Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hate Group Leader Exploits the Sad Death of a Child

Tony Perkins
Monday evening, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council took to his organization's blog with Gender Distortion and Tragedy. We can be spared several paragraphs of bloated prose with a summary of the circumstances:

Matt and Erin Georgia allowed their gender dysphoric daughter Jane to socially transition to their transgender son, Jay. Jay was in counseling but he ultimately killed himself. Gender dysphoric people are at risk for self-harm. It is a virtual certainty that Jay did not kill himself because of gender affirmation. There is overwhelming consensus in the mainstream medical community that:

  1. Gender affirmation relieves some of the discomfort of gender dysphoria and;
  2. Gender affirmation reduces the risk of self-harm.
Yet, Tony Perkins is determined to conform medical science to scripture:
… encouragement ended in absolute heartbreak last month, when Jane took her own life at their home. Now, absolutely devastated, her parents -- both Marine veterans -- struggle to understand what went wrong. After all, Jane was part of group therapy and started taking medication to help her cope. But in the end, it wasn't enough, the Georgias believe. "Jay was not ready to come out to the world in the sixth grade. Jay wasn't really ready at the end." For her parents, who only wanted the best for their daughter, it was a blow no one saw coming. "As Jay was going through this journey, he would go to church with us. The church was welcoming, but there was no safe space."
Perkins does not detail where he got these quotes from. Perhaps the story in the Christian Post a few days ago. Note that the parents refer to their son while Perkins refers (directly, in name and pronouns) to their daughter. Perkins drones on:
Erin and Matt tried to create that, giving her an environment to be herself. But in the end, no amount of encouragement could heal the hurt in their daughter's heart. That's because, like so many struggling teenagers, there's a much deeper conflict at work. For years, LGBT activists have tried to persuade people that transgender teens are perfectly normal and that 100 percent of their problems are caused by discrimination and "stigma." Unfortunately for parents like the Georgias, the evidence doesn't bear that out.
Perkins doesn't know these parents and he sure as hell never knew Jay. He has no way of knowing anything about Jay other than what is available on the surface. Most importantly it is absurd and irresponsible for Perkins to claim that there was "a much deeper conflict at work." Tony Perkins MD? The moron is a wilful ignoramus who believes that Bronze Age chronicles offer more knowledge than modern medicine.

Mr. Perkins is also dishonest. No one has ever claimed that the problems associated with gender dysphoria are limited to discrimination and stigma. Lacing in intellect, Perkins has a habit of creating strawmen.
Regardless of what liberal psychologists or others might suggest, there is no scientific evidence to prove that "affirming" someone in a transgender identity actually leads to better mental health outcomes. This loss is a painful reminder of that. As Peter Sprigg points out, the most tolerant, pro-LGBT societies often have the highest suicide rates. That's a powerful refutation of the popular "it gets better" approach (which researchers just panned here.)
Proof is the wrong standard. There is an enormous amount of evidence that gender affirmation leads to better outcomes. As for Mr. Sprigg, he is a Baptist minister in the employ of FRC. He is neither a sociologist nor statistician and he confuses correlation and causation when it suits him. Furthermore, this has nothing to do with "it gets better" and Perkins is misleading with respect to the cited article in Newsweek regarding a 2014 study. "It gets better" is a superficial approach to help kids cope with the bullying that they are frequently the target of. Perkins is directly responsible for some of that mistreatment of LGBT children. Read the article in full. The gist is this:
Three main coping techniques emerged—cognitive strategies (it will get better), alternative-seeking strategies (moving schools, finding new friends), and LGB-specific strategies (where they got involved with LGBT organizations).

The best coping strategy was the third, where teens actively engaged in activities, organizations and resources targeted at the LGBT community. This group was found to have better psychological adjustment and were more likely to graduate from high school.
Perkins is disingenuous. He would not approve of any of those options.
Obviously, these parents loved their daughter and tried to help her. Maybe they even got bad advice from a trusted counselor. But as the American College of Pediatricians points out …
Who cares? Like Family Research Council, ACPeds (not to be confused with the real peer organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics) is a conservative Christian anti-LGBT hate group with perhaps 200 members. Moreover, it is not an organization of psychiatrists.
What's more, the struggle is usually a phase. "According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty." At the very least, both sides should agree that the decision to adopt a transgender identity is one that only an adult is competent to make. That doesn't mean we aren't supportive of the child as a person, but it can be devastating to encourage them to embrace a gender identity in conflict with their biological sex until they're more mature. Lives like Jane's are too important and irreplaceable to risk.
The DSM does not say that. That is an outright lie. Furthermore there are not two "sides" any more than there are two sides to the age of the universe. Science puts it at 14 billion years; young Earth Christians put it at 6,000 years. That does not constitute two sides. Similarly, the medical views of Christian zealots do not comprise a "side." Like the Young Earthers, they are trying to prove that ancient screed are inerrant in spite of their many glaring errors of fact and science.

Yet there is something far more pernicious - far more evil - at work here. Perkins is claiming that Jay's suicide is the result of gender affirmation. Perkins is blaming the parents. Jay would be alive were it not for the misguided actions of his parents. In the vernacular, that is bullshit. Correlation is not causation. Everything that we know informs us that gender affirmation reduces the risk of self-harm.

There is a great deal that I do not know and Perkins is not informative.  As I mentioned, this story was in the Christian Post a few days ago. Perkins omits the important fact that the family lives in rural Alabama. It is hard to imagine a worse environment for a trans youth.

The American Psychiatric Association has an informative piece for families about gender dysphoria here.

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