I have an idea . . .

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

. . . let’s make a seven-year-old child the subject of national ridicule and torment in the latest culture war skirmish!

Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head, die a little inside, and console yourself with behind-the-scenes photos from the Puppy Bowl.

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91 Responses to “I have an idea . . .”

  1. #1 |  David M | 

    Radley won his own thread here: “Have you met my friends, The Lefty Commenters? They think I’m just a Republican who smokes pot. I think y’all will get along fabulously.”

    You can certainly put me in that group some of the time, but his work on civil liberties always keeps me reading.

  2. #2 |  Ray | 

    Seems to me the focus is on the Girl Scouts, not the little boy.

    A campaign against the child would be focused on the child himself, and not the Scouts and the larger question of values, etc.

    I went looking around and have not found any groups or stories focused on the child, and have not found a single picture of the boy either. There may be pictures out there that I’m sure others will offer up in response to this, but they’re not easily found with a couple of simple searches I did.

    So bottom line, this is not a campaign against an individual child. Period. It is dishonest to portray it as such.

  3. #3 |  AJP | 

    Bob – your response to my comment above re: the difference in family structure does make sense, and although I think societal views of gender roles have significant implications for family structure, the why and how of that argument is probably too lengthy to lay out in a blog comment (or I am too lazy to do it).

    But family was just one example, and probably not the right one. The point I am trying to make is this – Men and women, in general, are different in significant ways, and these differences exist across the overwhelming majority of the adult male and female population. Same is true, in general, for boys and girls.

    The debates about “gender” issues usually come down to this question: When should the differences between men and women make a difference with respect to the structure or operational parameters of a particular social institution? The answer to this question is fluid and changes over time. At one time people believed the differences between men and women meant, for example, that women could not perform well as attorneys or surgeons. By and large, however, society no longer accepts that conclusion, in part because experience has proven the assumption to be untrue.

    But there remain a host of institutions and roles that are defined along gender lines, and there are strong arguments that many of these gender-based distinctions have normative value and create significant societal benefits. Think, for example, of the data suggesting the benefits of single-sex education in certain settings or subject areas, or the benefits that accrue to both girls and boys from separate sports programs that account for the typical biological and social differences between the genders. I know that the data on these issues is not unequivocal, but the point is that good faith arguments can be made in support of gender-based distinctions in a host of areas, and it is ignorant to dismiss all of these arguments as simply covert bigotry.

    The question raised by the Girl Scout situation recurs frequently in similar contexts, and the issue becomes, should a sex or gender-based distinction reflected in a specific social practice be deemed illegitimate simply because a particular individual wishes to have it erased in their particular case? My answer is “it depends, and the validity of the distinction needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.” But the answer of many seems to be “Yes, it should be erased, because we think gender or sex-based distinctions are inherently oppressive and pernicious, and we should dismantle such distinctions by challenging them in every possible social setting where they presently exist.”

    The latter view, while one I strongly disagree with, is no doubt sincerely held in good faith by many people. But I think it is incumbent on such people to be honest about the scope of their view, and its implications. Because I have a feeling that Bobby Montoya’s mother is not going to stop with the Girl Scouts – She will no doubt be arguing through childhood and into his adolescence that in any gender-based setting, Bobby should be free to place himself on the “girl” side of the line or the “boy” side of the line, according to his preference at that particular time, and with respect to that particular social institution.

    Again, she has every right to argue this, and Bobby has every right to make this argument for himself as he gets older. But the implications of this argument are that no social institution can legitimately draw sex or gender-based distinctions, because anyone who wishes to can come along and demand that the distinction be erased, simply because it displeases them. So it is not really fair to pretend that this fight is simply about some people picking on a 7-year old, because that characterization ignores the broader and more difficult issues that are at the heart of these types of cultural and societal disputes.

  4. #4 |  thorn | 

    Perhaps there should just be a grassroots effort to create the Transgendered Scouts of America. Then everyone will be equal in some inclusive organization somewhere.

  5. #5 |  Delta | 

    My amateur understanding is that transgendered people are frequently aware of their “difference” from a very young age, and 2 years old is actually pretty consistent with other stuff I’ve read. It’s becoming somewhat more common to offer hormone replacement therapy to such people, even before puberty, so as to avoid the extreme trauma that they otherwise experience from physical changes up until they’re of legal age.

    #42: “But the presumed connection between biological sex and particular ‘gendered’ social roles has, to one extent or another, been an accepted feature of social thought for 1000s of years.”

    My understanding is also that gender has been more fluid and less regimented in other times and places. The Hijra of South Asia are pretty officially recognized as a third gender, and there are references to them in the Kama Sutra from at least 2,400 years ago. Similar stories circulate from Native Americans pre-Columbus, as well.

  6. #6 |  JOR | 

    “But the presumed connection between biological sex and particular “gendered” social roles has, to one extent or another, been an accepted feature of social thought for 1000s of years.”

    All the more reason to strive against it, in every way convenient, effective, and in accord with justice. If it means the modal nuclear family as we know it disappears from the world forever, so be it. It’s a relic of statist social engineering anyway.

  7. #7 |  JOR | 

    “The debates about “gender” issues usually come down to this question . . . ”

    Debates about gender, as we’re seeing here, largely consist of one side forwarding a normative theory masquerading as a descriptive theory. When confronted with individuals (that is to say, data) that don’t fit into their theories, they don’t revise the theory (really, it doesn’t even take a deep revision – you can even keep your biological essentialism and still account for transgendered people, with a little thought). At best, they define the data out of existence. At worst, they try to shame and ridicule or “treat” the data (individuals) into conforming to their theories.

  8. #8 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    I’ll agree that “Genetics is the truth” isn’t always helpful, or relevant. On the other hand my experience and reading strongly suggest that “Gender is entirely a social construct” (which seems to define the other major camp) is entirely a social construct …. and is constructed of hogwash, tripe, and dung.

    I propose “Genetics are A truth. One that should be dealt with as such”.

    I observe, BTW, that for every generally happy transgendered person I know, I know two or three who seem discontent overall. Of course this isn’t a broad sample, and for all I know the discontent ones may have felt worse before.

    I remain deeply suspicious of the ethics of surgeons who perform “sex change” operations that mutilate a functional (if unwanted) set of organs and replace them with cosmetic and non-functional fakes.

  9. #9 |  a_random_guy | 

    For those who haven’t found it, here is an interview with Bobby Montoya

    Anyone who hasn’t read AJP’s comment #52 above should do so. He hits the nail on the head.

    In a nutshell: life is complicated, and simple answers seldom work. In some situations, gender is unimportant (most professions); in others, a separation based on physical gender is essential (imagine men competing in women’s sports). Where the Girl Scouts fall in this continuum is not clear, and people may legitimately hold very different opinions.

  10. #10 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    C.S.P., it seems to me that you’ve got a premise that “gender is entirely a social construct” if you believe that transgendered people are driven entirely by PC.

    Why not believe what they say, which is that they’re miserable when their role/body doesn’t match what they feel about themselves?

  11. #11 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 


    One more that might fit in the next batch of links.

  12. #12 |  jselvy | 

    Mr. Balko,

    i agree that social responses to insane utterances is best. The right to speak your mind is not the same as the right to an audience. I retain the right to ignore or scorn what you have to say. it is not the place of government to do so. Social and community mores can be stronger than law. A law inflicted from outside relieves everyone of their responsibility to actively hold up the mores and values that they hold dear. This is why our near sacred bill of rights is a weight on the arm of government but not an impediment to individual action in any way.

    Sometimes in order to preserve liberty we have to defend those we find distasteful. It has often been said “I do not agree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” That is the core of liberty. The Klan should be able to parade down Main Street if they so wish, and the boy Scouts can exclude anyone they want, but I reserve the right to vent my spleen and hurl verbal abuse upon those same Klansmen during their parade and express my displeasure with the scout by putting my money elsewhere.

    Thank you for your time and effort.I hope my position is now clearer than it was in my previous post.

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    You make a good point. In my defence I will say that I DO believe those transgendered who say that they were miserable before and are happy now (unless their actions consistently lead me to think they are lying I’ve met ONE case. A head case. I avoid her now.). OTOH, I run into Transgendered who say they were miserable then, and are miserable now.

    Of course why the Transgendered should be, on average, any better adjusted then the rest of us is a legitimate question. And I know a lot of people who look miserable, say they are miserable, and act miserable, who don’t seem to have any questions about their gender-identity.

    So, I guess you are advocating “Give them the best solution we have”, which I can understand. And I guess where I am is “But, for the gods’ sakes, don’t sell the halfway solution as any better than it is.” But I didn’t articulate it well. Thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts on the subject.

    As for the Girl Scouts; I’ve slowly come to the position that all the various Scouting orgs are private associations with far more prestige than the facts of the ground justify. They should be allowed to set their own policies, and people who don’t like those policies should be encouraged to form alternate associations. All should be allowed access to State held properties on an equal basis, with perhaps, some small factor for long-standing and successful partnership.

    And if that results in a yearly Klan gathering in Central Park, so be it. As long as they obey the law as well as their political enemies, that is. Don’t bust them for littering is the people picketing them are litterbugs and get off scott free.

  14. #14 |  Cynic in New York | 


    Don’t both Boy and Girl scouts get government goodies in some shape or form but not in the form of direct tax payer funding? I know when I was a scout there was a camp that we went to during the summer of July in the Catskill Mountains called Camp TriMount which was state land donated to the Boy Scouts. It seems that they both tread the fine line between being public and private. That would be my beef, if they want to be assholes to the kid (which is pathetic but expected from both conservative bible thumpers and liberal socialists) fine but don’t use my tax (stolen) money for your assholeness.

    This article here blames the public property apparatus


  15. #15 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Admittedly, I’m quite uncomfortable with the concept of transgender identity and particularly uncomfortable with hormonal treatments and surgery for the purpose of sex change, but these things are fundamentally personal healthcare decisions. There’s every reason for physicians to be especially cautious and prudent in these cases, but public intrusion on account of sanctimonious moral outrage isn’t appropriate. That said, this particular case (thankfully) hasn’t reached the point of the child receiving hormonal treatments or surgery, so the stakes are much lower.

    So why the hell is this case lighting up the Internet? Do Americans have anything better to do than carp about inconsequential wedge issues?

    Frankly, this country needs to get a fucking life. It’s as though everyone’s starving but those who should be procuring food are chastising the hungry for their poor table manners instead. The reaction to this case is looking like another canary in the national coal mine.

  16. #16 |  perlhaqr | 

    For all of the people making the “Genetic XY == Male” argument: There is more to this world than you appear to be aware of.



  17. #17 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    Maybe there are a lot of people, like me, who are made uncomfortable by how very short of an actual change “sex change” surgery is, and are therefore oversensitive to Transgender issues. Or maybe people are abraded by the whole Gay Rights arc of issues, and just snapped at this one.

    Sex makes people uncomfortable. In involves a set of signals that we are designedly incapable of ignoring, even when they aren’t meant for us.

    We do need to deal with Gay and Transgender issues. I’m not saying we don’t. But we’re likely to be crabby while we do it.

  18. #18 |  Delta | 

    Cleveland SWAT called to arrest a gay couple a week after argument with off-duty cop neighbor, beats them up, calls them faggots, leaves them in van for hours, denies them any pants in jail for a day: http://news.yahoo.com/2-gays-were-jailed-ohio-without-pants-211153648.html

  19. #19 |  Zefram Marks | 

    It’s been said before, but to all you gender essentialism people saying things like “um, HE is actually a BOY”, FUCK YOU. Go educate yourself on transgendered issues instead of wallowing in your own cis-gendered privilege.

    Also, you go Radley. My main problem with most libertarians I meet is the complete lack of understanding of privilege.

  20. #20 |  Debi | 

    #67 – You are awesome! Thank you! I agree with every word you posted.

  21. #21 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    I won’t say he is actually a boy, but he is biologically male. A certain amount of confusion is understandable, damnit.

  22. #22 |  Mattocracy | 

    Doesn’t anyone give a shit about the puppies?

  23. #23 |  celticdragonchick | 

    #14 | Psion | February 3rd, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I’m sorry, if you have a penis and no vagina, you’re a boy. If you have XY chromosomes, you’re a boy.

    Uh huh. Tell that to these women who are genetically male but never developed male sex organs.

    there’s not much discussion about what sex this child is,

    Biological determinism. Lovely. What is in your head means a lot more then what is between your legs, however, and gender dysphoria means that your sense of self (who you know yourself to be) does not match your biological sex.

    I agree with Robert … in the absence of other evidence, I’m suspicious of how the mother raised her son, and it’s blindingly obvious that the right isn’t the only group taking advantage of this child’s predicament.

    Utter steaming crock of fetid bullshit.

    There is no known medical evidence to suggest you can convince a child that he or she is another gender then that he or she wishes to be. It has been tried, and it failed spectacularly in the case of a boy whose penis was badly damaged in a circumcision.

    I knew I was a ‘girl’ from a very early age even though I was born “male”, and my parents had nothing to do with that beyond my learning very quickly not to say a damned thing about that around them if I didn’t want my ass beat with a belt.

  24. #24 |  supercat | 

    It is very common for children to go through periods of ambiguous sexuality but, when directed toward what used to be unquestioned societal norms, end up with a clear and unambiguous sexual identity (which will, in many cases, conform to those norms). I suspect that many children could be influenced into accepting different sexual identities, which may or may not match the innate biological inclinations which will appear later in adolescence. It would seem far safer to direct pre-adolescents toward their apparent biological gender roles than to direct them according to their present (pre-adolescent) inclinations.

    I also suspect strongly that a lot of people who are miserable about various things, are miserable because they’ve been told that they’re supposed to be miserable about them, and they become more interested in attacking what they’ve been told (rightly or wrongly) is the source of their misery than in simply trying to be happy. And some people are biologically inclined to be miserable pretty much no matter what. Telling someone who’s biologically inclined to be miserable that the misery stems from having wrong-sex genitalia and that they should be “corrected” doesn’t sound to me like responsible medicine, but it seems to happen.

  25. #25 |  Debi | 

    My last post (#70, at the time of this writing) should now read #69 (the post by Zephram Marks) Thank you! I agree with every word you posted!
    I’m not sure how the numbers got screwed up like that. They weren’t like that when I posted…

  26. #26 |  Bob | 

    #74: supercat:

    Please bear in mind that I am not attacking your position, just correcting what I see as anomalies in it. Consider this “Constructive Suggestions”.

    It is very common for children to go through periods of ambiguous sexuality but, when directed toward what used to be unquestioned societal norms, end up with a clear and unambiguous sexual identity (which will, in many cases, conform to those norms).

    Well of course the end identity will “in many cases” conform. 95% of the human race is hetero.

    It would seem far safer to direct pre-adolescents toward their apparent biological gender roles than to direct them according to their present (pre-adolescent) inclinations.

    Absolutely! And this is entirely a side issue. Is the kid actually coming up with this on their own, or did their parents program this into them? Even if you could know for sure… would it matter? It’s still not the kid’s fault.

    And some people are biologically inclined to be miserable pretty much no matter what.

    I don’t think anyone is biologically inclined to be miserable. Even people with the most heinous biological issues have stepped up and refused to be miserable. Misery is not biological. It’s mental. It’s a programming issue. People need to be taught how to program their subconscious to fix the issues that concern them in a negative manner.

    As a corollary: People that are perfectly OK with themselves and aren’t hurting anyone else really don’t need to be “reprogrammed” at all.

  27. #27 |  brainiac-dumdum | 

    I was born a girl and have loved being a girly-girl since I was old enough to articulate a preference for dresses, long hair and the color pink. To this day, as a grown woman, I still don’t feel at home in pants and would probably be horrified if, for some reason, I were forced to cut my hair and/or nails. These traits were displayed much to the chagrin of my feminist mother, who is still suspicious of my feminism because of my physical appearance.

    Gender can express itself from a very young age and often parents are not the root of this expression.

  28. #28 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    I have friends who are either transsexual or intersexed. I have heard their accounts of their development. They knew from an eary age that their bodies felt wrong. It was not upbringing.

    In fact the evidence indicates that transexuality is a form of neurological intersex. Some aspects of the brain in transexuals are closer to those of the sex that they identify with than they are to that of their body.

    Unfortunately there are those who for religious or ideological reasons find transexuals a threat. They want to believe that people come in two clearly distinct categories. They don’t. The vast majority are clearly one or the other. A surprisingly large group don’t fit into the two big clusters.

    It is not just religious conservatives that contribute to the hostile environment. Some of the worst comes from some radical lesbian feminists.

    What most people here don’t realize is the sheer degree to which transexuals are in danger of violent attacks from people who see their existence as an abomination. They are one of the groups with the highest murder rate. The treatment of many transsexuals is truely vile.

  29. #29 |  Zoe Brain | 

    “I don’t find it patently unreasonable, however, for a private organization for girls to disallow participation of a genetic male.”

    Like this person:
    “A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis”– J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9

    What about if they have a bone marrow transfusion from an XY donor, so as stem cells replace senescent ones, even their ovaries gradually become XY? (See Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8 )

    1 in 300 men aren’t XY. 1 in 650 women aren’t XX. It’s more complex than you were taught in grade school. We need to fix that, lest injustices like this sotuation continue.

  30. #30 |  Zoe Brain | 

    “I’m sorry, if you have a penis and no vagina, you’re a boy.”

    What about if you’re born with one, but change to have the other? As with 5ARD or 17BHDD? Or rare forms of 3BHDD?
    See http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-guevedoces.html

    ” If you have XY chromosomes, you’re a boy.”

    Even if you’ve given birth to three children?

    “Unless there are biologically mitigating circumstances here (such as hermaphroditism), then, at least biologically, there’s not much discussion about what sex this child is, and I understand the discomfort of other parents when faced with this issue.”

    Thank you. My child is Intersex. Mildly. So am I. Rather radically (see 3BHDD above, hence my birth certificate saying “boy”, but my possession of a vagina and hysterectomy scar).

    Transsexuality is a form of Intersex too. It’s an anatomical issue. We suspected that 50 years ago, but only gained the proof around 1996.

    See for example
    Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041


    A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.

    “Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones”

    This girl looks like a boy – except to MRI and PET scans of her brain.

    Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism. by Luders et al Neuroimage. 2009 Jul 15;46(4):904-7.

    Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study by Gizewski et al J Sex Med 2009;6:440–448.

    etc etc.

  31. #31 |  Zoe Brain | 

    They are one of the groups with the highest murder rate.

    Not quite: the second-highest group is young urban black males, who have 5.2 times the average rate of being murdered.

    The highest is transsexual or intersexed women, who have 17.6 times the average, For Black or Latina Trans women, the rate is much higher still, one estimate is that 1 in 8 will die by homicide.

    As one Tennessee legislator recently said, if he saw a Trans woman in the vicinity of his family,

    “I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him(sic) and then stomp him(sic) dry.

    Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk. We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts.”

    These are not the usual meaningless mouthings of an Internet kook or troll; he’s a Senator, and many in the legislature agree with him. Tennessee recently passed a state law making it illegal to forbid discrimination against trans people.

    And I see a third trans woman has been murdered in DC in the last few months. All crimes unsolved, naturally, while the clean-up rate for homicides in the USA is 70%, when the victim is trans, it’s 30%.

  32. #32 |  c andrew | 

    Thanks, Zoe for this information.

    I think, for the most part, the commenters here are pointing out that there are legitimate institutional reasons for gender separation and that the borderline or cross-line cases are going to have to be treated as exceptions.

    I think that, however much I agree that a person has the right to speak offensively, we also have the right to disagree, judge and censure (not censor!) their speech. And the Tennessee legislator, his ilk, and the bill they passed are vile, vile, and a violation of rights, respectively.

    Their religious beliefs may influence their feeling that these instances are abominations but there is NO reason why they should be allowed to enact those religious beliefs into law, no matter how disguised. I can’t advocate changing their beliefs by force but we should repudiate them in the civil sphere.

  33. #33 |  Zoe Brain | 

    I doubt many people here realise that it’s legal to fire anyone for being Trans or Intersex in 35 states – even state governments, who in theory, are supposed to be bound by the 14th amendment.

    It’s not an oversight either, every year a bill gets put forward to remedy this, and every year it faces fanatical resistance, not just from religious groups, but those opposed to the existence of transsexuality on ideological grounds.

    The transsexually constructed lesbian-feminist feeds off woman’s true energy source, i.e. her woman-identified self. It is he who recognises that if female spirit, mind, creativity and sexuality exist anywhere in a powerful way it is here, among lesbian-feminists.

    I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.

    From “The Transsexual Empire: the making of the she-male” (1979) by Professor of Ethics Janice Raymond.

    The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example…

    From Gyn/Ecology, a standard text in Gender Studies, by Dr Mary Daly. In it, she explicitly called for a “Final Solution” to be implemented.

    Hence the growing number of states (New York being the latest), where same-sex marriage is permitted – but so is discrimination against Trans people (but not Gays or Lesbians).

    Last year, a comprehensive survey was conducted, with over 6000 respondents, to try for the first time to quantify numerically the extent of the issues. Key findings:

    Respondents were nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with household income of less than $10,000.

    Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the population as a whole. Half of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace, and one in four were fired because of their gender identity or expression.

    While discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, it was particularly pronounced for people of color. African-American transgender respondents fared far worse than all others in many areas studied.

    Housing discrimination was also common. 19% reported being refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression. One in five respondents experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression.

    An astonishing 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to only 1.6% of the general population.

    Discrimination in health care and poor health outcomes were frequently experienced by respondents. 19% reported being refused care due to bias against transgender or gender-nonconforming people, with this figure even higher for respondents of color.

    Harassment by law enforcement was reported by 22% of respondents and nearly half were uncomfortable seeking police assistance.

    Things are improving: last year, for the first time, it became slightly less likely that transsexual victims of rape or other assault would be arrested rather than their attackers. 30% vs 32% IIRC.

  34. #34 |  supercat | 

    #76 | Bob | “Well of course the end identity will “in many cases” conform. 95% of the human race is hetero.”

    Given that most people don’t have any sexual ambiguity in development, the fact that 95% of the human race is heterosexual doesn’t imply that 95% of those who have some degree of ambiguous sexuality growing up will end up that way. I believe that the vast majority would, if steered in that direction, but that doesn’t imply “of course”.

    My point is that rearing pre-adolescent children according to their own ambiguous sexual tendencies, rather than the heterosexual norm, risks causing harm to those who would otherwise end up being normally-developed heterosexuals. What’s going to happen to the boy in the linked story when he becomes a testosterone-flooded teenager? Will he be better off for having been treated as a girl, than he would if he’d been treated as a boy with some (perhaps temporary) sexual identity issues?

    I believe that if an individual can be reared to be a well-adjusted heterosexual person whose sexual identity matches biology, that would be preferable to any alternative in cases where the person’s sexual identity might be malleable. That isn’t to say society should try to make life miserable for people with other sexual identities, but to use a *very* rough analogy, consider hearing. Deafness is not normal; that doesn’t mean deaf people should be stigmatized, but it does mean that one should avoid situations that might cause people to become deaf. Deaf parents might find it easier to relate to a child who was deaf than one who could hear, but that would not justify induce deafness in a child so as to further such interest.

  35. #35 |  phlinn | 

    Just a little something to stir the pot: Male and female are not genders. They are sexes. They are defined by biological conditions. Masculine and feminine are genders. They are defined by behaviors. There are more than the 2 sexes even if we don’t have words for them, and the genders are just collections of behaviors that I would expect to divide even less clearly into 2. I think the conflation of sex and gender has NOT helped any discussion of sexual identity issue. I would not be surprised if some individuals change their sex are trying to conform to the normal sex and gender association, but find that gender is harder for them to change.

    For example, a M2F post-op is not the same as a full F, and never will be unless we gain the ability to completely rewrite genetic code and rewire hormonal systems. They also are not a full M any more. Each subdivision of sex can also be masculine, feminine, or other, although I would guess (no personal experience here) that most people who go in for sex reassignment surgery have a gender that’s generally associated with the opposite of the initial sex.

    TLDR version: exceptions exist to all systems of classification.

  36. #36 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Sometimes, I can read posts and know exactly how it was 200 years ago.

    I would give all kinds of weird favors for just once being pleasantly surprised at a bunch of people (with some kind of authority) having a truly enlightened view.

  37. #37 |  Debi | 

    Yeah, I feel like a lot of people here need an intro course in order to understand the differences re: sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation. Maybe this will work for now (I don’t have time to find a better site, so if any of you know one, please share):

  38. #38 |  Goober | 

    @ #8 – Isn’t this how the free market is supposed to work? Word spreads and the rest of us get to make our own decisions.

    Yup. The other part about free markets is that when people do stupid stuff within their confines, people like Radley, and me, and anyone else who wants to chime in, get to tell them that we think they are being stupid douches. We don’t get to stop them, or use government to force them to do something, or use force or coercion to dictate their actions, but by God, if they do something stupid we are going to call them on it.

    @ #9 – Hmm. Knowing some women and how the desire for a child of a particular sex is so important to them, I can only wonder what the mother may have done to influence how the child thought about themself while growing up.

    I’ve wondered that myself on occasion. The story of the two lesbian moms putting their son on puberty-stopping drugs so he could decide if he was a girl or a boy brought that into the front of my mind, also. What influence are parents having on these transgendered kids? I know that my aunt has forced her daughter to become very sexually confused because her daughter wanted to play with boy toys when she was very very little. Because she went through one phase as a 4 year old where she didn’t want to play with dolls, this aunt of mine has absolutely force fed her daughter through her whole life that she was gender confused and really wanted to be a boy. It has been worse than bullying. I’ve watched it and it is sickening. My aunt is absolutely enamored with how trendy it is that their daughter is transgender (it’s all she talks about in social situations, with a very sick smile on her face), when I do not believe at all that the poor girl is anything of the sort. The psychological damage the b!@#$ has done to my cousin is sickening.

    I don’t believe that all cases of transgender are a result of this, but I do tend to believe that a lot of these “early emerging” cases are not a result of the kid being transgender, but really more the result of the parents forcing it on them because it is trendy. (All of the above is my absolutely pig-ignorant and uninformed opinion based upon watching one sad case. Your results probably vary).

    @ #10 – Let me know whenever you want to be serious about politicians using children for political gain, rather than just be a political hack constantly angry with republicans, while giving democrats a pass.

    Huh? Did I miss something? I don’t remember Radley jumping on the Trig Palin train at all. In fact, was it ever even mentioned on this blog? Or is that your point, that omission is an act of support? Because I’m not sure I get your point…

    @ #14 …you’re a boy. If you have XY chromosomes, you’re a boy… …at least biologically…

    I don’t think anyone, even advocates for the transgendered community, would argue with what you’re saying here. Nor is this an issue with this particular case. We aren’t talking about biology. Biologically, a transgendered male is a female. Period. No one argues that. The difference is that biology only accounts for a fraction of who we are as a person, and if you are biologically a boy but in every other way a woman, that is a pretty crappy way to live life. If this is a case of true transgenderism and not a case of a little boy being beaten and coerced into being a girl by sick-arse parents, then what you have is a physically malformed little girl that wants to be part of Girl Scouts. Should we really be making a big deal out of that?

    @ #17 FWIW, I’m not gay or trans-gendered, so I can’t claim to understand how it would feel to be, but I seem to recall self-identifying as a honey-badger at that age

    The point I was trying to make above. I don’t see how a 7 year old can be making that call, but what the hell do I know? (BTW, love your point about the honey badger).

    @ #19 There’s nothing “transgender” about this kid. He’s a boy. Full stop.

    Have you spoken with the lad? Do you know him? How can you possibly make this call? You do understand the phenomena of hermaphroditism, right? Where girls with vaginas also have penises or boys with penises also have vaginas, right? Is it so far beyond the realm of understanding to think that maybe, just maybe, there is a full-on form of hermaphroditism out there where the entire set (instead of just partial sets) of the wrong organs get built on a little boy or girl? Where this kid is in every sense except biologically and structurally a little girl who just wants to be a girl scout? Would you advocate banning little girls with other kinds of physical deformities from GUSA, or just ones with sex organ deformations?

  39. #39 |  Debi | 

    I was a camp counselor at a camp for young children when I was a teen. There was one little boy – four or five years old – who loved to play dress-up. Every day of camp, he would dress up as a woman, with a dress and high-heeled shoes and a fancy hat, and walk around the room. His father would come to pick him up, and would yell at him and call him names and tell him he’d be beat when they got home for being dressed up in such a way. And the boy would do it again the next day, every chance he got.
    Was this child transgender? I have no way of knowing that. I only interacted with him for a few hours over a few days of his life.
    Was his father harming him with his bigotry and fear of his child being different, maybe gay (yes, he used that word when yelling at his son)? Absolutely. There is no doubt of that.

    I am a mom. Before I was a mom, I worked with children in preschools, elementary schools, and summer camps. I babysat and was a mother’s helper. I was even a nanny for a brief period. In my years of working with and raising children, I have found that it really isn’t that difficult to allow your children to be themselves. I have provided gender-neutral, “boy’s toys”, and “girl’s toys” to my sons, and allowed them to decide what they liked. When they wanted clothing from the girl’s section, I bought them that clothing. When they wanted to wear nail polish, I painted their nails. When they wanted to play Star Wars, I supervised their light saber battles. I didn’t stress that they had to wear certain clothes or play with certain toys. And they’re doing just fine at 4 and 9 years old. Neither are transgender, but they would be completely accepted if they were. Just as they’re completely accepted now. The secret is to step back, remove your own expectations from the equation, and let them express who they are. Love them and accept them, even if they aren’t the football players or ballet dancers you always wanted.

    I see a lot mom-blaming here. Remember two things: First, except in cases when a woman decided to be a single mom by choice, there’s always a second parent. Even if that parent hasn’t ever parented, their absence affects the child. Second, children have their own personalities which are completely independent of how they’re raised.

  40. #40 |  Zoe Brain | 

    Supercat wrote:

    My point is that rearing pre-adolescent children according to their own ambiguous sexual tendencies, rather than the heterosexual norm, risks causing harm to those who would otherwise end up being normally-developed heterosexuals.

    From the WPATH Standards of Care, Version 7:

    Treatment aimed at trying to change a person’s gender identity and expression to become more congruent with sex assigned at birth has been attempted in the past without success (Gelder & Marks, 1969; Greenson, 1964), particularly in the long term (Cohen-Kettenis & Kuiper, 1984; Pauly,
    1965). Such treatment is no longer considered ethical.

    It’s been tried. It doesn’t work. It damages kids.

    There’s no actual evidence that either gender identity or sexual orientation is malleable, the way you seem to think it is. You can’t make an exclusively gay kid straight, nor an exclusively straight kid gay. You can get Bisexual kids to behave straight, or gay, and not act on their attractions, but that’s a different issue.

    Look at the David Reimer case. A boy who was castrated at age 2, told he was a girl, brought up as a girl, forced to have simulated sex as a girl with his brother… but never bought it. He knew he was a boy.

    How? I’ll give two abstracts that tohether, give a complete picture (though one a bit over-simplified).

    Number #1 – the anatomy.

    Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

    The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Number #2 – the consequences of anatomy.

    Biased-Interaction Theory of Psychosexual Development: “How Does One Know if One is Male or Female?” M.Diamond Sex Roles (2006) 55:589–600

    A theory of gender development is presented that incorporates early biological factors that organize predispositions in temperament and attitudes. With activation of these factors a person interacts in society and comes to identify as male or female. The predispositions establish preferences and aversions the growing child compares with those of others. All individuals compare themselves with others deciding who they are like (same) and with whom are they different. These experiences and interpretations can then be said to determine how one comes to identify as male or female, man or woman. In retrospect, one can say the person has a gendered brain since it is the brain that structures the individual’s basic personality; first with inherent tendencies then with interactions coming from experience.

    Both are available on the net.

  41. #41 |  Zoe Brain | 

    Supercat wrote:

    Will he be better off for having been treated as a girl, than he would if he’d been treated as a boy with some (perhaps temporary) sexual identity issues?

    Maybe not.

    There’s no evidence that it ever does any harm.

    There is evidence that not doing it causes death in some cases, permanent damage in many others.

    The following’s pretty typical.

    Cemeteries can be pretty bleak places, but when it is on the outskirts of a faceless Dutch suburb under a grey January sky, it feel about as about as desolate as you can possibly get. When you are visiting the grave of a child who killed herself in her early teens, the feeling of despair, especially when accompanied by her mother, gives way to an urge to weep bitterly. It is an urge which I am unable to resist as I do the maths subtracting the date of death from the day she was born. It is one thing to be told Juliaantje* was only 14, but to see it carved in marble was too much to bear. Holding her photograph her mother sobs uncontrollably as I hug her while she in turn hugs a precious photograph.

    The picture is of a sunny, smiling, apparently bubbly teenager, with long hair and a grey T-shirt. There is nothing in the picture to suggest that she was transgender, but that is the reason she took her life.

    When she was 12 her mother tried to have her put onto hormone blockers to delay puberty. She didn’t want to develop body hair, a deep voice or have wet dreams. She had already self-harmed when young, trying to slice her penis off with a pair of scissors. However, in what was clearly a borderline decision, the psychologists decided to that she should not be given these drugs. She should be given counselling instead. In despair her mother, a single parent, tried to take her to the United States, but the air fare and the £200 a month cost of these drugs was way beyond her means. Her father had no money either and both sets of grandparents didn’t want to know.

    Two years later the talking therapy failed. Juliaantje took a massive overdose and died, having self-harmed, abused alcohol and other substances for more than a year before that.

    “She was an intelligent and lively girl.” Her mother tells me through the tears and a large glass of Genever in a nearby café, probably the only thing that can deaden the pain of losing her only child. “She had a great future ahead of her, she could have done anything, been a doctor, a lawyer her teachers said…” Her voice breaks. Her happy nature had disappeared when male puberty really hit. “Her voice broke and she started to get facial hair and hair on her chest. She wore make up and turtle-neck jumpers to hide it all, but she simply couldn’t deal with the way her body was developing…”

    Did she blame the psychiatrists? No. Psychiatry is never going to be an exact science, there will always be people who don’t fit into their categories. She does however, feel that they could have given her the benefit of the doubt. “The effects of hormone blockers are easy to reverse, you just stop taking them…” There would have been no risk to her daughter if, at any time she decided that she did not want to be a girl she could simply have stopped, and male puberty would have started.

    Hormone Blockers are essentially a way for young trans people and children to leave their options open. They open an extended open window of choice, which gives them time to think about their future, a time during which young people can decide whether they wish to remain the sex they were assigned at birth, whether that be male or female, or whether they need gender reassignment surgery after the age of 18. Talking to mothers of transgender children in the UK who have been prescribed hormone blockers, usually at great cost (£200 a month plus the cost of a consultation in and flight to the United States) one thing comes across loudly and clearly; “I would rather have a live daughter than a dead son.” One of them told me. One mother had remortgaged her house to pay the cost of these drugs knowing what her child was like, she realised that this would probably be the only way to keep her alive.

    Another mother talked of how her young child had been prescribed a cocktail of a dozen drugs, including Ritalin, because of behaviour problems at home and at school. Yet when her child was recognised as transgender everything changed. As soon as she was treated as a girl, the tantrums, the bedwetting, the crying, the screaming, the hyperactivity, the violence, just stopped, as did the need for any of the drugs. “She became happy and contented almost overnight, just because we treated her like a girl! The psychologist who spotted this probably saved her life.”

    Predictably the accusation of “child abuse” has been levelled at those who advocate prescribing hormone blockers to children between the ages of 12 and 15 (they already are prescribed to those over the age of 16) in the UK. This flies in the face of the evidence in both the United States and Holland, where these drugs have been successfully, and harmlessly prescribed for many years. It also flies in the face of the experience of parents of transgender children, who have lived a day-to-day existence, hoping that their child is still alive and in one piece. Until her daughter was prescribed hormone blockers at age 16 one mother told me of the anguish she and her husband felt when their child had gone missing for a few days when she was 14. “We really thought we would never see her again. Every time the phone rang we thought it would be the police wanting us to identify a body.”

    Now that this technology has been developed, not making it available to all those children who need it is child abuse. Three years ago the trans community was shocked by the suicide of a transgender child who was only 10 years old. The allegation of “child abuse” has been levelled at parents who permit their transgender child to express the gender they prefer and who let them have hormone blockers. Yet this is effectively child abuse in reverse. Not to allow trans children to express their gender identities is actually child abuse. Those who throw accusations of child abuse around without knowing the facts are the ones who are child abusers by proxy; putting pressure on parents to force their children to conform to the gender they were assigned at birth no matter what the consequences
    Hormone blockers save lives and extend trans children’s options. Whether you believe the studies which variously claim that “50%”, “66%”, “75%”, “90%” or “98%” of trans children become cisgender adults, the fact is that all these drugs do is keep their options open. The fact is that sociological research has shown that these (psychiatric) statistics are based on thoroughly unreliable data, wildly overestimated at best and downright misleading at worst.

    Wittgenstein famously said “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” I wish some people would do some serious research before making up their minds.

    The problem is that so many people hold strong opinions while knowing nothing about the realities of the situation. Conjectures are taken as axioms, evidence that goes against them ignored. And kids die as the result.

    I don’t think you realise what the alternative is in such cases: Reparative Therapy (as was tried on Gays in the past). Dr Zucker’s treatment is one of the better ones, not involving “contingent skin shock” – use of cattle prods – as some courses do

    It does seem to be the case that, at least in the short term, Carol’s son Bradley is struggling in some ways with Zucker’s therapy. Carol says it was particularly hard at the beginning.

    “He was much more emotional. … He could be very clingy. He didn’t want to go to school anymore,” she says. “Just the smallest thing could, you know, send him into a major crying fit. And … he seemed to feel really heavy and really emotional.”

    Bradley has been in therapy now for eight months, and Carol says still, on the rare occasions when she cannot avoid having him exposed to girl toys, like when they visit family, it doesn’t go well.

    “It’s really hard for him. He’ll disappear and close a door, and we’ll find him playing with dolls and Polly Pockets and … the stuff that he’s drawn to,” she says.

    In particular, there is one typically girl thing — now banned — that her son absolutely cannot resist.

    “He really struggles with the color pink. He really struggles with the color pink. He can’t even really look at pink,” Carol says. “He’s like an addict. He’s like, ‘Mommy, don’t take me there! Close my eyes! Cover my eyes! I can’t see that stuff; it’s all pink!’ ”

    Still, Carol says, Bradley has made some progress. Today, he is able to play with boys. He has a few male friends, and has said that he now enjoys boy things. And there are other signs of change.

    “I mean, he tells us now that he doesn’t dream anymore that he’s a girl. So, we’re happy with that. He’s still a bit defensive if we ask him, ‘Do you want to be a girl?’ He’s like ‘No, NO! I’m happy being a boy. …’ He gives us that sort of stock answer. … I still think we’re at the stage where he feels he’s leading a double life,” she says. “… I’m still quite certain that he is with the girls all the time at school, and so he knows to behave one way at school, and then when he comes home, there’s a different set of expectations.”

    See http://www.npr.org/2008/05/07/90247842/two-families-grapple-with-sons-gender-preferences