Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rolling Stone Magazine: Some Girls Have Penises


From our descent into Aldous Huxley territory, Rolling Stone reports on the movement to give radical hormone therapy to young children:
Building upon the gains of LGB activists, the trans-rights movement is having its moment, advancing more swiftly than even its advocates ever imagined. This past May, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was updated to replace its old classification for trans people, "gender identity disorder," with "gender dysphoria," reflecting the new understanding that having a gender identity that doesn't match your birth anatomy doesn't make you mentally ill; only any associated distress is considered a problem. The diagnostic change was greeted within the tiny trans community – gender dysphoria is thought to affect as many as one in 10,000 people – as momentous a turning point as the DSM's 1973 declassification of homosexuality had been for gays. The increasing acceptance also sparked a new awareness of how early in life some people begin to realize they may have been born in the wrong bodies. 
.... 
If the trans movement is the LGBT's final frontier, then transgender youth represents its farthest outpost. Kids are coming out as trans earlier than ever: A survey of the San Francisco school district found that 1.6 percent of high school students and, incredibly, one percent of middle-school students identified as transgender. Children are packing the few U.S. clinics like Olson's, which are at the forefront of a new therapeutic approach, in which children may live as their preferred gender, complete with appropriate clothing, pronouns and often a new name. This so-called affirmative model has found an increasingly warm reception among the worried parents of trans children. And so while most doctors still consider this "social transition" for kids under the age of 10 to be controversial, already these intrepid young pioneers have begun venturing out into the world – including, in rare cases, female-to-male trans kids who undergo "top surgery" as early as age 13.   
As such, the trans-rights movement has speedily moved to a brand-new battleground: public schools. Although 623 American colleges and universities have already adopted nondiscrimination policies to cover gender expression, high schools and middle schools are being forced to grapple with the question of how to deal with trans students in their locker rooms, athletic fields and bathrooms. It's a haphazard fight raging at district, county and state levels; thus far, 2013 has been what appears to be a watershed year. This past winter, educators in Massachusetts, Maine and Portland, Oregon, issued guidelines to accommodate trans students, allowing them to use bathrooms and play on sports teams corresponding to the gender with which they identify. But in August, California trumped them all by becoming the first state to pass legislation spelling out that transgender students can choose which bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams they wish, based on their gender identity. 
.... 
And yet despite all the opposition, the movement toward early transition continues forward, driven largely by a school of thought within the medical community based around the idea of harm prevention. Indeed, studies show that the threat to transgender people is very real: One study showed more than half report being bullied in school; 61 percent are physically assaulted; 64 percent are sexually assaulted. Trans people have sky-high rates of unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and suicide: Forty-one percent of transgender people attempt suicide, with trans teenagers the highest at-risk group. Given those staggering odds, many clinicians are anxious to try something – anything – that might mitigate that harm. [Emphasis Added]
Try anything, even if it gets cause and effect backwards!

But, dadgummit, common sense won't die:
But despite having jettisoned the old model, few health professionals are comfortable urging parents to let their preschooler pose as a different gender. There is not yet a standard screening model to separate the small percentage of truly trans kids from the merely gender-variant (though studies suggest that extreme dysphoria in early childhood can be a predictor of transgenderism). But gender nonconformity doesn't necessarily mean that the kid will turn out transgender: A 2012 Harvard School of Public Health study found that 85 percent of children who expressed some form of gender nonconformity actually grew up to not be LGB or T, but straight.
In the face of such superior logic:
The bluntness of her answer may have taken them aback: "The best way to explain it is, no bodies are the same. Some girls have penises and some boys have vulvas." 
[Emphasis Added]
Because if we don't normalize this behavior in childhood, it gets tricky:
Unlike kindergartners, who had a gender-neutral bathroom in their classroom, first-graders used the boys' and girls' bathrooms down the hall.... The terrifying prospect of this hypothetical older, maturer student was key to their analysis. As attorney William Kelly Dude would write in the accompanying position paper, while perhaps it seemed acceptable for a harmless six-year-old like Coy to enter the girls' room, he vividly described what a future infiltrator could look like: "a male high school student with a lower voice, chest hair and with more physically mature sex organs who claims to be transgender and demands to use the girls' restroom" – a menacing portrait of an impostor that echoed the threat of Focus on the Family's "Predator" ad. 
....
The prevailing train of thought from the affirmative camp goes like so: If these kids are truly trans, why should they endure the horrific transformation of developing the "wrong" adolescent body in puberty – a trans girl with an Adam's apple and a low voice; a trans boy coping with breasts and a monthly period – with all the wrenching emotional consequences, only to have to medically undo those changes later in life, with less-than-ideal results? Rather, a few clinics have adopted a series of medical interventions to delay puberty and then, later, give kids a smoother gender reassignment. The first step, sometimes as early as age nine, are medications called puberty blockers, which stave off secondary sex characteristics, buying families precious decision-making time until they feel sure of the child's wishes. Though concerns remain about whether kids on puberty blockers develop adequate bone density, pediatrician Olson says blockers are an effective low-risk tool when used for the short term: "The blockers allow us to push the pause button and let kids explore gender during what are really the most difficult years," adding that if kids ultimately decide not to continue the regimen, they could simply stop taking the meds, and anatomical puberty begins.
But it's not like they're showboating for the media:
Their efforts have been made easier by the fact that their discrimination complaint made Coy an overnight LGBT luminary, her story splashed in the pages of The New York Times and on Katie Couric's show. Over the past few months, Coy has stayed up well past her bedtime to appear at the red-carpet GLAAD awards and at a trans-rights fundraiser, events where strangers flocked to the Mathises to thank them, and share their own stories of discrimination. Jeremy has been so horrified to learn about the difficulties trans people routinely face – in the workforce, getting health insurance, in the housing market, and don't even get him started on incarcerated trans people – that he is about to begin law school, determined to become a civil rights lawyer. For Kathryn and Jeremy, their swift rebirth into champions of an underdog cause has imbued their lives with a new sense of forward motion. Thus, in a short time period, necessity and now passion have turned the Mathises into a couple invested enough in trans issues to have packed all five kids into their enormous wheelchair-accessible van for the two-and-a-half-day drive here to the annual Trans-Health Conference, on what amounts to their first family vacation.
All that being said, at least the piece closes with a paean to the Tenth Amendment:
The Mathises have moved an hour and a half away to Aurora, where they hope to get a fresh start in the more progressive Denver metropolitan area.
 Read the whole (INSANE) thing here.

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Personal Thought: It's a free country, and these people can raise their children however they see fit.  That being said, permitting their (obviously insane) choices, and celebrating them, are not the same thing.  We have a sad feeling that, over time, we will learn many of these children were abused to advance an agenda; it's happened before.

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