Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Trans Youth Should Not Be Subjected to Religious Doctrine

We should all agree that the treatment of a child with a medical condition is a secular pursuit. We do not all agree.
Kai Shappley is a precocious
9-year old trans girl.
via Netflix
Monday, Dr. Michael Brown wrote: Mr. Biden, Do You Really Advocate Sterilizing Children? The logical fallacy of begging the question has never been appreciated by Michael Brown in spite of the fact that Brown has a legitimate PhD.

Michael Brown is obsessed with transgender youth. Little wonder. Brown is a Christian convert with the extremism of a convert. For what seems like the thousandth time, religious conservatives believe that the existence of transgender people is in direct contradiction to Genesis 1:27.

Genesis was probably authored in the 6th century BCE. It makes perfect sense that medical science should be governed by ancient texts when life expectancy was about 30 years of age. Right?

Last Thursday, October 15 in a town hall event, a woman asked Mr. Biden how he would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Her question began: “I’m the proud mom of two girls, 8 and 10. My youngest daughter is transgender. The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people …”

Mr. Biden's answer was not terribly eloquent but we know what he meant: “The idea that an 8-year-old child or a 10-year-old child decides, ‘I decided I want to be transgender. That’s what I think I’d like to be. It’d make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination.”

I will settle for the “zero discrimination” part of his answer. Prepubescent, gender-diverse children do not “decide” anything.

Children with gender dysphoria, particularly one as young as eight, are absolutely certain that they are whatever their gender identity is. Adults are required to make the kid neurotic. Dressing a child contrary to their gender is comparable to dressing an eight-year-old cisgender boy in pink tutu. It makes the kid miserable.

A transgender eight-year-old is simply a child who presents as their gender which is incongruent with their natal sex. Shall we make the kid suffer for the sake of ancient chronicles?

Getting back to Michael Brown:
This [Biden's response] may sound compassionate, especially in the eyes of the mother. But in the end, it is not compassionate at all.

It is basically saying that a child this young has the right to make a life-altering, likely nonreversible decision, a decision that one day could be deeply regretted.
Brown does it worse than Biden. The child is not making a decision. He or she is doing something that seems quite natural: Presenting in accordance with their gender. It is the same thing that every cisgender child does.
The simple scientific fact is that when gender and natal sex are incongruent, gender prevails. Natal sex is anatomy. Gender identity is how we think of ourselves.
Brown's fear mongering is irrelevant. Preventing a child from transitioning places the child at substantial risk for self-harm. Again, imagine the distress of that eight-year-old cisgender boy forced to wear a pink tutu to school. The dynamic is the same.

The only reason that transgender people face “life-altering” circumstances is the strident disapproval of Christian conservatives. In other words, if Mr. Brown and his ilk would shut the hell up and stop being so judgmental then gender-diverse people would have a better outlook on life.

Moreover, Brown's PhD is in the humanities. He is not a medical doctor or healthcare worker of any kind. Michael Brown is not qualified to pontificate about anything having to do with a child's gender identity.

Gender incongruence might, in fact, be permanent. Persistence is a function of severity. Most kids desist. But those who transition are in the greatest distress and are unlikely to change. Rather than a warning people should know that, at that point, this is not something that is going to go away.

Dr. Jack Turban is qualified to offer guidance. He is one of the nation's leading experts on pediatric gender dysphoria. About three years ago Dr. Turban wrote:
[Ten years ago] The hope was that early treatment would “diminish the risk of a continuation of gender identity disorder into adulthood” — in other words, make children stop being transgender. Transgender youth during this time suffered high rates of depression and anxiety. By young adulthood, nearly half had attempted suicide.
Michael Brown mutters on with self-induced ignorance:
Based on today's "science," if a child is diagnosed with gender dysphoria (which does speak of a real condition), then the best course of action is this:

First, call them by a new name, use new pronouns and have them dress and identify by their perceived sex. (So Jason would now be "Jessica" and called "she/her," dress as a girl and use the girl's bathroom at school.)

Second, as they get closer to puberty, put them on hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty.
Why is the word science in quotes? Science is evidence-based. We appreciate science through articles published to reputable academic journals that submit papers to robust peer review.

Beyond that, the treatment of a gender dysphoric child is based upon the guidance of a number of healthcare professionals, the child themselves and, of course, the informed opinions of his or her parents.

According to the science regarding children who are supported in their gender identity:
Transgender children showed no elevations in depression and slightly elevated anxiety relative to population averages. They did not differ from the control groups on depression symptoms and had only marginally higher anxiety symptoms.
When a natal boy has a female gender, parents are faced with having a miserable boy prone to self-harm or a happy girl. And, yes, if their condition persists and everyone concurs then they might receive puberty blockers just after entering puberty (Tanner Stage 2).

Brown claims that this will inevitably lead to cross-sex hormones and possibly surgery. It might but what is the alternative? Does Brown believe that kids can be talked out of their gender dysphoria?

If Michael Brown is wed to that notion it is not because of acquired knowledge. In contrast it is the result of contrived arguments in support of scripture. It starts with the premise that scripture is inerrant and the literal word of his deity.

Thereafter, Brown has to “prove” that the scripture is correct. It is the exact opposite of a search for knowledge because the conclusion is preordained which forces people to employ selective observation of questionable sources. In plain words, they torture the shit out of logic.

Speaking of questionable sources:
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at Family Research Council Action, wrote that, "Joe Biden is wrong to encourage gender transitions for 8-year-old children. …
Peter Sprigg is a Baptist minister, an idiot and an ingorant bigot employed by Family Research Council — an anti-LGBTQ hate group. He has possibly less knowledge about gender-diverse kids than Michael Brown himself.

My judgment of Sprigg is not harsh. He presents himself as an expert without any training or experience. I am no expert either which is why I rely on the consensus of science. That consensus on pediatric gender dysphoria was, perhaps, best explained by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What to believe? The regurgitation of talking points by religious zealots who represent the American Taliban or scientific research? Presumably parents are more likely to believe the science. Science is not perfect but it represents the best available information at the point in time it is published. Peer review helps to ensure that the methodology is sound.

Speaking of talking points:
What makes this all the more tragic is that studies indicate the vast majority of children who identify as transgender no longer do so after going through puberty. Yet so many never made it through this normal process of development, thereby doing irreparable harm to themselves.
Oh the tragedy. As I explained earlier, according to the science children who desist are unlikely to have transitioned in the first place. Puberty blockers are fully reversible according to the experts at the Pediatric Endocrine Society.

In fact, if you consider the gender-affirming care model which is the clinical care guideline established by the American Academy of Pediatrics along with the statement of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, one reaches the inevitable conclusion that the religious nutters are best left ignored.

A book is not research:
If you are moved by compassion and concern, take the time to read Abigail Shrier's book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. The stories are truly heartbreaking. …
Abigail Shrier has no qualifications whatsoever. She relied heavily on research that was corrected and thoroughly eviscerated by its publisher because it was based on the input of anonymous mothers culled from anonymous websites.

Pray it away:
Sitting next to me was Laura Perry, author of the new book Transgender to Transformed … After years of struggling with her female identity, she became "Jake," not only taking male hormones but also getting major surgery, first a total mastectomy, then a hysterectomy.

But after 10 years of living as a man, complete with a male driver's license and a complete male identity, her life was still in upheaval. Laura was still not male.

By God's grace, and through the persevering love of her mother's prayer group …
Ms. Perry transitioned around 2007. The science has improved dramatically. One person's experience (if it is even true, which is far from certain) does not affect how the condition should be treated. On the whole, the current consensus will be best for the overwhelming majority of people.

Why do I question the veracity? Two reasons:
  1. Experience: People have claimed to be ex-LGBT for attention and economic gain.
  2. A mother's prayer group is unlikely to have some mystical effect on her child's gender identity.
Let's not forget the ROGD talking point:
But her story is far from unique. There is now something called rapid onset gender dysphoria, increasingly common among teenage girls (especially those with autism). …
It is a theory which has never been proven. The one attempt caused a journal considerable embarassment.

From there, Michael Brown goes to an anonymous anti-trans website of unknown origin. Nothing says stupid like repeating inane statements:
Mr. Biden, I urge you to read these stories too—unless you really think that a child of 8 has the ability to make a decision to embark on a path that will result in sterilization for life. Sir, is that really your view?
We know that Biden has been a champion of LGBTQ equality. His non-expert opinion on the treatment of pediatric gender dysphoria will not affect a single child. I think that Mr. Biden would agree that the treatment of any medical condition should be based upon the best available science.

Religious dogma is based on faith. Science is based on evidence. Michael Brown fails — yet again — to appreciate the difference.

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