This intense focus on immediate needs

Returning to Jesse Singal’s Atlantic piece on children who say they are trans

The current era of gender-identity awareness has undoubtedly made life easier for many young people who feel constricted by the sometimes-oppressive nature of gender expectations. A rich new language has taken root, granting kids who might have felt alone or excluded the words they need to describe their experiences.

I’m not sure about that – I’m not sure the new language is genuinely rich. Is it rich or is it impoverished to decide that if you don’t like lipstick and high heels then you are a boy? Is it rich to substitute the trans vocabulary for the feminist vocabulary? Is it better to find your True Gender or to conclude that gender is bullshit?

Singal notes that professional science-based organizations advise caution and deliberation when it comes to physical alterations for children and teenagers.

The American Psychological Association’s guidelines sound a similar note, explaining the benefits of hormones but also noting that “adolescents can become intensely focused on their immediate desires.” It goes on: “This intense focus on immediate needs may create challenges in assuring that adolescents are cognitively and emotionally able to make life-altering decisions.”

The leading professional organizations offer this guidance. But some clinicians are moving toward a faster process. And other resources, including those produced by major LGBTQ organizations, place the emphasis on acceptance rather than inquiry.

Acceptance, affirmation, celebration, all very much instead of and in opposition to inquiry. That should have sent up warning flags long ago.

Ignoring the diversity of these experiences and focusing only on those who were effectively “born in the wrong body” could cause harm. That is the argument of a small but vocal group of men and women who have transitioned, only to return to their assigned sex. Many of these so-called detransitioners argue that their dysphoria was caused not by a deep-seated mismatch between their gender identity and their body but rather by mental-health problems, trauma, societal misogyny, or some combination of these and other factors. They say they were nudged toward the physical interventions of hormones or surgery by peer pressure or by clinicians who overlooked other potential explanations for their distress.

Singal of course has been piled on for saying that. No inquiry allowed.

4 Responses to “This intense focus on immediate needs”