Guest writers contribute their analysis of damaging ‘guidance’ from Transgender Trend. The Queerness will share these over 5 days.
We are publishing a series of essays provided by Teachers Against Conversion Therapy over 5 days. Read Part 1 here
PART 2 OF 5
Misrepresentation of medical consensus
In numerous places, the document is in direct contravention of scientific consensus that transgender people, including transgender children exist, and that there is a biological underpinning to gender identity. The document states:
“With young children it is a challenging task for a school to explain a biologically impossible situation (e.g. that a child has changed sex and is now a boy rather than a girl) to young children.”
This is scientifically incorrect, and also misunderstands or mispresents gender identity – a child has not changed sex, they have asserted an identity that is different to the one they were assigned at birth. This is a basic confusion that suggests the author is unqualified to write guidance for schools on this topic.
“In our view schools should not be supporting the concept of gender identity or encouraging or supporting children to feel or believe they have a gender identity which is different from their biological sex. The concept of gender identity encourages children to believe that masculine and feminine gender stereotypes are innate, rather than socially constructed, despite the fact that neuro-science has demonstrated categorically that children are not born with ‘pink’ (feminine) or ‘blue’ (masculine) brains.”
“Teachers are important role models in being sensitive and accepting to a trans‑identified child without pretending to believe an idea which contradicts material reality. A teacher does not have to agree that a boy is a girl in order to support a child experiencing gender dysphoria, but can still respond in a kind and compassionate way.”
The statement about “pretending to believe an idea which contradicts material reality” shows how tied they are to their scientifically incorrect position.
“Often biological women and men are ‘renamed ‘ as ‘cis’ men and women. Schools should use scientifically and biologically accurate language”
Cis is the Latin opposite to trans. Cisgender is in the Oxford English dictionary to describe people who are not trans. Cisgender is the scientific term used to distinguish transgender and cisgender people.
“The trans‑identified child may want and expect to be recognised and affirmed as a member of the opposite sex. This must be balanced with the school’s role and responsibility to educate all children with facts about biology and biological sex differences between boys and girls”.
“Dishonesty comes across very clearly to children so it is important that teachers feel able to admit “I don’t know the answer to that” while at the same time reinforcing the school approach without apology: “at our school we think it’s important to recognise the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ and we try to be fair to all children and treat everyone with respect.”
“Do answer such questions directly with factual information while still showing compassion “You can’t actually change from a boy to a girl, but he really feels like he is a girl and wants to be one”
Transgender Trend’s political ideology comes across very clearly here (plus, this appears to be a recommendation for a teacher to bully a pupil based on ideology rather than on science). The Transgender Trend Resource Pack for Schools appears to be based on a mistaken assumption that transgender children do not exist. In one section, it says:
“Given the life long impact of drug taking and surgery involved in changing sex it is essential that children and young people below the age of consent are protected from anyone who wishes to influence them into taking these life changing decisions. Where schools have any concerns about the ability of a child to fully comprehend and give active consent to issues, then safeguarding concerns must be raised in the way in the same way that they would be for any vulnerable child”
This conflates a fully reversible non-medical social transition for young children with surgery that is not available until 18. In the context of school guidance, this is only relevant to the question of whether a child can be accepted or rejected in their identity. Instead of accepting that gender identity has a biological underpinning (Endocrine Society 2017) and that young children have a gender identity and can be transgender (as shown by Olson 2015 and Fast 2017), it proposes (without any evidence) that a child being transgender is a ‘decision’ that requires ‘active consent’.
“The issue of the trans‑identified child”
“The trans‑identified child may want and expect to be recognised and affirmed as a member of the opposite sex. This must be balanced with the school’s role and responsibility to educate all children with facts about biology and biological sex differences between boys and girls.”
The choice of language is not only transphobic, but is intended to negate and undermine the realness of a transgender child.
The recommended further reading states:
“The idea that children are born with an innate ‘gender identity’ which develops pre-natally and is impervious to environmental influence is not supported by any credible science.”
“That the brain is indeed gendered and mismatches can occur between the brain and the body. However, there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence to support this idea.”
There is scientific consensus that transgender people exist. There is also peer reviewed research evidence that transgender children’s gender identity is real:
(Olson 2015 and Fast 2017) shows that:
- “Transgender children do indeed exist and their identity is a deeply held one.”
- “Three- to 5-year-old socially transitioned transgender children did not differ from controls or siblings on gender preference, behaviour, and belief measures.”
- “Transgender children aged 5-12 viewed themselves in terms of their expressed gender and showed preferences for their expressed gender, with response patterns mirroring those of two cisgender control groups.”
- “These results provide evidence that, early in development, transgender youth are statistically indistinguishable from cisgender children of the same gender identity.”
- Research “findings refute the assumption that transgender children are simply confused by the questions at hand, delayed, pretending, or being oppositional. They instead show responses entirely typical and expected for children with their gender identity.”
The Transgender Trend Resource Pack for Schools is also in direct contradiction of the latest scientific consensus from the 2017 Endocrine Society Guidelines:
“Considerable scientific evidence has emerged demonstrating a durable biological element underlying gender identity. Individuals may make choices due to other factors in their lives, but there do not seem to be external forces that genuinely cause individuals to change gender identity.
Although the specific mechanisms guiding the biological underpinnings of gender identity are not entirely understood, there is evolving consensus that being transgender is not a mental health disorder. Such evidence stems from scientific studies suggesting that: 1) attempts to change gender identity in intersex patients to match external genitalia or chromosomes are typically unsuccessful; 2) identical twins (who share the exact same genetic background) are more likely to both experience transgender identity as compared to fraternal (non-identical) twins; 3) among individuals with female chromosomes (XX), rates of male gender identity are higher for those exposed to higher levels of androgens in utero relative to those without such exposure, and male (XY)-chromosome individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome typically have female gender identity; and 4) there are associations of certain brain scan or staining patterns with gender identity rather than external genitalia or chromosomes,
In summary, although there is much that is still unknown with respect to gender identity and its expression, compelling studies support the concept that biologic factors, in addition to environmental factors, contribute to this fundamental aspect of human development.”
“Data is strong for a biological underpinning to gender identity”
Transgender Trend repeatedly makes claims that are scientifically incorrect.
Fast, A & Olson, K. (2017) Gender Development in Transgender Preschool Children, Child Development
Olson, K.; Key, A.; Eaton, N. (2015) Gender Cognition in Transgender Children Psychological Science
These guidelines are endorsed by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Society of Andrology, the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology, the European Society of Endocrinology, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.