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Gender Identity Disorder in Children: Will Jack Be Happier if We All Pretend He’s Jill


Rick Fitzgibbons, MD - published on 01/11/15

Bad Medicine

Some medical centers fail or refuse to diagnose GID. They neglect to provide informed consent about treatment (ignoring the work of Drs. Zucker and Bradley), and the risks of sexual reassignment surgery. Instead, they support the delusional beliefs of the youths and their parents, labeling the youth as transgender and giving hormone treatments in preparation for eventual body-mutilating surgery.

A pediatric specialist at Children’s Hospital in Boston has a program for boys who feel like girls and girls who want to be boys. He offers his patients — some as young as 7 years old — counseling about the “naturalness” of their feelings and hormones to delay the onset of puberty. These drugs stop the natural process of sexual development that would make it more surgically difficult to have a sex alteration later in life.

This physician alleges that those whom he labels as transgender children are deeply troubled by a lack of understanding of their feelings and have a high level of suicide attempts. While this physician is accurate in his interpretation of the literature — that children with GID and transgender ideation are deeply troubled — his claims of a high level of suicide attempts in children with GID is not substantially supported by the medical literature. In fact, the literature demonstrates a shocking increase in suicide and in psychiatric illness after sexual reassignment surgery.

The treatment of youth with transgender confusion is highly effective. According to Dr. Zucker and Bradley:

In these cases, the gender identity disorder resolves fully, and nothing in the children’s behavior or fantasy suggest that gender identity issues remain problematic. … All things considered, however, we take the position that in such cases clinicians should be optimistic, not nihilistic, about the possibility of helping the children to become more secure in their gender identity.

Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

Today youth with gender confusion are being encouraged to consider sexual reassignment surgery without being warned of the severe risks associated with such surgery or being given informed consent about other treatment that could resolve their confusion.

For example, a 2011 follow up of SRS from Sweden demonstrated that persons after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.

Dr. Paul McHugh, former chair of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, wrote in the "Wall St. Journal" on June 12, 2014 about this research that, “Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable non-transgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.”

McHugh also wrote that, “When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70 to 80 percent of them spontaneously lost those feelings.”

Dr. McHugh studied those who sought transsexual surgery at Johns Hopkins and wrote:

As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their true sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.

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