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Back to School
Summer bucket-lists are checked off, and proud parents are sending their kids on to new adventures as this school year starts. For many, the first-day jitters consume child and parent alike. With my oldest I remember tearfully helping him find his classroom and looking back several times as he confidently stepped into the academic world. After that first weepy week, I have not looked back and have happily shuffled two more little ones out the home door and through portals of knowledge as they embarked on their educational journeys.
I was not nervous last year sending my little ones to school. I saw their schools as a safe place, a place for learning and growth that mirrored my standards and expectations for their educations. I trusted these schools to care for my children, to help me nurture them as I assisted their learning at school. Early one morning last spring, however, my trust in these institutions was shaken. This year, I am not as eager to send my sons and daughter into the arms of those whose agenda I now believe opposes my desire to strengthen their understanding of themselves, their identity, and our family.
My 5-year-old, attended an Early-5’s program last year. For Mother’s Day the school hosted a “Muffins with Mom” activity that my cheerful boy looked forward to for weeks. As he and I lined up in the hall, waiting for our turn to go eat our muffins, we read over the adorable displays the school put up celebrating their 5th grade students. Each student wrote out the same poem, a clever little piece about how they once were small and are now grown and getting ready for bigger and better things.
Each poem was accompanied by two pictures; one from that school year and one from when the student was a baby. As we passed one of the posters the epitome of the 5th grade boy, sports shirt and buzz cut, grinned at us from the bottom picture. I looked up to his baby picture and saw a frilly dress, tiny earrings, and a massive bow on a little girl’s head. It took me but a moment to realize that this little baby girl had, at some point in her elementary career, transitioned to boy. It took me but a moment to realize that my little hometown, in the heart of the flyover-country of the US, had adopted and embraced the transgender agenda.
It has taken months for me to put words to my thoughts and feelings of that morning, not because I am confused about gender and how to address the topic with my children, but because there is no civility in this discussion toward anyone that does not wholeheartedly support the transgender movement. When presented with facts, ad-hominem attacks follow. My concern for my child, and his confusion over Alex-who-is-now-Alice, is dismissed. The discussion devolves into what a terrible person I am because I do not tow the party line.
What frustrates me even more is that I am not allowed to be unsettled. I am not allowed to feel horror by what pediatricians are required to prescribe to children that experience gender dysphoria. My rights are curtailed and I am not allowed to seek a second opinion. When I parent my child, seeking what I know to be the best for him, striving more than some professionals to “first do no harm”, heavy charges are leveled that include words like “hate” and “bigot”, an intolerant “-ist” or “-phobic” of whatever prefix fits.
I cannot teach my child the importance of his biological sex. I cannot teach him that I believe maleness and femaleness to be of divine origin. To teach my sons and daughters that their bodies are unique, biologically miraculous and incredible, is heresy. To tell them that what nature has given them is right, a scientific manifestation of the transcendent yin and yang that makes up the human experience, goes against the current popular dogma and is criminal. Because I do not believe the current protocol is the right protocol, my freedom to parent is restricted and I am stripped of my right to pursue another course of action, however benign and noninvasive it may be.
May we just, for a small moment, seek some mutual understanding? May we agree that we are parents that love our children? May we agree that what we want, more than anything else, is for our children to have a life filled with success, safety, and happiness? I believe that we can come to a common ground here: we all want what is best for our children.
So before you read any further, please humor me: have an open mind. Understand that I come from a place of love and concern for my children, for your children, and for the world in which they live.
Be True to Yourself?
I would like to offer some context to my beliefs: my oldest son’s favorite shirt is a beautiful pink, and he has picked out at least one, if not two, pink shirts for every season when we have restocked the closets the last few years. My younger son dresses up in tutus and has a beloved baby doll, George (he came up with the name) that he cares for better than his older sister ever did. When he saw the dolls I’m making for my girls, he asked me to make a doll for him. Why? Because they are “so pretty, Mom!”. My oldest daughter cannot abide the color pink, prefers blacks and reds, rocked a pixie cut for years, and does not have time for ruffles; as hard as I tried to get her to mimic my 50’s inspired style, circle skirts and crinolines are just not her vibe.
Personally, I love clothes that I can pass from boy to girl with ease. It is not to make any statement, it is because it saves me money. I do not let gender limit the clothes my kids wear, or the activities they participate in, or the toys with which they play. In fact, when my 5-year-old boy asked me if he was weird because he liked to play with girl toys I asked him “What makes it girl toys?” I explained to him that anyone could play with any toys he or she liked, it did not make the individual any more or less of a person. What did I not do? I did not take the “Ready-FIRE-aim” approach advocated by our society. I confirmed to him that toys are toys, and that liking things girls like does not make him less of a boy. I taught him, like I’ve taught all of my children, that his biological sex is important and special. Here’s why:
- Few children that experience gender dysphoria grow up to identify as transgender
For the majority of children that experience gender dysphoria, or distress over a person’s biological sex, is not the life-long discomfort some claim. 75 to 95 percent of children who express persistent distress over their biological sex will eventually outgrow this distress. However, the push for transition affirmation with increasingly younger children prevents children having the opportunity to accept their biological sex. Bypassing all contingencies and going straight to a protocol that irrevocably alters the child’s anticipated life is not sound advice when that child’s expectations for life change almost daily.
As stated in a New Atlantis article, “Gender identity for children is elastic (that is, it can change over time) and plastic (that is, it can be shaped by forces like parental approval and social conditions). If the increasing use of gender-affirming care does cause children to persist with their identification as the opposite sex, then many children who would otherwise not need ongoing medical treatment would be exposed to hormonal and surgical interventions.”
Also consider that, especially in teenage girls, peer and social pressures play a role in the shocking increase in the rate of trans-identifying teens. In a study authored by Brown University’s Lisa Littman, she notes that “parents have described clusters of gender dysphoria outbreaks occurring in pre-existing friend groups with multiple or even all members of a friend group becoming gender dysphoric and transgender-identified in a pattern that seems statistically unlikely based on previous research.” Parents discussed how immediately before their child came “out” as transgender, their child did intensive research on social media, “binge-watching” Youtube transition videos, and read up on Tumblr tactics for guilting parents into supporting their sudden desire to transition. Littman noted that “these descriptions are atypical for the presentation of gender dysphoria described in the research literature…”
As an interesting side note, I challenge you to find the literature regarding that Brown University study. I will tell you now, it was quashed so quickly that the only place I could find it was on an archive site. Because the study’s findings do not fit the popular practices of today there was a swift campaign to completely sweep all findings under the rug. What does that tell you about this movement? Do they really have our children’s best interests at heart?
- The medical protocol for gender dysphoria has not been proven safe
To date no long-term studies have proven the efficacy and safety of the transition affirming protocol. This protocol includes the use of puberty blockers, efficacious for helping children with precocious puberty (a medical disorder where the abnormal and unhealthy early release of puberty hormones is released), but not proven safe for a healthy, physiologically normal body. Currently, the evidence in support of puberty blockers to treat gender dysphoria is weak, and is being used to conduct an uncontrolled experiment on our children (generally ages 3 to 12) where every risk to bone density, for cancer, and mental health is disregarded.
Puberty blockers are followed by cross-sex hormones, the side effects of which are well-documented in adults, but are not well-known in children. Consider that the use of synthetic testosterone for sexual transition is not the intended use of the drug, and the long-term ramifications are unknown. One study did find that females using testosterone to transition to male immediately began to experience oxidative stress – oxidative stress may lead to cancers, heart and blood disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, among other disorders. There are no long-term studies yet that have delineated what prolonged use of testosterone will do to a young girl as she ages. Consider also that once a child is placed on cross-sex hormones there are no documented, scientific studies indicating outcomes should a child stop taking those hormones. What will that child’s life look like? We cannot know. This is not the first time that medications have been used off-label; what tragic results will we see decades from now when the children involved in this experimentation are adults?
Almost every time cross-sex hormones are used, gender reassignment surgery follows. Healthy tissue is modified and removed so that the body more closely resembles the individual’s perceived gender. So without the advantage of the full use of their cognitive abilities, a milestone not reached until mid-20’s, children are being sterilized and undergoing invasive, life-altering surgeries. There are many instances of individuals detransitioning, but what was lost can never be returned.
- Suicide rates in children with gender dysphoria do not change
At the forefront of a parent’s mind when taking her gender dysphoric child to the doctor is the very real possibility for depression and suicide. The compassionate approach, by many accounts, is to help the child transition to the gender he feels would make his life better. Parents are asked, “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a live son?” However, there are studies that indicate a higher suicide rate among transgender individuals that have medically transitioned as opposed to those that have not. So if transitioning may not have the curative effect advertised, is it wise to rush into an unalterable protocol?
Be Your True Self
So with this information in hand, what should parents do? Personally, I reaffirm to my children how special and unique their bodies are – medical marvels and miracles took place to create the cells that made each of them who they are, packing them full of limitless potential, and I make sure that my sons and daughters know that. Be involved in your schools and be aware of what is taught, the movements of their peers, and the detrimental directions preached by society. Get out ahead of the confusion and misguided morals; teach your children the importance of who they are, that they do not need to alter their physical appearance to be happy or loved, and teach them to love themselves as they are now. Teach your children to be kind, and to love those that do not understand the importance of their real bodies. Teach your children that you can have compassion without compromise. Confirm in them their innate self, and teach them the importance of their biological sex in the balance of the world around them.
Genetic evolution has promoted sexual dimorphism, encouraging specialization and the complimentary compatibility of the sexes; are we so arrogant that we will vilify scientific truths that have preserved humanity for thousands of years in favor of emotionally-driven opinion? When conjecture becomes more important than scientific truth, our children will suffer. The lives of our children, and the only body they will ever get, are threatened. As parents, we are responsible for ensuring their safety and protecting their hearts and minds from a society that would have them live by speculation rather than actuality, and alter the course of their life for a whim.