Should minors be allowed to have sex-change procedures?
- John Money (1921-2006) invented the concept of ‘gender identity,’ theorizing gendered behaviors were societal constructions not bound to biology. Opening the first US gender clinic at Johns Hopkins University in 1966, Money was among the first doctors to study/perform “sex reassignment surgeries” and tested his gender theory on the male-born Reimer twins in the controversial “John/Joan” case.
- Today, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines ‘gender dysphoria’ (updated in 2013 in the DSM-5 from ‘gender identity disorder’) as the “gender identity-related distress that some transgender people experience (and for which they may seek psychiatric, medical, and surgical treatments).”
- Brown University researcher and M.D., Lisa Littman, conducted a 2018 peer-reviewed study that showed “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” an increase of transgender identity, was found among teens of the same friend groups at the same time.
- British woman and de-transitioner, Keira Bell, brought a landmark lawsuit against the Tavistock Centre that could affect gender clinics and policies around transitioning minors in the UK, arguing she should have been “challenged more” on her claims of being a boy before being put on puberty blockers and having a mastectomy.
- As of February 24, 2021, a Gallup report estimates 5.6% of US adults identify as LGBTQ, with 11.3% of that group identifying as transgender.
Studies show that children in transition already have the mental patterns of their gender identity. Not allowing them to pursue the appropriate hormone therapies and surgeries could negatively impact their mental health. Experts agree this is primarily because of the stigma transgender individuals face. Because of the recognized short and long-term danger, policy and psychology minds are already working on scientific and legal frameworks for the treatment of transgender individuals.
The adolescent mind is indeed a work in progress. However, no evidence via brain scans exists to suggest that this neurological development in any way hinders transgender individuals who identify as their gender identity. And while several states want to restrict the legal right for trans youth to seek necessary treatments and procedures, these opponents also argue that activist lobbyists are moving all gender-related legislation forward, not science. Again, science shows more depression and mental health woes for transgender individuals not allowed to pursue treatment.
The same individuals who oppose laws restricting transgender treatments for youth point out that similar bills in the past were met with strong public opposition, pointing to the North Carolina Bathroom Bill as an example. Furthermore, restricting adolescents from making decisions about their medical care reverses established medical ethics. As published by the National Institute of Health, youth are allowed control over their own body as soon as they are old enough and mature enough to ask for that control.
The decision to transition to the opposite gender/sex (a scientifically impossible feat) through hormone therapy and surgery is monumental. It is not one that gender-dysmorphic children have the mental capacity to properly consider as the prefrontal cortex responsible for rational thinking is not fully developed until about age 25.
Psychological professionals have concluded that 'transgenderism is a mental disorder that merits treatment.” Dr. Paul R. McHugh of John Hopkins Hospital stated that 'people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder' that is often associated with high rates of suicide and self-harm. A 30-year Swedish study revealed that 'the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to 20 times that of comparable peers.”
Gender reassignment surgery is a permanent decision, and an individual could potentially change his or her mind about it when older. It is important to remember that regret associated with transition surgery may result in traumatic reversal surgery - a process called 'detransitioning,' a topic often neglected. The Detransition Advocacy Network founder Charlie Evans explained that she works with post-transitioned transgender people whose 'dysphoria hasn't been relieved' and that 'they don't feel better for it.” Evans continued that most of these individuals are in their 20s, indicating that perhaps transitioning occurred at too young an age.
Several states have proposed bills to prevent children from transitioning, calling such treatments a form of 'child abuse.” Puberty-blocking drugs, which are also used to chemically castrate sex offenders, have been linked to fertility issues, 'lower bone density,' underdeveloped genitals, 'fatal blood clots, suicidal behavior, lowered IQs,' and death.
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