Transgender Kids: Are We Doing More Harm Than Good?

by Todd A. Whitworth

Before we start I’d like to disclose a little about myself to inform you the reader that I am not coming to this subject void of experience. I am a female to male transexual man. I started my transition in 1993 by changing my name and gender pronouns. I took a year before I began the physical part of my transition in 1994 with hormone replacement therapy, I was 21. I remain glad that I made the choice to transition, and that I took the time I did to explore that it was not just a phase.

The movement to support children transitioning from one gender to the other may be causing more harm than good. For the purpose of this piece, I am asserting that there are two genders male and female. Transitioning from one gender to the other is a long, expensive, and invasive process. It involves hormone replacement therapies for the rest of one’s life and several expensive surgeries which may or may not yield the result the individual wants. No amount of hormone therapy and surgical intervention is going to change biological reality. This is not a choice to enter into lightly and it’s highly suspect that a child has the maturity and cognitive ability to truly make an informed decision. A person’s brain is in development up to the age of 25. Perhaps we should wait before helping our children to transition.

No one is totally happy with who they are, and right now trans is trendy being comfortable in your the sex you are born into and corresponding gender role, is not. Cisgender, a word I’ve come to detest, is a term used for individuals who are not trans. It gets continually used as a bullying tactic to shame kids who are ok with their biological sex and the gender that matches their sex. I am a trans person, and I do not advocate for anyone to be made to feel ashamed for being happy with who they are.

We, humans, are social animals. We start to learn how to navigate in society when we are kids. We yearn for acceptance and understanding, we want to fit in. This makes sense because at one point in our history, to not fit in, to be socially ostracized, to be thrown out of the village, meant certain death.  Of course, kids want to fit in and be accepted it’s natural, and being ostracized, feels awful.

Something to remember we are dealing with children. Kids go through phases, just because your little boy puts on a dress one day, does not make him a girl. Say your little girl likes rough and tumble play and sports over dolls? It doesn’t make her a boy. Hormones sterilize and surgery is very expensive. Once puberty starts the body begins to change and hormones start to surge the child may become more comfortable with their biology. Maybe your kid is transgender, maybe they aren’t, before becoming their biggest cheerleader for transition maybe let nature take its course and see what happens. Gender dysphoria, formerly Gender Identity Disorder is a mental health diagnosis, and it’s not that common as gender advocates would have you believe. Don’t take my word for it, look up Gender Dysphoria in the current DSM V[1]. Gender dysphoria is persistent, pervasive, and causes ongoing distress. It meets the criterion for a mental health diagnosis, not a phase.

In summary, kids are not adults, and they need our care and guidance. They are immature, impulsive, and try on lots of different identities in an attempt to fit in. One of those identities may be transgender. I am not arguing that Gender dysphoria won’t present in childhood, it may. I am arguing for pause before fully diving into super advocacy mode. I am not a parent, but I do know that most parents want to do the best for their children to protect them, support them, and stand by their decisions to help them thrive and grow. That being said, it is also the job of the parents to help their children by keeping them safe from harm, including decisions they may not be ready to make yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is meant to be used by mental health professionals not laypeople.