Perhaps some tiny percentage of children truly is born feeling trapped in the body of a person of the wrong sex. But it is undeniable that the vast majority of children go through stages. I recall wishing to be a boy myself when I was about 5 or 6. I didn't like frilly dresses and asked my playmates to call me "Timmy." Perhaps mine was a normal tomboy phase and maybe that's distinguishable from what Tyler is experiencing. But how can we be sure? The Post quotes Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, of Washington's Children Hospital, who has been treating "transgender kids" for a decade. About 80 percent, he says, switch back to the gender they were born into by the time they reach adulthood.
The problem with the Post's recommended approach -- which amounts to "let's accept a child's version of reality to avoid causing depression or worse"-- is that the decision of parents to indulge a child's whim on gender identity is itself irreversible. The effects of hormone blockers, the Post reassures readers, are fully reversible. Maybe. How much research can there have been on such a new practice? Would parents who hesitate to let their kids eat preservatives or nonorganic eggs consent to block the complex hormones that begin to flood kids' bodies at puberty? In any case, the decision to dress a girl in boys' clothing, cut her hair, and call her a boy -- even if reversed later -- must, absolutely must, scramble a child's psyche. Imagine the confrontation between a teenaged girl who has changed her mind and the parents who raised her as a boy. "Did you not think I was pretty enough to be a girl? Wasn't I feminine enough?" Or perhaps even more damaging, a teenaged boy demanding to know whether his father thought him lacking in masculinity as a child. It's a psychological minefield.
We have the technology to make -- or at least appear to make -- women into men and vice versa. If adults choose to do this to themselves (and can afford it), that's their business. But a child? One wonders: What other major life decisions should 4-year-olds be judged competent to make?
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