The Atlantic magazine’s cover story about transgender children is causing outrage this week. Its subject is how parents should navigate their choices if their child says he or she is trans. The article is a balanced and nuanced look by Jesse Singal at a challenge facing a growing number of families in the United States. Along with stories of successful child gender reversals, it also tells of near misses and unfixable mistakes.
Two of the subjects featured stand out. The first is a girl Singal calls “Claire,” who at age 12 was certain she was a boy and needed hormone therapy and surgery. Her parents, against the demands of trans activists, resisted such drastic measures. A few years later, “Claire” realized that she was a girl after all. Tragedy avoided? One would think so.
The second story is of Max Robinson, a girl who at 17 had a double mastectomy and hormone treatments to become a man. Her feelings about being a man started as early as five years old. By the standards of trans activists, this was a clear case of a child whose desire to appear as the opposite sex must be honored. It was. But five years later, at age 22, Max decided she is in fact a woman. Sadly, her body had been mutilated in ways that cannot be fixed.
One thing needs to be clear about this Atlantic story: it does not suggest that there are no true cases in which boys could live as girls and vice versa. The Atlantic remains open on the question of whether people can change their gender. It simply, and only, raises serious questions about the potential damage done when this diagnosis is faulty. For that sin, progressive Twitter rained down fire. Here’s a sampling:
This guy’s one-man crusade against trans people has gone on for years. It really doesn’t make sense. Sad that the Atlantic gave him a cover story to spread his pseudoscience and bigotry. pic.twitter.com/CWFxEIfuXO
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) June 18, 2018
The absolutely maddening thing is I know so many brilliant trans and gnc writers who are never offered assignments like an Atlantic cover story. I’m just tired of yelling into the void that is legacy media
— Muna Mire (@Muna_Mire) June 18, 2018
I will not be reading the Atlantic ever again. I am so sick of these pieces. For what it is worth, Jesse Singal's writing on trans issues is so facile to me even though he believes he is adding nuance. As a trans person & the parent of a GNC kid, it doesn't line up with reality.
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) June 18, 2018
This article can and will cause real, tangible harm to the trans community and trans youth. You know who's subscribed to the Atlantic? The parents of trans kids. My parents in particular, who tried to hospitalize me against my will to "cure" me of my transness.
— Victor Manuel Markhoff (@victormarkhoff) June 18, 2018
This piece is… a travesty. It’s done in such bad faith.
— roxane gay (@rgay) June 18, 2018
So let’s review the complaints here. First we are told that telling the stories of people who regret their transition is bigotry and pseudoscience, not a fair warning to parents whose kids think they are trans. Next, we are told that only trans people, and presumably only those pleased with their transition, should write on the topic.
Next comes the usual threat to boycott the outlet, then the claim that telling the stories of those who regret transition is a danger to kids who really do want to transition. Finally, the article is a travesty done in bad faith because apparently nobody can disagree with the trans movement in good faith.
Opposition Will Not Be Tolerated
The lesson here should be crystal clear: Any doubts regarding the absurd notion that every child who thinks he or she is the wrong gender should be encouraged in this belief are bigotry. It is not a position that may be tolerated in polite society or polite progressive journals like The Atlantic. Apparently, even though such cases exist — nobody claims Singal is making them up — talking about them is just too dangerous. To admit some people regret transitioning is too harmful to kids and their parents considering the options.
Let’s be clear what this means. Knowing the actual truth about what happens when a child or teenager is given hormone treatments and surgery that child might regret is dangerous because it may dissuade kids from taking the extreme options trans activists endorse. Irresponsible parents who dig too deeply into their 12-year-old’s options are undermining a trans movement that knows what is best for our kids.
Who are we mere parents, after all, to tell our 10-year-old son that he isn’t a girl? Sure, there is evidence that many people come to regret opposite-sex hormone regimens and surgery, but our responsibility as parents is to defer to transgender adults and their allies in making decisions for our kids. And, hey, even if our kid comes to regret it, it’s just one kid — what does that matter in the face of an important social movement?
This Is Madness
According to these critics, Singal and The Atlantic’s transgression is grave. It suggests that concern over the mental health of an individual child might be as important as the transgender movement’s class struggle to redefine the very nature of gender. Let’s get our priorities straight, people: some 24-year-old who wishes she had her sexual organs back is a small price to pay for the glorious world of gender fluidity we are embarking upon. Get with it.
Of course, in reality almost no parents feel this way. We do not desire to consign our children to suffering to legitimize a pseudo-religious construct of gender that makes people in Brooklyn and Portland feel important. What adults want to call themselves and how they want to dress or what body parts they want to hack off is their business, more or less. But the trans issue has always been leading to big public policy fights, and here we are.
Is it acceptable to block puberty for a child who believes he or she exists in the wrong body? This is not some esoteric question; it is happening every day. What The Atlantic reports, and nobody is seriously questioning, is that there absolutely are kids who one day come to regret it. If that simple fact cannot be spoken of because it undermines the trans activist narrative, then maybe that narrative is the broken pile of garbage we always suspected it was.
Understand what is at stake. Your 12-year-old might come to you one day, having seen on YouTube a charismatic multi-gender Internet star who seems to have all the answers, including a simple fix to the crazy feelings of growing up. They might think they know in their heart that this can fix all their problems. If you choose, as you should, to investigate this as fully as possible, not to simply take the word of people with an agenda regarding the wellbeing of your child, you are not a bigot. You are a good parent.
The more the trans movement resists such rigorous investigation, and the more they urge you to trust them regarding what is best for your child, the more suspicious you should be. Look at the reaction to this thoughtful article in The Atlantic and ask yourself this question: Are these people more interested in what is best for your child, or what is best for their movement? The answer is becoming increasingly clear.