Previously: Transgender youth fact check
There’s a particular genre of opinion piece that erroneously portrays the early treatment of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria as being subject to overdiagnosis, as forcing potentially-cisgender children to “become” inevitably transgender, or as serving as some kind of “reparative therapy” targeting gender-nonconforming gays and lesbians. These articles have been penned by feminist commentators like Julie Bindel and Sarah Ditum, and even other popular figures like actor Rupert Everett. A column by Bindel in the Daily Mail earlier this year is a representative example:
When I was growing up as a girl in the Seventies, I wanted to be a boy. It wasn’t simply that I knew I was sexually attracted to women – much more importantly, I looked around and saw boys had more power, more freedom, more fun. Of course I wanted to be a boy.
If I were a teenager today, well-meaning liberal teachers and social workers would probably tell me that I was trapped in the wrong body. They might refer me to a psychiatrist who would prescribe fistfuls of hormones and other drugs. And terrifyingly, I might easily be recommended for gender re-assignment surgery… just because I didn’t like the pink straitjacket imposed on girls.
… What is on offer is not support for a young lesbian, but the promise of a medical conversion. Any idea this is liberal, progressive behaviour is completely wrong. It pushes us back to the dark ages, to a time when lesbianism wasn’t even recognised.
And in the New Statesman, Sarah Ditum argued:
There’s a risk that increased medicalisation could be imposing permanent physical changes on children who, left to their own devices, would discover they are quite happy living with their natal sex – about 80 per cent of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria desist before adulthood, but the normalisation of medical transition could commit many to irrevocable treatments they would otherwise avoid.
Rupert Everett further hypothesized:
Everett, currently starring in the BBC1 show The Musketeers, told the Sunday Times magazine: “I really wanted to be a girl. Thank God the world of now wasn’t then, because I’d be on hormones and I’d be a woman. After I was 15 I never wanted to be a woman again.”
He believes parents who “get medical” are scary, saying: “It’s nice to be allowed to express yourself, but the hormone thing, very young, is a big step. I think a lot of children have an ambivalence when they’re very young to what sex they are or what they feel about everyone. And there should be a way of embracing it.”
These claims are sensationalized misrepresentations with no basis in fact. The current protocols for the use of puberty blockers in gender-questioning youth recognize all of these potential concerns and account for them effectively, exercising an abundance of caution in order to rule out the possibility of misdiagnosis. Continue reading