It has long been known that some children suffer from “gender incongruity” (a disconnect between one’s psychological, self-perceived “gender identity” and one’s biological sex) or “gender dysphoria” (distress about such incongruity). Studies have shown that, when left to themselves, most children with such conditions outgrow them and do not identify as “transgender” adults. However, such conditions and identities are increasingly being embraced and actively affirmed, not only through “social transition” (changing one’s public expression of gender identity) but also through radical physiological interventions. These include the use of drugs to block normal puberty, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgery.
Each of these procedures has serious negative side effects—up to and including permanent sterilization. Despite claims to the contrary, these procedures are often not reversible, and they are not evidence-based. Research has not shown that these procedures are effective in accomplishing their purpose, which is to improve the patient’s mental health. They violate the most fundamental principle of medical ethics: “First, do no harm.”
These facts fully justify—in fact, they demand—state and federal legislation to prohibit such procedures from being performed upon minors. The rights of parents who affirm their child’s transgender identity are not of a higher value than the public interest in protecting children from physical harm. Economic blackmail should not dissuade legislators from acting on this issue.