Wednesday, August 14, 2019

USA Today enables and promotes anti-trans bigotry

On August 12, USA Today published an OpEd from someone by the name of Jay Keck. It is a reasonable certainty that the editors of USA Today failed to vet Mr. Keck or his supposed daughter suffering with Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria. The title of this essay is: My daughter thinks she's transgender. Her public school undermined my efforts to help her. Sure.

The subtitle reads:
I pleaded that my daughter's school call her by her legal name, use female pronouns. By refusing, they prevented her from getting the help she needs.
Sure. It's all about pronouns. The school is at fault for, … something. Blame them. “Bad school!” “Bad school!”

I choose not to quote any more of Keck's BS. Keck claims membership in two organizations; the Kelsey Coalition and ParentsOfROGDkids. I will discuss those “memberships” but first:

Mr. Keck's polemic touches all of the requisite bases. These include the nonexistent relationship between autism and gender dysphoria; the complicity of a public school; the pernicious ACLU; the ban on conversion therapy; a misguided President Obama; evil Planned Parenthood; radical activists; a confusion between incongruent gender and being transgender; an epidemic; the horrors of gender affirmation; a supposedly fearful school psychologist and the promotion of rapid-onset gender dysphoria. It is a compendium of religious-right talking points. Mr. Keck has an agenda!

A diagnosis of gender dysphoria is not easy to obtain. According to DSM-5 it requires a youth to have experienced severe distress for at least six months and to meet six of eight objective criteria. A qualified psychiatrist with experience in this area could determine whether or not a teen has gender dysphoria. The religious right has deliberately (and successfully) convinced people that specialists in juvenile gender dysphoria always diagnose the existence of the condition. It is comparable to claiming that an oncologist will always find malignancy. The objective is to prevent children from getting the help that they really need.

In this case that help would probably be to confirm that the teen is not gender incongruent because late-onset gender dysphoria is extremely rare. That diagnosis would lead to appropriate care. Keck's daughter is supposedly 17 years of age.

Gender dysphoria arises prior to puberty. Most children grow out of the condition. They are the group of kids who never transition. According to the research, persistence of the condition is directly related to its severity. There is no intervention known to medical science to alleviate gender dysphoria. Those children who feel compelled to transition are experiencing extreme suffering. Gender-affirmation is safe and effective. With affirmative care, these kids can have levels of stress (anxiety and depression) reasonably consistent with the general public.

What is prohibited by bans on conversion therapy are efforts to change a minor's gender identity. If a teen did not have gender dysphoria but claimed to be transgender, then therapy to divorce her from what is a fantasy would not violate bans on youth conversion therapy. A parent is obliged to seek that counseling.

As for public schools, they do not encourage children to be transgender. Their obligation in many locales is to accept a child's stated gender identity and to protect their privacy. Children keep parents out of the loop when they fear parental opprobrium. The same policy generally applies to gay children. Gender dysphoria has the potential to cause significant distress creating a profound potential for self-harm. Parental disapproval could literally threaten a child's life.

Keck feels that he was undermined because the school used gender-appropriate pronouns at the student's request. Schools are not responsible for determining whether or not a student really has gender dysphoria.

At the risk of repeating myself, either the kid does, or does not, have gender dysphoria causing distress which warrants gender-affirmative care. Either way, the child and Jay Keck require therapy. Over the last two years he has done nothing but complain about his school.

Mr. Keck writes of frustrated efforts to help his child. He does not reference a consult with a board-certified psychiatrist who has experience in juvenile gender dysphoria. Nor does he mention any consistent counseling for his child. As I said, Mr. Keck has a different agenda. And it is obvious. If he is legit, he is blaming everyone else.

A rational, thinking parent would get an opinion from a qualified psychiatrist. Then a second opinion. Keck claims to have sought advice from a school-recommended psychologist. According to Keck that counselor refused to put his diagnosis in writing. I say: Bullshit!

That brings me to Keck's claim of membership in the Kelsey Coalition. Really? The Kelsey Coalition is nothing but an anonymous website. There is no address and no identification of the organizers. There is nothing to join and no way to do so. I believe that this is one of several websites created by Michael K. Laidlaw, a California endocrinologist (lacking board certification) who, for religious reasons, claims that transgender people do not really exist. A small Florida hate group, American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the real peer organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics), is aligned, it seems, with several anonymous trans denial websites.

Mr. Keck references another anonymous website, ParentsOfROGDkids which is conveniently linked to by the Kelsey website. That sire requires an update. ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria) is the handiwork of a young faculty member at Brown University, Lisa Littman. The study was published to a low-impact journal and a number of experts in the field became alarmed by the lack of scholarship and sophomoric methodology. Eventually, last March, the publisher apologized, issued a correction notice and posted a formal comment. There is no mention of those facts on the site.

If you review the website thoroughly, its purpose is to prevent parents from seeking help from experts in this area. They specifically dismiss seeking help from anyone with experience and they fervently stress that a child should never be alone with a therapist — always with the parent present. Another talking point from the religious-right is that the experts will convince a questioning child that they are trans. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is no evidence that Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria exists. Being LGBTQ is not contagious. I am a gay man, a retired CEO. What I see is the religious right repurposing much of the anti-gay sophistry to suit opposition to gender dysphoria. It is present in Mr. Keck's polemic which is now being echoed in various ways throughout the anti-LGBT orbit. USA Today is an enabler.

I sent a version of this post to USA Today. It will never get published because it exceeds 175 words (their usual limit). If any of you are inclined to do so, a shorter version with a link to this piece might stand a better chance.

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