A psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital admitted in a video that a child’s transgender identity can sometimes be a phase and therefore recommends parents allow their child time to develop. A fellow doctor at the hospital proudly stated in a separate video that their hospital will perform bilateral mastectomies on gender-confused girls as young as 15.
Child-safeguarding advocate Chris Elston shared the now-deleted series of videos on his Twitter account. In the first video, psychologist Kerry McGregor says a child’s gender identity “may be just a phase of development” while in a later video, she suggests babies can know they are transgender while still in the womb.
“Parents do wonder if a child's gender identity is a phase. Sometimes it may be just a phase of development where they're exploring their gender identity, and they're kind of getting a sense of who they are,” explains McGregor. “But a lot of children do end up identifying as that gender into young adulthood and adulthood, the only real way we know for sure that they're going to continue in that gender identity is just to allow them to develop over time.”
Most experts would agree with this statement, but the question of how long these young people should be allowed to develop varies significantly. The brain does not finish developing until around age 25. Adolescence, typically from age 12 to 25, is a time of identity development. Many experts therefore believe it is not a time to be consenting to irreversible procedures that can result in sterility or body part amputation. Gender-affirming doctors, however, believe children and teens are able to consent to medical sex change.
“Many surgical centers require you to be 18 [for top surgery],” explains social worker Elizabeth Boskey. “At Boston Children's Hospital for top surgery, we'll see people as young as age 15 if they’ve been affirmed in their gender for a long period of time and don't really have any other life complications.”
Boskey also appealed to the authority of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), saying that Boston Children’s Hopsital follows the guidelines set by the professional body that recently stated in its Standards of Care 8 that “eunuch” is a valid gender identity that even children can possess.
All long-term data to date shows that the majority of children will desist and become comfortable with their birth sex if not socially and medically transitioned, whereas if a change of name and pronouns is allowed, and puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are commenced, most children will continue to identify as transgender after puberty.
Doctors have no way of knowing which children are in the majority that would desist and accept their bodies and which children would be in the minority that persist. Dr. David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist who was one of the whistleblowers at the soon-to-be-closed Tavistock gender clinic in England, believes the practice of affirming every child who claims to be transgender is resulting in many children receiving inappropriate medical treatment.
"If you’ve got a population of children who are all suffering from gender dysphoria, and let’s say all those children are twelve [years old]. Let’s say that in that group of children, there’s group A and group B. Now group A are the ones who in a few years time they will desist from their belief that they’re in the wrong body and won’t want medical transition. And I believe there’s a lot of evidence to say that is by far the majority group,” said Bell in an interview with the BBC.
“Then there’s another group who we’ll call group B, who will not desist but persist. Now the thing is, we have no, absolutely no knowledge, no research, no evidence for any particular child, whether they’re in group A or group B. So we’re at risk of taking the things at the manifest or surface level and acting too quickly on what is being said. And therefore in danger of doing irreversible damage to a child who might have desisted, and that’s very, very important.”
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