Robert Gehl reports that children who think they’re “transgendered” are going to be permitted to undergo drastic medical procedures to alter their bodies, under recommendations from a medical association.
The Endocrine Society has released new clinical guidelines that will reshape the entire field of “sex reassignment surgery.” Now with children!
The recommendation was that children 16 and older could undergo hormone therapy and other procedures to begin “physically transforming” their bodies. The update now claims that the treatment could begin for children younger than 16, NBC Bay Area reports.
Among the key changes: the doctors are reversing their position on “social transitions.”
For the first time, the Endocrine Society claims that young children may benefit psychologically from changing their hair and clothing to match the gender they believe to be as opposed to the sex they were assigned at birth.
Another major shift: the authors of the clinical guidelines say that hormone treatment to change sex may be beneficial for kids younger than age 16. Previously, those drugs had generally been reserved for transgendered people 16 and over. The shift is a controversial one that has some doctors and psychologists concerned that the new guidelines will encourage unnecessary transitions.
“Together, we have worked … to optimize care, both on the mental health side and medical care,” said Dr. Steve Rosenthal, a member of the panel and an Endocrinologist who heads the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at UCSF Children’s Hospital.
The theory from these folks is that offering medical intervention at younger ages – when a child is still developing – allows transgendered children to “physically transform more seamlessly” and limit the complicated surgeries they will have to go through later in life.
“It makes it a lot easier for that person to blend in,” Rosenthal said. “If you go through female puberty and you have breasts, if you go through male puberty and you have an Adam’s apple and a facial male structure, a deepened voice, all of these things are very difficult to change.”
Not everyone, of course, thinks this is such a good idea.
“I think it’s putting a lot on the shoulders of these children,” said Dr. Eric Vilain, a pediatrician and geneticist who heads the Medical Genetics division at UCLA. “It’s putting them on a path that will have a lot of medical and surgical consequences.”
Vilain believes early social transitions unfairly push children into thinking they should identify as the opposite sex. He said these transitions can lead to unnecessary medical interventions for transgender kids.
“If the children are pushed in this belief it will be much, much harder for them to get out of this belief because everyone will have agreed on it very, very early on,” Vilain said. “What worries me is that, indeed, there might be in the upcoming years a considerable number of these children that are placed on a path that we don’t fully know the outcome.”
Dr. Vilain said that there are studies that show as many as four in five people who think they are transgendered eventually change their minds – so letting children undergo this procedure could be disastrous.
An estimated 1.4 million adults and 150,000 teens in the U.S. identify as transgender. Population figures for younger children, however, are largely unknown. That said, Bay Area gender clinics provide care to more than 550 children, according to data collected by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.
What do you think? Is this a bad idea? Or a very bad idea? If children aren’t considered legal adults to vote, own property, or even drink a beer, what makes people think they are able to make life-changing decisions about their physical bodies during puberty?