Invisible for the lay audience advocates and medical establishment fight a struggle for the acceptance of gender diversity in children. The recent suicide of Leelah Alcorn in Ohio gives a very clear argument for depathologisation and against a childhood diagnosis for “gender incongruence”Just before New Year’s eve the news of the suicide of Leelah Alcorn from Ohio, USA, broke on the internet. She chose death over the bullying by her Christian parents who refused to accept her. At four she already knew she felt a girl, but only at fourteen she found words for it through the internet. Her mother refused to acknowledge her and called it erroneous, God doesn’t make mistakes, she must be imagining it. She then got so bullied and reprimanded by her mother, she couldn’t take it anymore.
If being trans* or gender non conforming or just gender different would not be such a hassle, if instead being bullied by parents or ‘therapists’ she would have heard that she is just different and that is great, how completely different her world would have been. If instead of being brought to conversion therapists, Christian witch doctors, she would have been celebrated, stimulated to seek out what she wanted, she would have been still alive. And her mother would probably have changed her mind or at least not been as abusive.
There is a clear link to trans* health care here. For children (pre-puberty) and for adolescents it is extremely important to get affirmation of who you are. For adults also, and surely those who already know for ages they are gender-different. Nobody needs a diagnosis that implies you have mental health issues because of who you are, because of being a trans/gender non-conforming child.
In “Transgender children: more than a theoretical challenge” (2012) Natacha Kennedy shows how many children already knew very early on in life that they were not what they had been assigned to be. And that they are ususally repressed in this. Also a piece on ThinkProgress referring to “Doing gender in the playground” by Dr. Maria do Mar Pereira at Warwick University, indicates risks of enforcing gender roles on children. Forcing kids to stick to gender roles can actually be harmful to their health, the article says.
This pleads for letting the person go ahead, decide for themselves in all freedom how they want to live, how they are happy. When and how they want. And if they need it at start of puberty, give them those GnRh analogues, give them those puberty inhibitors. From the moment of their mental competence, their Gillick competence, then let them have the estrogens or testo they apparently need. When they ask for it.
Don’t worry about desisting. That is not important. Precisely because change is the basis of (juvenile) development we should let them and not enforce our moral deceisions on something trivial like gender or sexuality upon them. Most know already in the basis who they are. And if they need assistance with this, give them. At the very least it is active harm reduction and if desisting, they go back to a different role, or because ‘just’ gay. Which is also great. If not, then society has a huge problem.
Let those kids be who they feel, however long or short that will be. Nobody needs a diagnosis in youth. That implies a deviance instead of a variation, a diversity. Don’t you grant them basic happiness about who they are then?