Thursday, October 16, 2008

Treating GID in Children, Who's right?

How do we talk to parents who have children that have identified as transgender and the parents are confused as to how to explain or deal with them. With the global awareness of the rise in numbers of children being treated for Gender Identity Disorder or how ever Child Psychologists label transgender children, how do we respect the child’s basic rights and needs as we decide how to treat them? As we see and hear about more children raising this basic questions concerning their gender identity, who has the more appropriate treatment.

In the news recently are more two stories describe two opposing methods of treatments. Letting the sons or daughters be the person they feel most comfortable being. Or letting parents override the discomforts of a child’s body image and encourage or force them to ‘accept’ the gender they were born with.

There is a story in the National Catholic Register (issue 07-06-08), a Catholic newspaper that tell of a young boy of the Carson family who shows a gender preference for girlish things and how he is ‘cured’ through pressure from Catholic Psychologist to readjust his gender image to his sex at birth.

In my opinion, what is really sad is the position of the Catholic Church takes on the issue of addressing and treating children who insist they were born into the wrong bodies.

“Effective therapy brings to an end the suffering of these children; hormones and surgery do not,” said Richard Fitzgibbons, a Catholic psychiatrist in Conshohocken, Pa., who has counseled many individuals with Gender Identity Disorder to appreciate the bodies they were born in”.

The article from the Catholic Register further cites:

Catholic mental-health professionals opt for another approach, one they say has a proven record of helping kids overcome confusion about their gender identity.
Does anyone have statistics on these children later in life? If they have been using this approach for years then there should be some way to monitor how these children have adjusted to not transitioning and dealing with the inner conflicts. For whose happiness are these adults pursuing this approach to dealing with Gender Identity Disorder?

“It has been really hard going sometimes,” says Ben’s father, and he foresees more effort ahead, especially when Ben hits his teens. But he also sees enormous progress in his son.
“He’s so much happier,” Ben’s father said. “If you saw my son today, you would think he is a well-adjusted happy boy.”

What are the criteria that the father uses to measure just how ‘well-adjusted happy boy’ he should be? And if his health professional’s approach determines that he has overcome these feelings of being transgender, why is he so apprehensive about the future years when he is a teenager? Do they assume there should be a concerted effort in his mental health therapy?

Then the opposite argument for treatment comes from the November issue of The Atlantic with this article.

A Boy’s Life; by Hanna Rosin
“Since he could speak, Brandon, now 8, has insisted that he was meant to be a girl. This summer, his parents decided to let him grow up as one. His case, and a rising number of others like it, illuminates a heated scientific debate about the nature of gender—and raises troubling questions about whether the limits of child indulgence have stretched too far.”
Yeah, it is fixable,” piped up another mom, who’d been on the 20/20 special. “We call it the disorder we cured with a skirt.”

GID, the disorder we can cure with a skirt! Isn’t that amazing! There is a line in the movie TransAmerica where the main character is trying to make her psychologist understand that her “mental illness” can be cured with surgery. Cured with a skirt!

“Around the world, clinics that specialize in gender-identity disorder in children report an explosion in referrals over the past few years. Dr. Kenneth Zucker*, who runs the most comprehensive gender-identity clinic for youth in Toronto, has seen his waiting list quadruple in the past four years, to about 80 kids—an increase he attributes to media coverage and the proliferation of new sites on the Internet. Dr. Peggy Cohen-Kettenis, who runs the main clinic in the Netherlands, has seen the average age of her patients plummet since 2002.”

*Dr Zucher, uses Reparative Therapy, to help the child become comfortable in their birth sex.

My transition happened late in my life, and it was my indecision about what would happen to my family, how my brother and sisters would react, how my mother would come to see me. My hesitation to make the transition from my birth sex to Sarah and becoming happy and comfortable with my new female self was for many imagined reasons that failed to come to fruition.

My life is my life and not like other sisters who transition much earlier than I, for their own reasons. But if I could go back in my life, I would have searched for a way to delay the effects and onset of male hormones in order that my body features would be more feminine and less masculine;’ as I’m sure the children who are being treated by the Catholic Mental Health Psychologist, who must still feel the tug of their true lives.

But it’s the confused parents, the Dr. Zucher’s of the world and the Mental Health Professional under the guise of the Catholic Church who must be persuaded to support the decisions of the gender confused child; to let them be comfortable with themselves in what ever gender they choose; without the fear and pressure to be like every other boy or girl.

1 comment:

Khadija said...

I knew I was a girl at age 5. I'd also been raised as a girl until then. However, my stepfather put an end to my happy life and forced me to be a boy, beating me until I did it.

I was very unhappy for my whole life, but raised a family and after the last one was married, I came out again; causing devastating harm to them all. I am so sorry for that. However once it started again, I could not stop it.

Today, I am a happy, well adjusted, outgoing, woman. I wish they could be in my life. I shall always love them. I'll never understand.

Khadijah Gwen