“Children who begin identifying as transgender at a young age tend to retain that identity at least for several years, a study published Wednesday [May 4, 2022] suggests,” begins a story from AP News. “The research involved 317 youngsters who were 3 to 12 years old when they were recruited to the study. Five years later, at the study’s end, 94% were living as transgender and almost two-thirds were using either puberty-blocking medication or sex hormones to medically transition.”
The story then quotes Coleen Williams, a psychologist who works at clinic for transgender youth:
“[The study is] “incredibly timely … and sorely needed. If you’re in the trenches doing this work day-in and day-out with trans kiddos and their families, this is what we see. A majority of transgender youth and kids who make a social transition remain living in their affirmed gender.”
The article then quotes Kristina Olson, who led the study:
“It suggests that our model of thinking about people as they’re either X or Y, they’re either cisgender or transgender … is kind of an antiquated way of thinking about gender.”
Wow, you think. The studies that show that between 80% and 95% of transgender youth will return to identifying with their birth sex by late adolescence are actually wrong. How could that be? But wait a minute….
You then reread the article and notice two key pieces of information. First, the article states that the study followed children for just five years. This means that after five years affected children may very well return to identifying with their birth sex.
Second, and more importantly, you notice that the article says: “Most children in the study were from white, high-income families who supported their transitions.” (Emphasis added) Significantly, the evidence clearly shows that parents that support a child in the belief that he is the wrong sex actually encourage the child in that belief. As Ryan Anderson writes in his book When Harry Became Sally:
“There are good reasons to seriously be concerned about the transgender-affirmative approach to treating gender dysphoria [person believes they are the opposite sex] in children, starting with the fact that it encourages and promotes a child’s false assumption. It diminishes the chances that a child will naturally grow out of a gender-discordant stage, as the vast majority otherwise do.”
Anderson then states that despite some scholars disputing the high number of children who return to identifying with their birth sex:
“honest brokers admit that it’s true. ‘Every single study that has been conducted on this has found the same thing,’ writes Jesse Singal. ‘At the moment there is strong evidence that even many children with rather severe gender dysphoria will, in the long run, shed it and come to feel comfortable with the bodies they were born with.’”
He then explains how affirming a child in the belief that he is the wrong sex can hinder a return to his identifying with his birth sex:
“Researchers have found that a young child’s gender identity is both ‘elastic’ and ‘plastic.’ It can change over time, and it responds to outside forces, including the approval or disapproval of parents, as well as messages from the broader culture. This means that transgender-affirming treatments may cause some children to persist in a transgender identity when they would otherwise have grown to accept their natal sex.”
Anderson then focuses on the effect of parents:
“Parents may come to play a role in discouraging desistence if they accept the diagnosis [of gender dysphoria in their child] and treatment plan offered by the [transgender-affirming] clinic, Singal writes. First, they become ‘champions’ of their child’s transgender identity to teachers and other parents, and often they become advocates for transgender ideology more generally. These efforts are bound to influence the child’s sense of self, one clinician told Singal. If the dysphoria begins to fade, the child then faces a dilemma: ‘either sticking with the gender identity that no longer feels like it fits or telling their parents,’ as the clinician put it, ‘This whole life that you’ve created for yourself as an advocate, I don’t want to be part of that anymore.’ Schools and other family members will also have become involved in the transitioning process, so they would need to reverse course as well if the child detransitions. Initiating a transition too early could therefore ‘limit a child’s future options because of the social and familial costs of transitioning back.’ The problem is magnified when serious medical procedures interfere with the child’s development process.”
Anderson then concludes:
“The course of treatment promoted by transgender activists is, in short, self-reinforcing. Anything that would encourage a child to persist in identifying as transgender should give us pause, given the risks and difficulties inherent in transitioning, and the high probability that those difficulties could be avoided with a different course of treatment. The ‘greatest lifelong benefit’ comes from accepting a gender identity concordant with one’s biological sex, Dr. Hruz says. “Any intervention that interferes with the likelihood of resolution is unwarranted and potentially harmful.”
Dr. William Malone, cited in the AP article, notes this second point. He states “that early social gender transition may cement a young person’s transgender identity, and lead minors on the path to eventual medicalization, with all its inherent risks and uncertainties.’”
So there you have it. A study that allegedly refutes earlier research showing that the overwhelming majority of children suffering from gender dysphoria will return to identifying with their birth sex fails to deliver what it promises. Both the facts that the study followed children for just five years and mostly examined children who were being affirmed by their parents in their transgender identity seriously undermine the conclusions of the study. Let’s hope that more people see what the study actually shows and trumpet the reality that most children will detransition if not affirmed in their belief that they are the opposite sex.