Happy New Year!
Last month there were a number of news stories affecting the trans population in Canada and we’ll talk about them here. The first one we wish to talk about is about the CBC deciding not to air the BBC documentary “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” This is a nasty documentary that was talking about transgender children and if a child really knows what gender they are. It included some bad science to bring into question if the “gender-affirmative” approach to treating transgender children is really in the best interest of the child. This approach has become the standard for most of the free world.
The main speaker was Dr. Zucker whose techniques were considered outdated and may have bordered on reparative therapy which has been considered akin to torture. It’s use on minors is outlawed in Ontario by the Ontario Legislature Bill 77 – sponsored by Cheri DiNovo (who also speaks in the video) – and passed in 2015. The new law may have been one of the reasons why Dr. Zucker was fired. It must be pointed out that there isn’t any evidence that Dr. Zucker did or did not recommend anything like reparative therapy. He claims to practice developmentally informed therapy, but we have no idea what this means.
There are three general techniques to treating transgender children and they are the “gender-affirmative” approach, wait and see, and reparative therapy. There has been a lot of success with the first method. With the first method children are allowed to express their gender identity and this includes a name change, changes with the use of pronouns, changes to clothing and hair style. The positive change in the mood of the child is usually dramatic when they are supported in this manner.
We’ve talked about reparative therapy but what about the wait and see? It’s not as restrictive as reparative therapy but it’s not much better because it still contains a denial of the child’s gender identity. They may be allowed to express themselves at home, but it’s not well supported and usually not allowed outside. Just a note that the suicide attempt rates drop significantly in homes where the transgender child is supported so that’s certainly something to think about.
Another speaker was Dr Blanchard who was another doctor whose pet theory of autogynephilia was discredited. This wasn’t mentioned, of course. So, we have a couple of discredited doctors trying to tell us that children really don’t know who they really are.
What is autogynephilia? It’s Dr. Blanchard’s theory that those transgender people who would have been considered gay before transitioning had a valid reason for the gender reassignment surgery and those who were straight before transitioning were really not transgender and only wanted to transition because they had sexual fantasies of becoming a woman. As Dr. Blanchard was the head of the former Clarke Institute, what became the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, it meant that 95 percent of those applying for gender reassignment surgery were denied during his reign.
If you can find a copy of the video the first time you watch it you’ll think that it presents a balanced argument. It actually is … for the first 28 minutes. After that it’s almost all about how children really don’t know their gender if it’s different from the one normally associated with their sex assigned at birth.
One of the arguments was from one scientist who states that brain scans show there is no difference between the male and female brain in babies. A quick Google search tells me there really isn’t much difference at that age. The biggest difference is the brain size, where the brain of males tend to be 10% larger, but that doesn’t mean much when talking about gender identity or intelligence. The larger brain doesn’t make males any smarter. Anyway, this information is irrelevant as the child needs to be above the age of 13 before any differences are noticeable. Even then it’s more the wiring of the brain that makes women different from men.
One of the claims by doctors such as Zucker is, for children diagnosed with gender dysphoria, 80% will grow out of it. Some of this is based on bad information but is confirmed by Dr. Zucker’s own experience. You would think that a doctor of his experience would be able to tell if a child really had gender dysphoria. Maybe not. There is the problem that children have a harder time communicating their feelings than adults so there may be misdiagnosis as a result.
The other problem is the terminology used in the video. Throughout the show the term gender dysphoria is used but, for most of Dr. Zucker’s experience working with children the diagnosis in use for most of that time was called gender identity disorder. The two terms can be used interchangeably but they are not exactly the same. With GID, there were 5 possible symptoms of which 4 must be present. Of the 5 symptoms there is some argument that only one was where the child actually wants to change gender. The other four possible symptoms could apply to gender non-conforming children who had or didn’t have a problem with their gender identity. We believe you can see right there where the chance of misdiagnosis was possible.
With the newer diagnosis of gender dysphoria there is a list of eight possible symptoms where six must match the patient. The five symptoms from the previous GID are present with a few more. There is also a requirement that the first one must be present and that is the one where the child wants to change their gender. This should help reduce the chances of a misdiagnosis.
In summary, the program is filled with bad science and is definitely geared to convince parents to deny their transgender children the therapy and support they need. In fact, after this show aired in the UK there were a number of trans children and families with trans children who have found their supportive environment disappear overnight, directly linked to this documentary. Some parents became reluctant to support their child’s with their transition – some to the point they were pondering whether to discontinue appointments. Some families who stayed the course encountered hostility from other family members or those in their communities for being seen to give way to their children’s wishes.
For more information about this show, please read the Trans Media Watch Letter of Complaint
Another story we’d like to talk about is actually a little old as it was published in November of 2017. One of the problems with the conventional bottom surgery for trans women is the end result may look like a cis woman’s vagina but it doesn’t act like one. Specifically, it doesn’t lubricate when the woman becomes sexually aroused.
Along comes Hayley, A Patient Gets the New Transgender Surgery She Helped Invent, who had another complaint in that the wait time after getting the surgery approved by her insurance. She fully prepared herself by doing considerable research online to educate herself on the process. To make what is known as a neo vagina, skin is removed from the penis and scrotum, inverted and inserted in the body. There are a number of problems with this technique that are minor but irritating.
In her research she found a technique, New laparoscopic peritoneal pull-through vaginoplasty technique, that was originally developed in Russia and modified by some doctors in India. It was used to repair damage for those cis women who were born with a rare condition that caused the vagina to develop abnormally or not at all. They used tissue from the peritoneum which is the lining of the abdominal and pelvic cavity walls. The technique was enormously successful with all the married women, and those who were married shortly after, who found no difficulty with intercourse after six to nine months. There were some reports that external lubrication was required before this time.
Hayley’s doctor has used the technique on transgender patients and it seems there was considerable success using it. Perhaps Dr Brassard in Montreal would consider using this technique if it is proven safe.
We talked about MPP Cheri DiNovo in the article about CBC pulling the Transgender Kids documentary. She is definitely a supporter of transgender rights. She presented a bill called Bill 169 – An Act to proclaim the Trans Day of Remembrance and it was signed into law last month. The act will officially make 20 November the Trans Day of Remembrance in the province of Ontario.
The Federation des Femmes du Quebec (Quebec Women’s Federation) was founded in 1966 to promote women’s issues, rights, and equality. Late in 2017 they elected Gabrielle Bouchard as its newest president. She’s a trans woman and had previously worked with Concordia University’s Centre for Gender Advocacy as a transgender advocate. She seems to be doing a good job so far but it seems she’s now the target of TERFs and that is sad
We don’t normally talk about news from the US but we think it important to mention that six days into the new year a trans woman has been murdered. Christa Leigh was an active transgender advocate, founding both Miss Trans America and Miss Trans New England. Last year there were at least 27 trans people killed in the US. The preliminary results of the autopsy indicate she died as the result of loss of blood and suffered a stab wound to her torso and blunt force trauma to her head.
We just learned a new term for a transgender identity and that’s demifluid. It fits with the terms demigirl and demiboy.
A demigirl (also called a demiwoman or a demifemale person) is a gender identity describing someone who partially, but not wholly, identifies as a woman, girl or otherwise feminine, regardless of their assigned sex at birth. They may or may not identify as another gender in addition to feeling partially a girl or woman.
A demiboy, (also called a demiguy or demimale person) is a gender identity describing someone who partially, but not wholly, identifies as a male, regardless of their assigned sex at birth. They may or may not identify as another gender in addition to feeling partially boy or man.
Demifluid or demigenderfluid is a gender identity for “someone whose gender is partially fluid (genderfluid) with the other part(s) being static; an example could be one part of their gender is ‘woman’ while the part that fluctuates is ‘man’ and ‘genderqueer’.”