Monday, April 1, 2019

The effort to scare people away from gender clinicians continues

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Jeremiah Keenan is just out of Penn. A religious conservative admitted to an Ivy League school defies the odds. I will give him credit for that. On the other hand he has authored: Doctor’ Advises Threatening Suicide To Get Transgender Treatments For Kids. It is an exercise in imbecility.

Religious conservatives are desperately trying to keep kids away from gender specialists. The reason for that is simple. It is based on disapproval of transgender people which stems from scripture. So the idea is to prevent transitions on the false notion that kids will grow out of severe gender dysphoria.

While it is true that most kids do outgrow the condition once the condition's severity is such that the child is in severe distress which is only relieved (in part) with some form of gender affirmation it is unlikely that he or she will desist. Nevertheless, the first phase of treatment might include puberty blockers which are fully reversible.

The conservative Christians have tried very hard to convince parents that a visit to a gender specialist means that your child will become transgender. That is utter nonsense. Gender dysphoria is objectively diagnosed as is its severity. Most children with the condition will not become transgender. Doctors do not transition children. Children do that themselves in some form, often in total secrecy.

Another tactic is to convince people that all gender specialists are irresponsible crackpots. Just like any specialty there are sure to be some bad actors. The answer is simple: Parents should get second opinions.

Getting back to Mr. Keenan's polemic, the subtitle reads:
At a public library, Wallace Wong proudly described his children-only ‘gender therapy’ practice, noting that his youngest client is not yet three and that he has 501 foster kids in his practice.
So what? It is certainly conceivable (although rare) that a three-year-old could be suffering from gender incongruence and having 501 foster kids in his practice doesn't mean that there are 501 trans children. However, having said that, I would be skeptical. I would be concerned over whether Dr. Wong was gaming the system. Asking the question is not an accusation.

Early on in Keenan's tirade he is outlining the plight of a 14-year-old trans boy. A judge, Justice Gregory Bowden of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, ruled that he can receive testosterone injections over the objections of his father (his mother was supportive). In his opinion Justice Bowden wrote:
The totality of the evidence regarding A.B.’s medical needs… leads me to conclude that his hormone treatment should not be delayed further.
Keenan deadnames and misgenders the boy and indulges in an essay about the supposed evils of testosterone. We have heard it all before. In his ruling Justice Bowden wrote that the boy known as A.B. fully understands both the benefits and consequences of the treatment and is capable of providing informed consent. A.B.'s father, Clark, is appealing the ruling.
Introducing Dr. Wong:
Last Monday, however, new information surfaced that may favor Clark’s chances before the bench. Dr. Wallace Wong, the psychologist who labeled Maxine transgender, is facing calls for an inquiry into the conduct of his practice.

On February 28, the day after Bowden’s decision was released, Wong spoke at an event hosted by Vancouver Public Library. In a tape of the event obtained by Canadian pro-family group Culture Guard, Wong is heard proudly describing the scope of his children-only “gender therapy” practice, noting that his youngest client is not yet three years old and that he has 501 orphans and foster kids in his local practice.
The only thing that matters is Dr. Wong's diagnosis of the boy. “Transgender” is not usually a diagnosis. Gender dysphoria is the diagnosis along with its severity. Dr. Wong's presentation at a library has no bearing on the case. None. If Canadian jurisprudence is anything comparable to what we are accustomed to south of their border, testimony regarding Dr. Wong's appearance will be deemed irrelevant and immaterial.

I have no clue why Mr. Keenan would think that it is relevant.

The American Psychiatric Association permits a diagnosis of gender dysphoria if the criteria in the DSM-5 are met. The DSM-5 states that at least two of the following criteria for gender dysphoria must be experienced for at least six months' duration in adolescents or adults for diagnosis (to my uninformed eye they seem repetitive but I'm not a shrink):
  • A strong desire to be of a gender other than one's assigned gender
  • A strong desire to be treated as a gender other than one's assigned gender
  • A significant incongruence between one's experienced or expressed gender and one's sexual characteristics
  • A strong desire for the sexual characteristics of a gender other than one's assigned gender
  • A strong desire to be rid of one's sexual characteristics due to incongruence with one's experienced or expressed gender
  • A strong conviction that one has the typical reactions and feelings of a gender other than one's assigned gender
In addition, the condition must be associated with clinically significant distress or impairment.

The point is that it is very easy for a judge to objectively determine the basis for a psychologist's diagnosis. Furthermore, there were several doctors who testified on behalf of the boy.

As an aside, Canadian law requires one-party consent. Since Culture Guard was not a participant in the conversation it was probably illegal for them to make this recording without Dr. Wong's consent. (I have reported the matter to Vimeo.) More importantly, I can barely understand a word and we have no way of knowing what was edited or what is being summarized by Keenan or Culture Guard out of context. I have no intention of listening to over an hour of this thing.

Mr. Keenan is rather sloppy. He writes:
Wong also had some startling advice for a parent seeking to get a child referred to his program. Although the questioner had not indicated any particular urgency, Wong explained that parents should exaggerate the severity of their child’s condition to their local health offices.
What Keenan should do is what I do. Provide an actual quote. Culture Guard has prepared a transcript so a quote should be easy to copy and paste.
Off to crackpot land:
Of course, such an opinion would be hotly contested among experts. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Quentin Van Meter of Atlanta, Georgia, told the court it was “sheer conjecture,” noting in an affidavit that while, in the short run, patients do experience “a post-treatment period of relative happiness,” available evidence indicates that for most people that happiness dissipates and is replaced, within a few years, with “life-long psychological trauma and increased suicide.”
“Experts?” Van Meter is also president of the American College of Pediatricians, a small organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Van Meter doesn't treat adolescent gender dysphoria and he has not published peer-reviewed research on adolescent gender dysphoria. Nor, for that matter, is Van Meter a psychologist, psychiatrist or any form of behavioral health practitioner. Ah, but he is a conservative Christian.

One more quote and then I am done:
“[I want] to save my daughter,” Clark stated. “I think a small window still exists to let that happen,” but a few more months of legal wrangling—a year, at most—and that window will have shut. A courtroom victory, then, even if it might benefit others from the standpoint of precedent, would be but cold comfort to a father’s heart.
Hopefully Clark's son is receiving proper care while this legal battle continues. I feel for this guy. He is terribly misinformed, Apparently he has formed an opinion that he is unable to reconsider in light of substantial evidence to the contrary.

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