Some Notes On Trans Kids

These days we see less outright hostility to trans people in the media, but a great deal more concern trolling. Much of this takes the following form:

Trans people are bad because [long list of things that most trans people do not believe or do]. I would be much more inclined to support trans people if [list of things that most trans people believe and do].

I keep meaning to write things debunking this nonsense, but I have better things to do with my life and to be honest the whole thing gets very tiresome after a while. Fortunately I can rely on other people to do the job for me.

The most recent fuss has been to do with trans kids, because when it comes to concern trolling there’s no better line than, “Won’t someone think of the children?” The articles have centered on the claim that 80% of kids diagnosed as being trans “grow out of it”. I have written about this before, but it is a meme that has an enormous amount of tenacity.

The general thrust of the articles is as follows:

The vast majority of kids diagnosed as being trans grow out it, so huge numbers of cis kids are being misdiagnosed as trans. We must stop all treatment for trans kids so as to avoid any risk of a cis kid being forced into transition.

Of course they don’t put it so bluntly, but that’s what they want to happen, and why they want it to happen.

Part of the problem here is the question of what we mean by the diagnosis. Edition IV of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association had a 5-point test for being trans. One of those is the obvious one of, “Repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex.” However, the DSM rules allowed doctors to diagnose a kid as trans if only 4 of the 5 criteria were met. So it was possible to diagnose a kid as trans even if they did not, in fact, identify as trans. See Kelley Winters for more on this issue.

There’s a lot more that I could write, but Julia Serano has done it for me, and as usual has done it far better than I ever could. This essay is rather long, but it puts the whole fuss into context and whacks all of the necessary moles. Doubtless, as in a game of whack-a-mole, they will all pop up again, but at least we now know what to do to them.

While I am on the subject of trans kids, you may have been me tweeting appeals for the crowdfunding campaign for the Gendered Intelligence Trans Youth Camping Trip. They are in the final week of the campaign, and today they finally hit their target. However, they could probably do with a bit more just in case someone has to back out.

Still on the subject of kids, you may remember that I had some young people doing their National Citizenship Scheme training on the radio show last week. Part of the NCS programme is that the kids should do a community project that raises money for people in need. This year two groups (not in Bristol) have chosen to raise money for GIRES, an excellent organization that does great work for trans people. You can find their campaigns here and here.

3 thoughts on “Some Notes On Trans Kids

  1. On the 80% statistic, you’ve probably already seen this helpful animation: Of course, it’s a little out of date now (in a good way – Zucker’s detransification clinic has been shut down), but it gets to the nub of it.

  2. Thanks for linking that video, Catherine. “Real science takes time” is a great line. I’m glad Zucker’s clinic is gone too.

  3. It is a great little film, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the 80% number. The important point here is that gender-nonconformity is not a binary. One isn’t either a binary-identified transsexual or cis, many people fall somewhere in between.

    What a lot of the doctors have got wrong in the past is trying to fit kids into one box or the other. What they should be doing is finding out what is best for each child individually. If that means that only 20% go on to full medical transition, that’s fine. Many others may end up identifying as trans in other ways that don’t require medical intervention. And of course many who grow up to be gay or lesbian will get referred by worried parents and GPs who don’t understand the issues.

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