Response to Dr. Jack Drescher and the NY Times About Childhood Transition: Part 8, by Karen Adams

Coy Mathis

GID Reform Advocates respond to the question, “When a child identifies with the other gender, what to do?” Dr. Jack Drescher’s commentary on the Coy Mathis Civil Rights Case in Colorado appeared in the Sunday Dialogues Feature of the June 29, 2013 New York Times. Here is the discussion that the Times did not publish.

A Guest Post by
Karen Adams,
a Colorado Mother
Founder, Transgender Youth Education & Support
PFLAG Boulder County

Early in July, the New York Times ran a feature by Dr. Jack Drescher in response to the Coy Mathis case in Colorado. We were disappointed by Dr. Drescher’s lack of understanding of the experiences of families with transgender children. His suggestions, that families are “encouraging” early transition, and that, once transitioned, children are discouraged from transitioning back to their birth roles was outrageous. In the six years that Trans-Youth Educaton & Support of Colorado (TYES) has been in existence, over 70 families have participated in our group in some fashion. Not once have we met a family that encouraged transition.

Our families spend a great deal of time learning about gender identity and expression. They meet other families and ask many questions. This is not an easy decision or a fad for any of them. They worry for their children and work hard to make life as easy as possible for them. Of many untold stories are the parents who give up their personal big dreams in support of their kids. For one family, it was the dream of watching their athletically gifted child from the stands of the Olympics. Instead, it became painfully clear that early transition was a life-saving necessity for their child.

I have not met a parent yet that would not feel great relief and joy, if their child came to them and said they needed to transition back to their birth gender. It would mean that their child would more likely be safe and face less discrimination. Families have come to our group with children who were uncertain of their gender identity. After interacting our transgender and gender creative children, some have realized that they are comfortable in their birth sex. One experimented with transition and then chose to return to his birth gender, though he was still gender nonconforming. Years later, these families have told us their children were comfortable in their experienced gender fluid identities and remained close to their families who supported them in their process.

Dr. Drescher needs to actually spend time with families of transgender children, rather than writing articles based on theory. He would find here some of the most amazing, intelligent, and loving families. Their love is stronger than their fear of the ignorance shown by these psychiatric stereotypes. Their love is unconditional, and I’m proud to call them my friends.

Transgender Youth Education & Support (TYES) is a Colorado-based group supporting children on the gender spectrum and their families. TYES is dedicated to helping parents support their gender-variant children, and to help families find the information, resources, and the understanding that they need. Our meetings offer parents a supportive forum to discuss the social, educational, and medical needs of their youth, and to explore the journey to acceptance and celebration of each child’s unique gender expression. Youth are provided the opportunity to engage in activities with their children across the gender spectrum and their siblings. In addition to group and individual support, we offer guest speakers and educational, mental health & medical resources.

TYES supports all families of gender variant youth, not just those who are transitioning or considering transition. TYES supports families anywhere in the state. If you would like to join us, please email us at or call our support line at (720) 443-7708. Please know that we recognize that privacy is critical for our families and we work hard to protect the privacy of everyone in the group.

About Kelley
Dr. Kelley Winters is a writer and consultant on issues of gender diversity in medical and public policy. She is the author of Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays from the Struggle for Dignity (2008) and a past member of the International Advisory Panel for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care, the Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE) Expert Working Group, and the Advisory Boards for TransYouth Family Allies (TYFA). She was recognized in the 2013 Trans 100 Inaugural List for work supporting the transgender community in the US. Kelley has presented papers and presentations on gender policy issues at annual conventions of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association and the Association of Women in Psychology. Kelley wanders the highways of America in an old Mazda, ever in search of comfort food.

One Response to Response to Dr. Jack Drescher and the NY Times About Childhood Transition: Part 8, by Karen Adams

  1. pasupatidasi says:

    as one of these parents, i can affirm one thing undeniably. this is NOT a frivolous decision. when our children come to us with their deep rooted pain, we are often deluged with fears for them. one of them ISN’T that they might ‘change their minds’.

    there are two reasons for this lack of concern. the first being that most of us understand what a hard row to hoe it will be for them in our ‘hater’ filled society. so should they decide at a later point that this isn’t what they really need, the process is reversible, largely. by using puberty blockers to stave off the traits of the gender with which they don’t identify, time is afforded them, and a way to ‘go back’ to their ‘birth assigned’ gender. and of course, they won’t have the ‘haters’ dogging them if they do. (go back)

    the second reason is that few children are confused for long about their gender identity. my daughter knows exactly who she is, it isn’t a phase. of the children who present early and are supported there are more that follow through than those that don’t. of the ones who don’t follow through, many feel the need to please someone in their lives by sacrificing their own identity. studies following these people to discern whether they as adults return to their previously stated non-conforming identities need to be done before making broad statements such as were made by dr. drescher.

    for parents it comes down to a simple choice. help our children to be who they are, no matter what!

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