This is the second piece on some research, for a PhD, on families in the U.K. who believe they have a ”transgender” child. Part One focussed on experiences with “socially transitioning” their child. It followed 30 families whose children ranged from years of three to eleven. Most identified as the opposite sex but some were ”non-binary”. For this paper the numbers under consideration were the 23 families engaging with gender clinics. As you can see from the title there was not much positive feedback about the gender clinics, in the U.K.
Full paper is accessible here:
Parents of “trans kids” at Gender Clinics
Broadly the parents felt the clinics were overly intrusive in their questioning /therapy and unsupportive of affirming parents. The social transition of children is a relatively new phenomenon, in the United Kingdom, and these parents, who have taken this step, are likely to be more convinced/entrenched in their belief system. The negative feedback seems very much driven by shock that the clinicians, at gender clinics, were still treating these children in an exploratory fashion. The parents have already determined that they had a transgender child on their hands and they did not take kindly to being questioned.
It also needs to be borne in mind that the author of the study identifies as ”non-binary” and also has a “transgender” child. Both the author and the parents spent time in closed groups for parents in the same situation; groups which cater for “affirming” parents. Parents who are more questioning are badged as ”trans-hostile” and were not included in the study, naturally enough as these parents are highly unlikely to be ”socially transitioning” their child. Of course this does not mean non-affirming parents are insisting only girls wear pink and have long hair. They may well have a son, like mine, with waist length hair and a penchant for perfume and baking. Like me they may be comfortable with this variant expression of masculinity and regard it as perfectly acceptable for his sex.
A central critique of the gender clinics is they are pathologising gender diversity because they are tainted by ”cis-genderism”. They are accused of seeking a “cause” for the “non-normative” development of the transgender child. By treating it as a disorder the clinics are, from the parents, they are erroneously seeking explanations rather than accepting the child as a “transgender child”. This is anathema to these parents who are firmly in the ”born this way” camp. It is necessary to understand the parental belief system to comprehend why they are so keen to embrace their ”transgender” child even to the extent of blocking puberty. For those of us who see embracing gender diversity as a positive value which does NOT , should not, include a drug regime, the parents embracing lifelong medical dependence are a baffling phenomenon. To ”affirmative” clinicians it is we who are problematic. To the author of this paper, clinicians who seek fo find an underlying cause for the ”gender dysphoria” are the ones guilty of “medical violence” . Yes by practicing therapeutic exploration you are accused of doing serious harm. The framing here is duplicitous. Parents resisting medical intervention, for our children, are perfectly accepting of diverse ways to express your ”gender”; we just don’t think society needs to medically intervene to mimic the opposite sex.
The author clearly believes therapeutic exploration is akin to ”conversion therapy” and any questioning induces feelings of shame and is a path to self-harm and suicide ideation.
The study then quotes some trans-ideolgues who rail against pathologising these children, instead they should be celebrated. Many /all of these parents fervently believe in this perspective. Is it any wonder, as we saw in part one, they feel they have no choice but to embrace their child’s ”identity”.
The results of the study were as follows:
Quotes from parents are included to illustrate the themes the author identified. We are told that many parents became emotional /angry when describing their treatment by the clinicians at gender clinics. One parent is aghast that the clinician wants to explore the impact of a still-born child on her/the family. Another that she was asked about the timing of the transgender identity in relation to the father leaving the family home. Another is unhappy the therapist wishes to explore the death of her mother and a second mother is unhappy the therapist wants to explore paternal bereavement:
The parents are manifestly irritated by the idea of any causal factor in their kids adopting a transgender identity. To them it’s all a waste of time. The child just is trans and all they really want is to take action; by which I assume they mean access puberty blockers. From this vantage point exploring issues like family break-up, sibling rivalry, bereavment or even whether they practice rigid gender roles, is irrelevant. There are plenty of quotes illustrating this perspective.
Another thing that comes over, very strongly, is the parents feeling let down by not encountering unquestioning acceptance of the trans-narrative; which is labelled “trans-positive”. More than one parent reports that a clinician had expressed a negative view about the parent having socially transitioned the child.
The way the parents interpret the exploratory therapy is akin to an inquisition. One parents talk about how they “wised up” to the direction they felt the clinician was heading by their line of questioning. It is clear to some of the parents that some clinicians see being ”trans” as a less than desirable outcome. While the clinician may have thought all parents would prefer an unmedicalised future for their child it is obvious this is not the desired outcome for these parents. They have already decided they have a ”trans” child and invested, publicly, in their child’s identity and see themselves as supportive parents. They talk of the hostility they face for socially transitioning a young child, some speak of unsupportive family members. Imagine arriving at a gender clinic and finally speaking to someone paid to understand this issue who does not immediately affirm your child! It clearly came as a shock. This was a really revealing quote from one parent. They had been ”excited” to visit the gender clinic and were left deflated..
Overall the assessment was that the gender clinics were judgemental and parents felt unnecessarily scrutinised. This parent expresses what seems to be the generally held opinion.
More than one parent complained that they felt de-stabilised by any questioning. Two are quoted rejecting clinicians who told them desistance rates for children with gender dysphoria were around 80%. This is based on a piece that looked at all studies conducted prior to early medical intervention. The fact these parents seem to prefer lifelong dependence on opposite sex hormones should have raised red flags all over the place. The author does raise child safeguarding issues but it is not for these parents, rather it is for parents who are not affirming. See this excerpt below: 👇. One of the recommendations is to educate the parents and if they do not get on board the clinician should take responsibility for prioritising ”child safety”. What form this will take is not spelled out but it all sounds rather ominous.
It is perfectly clear that these parents are very committed to the idea they have a transgender child. They do not want to be questioned lest they are dissuaded? The kind of ”care” which would seem to be desired is outlined by this parent: 👇
I will follow this up with a later post when the author publishes more of this research.
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Researching Gender Identity Ideology and it’s impact on women’s and gay rights. I am particularly concerned about the medical transition of children and gay youth. I think this will turn out to be the medical scandal of this century.