November 11, 2022
by Mary Jones
There has been a massive uproar on gender identity in the news lately. “Gender-affirming care”, a term used to describe giving puberty blockers and performing surgery on people who are confused about their gender, has become a scorching political subject, especially for young kids. So, I was curious to know what was going on. What is gender dysphoria? And what is going on here in the US and the European countries? Why are politicians so polarized by it?
Since I wasn’t as familiar with the subject, I looked it up, and gender dysphoria is a condition in which a person feels that they are the wrong sex. They think they should be the opposite of the one they were born with. This, in return, can cause unhappiness and wanting to take part in gender transformation in which they become the opposite sex even though it is not possible to become the other sex. There are no hormones or medical procedures that can be done to change their own biology. The more I read, the more I came to believe this was a highly complex issue. “Transgender people suffer from high stigmatization, discrimination, and victimization, contributing to negative self-image and increased rates of other mental health disorders.”
This is very sad to read and hear, and my heart goes to those struggling, but it is concerning to learn that politicians and activists want to provide treatment to adolescents and shut the parents out of the decision-making. Here is what I learned:
“Gender-affirming care” needs to be taken seriously; this is why the UK has started to crack down on gender-affirming procedures for children. The UK provided “gender-affirming” treatment long before the U.S. Puberty blockers and cross-hormone treatments “were given” to children who felt they were dealing with gender dysphoria. There was no focus on the long-lasting impacts of the treatments until just recently. They are now coming to believe that there might be more of an impact on the effects of these treatments than they previously thought. They are concerned with the impact hormone replacement therapy will have on the development of the brain. Messing with the hormones might have a lasting effect on the brain. “We, therefore, have no way of knowing whether, rather than buying time to make a decision, puberty blockers may disrupt that decision-making process.”
There has also been a rise in suicide rates. “There was no difference in youth suicide rates between these different kinds of states prior to 2010, when clinics began to open across the U.S. to prescribe puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. After 2010, however, the youth suicide rate spiked in states that lacked the parental consent barrier, resulting in a 14% increase in suicide rates in those states relative to states that required parental consent.”
The adolescent years play a crucial part in the development of the brain. The brain reaches its most considerable size in these years for girls, around the age of 11, and for boys, around the age of 14. Even after growing, the brain continues to mature and won’t stop until about the mid-20s. Many mental health disorders manifest around these years. This is one of the reasons that the UK is slowing down on its treatment of young people wanting to become the opposite sex which again not possible to go against biology. They are just now seeing that there might be more harm than good. We don’t have a big picture of the long-term effects of hormone blockers, and with opposite sex hormones will affect the overall health of brain development as well as having a impact on fertility, permanent facial hair growth for women and reduced sex drive.
Instead of taking caution like their counterparts in Europe, those in power in the U.S. are going full steam ahead. They are pushing legislation that forces more “gender-affirming” treatments on young people, and in some cases requiring doctors to perform them even if they are opposed to it. Most alarming are policies that allow minors to get treatment without parental consent. To counter that, Texas has passed a law making gender reassignment surgeries a form of child abuse. These surgeries are not medically necessary and should not be performed on minors. Legislators in Texas have deemed this a form of genital mutilation that should not be performed, especially on children. If they go through these surgeries, there is no going back if they change their mind.
Parents should not be shut out of policy discussions. In a complex situation, such as gender dysmorphia, parents and children need to sit down and talk together about what must be done before making a decision. Parents are their children’s support system, and if you take them away, then children are left without a foundation to stand on. Resources like therapists, and other support groups, are available to help children and their families struggling with gender dysphoria, and teenagers and young children are not considered full adults able to make choices for themselves. Therefore, they cannot fully consent to medical treatment, just like they can’t drink alcohol, vote or drive cars. Why would this be any different?
Gender dysphoria will impact children’s lives and thus should not be taken lightly. There are many adults who made the transition and now regret going through with it, and now can’t change back. “Gender-affirming” care hurts everyone involved, not just the children, but their family as well. Parents, Doctors, and psychiatrists should be involved. Unfortunately, there is also a chat system that can block parents out. “The chat service, which describes itself as ‘a community for LGBTQ+ teens,’ is available for those ages 13-19, can be hidden from parents, and focuses on a number of mature themes.” Excluding parents should not happen; parents should need to be involved in what children can and can’t be a part of in our society. Parents are children’s primary caregivers and know what is best for the child, not some random chat group. Excluding the parents will only cause more problems in the end.
Children with gender dysphoria need to be treated with compassion and care. The UK decided to slow down its treatments because it was concerned with what it saw. We need to slow down and look at what is happening around us. There are stories of many children being socially groomed to feel that they have gender dysphoria. These are human beings who need support and help to accept themselves as they were born, not the media and politicians telling them that whatever they feel in the moment should be affirmed. They need to get out of this issue, and parents should be returned to the position of leading and protecting their families. Children are their parent’s primary responsibility, not the government’s.