Response to Dr. Jack Drescher and the NY Times About Childhood Transition: Part 6, by Sam Winter
July 15, 2013 Leave a comment
A Guest Post from
Sam Winter, Ph.D.
Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong
Generation G Paranoia.
Coy Mathis clearly identifies as a girl. It was a matter of continuing pain to her that she was not fully recognized and respected as one. The decision of the Colorado civil rights division that she be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at school went a long way to providing that recognition and respect.
The child’s perspective is entirely missing in Dr. Drescher’s commentary. What, one may ask, would Coy have preferred her parents and school to do about her female identity? Would she have preferred them to allow her to express her femaleness and to be the person she so deeply felt herself to be? Or would she have preferred them to discourage, even prevent, her from expressing her femaleness and add to her pain.
The Times piece reflects an anxiety that the world is full of trans affirmative parents who, seeing the slightest sign of gender-nonconformity in their children, overzealously egg them on into a full transition. This line of reasoning promotes a fear that we may lose a whole generation of youngsters who, if only they had not been so enthusiastically pressed into transitioning, would have turned out to be happily adjusted ‘cisgender’ (that is to say, NOT transgender) gays and lesbians.
What we have here is the fear of a lost gay generation… Generation ‘G’.
When I see them on television, I wonder what will happen when the little boy who is socially transitioned with the mother’s encouragement at the age of 9 decides that he wants to be a boy after all but that he still likes other little boys.
–E mail from Senior WHO HQ Staff, 5th Jan 12013
As this quote illustrates, fear about a lost Generation ‘G’ influences international medical policymakers, who continue to argue that kids like Coy have a disorder that requires medical intervention to put a brake on “overzealous” parents and ensure that more of these kids will grow up to be cisgender gays or lesbians.
Generation ‘G’ fear has little basis in reality. It is more like a paranoia. First, one wonders where these overzealously trans affirmative parents are. Parents like Coy’s agonise long and hard over what they should do to help their transgender children. They don’t make these decisions lightly. Second, kids like Coy spend years pressing for their identities to be respected. There is no reason to think they would hesitate, if ever there was a need, to express a desire to ‘go back’ to their birth-assigned roles. To prevent Coy from enjoying, right now, the fullest possible recognition of who she is would have been cruel, inhuman and degrading. To do so, just because of some hypothetical fear that she may later want to live as a boy and mysteriously lose her ability to tell anyone, would have been irresponsible. The Colorado civil rights division made the right decision.
Dr Sam Winter is an Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the board of directors of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group on Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health. He has been working in rights and health for transgender people for more than 13 years.