Bob McCoskrie: Gender agenda confusing children
THERE has been no shortage of media reports lately regarding gender change - even of children.
Last year, the parents of a 7-year-old girl made the decision to start a process which would culminate in medically stopping the onset of female puberty. The media report said she was "born into a girl's body", - as though this was somehow an accident. At age 6, the little girl reportedly told her parents: "I'm not a girl, I think I'm a boy."
The Human Rights Commission has published guidelines to recognise the rights of children as young as 5 to use the changing room, play in the sports team, and even share bunkrooms on school camps that match their gender identity.
In Australia, a threatened anti-discrimination lawsuit by a parent of a 9-year-old transgender child has opened the door to Queensland schools introducing unisex toilets, change rooms and sports teams.
British school inspectors praised schools for supporting their cross-dressing students. Children as young as 4 have been labelled as "transgender" and permitted to dress as the opposite sex.
In January, California became the first US state to give rights to transgender students as young as kindergarten-age, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want and to choose whether they want to play boys' or girls' sports - based on their "self-perception" and regardless of their birth gender.
Our children are being indoctrinated with the message "Gender refers to how you identify, someone can identify as male, female, in between, both, or neither."
The Post Primary Teachers' Association has told secondary schools that "Gender identity refers to what a person thinks of as their own gender, whether they think of themselves as a man or as a woman, irrespective of their biological sex", and that schools must not only recognise these forms of diversity, but affirm them.
What has been noticeable in all these media reports and government documents has been the deafening silence in terms of a critical analysis of whether this is in the best interests of children.
The current trend in treatment - changing genders - fails to take into account the possibility of deeply unresolved psychological issues that, when treated first, could avoid the need for any change in gender.
What the child really needs is affirmation of their unique personality and appropriate treatment for their unhappiness and other emotional issues.
To think that drugs and a surgeon and a knife can change gender is mythical. And to allow a child to make that type of decision is downright dangerous and ultimately harmful to the child.
A 2007 Dutch study found that 52 per cent of the children diagnosed had one or more diagnoses in addition to gender identity disorder, including anxiety disorders and behavioural disruptive disorders. The desire to become the opposite gender was not gender identity disorder but was symptomatic of other psychiatric illnesses.
Gender change does nothing to resolve these issues. One study suggested most children with gender dysphoria will not remain gender dysphoric after puberty.
To then claim all gender changes as successes ignores the high prevalence of suicides, regret, disappointment, medical problems, and adults who return to their birth gender. It fails to acknowledge the psychiatric literature which demonstrates it is possible to help these children learn to embrace the goodness of their gender.
And when adults encourage children to turn up to school confused about their gender and which toilet to use, it confounds the whole school community.
A child's gender at birth is an objective biological reality, and is entirely consistent and unambiguous. It's a boy! You have a girl!
Yes, there can be ambiguous genitalia, brought on by chromosomal imbalances. But these rare and difficult cases are not at all similar to the great majority of gender change cases paraded before us in the media.
Gender change surgery will not change the chromosomes of a human being in that it will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating, and having children, nor will it make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm.
American professor of psychiatry Paul McHugh, whose studies of transgender surgery brought the procedures to an end at Johns Hopkins University said: "Treating these children with hormones does considerable harm and it compounds their confusion. Trying to delay puberty or change someone's gender is a rejection of the lawfulness of nature ... Children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes.
"Their parents usually lived with guilt over their decisions, second-guessing themselves and somewhat ashamed of the fabrication, both surgical and social, they had imposed on their sons."
He concluded "We psychiatrists would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia."
The majority of children treated by those with expertise in this area are able to embrace the goodness of being male or female.
Walt Heyer, author of Paper Genders, felt he should have been a girl at the age of five years, had gender change surgery as an adult, and lived as a female for eight years until he realised surgery doesn't change your DNA birth gender.
He says: "The struggle with gender issues evolve out of psychological issues. The gender issue is only a symptom of something of a much deeper problem within children, as it was in me."
The real question, which the media haven't asked, is: are we happy to continue accepting the "choose your gender" approach with young children, and continue compounding the confusion?
As a parent of two girls and one boy, I'm not.
Bob McCoskrie is national director of Family First.
Note: This opinion piece originally appeared in the NZ Herald.