We’re In Danger of Losing Our Way

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Opinion: When it comes to trans youth, we’re in danger of losing our way

Erica E. Anderson, Ph.D. is the former president of the United States Professional Association for Transgender Health, former board member of WPATH and is writing a book on the evolution of the science, practice and culture dealing with transgender healthcare; she is based in Berkeley.

Erica is also a Trans-woman.

Although I would not as a Christian affirm the idea that you can be born in the wrong body, I acknowledge that some adults like Anderson may choose Transition as an option to alleviate their discomfort with the body God gave them (and their earthly father as well) 1It is the male sperm that determines whether a child is born with XX or XY chromosomes.

I would hope they would not ask me to pay for that option which includes expensive surgeries and cross-hormone therapy for the rest of their life.

Anderson, a former president of the top transgender health organization in the U.S. is highly critical of today’s trans-lobby. Anderson has written an important opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner.

[Standard link disclaimer2Links from this blog to online resources don’t necessarily mean I support everything found there. But as adults we should embrace viewpoint diversity. And make alliances where we can.]

Some grab graphs

As a trans woman and therapist to trans and gender creative people, I’ve worked hard to advance acceptance of trans identities, including those of trans youth. But increasingly I’m worried that in our zeal to identify and protect these special children and adolescents, we may have strayed from some core principles and we are in danger of losing our way.

In this extraordinary time during a global pandemic, we have all been subject to extra stress to stay vigilant and avoid COVID and all its variants. Young people have pivoted to remote learning and stayed at home for in many cases more than an entire academic year, depriving them of ordinary social experiences. As a result, most adolescents have also depended upon social media and the internet to an extent never before seen.

We are learning some worrisome things about this massive, unplanned social experiment. Even the tech giants have conceded in their own research that there is a new kind of addiction/attraction to certain content and a kind of contagion among select groups, especially adolescent girls. Increased rates of depression and suicide, declines in dating and sexual activity, more reported loneliness and feelings of being left out, lower rates of involvement in extracurricular activities and surprisingly less sleep all characterize the current generation of adolescents. These trends seem to be accelerating in the era of the smartphone.

There is little question that reliance on screens and devices has isolated adolescents who may be most vulnerable and susceptible to peer and other influences, intensifying their usage of and reliance on whatever messages and images they see. I am concerned that our computer-mediated, always online environment is creating isolated echo chambers that can work on adolescents in an insidious way. And I believe that it’s been worse during COVID.

For example, some content on YouTube and TikTok includes “influencers,” who themselves are barely out of puberty. They dispense advice to other young people, specifically encouraging them to explore their gender identity freely.

On the one hand, I’m glad our society has evolved toward greater acceptance of all LGBTQ identities. On the other hand, some of the messaging has landed on vulnerable youth searching not just for keys to their own identity but solutions to other psychological and emotional problems, including serious psychiatric problems.

Here is where things may have gone wrong.

I wouldn’t use the word “may” but read the whole thing.


Love Cannot Affirm Confusion, But It Can Embrace