Should an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old being permitted to unilaterally “transition” to another gender?

It’s not a complicated question but many fear and resent my blunt answer: No.

Last week in her hearings, Judge Amy Comey Barrett used the phrase “sexual preference” rather than “sexual orientation.”  She was rounding rebuked by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee (and the world) as well as by CNN for her language.

Hirono told Barrett, “Not once, but twice, you used the term sexual preference to describe those in the LGBTQ community. And let me make clear, sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term.” This is because, Hirono explained, it implies one’s sexuality is not what someone is, but merely a preference or a choice.

I’m sorry, but in all due respect, Senator, you are wrong.

But neither is being transgender something someone simply is either, at least in the way trans activists demand we think about it. Particularly when it comes to young children. But that’s not just my opinion – it’s a position held by the best science and clinicians in the field.

First, according to the best scientific literature, no one is really sure what causes gender dysphoria in children, the condition behind one adopting a transgender identity. Scholars surmise it is rooted in a number of biological and developmental factors, including what leading specialist Kenneth Zucker calls “family noise” which often refers to parental enmeshment issues, particularly with a natal son and mother. But no one really knows for sure.

What is well known is that the overwhelming majority of elementary-age children who claim to be transgender “remit” to their biological gender by the time they reach puberty. That is, most gender dysphoric children come to realize they really are the boy or girl they were born as after puberty. This is well established in the literature. In fact, one of the most significant studies on the topic found that only 2 to 27 percent of gender dysphoric children persist as such into their teen and adult years. This means that 98 to 73 percent of such children come to realize they are not transgender at all, but actually are the boy or girl they were born as and desire to live that way as they enter their teen years. The consistency of this finding led these scholars to conclude: “The results unequivocally showed that gender dysphoria remitted after puberty in the vast majority of children.” This is clear evidence that a prepubescent kid being transgender is likely not an actual “thing.” It is rather a developmental phase of gender confusion.

And this is precisely why one of the largest clinics in the world working with gender dysphoric children – The Amsterdam Gender Identity Clinic, operating from what they refer to as the “Dutch protocol”  – categorically does not recommend allowing pre-pubescent children with gender dysphoria to transition in any way. They contend,

Because most gender dysphoric children will not remain gender dysphoric through adolescence, we recommend that children not yet make a complete social transition (different clothing, a different given name, referring to a boy as ‘her’ instead of ‘him’) before the very early stages of puberty. …Parents are furthermore advised to encourage their child, if possible, to stay in contact with children and adult role models of their natal sex as well.

They explain this is because,

In making this recommendation, we aim to prevent youths with non-persisting gender dysphoria from having to make a complex change back to the role of their natal gender. In a qualitative follow-up study, several youths indicated how difficult it was for them to realize they no longer wanted to live in the role of the other gender and to make this clear to the people around them.

In short, the Dutch protocol does not recommend going along with a gender dysphoric child’s wish to identify as the opposite gender, explaining that this is the wisest and most compassionate path given that it is nearly guaranteed the child will revert to their natal gender as they move through puberty.

The Dutch protocol encourages parents to gently and lovingly help their child develop an interest in a wider range of interests in play activities and objects that match their natal sex. They emphasize that gender-variant activities should not be completely off-limits, but that not over-reacting in either direction and seeking a sensible middle ground is most helpful. “Finding the right balance,” they explain, “is essential for parents and clinicians because gender variant children are highly vulnerable to developing a negative sense of self.” These clinicians add, “it is crucial that the parents give their child a clear explanation of why they have made their choices…[and] the child will, thus, sometimes be frustrated and learn that not all one’s desires will be met.” “The latter is an important lesson for any child,” they say.

So, allowing an eight-year-old child to decide their own gender is contrary to the best science. And thus, changing federal and state laws to require everyone else to play along with those wishes is unwise and at odds with the advice of the best clinicians in the field. It is not compassionate or responsible because nearly all so-called “trans kids” will realize they actually are the boy or girl they were born as.

Science matters.

Photo from Shutterstock


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