Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

What’s behind the surge in transgender teens

Experts cite the mass marketing of transgenderism to youth

A transgender teen protests last February in New York City against the Trump administration’s revoking of an Obama-era order that required schools to allow students to use the restroom and locker room facilities based on their gender identity. Getty Images/Photo by Spencer Platt

What’s behind the surge in transgender teens

A growing number of teens are identifying as transgender or gender nonconforming, according to a study released this week.

The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found nearly 3 percent of Minnesota teens in 2016 said they were “transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or unsure about [their] gender identity.” The survey looked at data from nearly 81,000 public high school ninth and 11th graders.

Population-based research about gender identity in teens is sparse and hard to compare. A UCLA study released last year estimated transgender teens made up just 0.7 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds, but the study used adult statistics to estimate the percentage of teens and had a narrower definition of transgender. Regardless, experts said Monday’s numbers were surprisingly high.

LGBT advocates argue the increase reflects the growing confidence transgender teens feel in being honest about their true gender identity. But science disputes that, according to Michelle Cretella, the president of the American College of Pediatricians.

“From social learning theory we know that the sudden exponential increase in transgender belief among adolescents across the United States and in Europe is due to the ongoing mass marketing of transgenderism to youth in these countries,” Cretella told me, noting studies of identical twins consistently refute the idea that anyone is born transgender. Mass media have had a negative effect on children and teens when it comes to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and engaging in sex and violence, according to Cretella. Transgenderism is no different.

But instead of combating it, society embraces it. At the most vulnerable time in a young person’s psychological development, transgender activists are “holding out a delusion as a ‘cool’ identity for them to ‘try on,’” said Cretella.

Adam Donyes, a certified Biblical counselor who works with teens, agrees. Donyes is the founder and president of Link Year, a one-year Christian program for post–high school teens. “Those messages, whether subtle or not, begin to imprint messages on their heart,” he said.

Instead of shying away from talking about sex and gender, Donyes said the Christian church must combat those messages with Biblical truth. Donyes uses Genesis chapters 1, 2, and 3 to explain God’s good creation of sex and gender—emphasizing that God is the originator of gender, not us—and how the fall marred God’s design.

The results of the fall are evident in the study: The researchers found that transgender and gender nonconforming students reported significantly poorer health than students who said they identified as their biological sex. Nearly 60 percent of transgender or gender nonconforming students said they had long-term mental health problems, compared to just 17 percent of other students.

Studies have established that adolescents who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming have a significantly increased risk of mental health problems such as depressive symptoms, self-harm, disordered eating, and suicidal ideation and attempts.

The study’s authors blamed the health effects on “minority stress” and barriers to healthcare for transgender people.

But Cretella said no evidence shows “minority stress” causes the health issues associated with transgenderism. Cretella pointed to a study that found transgender individuals in Sweden, where there is wide acceptance of LGBT lifestyles, still have a suicide rate 19 times that of the general population.

More likely, the gender dysphoria is a subconscious adaptation to the real factors causing depression and anxiety, according to Cretella. But instead of addressing those issues, culture is pushing teens into a transgender identity.

“Make no mistake,” Cretella said, “the marketing of the transgender delusion to youth will go down in history as one of the gravest crimes committed against children.”


Fighting Facebook for kids’ hearts and minds

Former insiders at Facebook and Google are banding together to fight tech addiction in kids. A group of Silicon Valley technologists from the Center for Humane Technology announced Monday a joint project with Common Sense Media to launch an anti-tech-addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign targeting 55,000 U.S. public schools called “The Truth About Tech.”

The campaign is modeled on anti-smoking campaigns and focuses on the harms of social networks and smartphones for children.

“Tech companies are conducting a massive, real-time experiment on our kids, and, at present, no one is really holding them accountable,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media.

In a separate effort, child development experts sent a public letter Jan. 30 to Facebook urging the social media company to discontinue its new messaging app for children. The letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, endorsed by more than 100 doctors, educators, and parenting organizations, argued an online messaging app for kids is creating a problem, not responding to one.

The app, released in December, is intended for children under age 13 and acts as an extension of their parents’ account. Facebook has insisted the app was created in consultation with parenting experts and families, allows total parental control over a child’s access, and has no in-app advertising.

But the letter, sent by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, claimed Facebook has an incentive to lure younger and younger users to its platform, something science is increasingly showing has disastrous results. The letter cites research finding social media use in children is linked to depression, less overall satisfaction with life, unhappiness, body insecurity, and unhealthy sleep habits.

“Encouraging kids to move their friendships online will interfere with and displace the face-to-face interactions and play that are crucial for building healthy developmental skills,” the letter stated, “including the ability to read human emotion, delay gratification, and engage with the physical world.” —K.C


All dressed up and nowhere to go

An elementary school in Staten Island, N.Y., canceled its traditional father-daughter dance this week in the name of inclusivity.

The school, which had a mother-son bowling night last year, cited a city Department of Education policy to explain the cancellation. The March 2017 Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines require schools to “eliminate” any “gender-based” practices unless they have a “clear” educational purpose.

“They’re trying to take away everything that everybody grew up on and has come to know,” Matthew West, 32, a father to two daughters at the school, told the New York Post. “I don’t think it’s fair or right.”

The cancellation is a sign of the new moral revolution, said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member. Even though policies of inclusivity may score huge political and cultural victories, they “can’t win in the end,” Mohler said on his podcast The Briefing, arguing life requires the distinctions of men and women, boys and girls, males and females, mothers and fathers.

Despite pushback by parents and calls for administrators to reinstate the dance, the school instead announced a new dance for kids and caregivers of any gender will be held on March 2. —K.C.

A one-sided spat

U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon on Thursday told reporters he didn’t want his “brouhaha” with Vice President Mike Pence to be a distraction to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Last month, Rippon blasted the White House for choosing Pence to lead the official U.S. delegation for Friday’s opening ceremony. Rippon, one of two openly gay U.S. athletes competing, called Pence a hypocrite and an opponent of LGBT rights because he holds Biblical beliefs about sexuality and marriage and signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March 2015 while serving as governor of Indiana.

Pence pushed back on the facts of Rippon’s interview but has consistently extended an olive branch to the skater, who reportedly ignored a request from the vice president for a meeting to clear up any misunderstanding.

On Thursday, Pence tweeted to Rippon: “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ’em!”

Rippon said he would not meet with Pence until after the games. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...


Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.