New piece on UnHerd: What happens when trans exceptionalism meets ordinary children?
I have a new piece up over at UnHerd on the US Democratic party’s embrace of ‘gender-affirming care’ and what medical providers have to believe to transition children:
Rather than bending the arc of history toward justice, the Biden administration has put the full force of the federal government behind a treatment model that amounts to little more than an unregulated medical experiment on vulnerable children and adolescents. Don’t let the language of civil rights fool you.
To understand gender affirmation and the people who push it, we need to take a closer look at their belief in the utterly exceptional “transgender” child. What do affirmative clinicians believe about such a patient, who arrives in their office with a label firmly affixed? Affirmative care starts not with a question or a clinical assessment but with a moral imperative: validate the patient’s transgender identity.
Presented with a “transgender” patient, what else matters? Does a patient’s age or developmental stage matter? What about his or her sex or sexual orientation? What parts of a patient’s life story — or medical history — stand out?
Gender clinicians such as Johanna Olson-Kennedy prefer to talk about gender-questioning three-year-olds as “people”. And they are people. But when we talk about three-year-olds as “people”, rather than toddlers, important information gets lost, with consequences. When we talk about “people”, we think adults. We think autonomy. When we talk about “toddlers,” we think: tiny humans who need constant care and guidance, who cannot be trusted to brush their teeth or cross an empty street, much less start down a medical pathway.
That’s the reason Olson-Kennedy talks about “people” when she’s referring to toddlers. The ideas that underpin gender-affirming care lose their moral force when translated from “people know who they are” to “toddlers know who they are”.
I also wanted to say thank you to Wesley Yang for his input and edits on this piece.
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