Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed that Mario Lopez’s comments expressing concern about parents identifying children as young as three years old as transgender are “dangerous,” “damaging,” and could cause children to “die.”
However, Strangio also recently said on Twitter that The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. “is killing trans people,” in an apparent response to the article titled, “Politicised trans groups put children at risk, says expert: Counsellors and other mental health providers fear being labelled transphobic.” So it’s possible that when Strangio discusses death, Strangio may not be talking about death in the literal sense, much less in a way that constitutes credible medical advice.
The Guardian is killing trans people.
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) July 28, 2019
Aside from continuing to throw around an extremely flawed suicide statistic to terrify everyone out of questioning, and from the fact that data coming out of the U.K. indicates the medicalization of children’s personalities is itself dangerous, Strangio misstated some critical facts. Strangio writes, “No young child is receiving medical intervention of any kind before puberty and no one is receiving surgery until the age of 18 (except in some limited circumstances, where chest surgery might be available around age 16).”
Let’s take this claim in parts: first that there’s no surgery until the age of 18, with only some exceptions for chest surgery at 16. By chest surgery, Strangio likely means a double mastectomy performed on girls identifying as boys. This is the easiest part of the claim to address.
Dr. Johanna Olson Kennedy, whom Lopez’s producers at “Extra” brought on as a guest to address the controversy over his remarks, released a study last year reporting the survey results of trans-identified girls and young women who’d had double mastectomies while as young as 13 years old. Strangio either doesn’t know this — which would be odd considering Strangio’s position as a purported expert and national leader in gender identity litigation — or is misleading readers.
Olson Kennedy has also put some female patients into menopause at 14 years old with the endocrine treatments at her Los Angeles facility. While this isn’t surgery, Strangio likely wrote this article to allay fears that adults are treating minors with irreversible genital modifications. If that was Strangio’s intent, that is misleading readers. A combination of puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones, started at an early enough age and continuing through the natural adolescent development window, will sterilize a young person as surely as surgery.
Doctors don’t have to surgically remove children’s gonads to render them sterile. They can achieve sterility simply by performing thinly evidenced medical experiments on the endocrine systems of young people, all while these children are supposed to be going through ordinary adolescence. While Strangio’s answer was still incorrect on that point, the question of surgery is irrelevant to this issue.
Also, boys in the United States have been getting full genital reconfiguration surgeries as minors, and this has been widespread public knowledge since Jazz Jennings famously celebrated the removal of his penis with an inappropriate cake and a party for family and friends. Another 17-year-old boy appeared in the news for the same surgery just this July.
While it seems almost impossible that Strangio doesn’t know Jennings exists and had a surgery at age 17 that Strangio alleges “no one” is getting before the age of 18, this is quietly happening to more teen boys. A paper on an anonymized survey of doctors performing cosmetic genital surgeries reported that several said they’d operated on minor boys so that the boys’ parents could help them get used to the care schedule for their surgical wounds before they went off to college.
One such doctor said, “They are coming in after being put on blockers, so they have 11-year-old genitalia.” Another said, “You are really doing vaginoplasty on a micropenis.”
That is, medical professionals are putting 11-year-old boys on puberty blockers, a very serious medical intervention that can completely circumvent all the normal aspects of adolescent development and prevent all development of adult sexual function. This includes even the capacity to experience sexual pleasure.
The children get frustrated that they aren’t really growing up like their peers, and ask their doctors to do something about it. Then surgeons are flaying their childish “micropenises and testes,” perhaps without their ever having experienced so much as a wet dream, to give them a surgical cavity that will need to be dilated several times a day so it doesn’t collapse and heal over.
Please do not be more alarmed at my description of what is happening to these children than you are at the fact that it’s happening to children, in our country, at the hands of doctors, while progressives market it as “life-affirming care.”
Finally, we get to Strangio’s first and most slippery claim, that doctors are performing no medical interventions on children prior to puberty. The problem with this claim is that what gender activists call “affirmation,” which they increasingly want the government to require of all caregivers, is itself a consequential treatment.
When prominent doctors in gender identity medicine are telling other doctors and parents that toddlers and preverbal infants can send “gender messages,” then advise parents and other authority figures to reinforce in these children a belief that they’re really the opposite sex, this significantly affects young people. It makes it harder for them to desist from a desire to be the opposite sex, which no medical treatment can truly help them fulfill, in any case.
What used to happen when children were persistently unhappy in the stereotypical social roles of their sex is that most of them stopped being dysphoric. Until recently, very few such children presented at clinics with significant distress. Most of them were boys, and most grew out of it. Now many more children are presenting with this type of distress, most of them are girls, and most of them persist in their distress until an age where physical intervention is allowed, which most of them then demand.
This is an astounding switch to have occurred within the span of a generation. Further, given that sexologists have been studying and writing with great frankness about people who displayed variant sex role behavior — such as cross-dressing or taking on the social role of the opposite sex — for more than a century, it seems unlikely on its face that such a phenomenon would have been completely missed before our time.
The simpler explanation is that something odd is happening here. Given the seriousness of the medical interventions doctors are undertaking, that something needs much more discussion and scrutiny than it’s had to date.
Lopez was right to be worried about parents identifying toddlers as having been “born in the wrong body,” as the typical description goes. Everyone should worry about it, no matter how often demagogic ACLU staff lawyers launch into rants about how the slightest disagreement with them comprises actual murder.