Numerous media stories have been written about an adorable eight-year-old girl in New Jersey, who is being allowed to change her name to Joey, dress like a boy, and join a Boy Scout troop. She wanted to join the Boy Scouts, because her best friends are the boys in the scout troop, and according to Joey, they all like to camp, do science stuff, and hang out. The official Scout policy limited membership to children whose birth certificates showed they were males, but a few months later, they changed their policy to accept children on the basis of the gender listed on the enrollment form. Girl Scouts have also accepted transgender members for the past several years.
The decision by the Boy Scouts to allow transgender girls to join their troops is being celebrated by many people as courageous and compassionate. But, is it really?
If Joey never grew up, this policy would be much less complicated. But, in about four or five years, Joey is going to stop looking like a typical boy. She will begin to develop breasts, her hips will widen, her voice will sound more like a girl than a boy, she will begin to menstruate, and her body will be flooded with female hormones. Boys, who want to take on a female identity, face similar problems, as the onset of puberty produces dramatic changes in their bodies as well.
The parents of Joey and her Scout leaders certainly think they are being compassionate and have her best interest in mind. But, allowing an eight-year-old girl to decide she will live the rest of her life as a male may have more serious consequences than they anticipated. Will she be allowed to begin hormone therapy to stop the processes that occur during puberty? Will she start taking male hormones while her female hormones are blocked? Will there be surgical operations to make her look like a boy? Hormone therapy must be continued throughout many years, and it comes with serious health risks and the inability to have children. Surgical procedures are usually permanent.
The advice of Dr. Paul McHugh to the parents of both young girls and young boys who want to change their gender is “Don’t do it!” Dr. McHugh actually performed gender reassignment surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital for several years. There were no problems with the surgeries, but he discontinued doing them for one simple reason. A battery of psychological tests were administered to the people on which he preformed surgery, and the same tests were given several years after their surgery. He was surprised to find that most of his transgender patients were just as unhappy and dissatisfied with life after the surgery as they were before. He realized that life-altering surgery had produced no improvement in their well-being and for many of his patients, their depression had deepened.
Furthermore, there was a significantly greater number of suicides among those who had undergone hormone therapy and surgery to achieve gender reassignment. One study found that these individuals were about 5 times more likely than a control group to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide. Cancer and other medical problems were also more common in this group.
Professionals who advocate for the right for children with gender dysporia to be allowed to transition to the opposite sex use high suicide rates and severe depression as the basis for their arguments. Although children like Joey may temporarily experience less distress and depression, there are no long term scientific studies about the level of depression they may face as they become older. In fact, current studies indicate they will continue to battle depression in the future.
When a young girl says, “I feel like a boy, and I like to do the things they do,” is that based on some kind of gender-based reality? As a public school teacher for thirty years, I observed many girls who were called tomboys. If they had been encouraged by some well-meaning counselor to live the rest of their lives as males, they would have missed out on the satisfaction of being part of a vibrant family, which most of them now enjoy. Most of the boys I observed in school who exhibited an interest in things typically assigned to girls grew into adulthood as creative individuals who were satisfied with their gender.
By the time most gender-confused children reach adulthood, undergoing gender reassignment is no longer something they want to do. However, if they are encouraged to dress like the opposite sex and change their name to an appropriate opposite-sex name and go to the bathroom with the opposite sex for several years during their childhood, they will become acclimated to this gender. Puberty will then force them to make a no-win decision. (1) They will have to continue to dress and act like the opposite sex even though their appearance is obviously affected by what their biological sex dictates. (2) They will undergo dangerous gender reassignment hormone therapies, and possibly surgeries, with the likelihood of serious health issues and bouts of depression. (3) They will have to revert back to their original biological sex after living several years as another gender.
What eight-year-old child has the maturity to look realistically at what changing ones gender will mean for the rest of his or her life? Reality for young children comes from their circle of family and friends and being a part of what they do that is fun and inclusive. Is having a gender that is opposite to ones biological sex backed by any kind of scientific research?
The New Atlantis published a special report on scientific findings from research regarding sexuality and gender (Number 50, Fall 2016, www.TheNewAtlantis.com). It is one of the most valuable, unbiased science-based resources to be found anywhere. The research was compiled by Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S, Ph.D. and Paul R. McHugh, MD. The authors were careful not to discuss matters of morality. Their focus was on what the scientific evidence shows and what it does not show. Yet, for the most part, it has largely been ignored. One wonders if the “feelings” of young children are more reliable than a large body of science research.
Perhaps it’s time to listen to the advice of professional scientists and doctors. Here are a few of the findings reported by Dr. McHugh and Dr. Mayer in The New Atlantic, (Executive summary, p. 8-9)
“The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex . . . is not supported by scientific evidence.”
“Compared to the general population, adults who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes.”
“Only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.”
For Christians, it’s important to understand that the creation of male and female were part of what God designed and created in the beginning. Genesis 1: 27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God also created family units in the beginning, so that one man and one woman would make a covent to live together throughout their lives and take care of the children born to them.