Gender Identity: Should we let kids be who they are ‘inside’?
in Morality and Values, news and society on May 20, 2009 at 6:00 am
The writer (and many of the commenters) insist on referring to the two trans girls they write about using male pronouns -- 'boy' 'he' 'him' 'his' -- while talking about how much 'compassion' they have for the children.
Then there are the commenters that call allowing these children to be who they truly are 'morally wrong', 'child abuse' and all the other comments we have come to know and love.
Here is my post. Moderation is enabled, so let's see if it get's published on their site:
The complexity of the human being allows for the possibility that on rare occasions perfectly healthy humans can be born with ambiguous genitalia. They are called 'intersex'. But for some reason, we humans have this need to perform surgery on infants who exhibit visible intersex traits to 'fix' them
First, if the plumbing is otherwise functional, there's nothing to 'fix'. And second, surgically correcting the genitalia to one or the other ideal is a coin toss. Sometimes they match the childs' inner sense of gender, sometimes they trap the child in the wrong body. Then you really did create a transsexual through what you believed to be well meaning action.
The other bit of intersex is that brains are dimorphic. There really are girl brains and boy brains. And the recipe for making either (in the womb) is fraught with opportunities for unexpected results. Unexpected, unlikely, but not impossible.
At LEAST 97% of us survive the process and are happy to have the bodies we have, and the societal-assigned gender roles that go along with those bits of external flesh. We can't imagine any other way, and so must believe that our reality is true for 100% of folks.
Back to that bit about boy and girl brains. At what age were you sure you were the gender you were? Could ANYBODY convince you you weren't what you were, that maybe just maybe, you really belonged to the other 'team'? Psychologists who study the nature of gender say that our sense of gender is consolidated and unshakable between the ages of 4 and 6 (with a minor bit of statistical 'tail' extending outside that range.) Basically, by age six, almost no child is 'confused' about his or her gender. Including the transgendered.
Transgendered children also know who they really are. And they are painfully aware that it's not what nearly everybody is telling them they 'must' be. They don't 'get over it' or grow out of it. They only suppress it as best they can. Most are driven slowly crazy over time by the pressure to hold it in and conform. Some deal with it by acting out, some through drugs, and a fair percentage though suicide (31% is quoted, though I don't have the link to the authoritative piece at hand.)
Some of the pressure is provided by the use of improper pronouns, such as in the main article of this blog entry. The writer was scrupulous in referring to the subject child (as well as the child pictured in the illustration) by the biological sex of their bodies. I know from personal experience it is wearing and toxic to be subject to that sort of treatment.
The one treatment that is 98% effective in providing transgendered people a normal quality of life is for them to live as their true gender. And true gender resides in the brain, and has been found by the medical community to be non-negotiable. And God knows they've tried in earnest for the past 60 years. Talk therapy: FAIL, Electro-convulsive therapy: FAIL, Pharmacology (including extremely powerful (and addicting) anti-psychotics)): FAIL, Aversion therapy (nauseating drugs, electrodes delivering painful shocks to the genitals, etc.): FAIL, Neurosurgery (up to and including lobotomy): EPIC FAIL.
You want these children to live their lives to the fullest potential, to thrive rather than wither and waste? You can start by treating with respect their innate sense of gender rather than forcing your concepts upon them.
And you can start that by the respectful use of female pronouns with the two subject children in this article.