13 May The Equality Act – Harming Children and Hijacking the Rights of Parents
United Families International: Dedicated to informing you about the issues and forces impacting the family.
Contributed by Tori Black
How do you define discrimination? The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that it is being prejudiced or having a prejudicial outlook, action or treatment towards a category of individuals, such as racial discrimination.
Discrimination has another definition, however. It also means the quality or power of finely distinguishing. The ability to finely distinguish is generally a quality that is sought after and highly regarded. HR5, the Equality Act, if passed, would require that all Americans do away with the power to distinguish biological differences between men and women in the advancement of new civil rights that serve new categories of humans – females with testes and males who give birth.
Redefining male and female
This redefinition of what it means to be male or female would almost be comical were it not for the serious damage it will inflict on biological women, religious liberty, free speech, and the ability of parents to protect their children from the interference of activists with an agenda.
Transgenderism has been around from the beginning of time. We see it in the man who is attracted to women but likes to dress in women’s clothing; the androgynous individual – one who is sexually ambiguous; individuals, male and female, who are gender nonconforming; and it is also the men that “feel” like women, or women that “feel” like men and present themselves accordingly. There used to be two genders – male and female, but today there are dozens, and the definitions are fluid and vary from person to person.
Gender dysphoria – downgrading a disorder
In 2012, the mental health experts that produce the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), the reference manual that mental health professionals rely on in diagnosing mental illness, changed the term “gender identity disorder” to “gender dysphoria”. In doing this, those who say they “feel” like a member of the opposite sex are no longer classified as having a disorder. Instead, they are described as having a symptom of emotional distress that is the result of “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” And the increasingly prescribed method of alleviating that distress is to facilitate transition to the opposite sex.
The phrase “opposite sex” is problematic and may contribute to the incongruence individuals feel in relation to their sex. Dr. Leonard Sax points out that there is a “great deal of evidence that the average boy is different from the average girl in many ways. But that…the average boy is not the opposite of the average girl, just different. And that there’s lots of variation among boys and lots of variation among girls.” Dr. Sax argues that boys and girls are different from one another, but that they are not opposites. Just as apples and oranges are different, but not opposites. They are, after all, both fruits. Applying the “opposites” definition to males and females forces us to differentiate all attributes as either male or female, but we all possess within us some qualities that could be described as both male and/or female. This does not make us gender dysphoric. As Dr. Sax says, “It means you are a human being.”(Sax, L. (2017). What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, 2nd Ed.)
The DSM-5, however, relies upon stereotypes of “opposite” behavior for boys and girls as a criteria for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in children, so girls that are tomboys and boys that play with dolls who have some level of discomfort with their sex are designated as having gender dysphoria. But what if the distress a child experiences due to his or her sex is merely a result of expectations, which they perceive as limitations, associated with traditional gender roles? At the very moment in history that society is knocking down arbitrary gender roles they are simultaneously being used in defining gender identity. This is not only ironic, it is unsound.
There are theories but no scientific consensus as to why one may have gender dysphoria. Our best response to our transgender neighbors is compassion and fairness in employment, housing, and civic involvement. But how we compassionately respond to the gender dysphoric child is another matter altogether.
Affirmative care and the road to transition
Until recently, the response to gender dysphoria in children was “watchful waiting.” That’s because over 85% of boys and girls that are gender dysphoric desist after puberty and accept their biological sex. But today, if a little girl says she feels like a boy or a little boy says he feels like a girl, medical practitioners and school authorities increasingly encourage the early transition of those children. It begins with affirming gender expression by providing a different wardrobe, changing children’s names, and using different pronouns. This is followed by the administration of puberty blockers around age 10 or 11, cross sex hormones at age 16, and then surgery, if desired.
This is called “affirmative care” and therapists follow the child’s lead and accept his/her professed gender identity. Many states have banned “conversion therapy,” a catch-all term for any form of therapy that does not reinforce the child’s chosen identity. Proponents of affirmative care try to conflate unethical aversion therapy with helpful methods such as watchful waiting and psychotherapy, so affirmative care is increasingly all that doctors will recommend. Fifteen states have made conversion therapy illegal.
Almost all children that begin with having their gender expression affirmed and who go on to take puberty blockers, continue to transition medically and surgically. Proponents of early transitioning argue that for these children, puberty is anxiety-producing, so puberty blocking is merciful. Additionally, they claim that any effects are reversible. Opponents argue that allowing children to go through puberty gives them the chance to more fully examine their gender identity in a way that affirmative care denies. They also argue that puberty blockers can leave children permanently sterile. In most cases, affirmative care sets children on the road to full transition which will include a lifetime of hormone treatment and multiple surgeries, with a host of attendant health risks. That’s short-term mercy but long-term misery.
Evidence of poor long-term outcomes for transsexuals
Studies indicate the long-term prognosis for those who have medically and surgically transitioned is unclear at best. Birmingham University’s Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility (Arif) assessed more than 100 follow-up studies of post-operative transsexuals and concluded that “none of the studies provides conclusive evidence that gender reassignment is beneficial for patients.” Dr Chris Hyde, the director of Arif, admits that “there’s still a large number of people who have the surgery but remain traumatised – often to the point of committing suicide.”
Forty years ago, Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was well aware of the negative outcomes for those who sexually transition when he closed the hospital’s sexual reassignment clinic in 1979. He found that those who had surgically transitioned were 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the non-transgender population. He concluded that gender dysphoria was a psychological problem:
“Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All . . . become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.”
Why the rush to transition children?
Given the evidence, why the rush to transition children? No doubt parents and proponents think they are doing what is best for children, but a lack of longitudinal data (the first NIH longitudinal study only began in 2017) on the affirmation protocol has not kept doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, or, for that matter, surgically altering teens as young as 13. And that one “longitudinal” study? It is seriously flawed. It is being conducted by pediatric transgender expert, Dr. Johanna Olson of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and has been engineered to give her the conclusions she and other transgender activists desire: it has no control group and it will only last five years – hardly longitudinal – and long before most negative effects will be manifest.
If Dr. Olson were truly interested in long-term negative effects, not only would her study follow patients for twenty years, her study would address formerly gender dysphoric individuals who have halted their transition or attempted to reverse it. It’s hard to know exactly how many individuals have stopped or reversed a transition because agenda-driven researchers aren’t asking and most of the media is ignoring stories that don’t fit their chosen narrative. Just one two-week survey conducted in 2016 which reviewed postings to sites such as Tumblr, Facebook, and blogs revealed 203 instances of women who regretted their transition and were taking steps to reverse it. Of those women, approximately 68% felt they were not given “adequate counseling and accurate information about transition.” That’s hardly surprising given that 65% of the women had no therapy at all.
Concerned parents undermined by medical and educational establishments
Some of the most heart-wrenching stories of the push to transition children are those of parents who question a child’s gender dysphoria or wish to use a “watchful waiting” approach and are undermined by the medical and educational establishments. For instance, California requires students to attend lessons about gender identity and social issues such as same-sex marriage. Parents are barred from opting their children out, and schools are not required to even notify them. The California Health Framework includes teaching children as early as pre-K that gender can be “boy, girl, both, neither, trans, genderqueer, non-binary, gender fluid, transgender, gender neutral, agender, neutrois, bigender, third gender, two spirit…”
One teacher in the Woodburn School District in Oregon is being sued for keeping a second grade boy from recess so she could privately instruct him about being transgender. The parents of the student had made arrangements for their son to use the staff restroom because he has a digestive medical issue and didn’t feel comfortable using the student restrooms. The teacher, unaware of this arrangement, assumed his discomfort was because he was transgender. Without notifying the parents, the teacher developed a lesson plan for this boy to help him understand what it means to be transgender. She had him read books and watch videos so he could know “it is acceptable to become transgender.” The parents first became aware of the teacher’s actions when their son brought the books home with instructions from the teacher to share them with his parents. This teacher’s actions had lasting damage:
“The boy became confused about whether he going to turn into a girl. He now shies away from playing with “girl” toys or playing “girl-related” games. He underwent personality changes, becoming more depressed, aggressive and isolated and now attends counseling.”
At a recent event held by the Heritage Foundation, panelist, Jennifer Chavez, shared the difficulties experienced by mothers whose daughters suddenly identified as transgender. One mother has a 13-year-old daughter with autism who decided she was transgender after watching a presentation at school about gender identity. Warning the woman that her daughter was in danger of committing suicide, a “gender therapist” told her to facilitate her daughter’s new identity by helping her bind her breasts and starting her on puberty blockers.
Another mother shared the story of her daughter who, at age 14, decided she was male and, without the mother’s knowledge or consent, was taught how to inject herself with testosterone by a pediatric endocrinologist. At age 17, the daughter ran away to Oregon where state law allowed her to undergo a double mastectomy and a radical hysterectomy. Even with parental consent minors can’t get tattoos in the state of Oregon, but they are allowed to have perfectly healthy organs removed from their body.
Two percent of school populations nationwide now identify as transgender, and girls appear to be affected more than boys. In some communities, the sudden outbreak of transgenderism among girls looks like an epidemic. The rapid increase in transgender girls led one researcher to study the phenomenon. In her work, Brown University professor, Lisa Littman, documents an experience called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). This is when gender dysphoria presents itself among teens during or just after puberty when the child had no previous indications of distress associated with her biological sex. Littman surveyed the parents of girls that displayed ROGD and found that “ROGD occurred in groups of friends as well as alongside a surge in the kids’ Internet or social media use. In fact, only 13 percent of parents noted no evidence of a “social influence.” Moreover, 62 percent of parents reported their child had been previously diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, and 48 percent reported a traumatic or stressful event prior to the ROGD.” Among the girls “half self-harmed; half had suffered a traumatic event such as death of a parent/sibling, family divorce or sexual abuse. (One previously happy 16-year-old was raped and a few months later declared herself trans.)”
Affirmative care – the band aid solution
One of the biggest issues with affirmative care of children with gender dysphoria is the utter lack of interest in cause. Those who advocate the use of affirmative care for gender dysphoric children believe that it is unnecessary to understand the cause of the dysphoria. One psychiatrist argued that a doctor does not need to know how a bone was broken to understand that it causes suffering and impairs function. Even though injuries and psychological conditions are different in nature, that does not mean that treatment for both is not improved when doctors understand underlying causes. A broken bone may be the result of osteoporosis which would impact the care the patient receives. Lisa Littman found a correlation between psychiatric disorders and trauma and the rapid onset of gender dysphoria that warrants additional research. A better understanding of the causes of gender dysphoria could possibly lead to new and better therapeutic approaches to reducing dysphoria. One that does not rely on the administration of drugs and surgery with all the attendant risks.
To illustrate, Dr. Michelle Cretella shares the story of a young patient she once had that she calls “Andy.” Between the age of 3 and 5, he began to increasingly play with girls and stereotypical “girl” toys and began to say that he was a girl. Dr. Cretella referred Andy and his parents to a therapist. At one session, Andy was playing with a truck. He put the truck down and picked up Barbie and said, “Mommy and Daddy, you don’t love me when I’m a boy.” What everyone had failed to recognize, until this point, was that when Andy was three years old, he had a little sister born with special needs. Her needs demanded a great deal of attention from the parents. Andy had misperceived his parents’ attention for his little sister. He thought they spent more time with her, and therefore loved her more, because she was a girl. With therapy, Andy and his parents were able to address Andy’s needs and misperceptions. Today Andy accepts his biological sex, but if Andy and his parents had gone to a different doctor today to address his gender dysphoria, the doctor would likely have prescribed affirmative care, never determining or addressing the underlying issue.
The Equality Act – harming children and hijacking the rights of parents
Which brings us back to the Equality Act. While HR5, the Equality Act, will guarantee trans individuals some rights which are good – employment and housing, etc – it will negatively impact parents who would like to pursue a watchful waiting approach or therapy to discover underlying issues that could be a factor in gender dysphoria in their children. The whole country would be required to address gender dysphoria in accordance with trans activist ideology. Parents who resist could be charged with child abuse and lose custody of their children. The medical profession would be further politicized. It is already hard to conduct research into the causes of gender dysphoria and possible treatment other than affirmative care; it will be impossible afterwards. As it is currently written, HR5 would deny doctors and hospitals religious exemptions for affirmative treatment. Schools would be required to include gender identity education in their curriculum creating wide-scale confusion for young children exposed to an ideology beyond their comprehension.
As one mother of a transgender child has pled:
“Transgender-identifying children need our compassion, and they need our help. They need responsible adults to gently question their beliefs, not blindly affirm them.
They need proper therapy and guidance, not drugs and surgeries. And the medical practices that are abusing them need to be shut down.”
Make your voice heard
The Equality Act has been voted out of the Judicial Committee and will be put before the whole House for a vote. With 240 co-sponsors, it is likely to pass. The Equality Act is cloaked in civil rights language. Its very name evokes sympathy and brands opponents as haters and bigots. It is time to contact (call and email) your representatives and let them know that you are opposed to this deceptively named and dangerous legislation.
Go here to find your representative and his/her contact information.
Please do this for the children who will undoubtedly suffer from this appalling, politically-driven ideology and for the parents who love them.
Read more here about the long-lasting negative effects of puberty blocker use on children suffering from gender dysphoria.