UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUE
Childhood is a precious time that should be protected and promoted as a time for play, love, belonging, and exploration. Kids should not be focused on their bodies, but simply use and inhabit their bodies as an extension of themselves.
Other countries are hitting the brakes on medical transition for minors.
Several progressive and trans-affirming nations have recently reversed or significantly revised their approach to treating gender dysphoria in children. Here are a few examples.
- Finland’s Health Authority recently mandated psychiatric treatment as the first step to remedy gender dysphoria. The idea is to first see if someone can become comfortable with and accepting of their own natural body.
- In Sweden, paediatric gender clinics have stopped prescribing puberty blockers after a hard-hitting documentary by Mission Investigate, Sweden’s premier investigative news programme. “The Trans Train” documentary revealed that gender clinicians neither fully informed children and their families of the harmful side-effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, nor monitored patients for such effects. One girl, who spent four years on puberty blockers, experienced such catastrophic loss of bone density that she now suffers constant, debilitating pain from spinal fractures and malformed vertebrae.
- Sweden’s famous Karolinska Institute, which pioneered medical interventions for gender dysphoria, has stopped prescribing puberty blockers except as part of controlled clinical controlled trials – in other words, as part of research designed to compare outcomes for children who are put on the gender-affirming pathway and those who are not.
- In both Australia and New Zealand, the medical regulators for psychiatry have advised paediatric gender clinicians to prioritise support for broader mental health needs and move cautiously and slowly towards medicalization. Britain’s Tavistock Clinic came under intense scrutiny for too readily medicalizing minors with gender dysphoria and is now closed.
- In the U.S., several states have entirely prohibited the use of puberty blockers, hormones, and “sex change” surgeries for minors, because minors lack the capacity to grasp the lifelong implications of such interventions, and because altering healthy young bodies in this way is not medically necessary or in the interest of the patient’s long-term health.
Mixed cultural messages
Our culture presents a mess of competing messages. Airbrushed, impossible standards of beauty. Strong gender stereotypes of how people are supposed to dress, look, speak, and act based on their sex. Yet there are also messages of body positivity, self-acceptance, and calls to “love the skin you’re in.” The tension created by these competing messages has led to a culture where anything goes, and no one wants to question what is right and wrong when it comes to our bodies.
Male and female bodies are good and beautiful, just the way they are. Kids should never be taught otherwise.
The rapid rise of gender dysphoria among minors
Many children in Canada today experience distress about being male or female. They may say they feel “stuck in the wrong body.” A technical term for this is gender dysphoria, and it has risen exponentially in children in the past decade.
This rapid rise, especially among girls, coincides with two developments:
1. A rise to prominence in culture, media, and education curriculum of the notion that all people have a “gender identity” (an ill-defined internal sense of “maleness” or “femaleness”) that is separate from their biological sex.
2. The growing influence of social media on children and youth.
In short, we’re witnessing the effects of a social contagion. And children are the ones struggling.
Growing up is tough. Social media makes it harder. The public face of the LGBTQ and trans movements are shaping young minds to believe that their problems may be with their bodies and this is leading to pressure to physically change healthy bodies in an effort to alleviate mental distress.
Of course, gender dysphoria is complex. Any brief explanation of the topic risks oversimplification. But the important point remains that the sudden, exponential growth of gender dysphoria among children, especially adolescent girls, has a clear social component that is being responded to medically rather than socially.
Medicalizing healthy bodies
Using puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and even so-called gender reassignment surgeries on children is quite new. The negative side effects are many and potentially severe.
For a biological female who is taking testosterone, it may become medically necessary to have her uterus and ovaries removed, as the testosterone causes damage to these organs and results in significant pain. The result will be the inability to ever bear children.
The risks from cross-sex hormones include infertility, blood clots, hypertension, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, weight gain, sleep apnea, central nervous system tumours, urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, type 2 diabetes, low bone mass, osteoporosis, and more.
A young person who takes puberty blockers, then cross-sex hormones, and then has so-called gender reassignment surgeries will not only be infertile for life, but may also sacrifice his or her sexual function. Not only may this make sexual climax impossible, it may also make it very difficult to be sexually responsive or intimate. We cannot, in good conscience, support this for kids.
There is a body-positive, self-accepting alternative
We shouldn’t teach children to question or hate their bodies, but to accept their bodies and the bodies of others for what they are. People should be able to exist without doubting their worth or belonging based on their bodies. Teaching children that their body might not match their “true” identity only reinforces tired gender stereotypes and causes confusion at a time when kids should just be kids – playing, learning, growing, and interacting without pressure to be or do something beyond their years.
Disagreement and discussion are welcome
Some people may claim that this website is hateful or transphobic. We disagree. The loving and caring thing to do is to raise difficult facts and questions about how we as a society view bodies and how our society responds to gender dysphoria in children.
Many people who regret medically transitioning are asking why nobody asked the tough questions sooner. They are deeply hurt by the fact that someone allowed them to take a fast-track to powerful drugs and life-changing surgeries when they were in a state of mental distress. We must not ignore them. We care about children who may end up in the same position in the future, with irreversible harm done to their bodies.
Regardless of gender, we are all equal as persons and citizens.
The issue here is whether or in what circumstances major medical interventions to alter healthy young bodies are ethical and beneficial.
We created this website to encourage Canadians to think carefully about this issue and to offer our perspective. You may disagree with us. That’s ok. We believe that open and honest discussion of this issue is necessary and in the best interests of all children in Canada.