Dr. Erica Anderson, a trans-identified male clinical psychologist with vast experience treating children and adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria, was called as an expert witness for the Wisconsin parents suing their daughter’s school district after the girl’s middle school allowed her to adopt a male name and pronouns without their knowledge.
An expert in gender medicine, Anderson says that schools facilitating the social transition of children without parental consent or knowledge are violating mental health practices and principles and are possibly setting children on a path towards an experimental medical sex change.
The family brought legal action against the Kettle Moraine School District for violation of their parental rights. School staff had ignored their daughter’s complex mental health issues and aided her social transition against her parents’ expressed wishes.
Anderson’s affidavit explains how social transition is a powerful psychotherapeutic intervention that “has the potential to increase the likelihood of persistence of gender incongruence."
The expert psychologist states that “transitioning socially can also be psychologically hard to reverse for a child or adolescent,” and that in some cases, social transition is not in the best interests of the child.
“No professional medical association that I am aware of recommends social transition of children and adolescents without a careful assessment and treatment plan,” said the expert witness.
Anderson feels that excluding parents from such an important decision drives a wedge between parents and their child at a time when open communication is so important.
“A school-facilitated transition over the objection of parents (or possibly worse, without their knowledge) necessarily creates tension in the parent-child relationship,” wrote Anderson. “A common principle in the training for psychotherapists who work with children and adolescents is to never create or aggravate any tensions in the parent-child relationship. By facilitating a social transition at school over the parents’ objection, a school would drive a wedge between the parent and child.”
“Parental involvement is necessary to obtain professional assistance for a child or adolescent experiencing gender incongruence, to provide accurate diagnosis, and to treat any gender dysphoria or other coexisting conditions,” reads the affidavit.
The Kettle Moraine School District is the norm, not the exception. Schools all over the U.S. and Canada socially transition every child who announces a transgender identity, often without parental knowledge or consent. Gender identity policies state that confidentiality is essential for the safety and protection of students who believe themselves to be transgender, but such policies automatically assume that loving parents who don’t immediately leap at the chance of their child undergoing a sex change are abusive.
Anderson disagrees, arguing that parents should be involved in the every step of the process given that the reasons for a young people adopting a transgender identity are complex and possibly socially influenced or due to pre-existing mental health issues, and “especially given the somewhat complicated risk-benefit calculus in this context and the limited knowledge about long-term effects and outcomes.”
Anderson feels that a “school-facilitated transition without parental consent necessarily interferes with the parent(s’) ability to say ‘no’ to a social transition, which can be appropriate in some circumstances.”
The affidavit also states that “social transition often leads to other medical interventions later in life, some of which are irreversible,” meaning that teachers who allow distressed and confused children and adolescents to adopt an opposite-sex identity could very well be setting those young people onto a path towards puberty blockers, irreversible cross-sex hormones, and major surgeries such as bilateral mastectomies, hysterectomies, and genital amputation.
Anderson cited past research that showed most children suffering from gender dysphoria would outgrow it and come to accept their birth sex after puberty, crucially if not socially transitioned. Anderson then compared that to a recent study that showed almost all children who were socially transitioned continued to identify as transgender five years later. Several smaller studies show the same.
Also noted in the affidavit is the increasing rate of detransition. Stating that detransition is “undeniable at this point,” Anderson argues that this is one more reason to be cautious when it comes to socially transitioning young people.
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