American Academy of Pediatrics says children cannot consent to tattoos but can consent to mastectomies

"It is a permanent mark or a symbol you are putting on your body, and I don’t think kids under 18 have that kind of agency to make a decision," Dr. Cora Bruener told the New York Times. "We need to look at these laws again."

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

When a 10-year-old boy showed up to school in New York with a tattoo on his arm last month, the school nurse called the police, and both the child’s mother, who had given permission, and the unlicensed tattoo artist, were arrested.

This event prompted a renewed discussion about varying minimum age restrictions for tattoos across the US, leading one doctor, who was also the author of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidance on tattoos, to state that children under 18 don’t have the agency to consent to putting a permanent mark on their body. This is the same professional association that endorses minors consenting to being chemically castrated and having bilateral mastectomies in the name of gender affirmation.

"It is a permanent mark or a symbol you are putting on your body, and I don’t think kids under 18 have that kind of agency to make a decision," Dr. Cora Bruener told the New York Times. "We need to look at these laws again."

There is no federal minimum age for tattoos, and the rules vary from state to state. Some, like New York, require a young person to be 18 or over, while others allow those 14 and over to get inked with parental consent. According to the New York Times, about a dozen, including West Virginia, Ohio, and Vermont, have no minimum age as long as there is parental consent.

Meanwhile, all over the US, children who believe themselves to be transgender are thought capable of consenting to the irreversible medical pathway involving experimental puberty blockers, powerful cross-sex hormones, and major surgeries in the form of bilateral mastectomies, hysterectomies, and in rare cases, even genital surgeries, all with the full backing of the AAP.

In gender clinics all over the nation, children just entering puberty are given the option of fertility preservation, the freezing of sperm or eggs, due to the fact that the gender-affirming care they have been allowed to consent to will likely leave them sterile.

Matt Walsh was one of many to point out the contradictory positions of the AAP.

“Amazing. The article quotes an official with the American Academy of Pediatrics who says that kids don't have the 'agency' to permanently alter their bodies. And yet the American Academy of Pediatrics fully endorses gender transitions for minors,” Walsh tweeted.

Marisa Kakoulas, a New York City lawyer who has written a series of books about tattoos and consults on tattoo law, told the New York Times that as tattoos have shifted from being counterculture to being mainstream, the issue of minors and tattoos is likely to get increased attention.

"It seems the gut reaction should be, ‘No, minors should not get tattoos’, but minors will get tattoos," said Kakoulas.

The popularity of tattoos has soared in recent decades, going from tiny tattoos being considered risque to large visible tattoos becoming the norm. This can be attributed to social contagion normalizing the idea of having a tattoo, and in fact, the ten-year-old boy in New York said he was inspired to get a tattoo on his forearm because his teacher had one in the same place.

Another recent trend is teachers coming out to their students as transgender or non-binary, which surely should raise questions about what influence this has on the malleable children in their care.

While the New York Times article tells the stories of parents who were arrested and charged with endangering their children for consenting to tattoos, some states are currently considering passing laws that would remove children from their homes if their parents don’t consent to the chemical castration and permanent scars of gender-affirming care.

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