I am writing in response to the column that was published Sept. 20 by Michael Shannon titled, “Transgender recruiting plans include your kids.”
First, as a mental health provider, and second, as an out transgender man, I am appalled and saddened by the content of this column. The readers of the Kingman Daily Miner, especially those who are transgender or who have transgender children, deserve to have a measured and accurate understanding of the lives of transgender people and the motives of those who provide medical care.
Transgender people have existed throughout history. No one is “recruiting” people and there is no quota that providers or leaders in the transgender community are trying to meet. Transgender people are very concerned about the well being of other transgender people as they are often subject to the kind of hateful statements that Shannon had in his article. The people who provide care for transgender people, and transgender people themselves, are not pedophiles. Children who take puberty blockers, described by Shannon as “a drug cocktail,” only take those medications long enough to make a decision about their transgender identity or to prevent an unnecessary and possibly distressing puberty experience. At most, a child may be on puberty blockers (gonadotropin releasing hormones) for four or five years, and definitely not the rest of their lives.
None of the medical treatment that is provided to children and adolescents is done without parental consent, unless the adolescent is an emancipated minor. The consent process includes information about the effects of the medicine, the benefits and risks to the treatment, and likely a statement about how this treatment was developed. Puberty blockers have been used for many years, albeit not always for transgender adolescents. They were first used to pause puberty for children who initiated puberty at a young age. When these children stopped taking the blockers, puberty was initiated. This is the same experience for adolescents who are exploring their gender identity.
Shannon’s words are misinformed and if followed may prove to be disastrous for transgender children and adolescents.
Given that being transgender is a normal variation of the human experience, it is vital that these children have access to providers who are competent and compassionate. Yes, transgender people have a very high rate of attempted suicide. It may be that these are the adults who have not been supported in their transition. It may also be the child of a parent who read Shannon’s column and followed his advice. As a result of having done so, their child now feels alienated and may be at risk of homelessness depending on how they are supported by their parents.
Research shows that children who are supported by their parents as they explore their gender identity, whether or not they engage in medical intervention, have better outcomes. There are options for good, healthy treatment for transgender people of all ages.
Seek out the care that you need and deserve.