Welcome. This website is a community of professionals thinking critically about the youth transgender movement. We are psychologists, social workers, doctors, medical ethicists, and academics.
There are two principal authors of this site. One is a clinical social worker, the other is a university professor. We are left-leaning, open-minded, and pro-gay rights. However, we are concerned about the current trend to quickly diagnose and affirm young people as transgender, often setting them down a path toward medical transition.
Our concern is with medical transition for children and youth. We feel that unnecessary surgeries and/or hormonal treatments which have not been proven safe in the long-term represent significant risks for young people. Policies that encourage — either directly or indirectly — such medical treatment for young people who may not be able to evaluate the risks and benefits are highly suspect, in our opinion.
Medical transition can involve administering puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to young children. These drugs are being used off-label. The long term side effects are not known, but there is cause for concern. They can certainly result in permanent sterilization of a child who has not even been allowed to go through puberty. In essence, the rush to treat transgender children medically is a massive experiment. For the young person who has never lived as their own sex in their own body, surgical intervention may seem like the next logical step. Young people can undergo such treatment without parental permission once they are eighteen years old. In these surgeries, healthy organs are removed.
We are alarmed by the trend among mental health professionals to affirm a young person’s self diagnosis as transgender with minimal exploration. In many cases, these young people come to identify as trans after binges on social media sites such as tumblr, reddit, or YouTube. There is evidence that social contagion may be at play. In many schools and communities, there are entire peer groups “coming out” as trans at the same time.
For such a self-diagnosed young person, the next stop is often a therapist’s office. In several states, there is now legislation on the books forbidding therapists to engage in conversion therapy. While the sentiment behind this legislation is laudable, in some cases, it is being interpreted to mean that therapists cannot explore gender identity with a youth who is professing to be trans. This would mean we can’t ask why; we can’t explore underlying mental health issues; we can’t consider the symbolic nature of the gender dysphoria; and we can’t look at possible confounding issues such as social media use or social contagion.
It is time that mental health and other professionals begin speaking out on this issue. Please join the conversation here. Comments will be moderated. Respectful disagreement welcomed.