Virtual Voices

Another boy becoming a girl

Health

In October I wrote about the story of Thomas Lobel, who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at age 7 and began taking hormone-blockers in order to become a girl.

This past Sunday, The Boston Globe ran a front-page article titled "Led by the child who simply knew." It's the story of 14-year-old Wyatt, who, with the help of male hormone-blockers, now looks like a girl and has renamed herself Nicole. Wyatt/Nicole has an identical twin brother, Jonas, and in the photo accompanying the article, the physical differences between them are striking.

Wyatt/Nicole is being treated at the Gender Management Services Clinic at Children's Hospital in Boston, where they treat numerous pre-adolescent children with gender identity issues. The program was started in 2007 by Norman Spack, an endocrinologist and David Diamond, a urologist, and was modeled on a Dutch program.

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The Globe reports that Wyatt was vocal about wanting to be a girl since he was a toddler. Wyatt's parents first took him to see Spack when he was 9 years old. In January, they'll see him again to discuss the possibility of starting Wyatt/Nicole on estrogen. Once begun, that treatment cannot be reversed, and will leave the child infertile. Assuming the family decides to continue down this road, the final step would be gender reassignment surgery.

These are very serious considerations, especially in light of the fact that Spack told the newspaper that a "'very significant number of children who exhibit cross-gender behavior' before puberty 'do not end up being transgender.'"

Even more sobering is what Paul McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, had to say on the subject. McHugh once oversaw the "sex change" program at Johns Hopkins, before it was disbanded several years ago. He wrote compellingly about it for First Things in an article I highly recommend. Here's some of what he wrote:

"I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. The children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes. Their parents usually lived with guilt over their decisions-second-guessing themselves and somewhat ashamed of the fabrication, both surgical and social, they had imposed on their sons. As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their 'true' sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it."

It's madness, as McHugh says. I don't know what more to add.

(Thanks to the MassResistance website for its reporting on this story.)

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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