Teen reversing his gender transition
Doctors say the 14-year-old’s case shows the problem with ‘gender-affirming care’
An Australian teenager went public earlier this month about his decision to transition back to his birth gender after taking female hormones.
At age 12, doctors diagnosed Patrick Mitchell with gender dysphoria. Soon after, he began taking puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones. By 14, he had breasts, long hair, and feminine features.
But earlier this year, Mitchell decided he wanted to stop the process. He said he began to have a change of heart when a female teacher referred to him as “one of the girls.”
“I began to realize I was comfortable in my body,” said Mitchell in an interview with Woman’s Day. “Every day I just felt better.”
Mitchell talked to his mom, stopped taking the hormones, and is now preparing for a surgery to remove excess breast tissue.
The number of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria has recently skyrocketed. Doctors and psychologists at specialized clinics are now encouraging so-called gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy, at earlier and earlier ages. But one Australian doctor is pushing back.
“It’s the most incomprehensible thing I’ve come across in all my time of medicine,” said Western Sydney University professor John Whitehall, according to The Daily Telegraph of London. “Prepubertal children have no idea about sexuality and choices of procreation afterwards. We’re messing with their limbic system and expecting them to make this great evaluation.”
Whitehall noted that studies have yet to find that gender transitions alleviate the mental health risks associated with gender dysphoria, and, like Mitchell, most children grow out of gender dysphoria as they grow up if given the chance. Yet clinics continue to recommend serious medical treatments for children expressing transgender identities.
“How do these clinics get ethical approval [for] this massive intrusion for no provable reason? No statistics support them at all,” said Whitehall.
Mitchell’s mother, Alison, said that while she doesn’t blame the doctors who diagnosed her son, she does wish they would have waited before recommending treatment. “They were wrong to pigeonhole him so quickly,” she said.
A fuller picture of single motherhood
Studies commonly link family instability in the African-American community to high birth rates in unmarried African-American mothers. But that isn’t the complete picture, according to analysis by Laurie DeRose, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland’s Population Research Center.
Data show a higher percentage of white women (65 percent), compared to African-American women (30 percent), are married at the time they give birth. But the rest of the pie tells an interesting story, as well. Of the remaining mothers in both racial groups, the same percentage, about 25 percent, are cohabiting. That means African-American mothers are nearly four times as likely—42 percent compared to 12 percent—to be a lone mother at birth.
Why does this matter? Because cohabiting women are more likely to eventually transition to marriage with their baby’s father. The authors found that among mothers with nonmarital births, 37 percent of white and Hispanic women eventually marry the child’s father within nine years, compared to only 17 percent of African-American women with nonmarital births.
Family instability—union dissolutions and new partner formations—increases a child’s likelihood of obesity, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and lower education attainment.
“Thus, what happens after birth amplifies the advantage associated with having a greater share of marital births,” said DeRose, noting that the reason is simple: “Children have a better chance of growing up with both parents if they start out that way.”
DeRose cautioned that the answer was not to encourage more cohabiting. Though statistics show cohabitation sometimes leads to marriage, marriage is still the gold standard. Children born to cohabiting parents are three times more likely to see their parents split before their ninth birthday than children born to married parents.
And cohabitation is not an option for many African-American women for the same reason that marriage is not, said DeRose: A dearth of marriageable African-American men due to mortality, incarceration, and unemployment. The result is that nearly half of African-American women are parenting alone at the birth of their child. —K.C.
The politicization of Father’s Day
Ahead of a national ballot survey on same-sex marriage, an Australian regulatory agency said a television commercial celebrating Father’s Day was too political. The ad by an Australian nonprofit group called Dads4Kids featured a father singing his baby a lullaby. The organization had released ads leading up to Australian Father’s Day on Sept. 3 for the last 15 years to encourage and honor dads.
This year’s ad was rejected because it was a “comment upon a matter which is currently the subject of extensive political debate,” said legal advice sent to Dads4Kids by Free TV Australia, an industry body representing all of the country’s free-to-air networks, according to The Australian. The Australian government is currently holding a postal vote, or mail-in referendum, to gauge public opinion on legalizing same-sex marriage. Depending on the results, the Australian Parliament could vote on the issue later this year.
“It is extraordinary that this is where we have come to as a country; we can no longer celebrate Father’s Day without being forced to look at it through the lens of the same-sex marriage debate,” Dads4Kids posted on its website. “It’s a tragedy that a political motive is now implied in any mention of fatherhood. Not everything is about same-sex marriage.” —K.C.
The stay-at-home generation
Teens today—dubbed the iGeneration—are going out on fewer dates, having sex later, and not getting pregnant as much as Baby Boomers or Generation Xers, according to new research by San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge.
“Teens are spending an enormous amount of time primarily on their smartphones and communicating with their friends electronically,” Twenge told BBC Radio Four, noting that all that virtual communication means they are spending less time with others in person.
Twenge’s book, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us, examined surveys of 11 million young people and found that just 56 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds went out on dates in 2015, compared to 85 percent for Generation X and Baby Boomers. —K.C.
Famed plaintiff Edith Windsor dies
LGBT advocate Edith Windsor, called the matriarch of the gay rights movement, died on Tuesday. She was 88.
Windsor was the plaintiff in the 2013 Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, which overturned key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Windsor argued DOMA prevented her from receiving a marital tax deduction on her lesbian spouse’s estate when she died. In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in her favor, saying that as a legally married same-sex couple, Windsor and her spouse were entitled to the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The Windsor decision led the way for the 2015 Supreme Court Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationally. —K.C.
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