Most Transgender Kids Don’t Stay Transgender
The National Post recently covered the CBC’s cancellation of a BBC documentary about transgender children (Why CBC cancelled a BBC documentary that activists claimed was ‘transphobic’). In that coverage, the Post shared claims made by some activists criticizing some scientific studies, but did not apparently fact-check those claims, so I thought I would outline the studies here. For reference, in a previous post, I listed the results of every study that ever followed up transgender kids to see how they felt in adulthood (Do trans- kids stay trans- when they grow up?). There are 12 such studies in all, and they all came to the very same conclusion: The majority of kids cease to feel transgender when they get older.The author, James M. Cantor, then discusses and rebuts the criticisms of some of the studies that show transgender kids “desisting” — eventually deciding they are not transgender and want to remain their birth gender. He concludes:
The state of the science is made clear simply by listing the results of the studies on the topic. Despite coming from a variety of countries and from a variety of labs, using a variety of methods, all spanning four decades, every single study without exception has come to the identical conclusion. This is not a matter of scientists disagreeing with one another over relative strengths and weaknesses across a set of conflicting reports. The disagreement is not even some people advocating for one set of studies with other people advocating for different set of studies: Rather, activists are rejecting the unanimous conclusion of every single study ever conducted on the question in favour of a conclusion supported by not one.So why is this controversial? Because a misguided notion of “tolerance” may cause some liberal parents (and other adults) to immediately accept a kid’s claim that he or she feels like a different gender, and even authorize a “transition.” To be skeptical of the kid’s opinion is viewed as “transphobic.”
Importantly, these results should not be exaggerated in the other direction either: The correct answer is neither 0% nor 100%. Although the majority of transgender kids desist, it is not a large majority. A very substantial proportion do indeed want to transition as they get older, and we need to ensure they receive the support they will need. Despite loud, confident protestations of extremists, the science shows very clearly and very consistently that we cannot take either outcome for granted.
Planned Parenthood, of course, is fully on board with the politically correct view:
Gender identity — including transgender and gender nonconforming identities — are cemented early in elementary school. Not everyone who defies traditional gender roles is transgender. For example, lots of girls hate dresses. But your kid figures out what their gender is really early on — and they’ll usually tell you. So in preschool and in early elementary school, trans kids are starting to realize that they’re not the gender everyone said they were when they were born. They may want to be treated like a different gender.But the science says that what kids believe about their gender may or may not persist into adulthood.
A columnist in the (left-leaning) New Statesman discusses the harm possible by being too “gender affirming.”
The costs of putting a child on the wrong path can be huge. We hear a lot about the dangers of suicide for trans children who don’t receive affirming treatment (although [Ken] Zucker points out that his research has found suicidality among trans children is no higher than among children with depression, anxiety or ADHD), but inappropriate affirmation is no less damaging. A young woman called Lou, who started hormone treatment and had a double mastectomy before realising she didn’t want to be a man, tells the documentary that she now feels “grotesque.” The female body that had horrified her so much during puberty now seems normal to her. The flat-chested, bearded self she has now appears to her as grotesque.The problem, of course, is identity politics. Politically correct liberals and leftists reflexively side with any “marginalized group,” and this involves always accepting any claims made by or (more frequently) on behalf of that group. Saying to kids “you might be wrong in thinking you are not your birth gender” or even “chill, and see how you feel in a year or five or when you are 18” is not politically correct.
“Affirming” a gender notion that might turn out to be false is child abuse. On the other hand, draconian demands that the child conform to normal gender behavior are likely to be harmful or counterproductive. Messing with the endocrine system (hormone therapy) or sex reassignment surgery should be reserved for adults who are confident about their gender preference.