Saturday, February 4, 2017

UPDATED - The latest bit of anti-trans bigotry from ACPeds

Due to the penchant of religious conservatives to uncritically cite the American Academy of Pediatricians in order to oppress transgender people, this seems to be an important piece. Highlighted in the polemic from ACPeds is a reference to a National Health Service clinic in the UK. I have been communicating with that clinic. A February 4, 2017 update is at the conclusion of the original post.
Monday the American Academy of Pediatricians (ACPeds) has issued its latest communique asserting essentially that transgender people do not really exist. This is not a professional medical opinion. Rather it is an expression of conservative Christian ideology. It is also unprofessional and highly irresponsible, doing damage to children and parents. Moreover it represents the abdication from the most basic of medical principles: First, do no harm.

ACPeds is a minuscule splinter group that SPLC has designated an anti-LGBT hate group (primarily for promoting false information about LGBT people). The real peer group is the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Writing under the pseudonym Dr. Veritas the organization's blog offers: “The Importance of Gender.” Since when do physicians write under assumed names? For all we know this is not a board certified pediatrician and a graduate of St. George's University School of Medicine in Granada (often ranked as the worst medical school in the world).
These numbers are from a National Health Service clinic in the UK that helps those who believe they were born the wrong gender.
  • 167 children under 10 years old received transgender treatment in the past year
  • The number of young children being seen has nearly doubled from 87 in the previous 12 months
  • 3 pre-school infants are among those who were referred to NHS clinic
That is depressing!
Actually those numbers are from a May, 2016 piece in the Daily Mail which claims to have gotten the data from a BBC report. Moreover, the conservative paper provides no context. What does receiving treatment mean? It could include a counseling session with the parents of the three preschool children (who are probably not “infants”).

Veritas continues:
There is no way a three year old is developmentally able to make a life changing decision as serious as changing genders. Three year olds are barely able to understand the difference between males and females. Why do adults allow their children to do something so drastic before they can even tie their shoes?
The Daily Mail piece contends that: “Children as young as three have been referred to an NHS clinic that helps those who believe they were born the wrong gender, it was revealed yesterday.” We know nothing about why they were referred. The author of the ACPeds piece would have us believe that that is at the child's volition. It could very well be a nutty parent who freaked out that their little boy was playing with dolls and wanted him fixed. The possible ignorance or stupidity or craziness of a parent has nothing to do with the proper diagnosis and care of transgender kids. That is something that we leave to experienced clinicians with our informed consent. These are the doctors who work with trans kids every day. Chances are that the preschool children weren't treated at all.
Last year, the Obama administration sent a letter to all the public school districts in America demanding that they “allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity, as opposed to their birth certificate.” … The letter further states that “there is no obligation for a student to present a specific medical diagnosis or identification documents that reflect his or her gender identity, and equal access must be given to transgender students even in instances when it makes others uncomfortable.”

This threat is adding to the gender confusion that is swarming society.
It is highly unlikely (and there is no evidence to support the supposition) that treating trans kids humanely has any effect on cisgender children. This person is supposed to be a doctor. He or she is supposed to know that. And, no, we don't require children to prove that they are suffering with gender dysphoria and it is not confusion and it is not “swarming society.” It is not contagious either. Again, this person is supposed to be a pediatrician and should know that. It is pretty simple stuff, even for a member of ACPeds.
There is a great article that is titled and then outlines “21 Reasons Why Gender Matters.” It states 4 foundational principles. These principles are:
  • Gender differences exist; they are a fundamental reality of our biology and impact our psychology. Our maleness and femaleness is a key aspect to our personhood.
  • Acknowledging, rather than ignoring (or worse denying), gender differences is the only intellectually honest response to this reality.
  • Gender differences are complementary; individuals, our collective humanity, and society as a whole, all benefit from masculine and feminine characteristics. We are better for having men with a clear understanding of their masculinity and women with a clear understanding of their femininity.
  • Gender identity confusion does exist in a small minority of individuals. It is a painful pathology and warrants a compassionate response. However it is not the ‘normative’ experience and is not therefore a paradigm upon which to drive social policy and institutions.
 Gender does matter!
As identified in a footnote, that article is at an Australian website,  GenderMatters.org. No author is credited with having written the piece. GenderMatters is part of the Fatherhood Foundation which is affiliated with the Australian Christian Lobby and the Australian Family Association. According to Fatherhood Foundation:
Our goal is to glorify our Father in heaven in all we do and say and inspire those around us to know His love by the example of our lives. Our mentor and example is the Lord Jesus Christ who we believe to be the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus Christ came to this earth to serve and not to be served and we as the founding members of the Fatherhood Foundation proclaim our desire to follow in his footsteps of service for our fellow man, but at the same time we acknowledge our inability and weakness before all men. We invite comment, evaluation and scrutiny of all the activities of the Fatherhood Foundation to ensure that the highest standard of ethics in all dealings is both upheld and achieved at all times.
That explains why this piece is unsupported gibberish that should repel a physician. Would a real pediatrician write a medical piece quoting medical advice from, for example, Tony Perkins or Tim Wildmon? The ACPends piece concludes with:
Though the world we live in may try to blur the lines of gender and confuse children and adults on the importance of their own biological gender, we must continue to help our children see the importance of their being male or female. Gender is not something that should be changed; it is something innate in ourselves.

It is an essential characteristic of our identity as human beings.
What this person is doing is trying to conform medical science to scripture. He or she has the essential part right. As for the rest? In a word — FAIL!

Update:

According to an email from the Tavistock and Portman NHS clinic:
The figures are reported accurately, although we would stress it’s important to consider gender identity development treatment in context, as you say in your article.

Not all the young people we see go down the route of physical intervention or make a decision to transition. There is no single, set pathway for people referred to our service – our role is to support young people to explore their feelings and options at each stage. Treatment at GIDS is a staged process with the utmost care taken to ensure young people and their carers fully consider their decision making along the treatment journey.

In the UK National Health Service, hormones to begin a process of physical transition are available from around the age of 16 after young people have been on hormone blocking treatment for at least a year.

Hormone blockers are considered to be physically fully reversible and allow time to think about and explore feelings about gender identity before making the next stage decision about moving onto hormone treatment, or choosing to suspend any further treatment.
In the US. We generally (and generically) refer to hormone blockers as puberty blockers. The clinic has also provided me with referral statistics:

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