans Children Know Who They Are” by Ed Yong

Transphobic Parents Activists Target Journalists With MisInformation About Pediatritricans by Tara Haelle

Media’s ‘detransition’ narrative is fueling misconceptions, trans advocates say
They say the current narrative makes “transition regret” seem more common than it is and contributes to misconceptions about transgender people in general by Liam Knox

External Examples of Transphobic Propaganda:

https://www.kelseycoalition.org

https://www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/opinion/transgender-propaganda-hides-scary-truth-about-puberty-blockers

https://pjmedia.com/trending/medical-expert-doctors-are-actually-giving-trans-kids-a-disease-its-child-abuse/amp/

https://savejames.com

https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/children-should-not-be-allowed-to-medically-change-their-genders-says-johns-hopkins-professor.html

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/02/fda-thousands-of-deaths-linked-to-puberty-blockers/amp/

https://www.ihmistenkirjo.net/blog/psychiatrist-gender-dysphoria-spreads-like-an-epidemic-online

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/11/camille-paglia-using-puberty-blockers-on-children-is-a-crime-against-humanity/amp/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/10/the-origins-of-the-transgender-movement/amp/

https://nypost.com/2020/06/27/how-peer-contagion-plays-into-the-rise-of-teens-transitioning/amp/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin/article/freedom-to-think-the-need-for-thorough-assessment-and-treatment-of-gender-dysphoric-children/F4B7F5CAFC0D0BE9FF3C7886BA6E904B

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/netflix-transgender-children-the-baby-sitters-club/amp/

Comments Off on Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transsexual Kids

%d bloggers like this: