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 2 here
PART 3 OF 5
Denial of the existence and validity of trans people. (Unreliable use of evidence and promotion of fringe theories.)
The information provided on transgender children does not represent current medical consensus. The reference list omits the most recent and most credible peer reviewed publications on the health and effective care of transgender and gender diverse children. It omits the WPATH SOC 7, the latest 2017 Endocrine Guidelines. It omits any reference to the latest guidelines on caring for transgender children by the American Academy of Pediatrics or the 2017 Australian Professional Association for Transgender Health. It omits any reference to research from the the biggest multi-year longitudinal study of trans children (e.g. Olson 2015).
The reference list also omits any of the existing guidance materials for supporting transgender children in schools, including those developed by Cornwall Council, Brighton and Hove etc.
The references that are included of very poor quality. 6 (out of a list of 29 – references 2, 5, 9, 12, 13, 23) are from newspaper articles. A further 6 (4, 15, 16, 19, 21, 27) are not peer reviewed sources, including blogs. A further 4 (6, 10, 11,18), plus all but one of the recommended articles for further reading, are by Transgender Trend themselves. 2 references (20, 22) don’t relate to transgender people. From the very limited number of journal articles, few are peer reviewed, and several are in new and unranked journals.
Numerous references to research findings are mispresented, for example:
“Childhood gender dysphoria naturally resolves during adolescence in around 80% of cases”.
This statistic is incorrect, confusing Gender Identity Disorder with Gender Dysphoria. It also fails to acknowledge, as stated in the 2017 Global Endocrine society guidelines, “With the newer, stricter criteria of the (Gender dysphoria) persistence rates may well be different in future studies.” The most up-to-date data was provided in court testimony from the head of the Australian Children’s Gender Service stating “From 2003 to 2017 96 percent of all patients assessed and diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria continued to identify as transgender or gender diverse into late adolescence”.
Fringe theory – Social contagion and Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria
A recurring theme throughout the document is the idea of “contagion” and the supposed phenomenon of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”.
A guidance document for schools should not give credence to fringe theories that are outside of mainstream practice. The WPATH Standards of Care does not include any reference to ‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’.
The listed reference for this supposed phenomenon, Littman (2016), is a non-peer-reviewed descriptive study by an author with no clinical experience with transgender children. Critically, Littman’s analysis included no engagement directly with transgender children, nor with professionals working with transgender children. Instead, Littman collected information from parents through online surveys, allegedly distributed through anti-transgender web-fora, including Transgender Trend. This constitutes highly problematic methodology and fails to account for issues such as the Hawthorne Effect affecting her data. In addition, it appears that Littman is a participant in at least one of the web groups she uses to disseminate the survey, something she fails to disclose in her text. This is not a credible reference.
Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and the concept of ‘social contagion’ (itself a pathologising inference) is not a theory endorsed by experts working with transgender children, and should not be included in school guidance. However, Transgender Trend bases a number of harmful recommendations on this.
Fringe theory – Claiming parents cause a child to be transgender
The main report includes several unfounded assertions that parents are ‘causing’ their child to be transgender.
“Parents of young children may be at the forefront of a child’s ‘decision’ to become transgender.”
“This suggests that parents are beginning to see their little girls as ‘trans’ rather than ‘tomboys.”
Reference 21 (Whitehall 2016) focuses on an unproven assertion that mentally ill parents are ‘causing’ children to be transgender:
“But, unpleasant as it is to raise the matter, every paediatrician knows there is a tragic condition known as Munchausen syndrome in which symptoms are fabricated for some kind of benefit…. If mental illness affects 45.5 per cent of all Australians at some point in their lives and 20 per cent of those aged from sixteen to eighty-five will have experienced it in the previous year, the relevance of Munchausen’s-by-proxy in carers needs to be considered.”
Including a reference to a source that claims that mentally ill parents with Munchausen syndrome are behind the existence of transgender children is harmful, unsubstantiated and offensive. It encourages teachers to view parents of transgender children with suspicion, and encourages teachers to be suspicious of and undermining of children’s description of their own identity.
The recommended further reading Cambridge Scholars (2017), co-authored by a founder of Transgender Trend, concludes:
“today’s medical and social trend for transgendering children is not liberal and progressive, but politically reactionary, physically and psychologically dangerous and abusive.”
The phrase ‘transgendering children’ and the use of the word ‘abusive’ contributes to a view that transgender identities are imposed on a child from an abusive ‘other’.
The group also chooses to include a reference from a fringe group of academics (Korte, 2016) known for a blame the parent view; see this in Korte’s 2008 paper:
“A profound disturbance of the mother-child relationship can often be empirically demonstrated and is postulated to be a causative factor”. ” The desire to belong to the opposite sex is held to be a compensatory pattern of response to trauma. In boys, it is said to represent an attempt to repair the defective relationship with the physically or emotionally absent primary attachment figure through fantasy; the boy tries to imitate his missing mother as the result of confusion between the two concepts of having a mother and being one (e15). In girls, the postulated motivation for gender (role) switching is the child’s need to protect herself and her mother and from violent father by acquiring masculine strength for herself”.
“This explanatory approach ascribes primary importance to a desire on the parent’s part for the child to be of the opposite sex. A high rate of psychological abnormalities in the parents of children with GID has been reported in more than one study. It is essential, therefore, to explore thoroughly the psychopathology of the child’s attachment figures and their “sexual world view,” including any sexually traumatizing experiences they may have undergone, in order to discover any potential “transsexualogenic influences”.
Stigmatising transness as a product of abuse is particularly damaging for trans people who have been abused (perhaps due to their marginalisation and non-conformity).
The ’blame the parent’ view is discredited and out of touch with modern consensus. Here’s a recent peer reviewed academic journal from the respected Lancett:
“to date, research has established no clear correlations between parenting and gender incongruence”
And here’s the 2017 Endocrine society
“The medical consensus in the late 20th century was that transgender and gender incongruent individuals suffered a mental health disorder termed “gender identity disorder.” Gender identity was considered malleable and subject to external influences. Today, however, this attitude is no longer considered valid. 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.”
Ignoring the above from the Endocrine Society, and without any evidence, the Transgender Trend Resource Pack for Schools states:
“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”
The suggestion is that parents and others are influencing children into being trans. Safeguarding is suggested as a way of ‘protecting’ children from those who wish to support and accept their identity. It is also noticeable that the document provides no reference to the safe guarding needs of children who are rejected (or proposed for conversion therapy) by parents or others in denial about or ideologically opposed to the existence of transgender children.
 Winter et al (2016), http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)00683-8/fulltext
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