by Chalea Marker

One of the most exciting classes I took in high school was chemistry. I always enjoyed working in the lab. My teacher was a chemistry wizard who would make things change color, give off smoke, and even explode. I remember the warnings he would give us before experiments: “Remember class, be careful not to drop this material on yourself because it can hurt you.” Although we were dealing with dangerous material, we were safe because our teacher was experienced and wanted to ensure our safety.

Unfortunately, not all scientists are as cautious as my chemistry instructor. Recently, doctors and psychologists have begun to experiment on children with transgender hormone therapy with little understanding of what will happen when applied to a pre-pubescent. Dr. Stephen Rosenthal, a pediatric endocrinologist, said, “Physicians want to be cautious in administering treatments like puberty blockers and hormones when they aren’t sure what the consequences might be, or even the best way of administering treatment. We have no way of assessing what would be the best way of caring for these people.” Doctors have yet to understand the effects of transgender hormone therapy on young patients. Doctors are experimenting with children to determine what the outcomes will be. Even with the uncertainty surrounding the therapy, the age of transgender hormone therapy patients is decreasing. An 8-year-old in Los Angeles, California is one of many young people who has decided to change her gender. Her mother was stunned when she first heard about her child wanting to change genders. She talked about human anatomy with her daughter in hopes to change her mind, but had no success. When talking didn’t work, she allowed the child to participate in a life-altering procedure, even though an 8-year old can not understand the long-term consequences of undergoing these procedures.

The treatments that these children are receiving are not addressing the root problem for the transgender, which is gender dysphoria. This is described as a “strong, persistent feeling of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex.” While some children experience gender dysphoria, it does not usually persist beyond puberty. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, persistence rates for children experiencing gender dysphoria are as low as 2% in males and only 12% in females. Rather than focusing on the root cause of gender dysphoria, doctors believe they can alleviate those symptoms by medically and surgically altering children.

Are we capitulating to this approach instead of protecting those whose are not capable of appreciating the magnitude of their choices? Researchers who attempt to study the effects of current transition therapies on children are silenced and discouraged from doing so. James Caspian, a psychotherapist who works with transgender and transsexual clients, has many clients express regret about changing their gender. He decided to do his own study when he found that previous ones were outdated. When he presented his study proposal to the board at Bath Spa University, it was denied because the university felt the study would “offend people”. They did not want to ruin their reputation as a university so they disparaged good research in favor of social standing.

Where does society draw the line? If this were any other medical issue, the public would rightly accuse doctors of using patients as lab rats. Sadly, we as a society remain silent. We have become so afraid of offending people that we are unwilling to speak up to defend the most vulnerable among us. We may not understand why people experience gender dysphoria, but we can agree that it is time for us to unite our voices and protect children from those who are more interested in political correctness than the long term well being of children experiencing gender dysphoria.

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