A 13-year-old seventh grade girl committed suicide just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. When the Alabama youth was halfway through sixth grade, she publicly identified as a boy, “Jay,” with the support of family and school. In addition to gender identity struggles, Jay’s mother says Jay battled depression and anxiety. “We were under the care of a psychologist from day one,” she says in an interview with AL.com.
The LGBTQ lobby tell parents they must support and affirm their child’s transgender journey to prevent the child from attempting suicide. As this tragic case demonstrates, however, it’s an open question whether supporting a child’s gender switch adds stress rather than reducing it. In this case, the parents fully affirmed and supported her gender transition, yet tragically, depression led to suicide.
Children are encouraged, affirmed and assisted in “coming out” as transgendered without one word about the consequences of the dangerous game of “gender make-believe.” Today, the politically correct response expected from adults, especially parents, is to affirm the child in the desired gender. But affirmation gives young people false hope that they can really become a different gender. It’s a lie—a lie told with compassionate motives, but a lie nonetheless. Lying is not compassion.
Lying to People Hurts Them
For a vulnerable young person, pursuing a dream that is physically impossible to achieve can lead to depression, and depression is the leading cause of attempted suicide. The prevalence of suicide attempts among transgender or gender non-conforming youth is 45 percent, according to a 2014 report by the Williams Institute, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It’s a startling statistic.
Many parents choose to tell young children that pretend characters, such as the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus, are real. As the children grow up, the parents tell them the truth and everyone stops pretending. Today the tooth fairy is replaced by “select-a-gender,” a fantasy where all are expected to play along. Doctors and parents tell daughters they can become sons and sons they can become daughters.
But as I found out myself, changing genders is a high-stakes game of make-believe. To make the pretend gender appear real, I had to enlist doctors to prescribe cross-gender hormones and perform cosmetic surgeries. Dr. Frankenstein would be proud. It’s important to tell people the truth and stop pretending.
Doctors Admit They Can’t Tell Who Should Transition
First of all, we need to stop pretending that doctors have scientific backing for their recommendations for children with gender dysphoria. The truth is that no one can predict whether a gender dysphoric child will feel the same way years later.
Kristina Olson, a research psychologist at the University of Washington, puts it this way: “We just don’t have definitive data one way or another.” That’s why Olson is leading a study of 300 trans children that will track outcomes over 20 years, “to be able to, hopefully, answer which children should or should not transition,” she said. In other words, we simply don’t know right now, yet parents and children are herded in one direction as if we do.
Some young people desire to identify as the opposite sex to escape the pain of a traumatic event or a perceived abandonment or loss. They subconsciously want to dissociate from who they are and become someone else. Gender change promises a fresh start, free from the past. Like many psychological coping mechanisms, however, gender change provides only a temporary reprieve.
Some teens or pre-teens today want to identify as the other gender for social reasons or to become the center of attention. Younger children can simply be curious about the opposite gender. This doesn’t mean adults should encourage experimentation.
If you want to go deeper and learn about people who lived the transgender life, get the just-released documentary, “Tranzformed.” It explores the journeys of 15 individuals who eventually walked out of the transgender life. “Tranzformed” provides transgendered people a voice to share in their own words, with authenticity and emotion, how they came to the decision to change genders and why they changed back. It’s powerful. Be sure to check out the trailer and watch the movie.
The film made the point clearly: people who identify as the opposite sex have deep emotional pain and need true compassion.
‘I Was Convinced It Was the Right Thing to Do’
For 12 years now, people have contacted me after visiting my website, SexChangeRegret.com, to tell me about their dissatisfaction with their gender change and their desire to transition back to their birth gender. Lately, the frequency is rising and I feel a great sense of urgency to warn anyone contemplating a gender change to tread carefully.
For instance, a male-to-female teacher emailed me with a heart-wrenching story of regret. This first-person account illustrates that a person can be absolutely convinced that gender transition is the right thing to do and afterwards appears to be successfully living life, but with all that, still is not happy with the gender change.
I underwent surgery 10 years ago. I was convinced it was the right thing to do—regrettably, it was not. The price I paid was dear: I hurt the ones I love the most—my children, my siblings, my parents and my partner. By all appearances I am a success story. I have a good job as a high school teacher, I have had a fairly active love life, etc., but none of this can ever make up for the pain and guilt I feel every day of my life.
Believe it or not I have gone to a therapist and several surgeons—with little success. I just get told it’s a normal part of the adjustment phase (an awfully long adjustment phase). They say, you make a nice woman—be happy! But I’m not happy!
I’m wondering do you know of any surgeons who will remove my breast implants. I really would like to start living as a man again.
Walt Heyer is an accomplished author and public speaker with a passion for mentoring individuals whose lives have been torn apart by unnecessary gender-change surgery.