Saturday, 22 October 2016

Can we not try to kill off our trans kids please?

I am furious today. Furious. I keep reading really negative things about trans people in the press, seeing hate online and hearing about ANOTHER trans suicide. I keep reading articles of oppression for no reason. 
Last Sunday I had a young lad tell me of the oppression he faces in his school – they will not let him wear trousers. What. Why? Is the world really going to crumble if we let our children choose what form of school uniform they wear? 

Remember this statement - schools in the UK do not understand how to work with transgender children. Some do but not all.
So I am using this platform to ask for your help. 
Read, see what you think and spread the word if you think I make sense. How you can help in the case is to sign a petition here. Read why below. No need to blindly just sign. But I offer you my opinions. 

Today I wake up and read about the case of a young trans girl being taken from her loving and supportive mother and placed with her dad to live as a boy.

Now – here is the thing. This article does not give much information but I have very serious concerns about the information the judge used to make the decision. Alarm bells ring and I looked into it a little more.

This is a sealed case – it cannot be talked about, but the ‘allowed’ transcript is included in a link below and it worries me. I explain why – but first I want to discuss how important it is to make sure that a child is correctly identified if they do have gender dysphoria. If they do suffer from transexualism.

It is hard to know family dynamics and I agree with anyone that says a case should be investigated if there is source for concern. This case was brought as it was thought that the mother was pushing the child to live as female rather than the child leading the role. This seems pretty messed up but there are messed up folk out there. 
So yes, investigate. 
Being trans is not an easy life to live and no one should be forced into it. It will attract hate and negativity. It has so many problems associated with it. When I came out as trans my mother feared for my safety. My only concern is that I cannot naturally have children. But it is a difficult life to live. 

If that is being forced on a child that is abuse of a high level.

But, if that child is indeed transgender then the same rules apply. Forcing this child to live as a male if they are female is torture. It was bad enough for me that I lived as a male. Had I lived as female for a while and then been forced back to male, I would not have stayed alive. The truth is, the mental trauma and depression caused by gender dysphoria is real. It has a lasting impact and makes life worthless. This is why so many trans folk kill themselves. The article below pulls all the information together in one place and seems pretty thorough, with scientific papers pulled out as reference.

The highlights are summed up here:
The oft-cited study by Grant and colleagues suggests that 41% of transgender people attempt suicide at least once in their lives. Other studies put this proportion closer to one-third, which is still dramatically higher than the suicide attempt rate of the general population (~5%). A less-cited study found that transgender veterans were 20 times more likely to attempt or complete suicide than non-transgender veterans. Additionally, transgender people have high rates of chronic suicidality. In one study, nearly 40% of transgender people who had attempted suicide had made three or more attempts in their lifetime.

Let me throw in some more sources, just to show that the numbers above are not just  a one off, the second has some nice easy numbers to read:

Let me put it another way, from personal experience: Since I transitioned, my depression has abated a huge amount and my suicidal thoughts have gone. A reasonable conclusion, my assumed gender had a harmful impact on my mental health. This was confirmed by over a years worth of therapy and my recent psychological evaluation (for we have to jump through these hoops to get our meds) confirmed that I do, indeed, suffer from transgenderism.

So yes, those suffering from transgenderism are at higher risk of serious depression and this is because we are forced to live in a certain gender, act a certain way and be someone we are not. It is not that transgenderism itself is a mental disease.

So if we let a child live as their assigned gender, you remove the risk of developing mental health issues. Easy. You prevent that it or you can instead snatch that away, and the risk increases. 

You are risking the lives of your children.

So back to the case. The concerning statements that are released in this and other articles (these snagged from the Independent link, above).

The judge added: “I have noted from reports that (the boy) has become interested in Power Rangers, SpongeBob, Superheroes and is constantly finding new interests…
“It is striking that most of (the boy’s) interests are male-oriented.
“I am entirely satisfied, both on the basis of the reports and (the father’s) evidence at this hearing, that he has brought no pressure on (the boy) to pursue masculine interests.

Ah, right. Because only boys can like Power Rangers and Spongebob. 

Except, I don’t agree with this. Does this not undo what femminism is trying to do. That we are free to wear what we like, look how we choose and do whatever (legal) activities we want. 

Do I now have to wear makeup and skirts when I leave the house? 

Am I no longer allowed to ride motorbikes? 

News flash, I am female and I loved Transformers and He-Man as a kid. I also loved My Little Pony and She-Ra. I couldn’t care less for Josie and the Pussycats. 

I hate Marmite — does that mean I dislike all food? 

These are outdated ideas.

Lets think about it:

If you only let a kid watch ‘boy’ cartoons, they will watch them and may like them. 
But if you put on ‘girls’ cartoons, they may like them too. 
If you don’t let a kid watch ‘girl’ cartoons, you get NO INFORMATION on whether they like them or not.

“I have been told that (the father) and his partner were shocked when they first saw (the boy) by the extent to which he appeared to be a girl, both in appearance and in mannerism,” said the judge.

Ok, once again this is concerning. Two things, one is that mannerism are not imposed. If the child acts this way, it is because they are that way. A child does not put that on. Secondly, once again we are defining how a male and female child should act. In this case I think it makes the point that the child is female, but still such ideas are archaic and do not belong in a court room. Sorry, no. Far too objective.

I am petrified, because I know of single parents who let their children express their true gender identities despite the child's other parent hating it. If this sets president, does this suggest that a child will be put with a parent who prefers the child's assigned gender? Because that scares the absolute hell out of me. Comments by parents of trans children on the Mermaids Facebook page echo this. (See below to hear more about who Mermaids are and what they think and read such comments.)

What else. Well, a friend passed me the court ‘released’ transcript or whatever it’s called. I have it here. It is long, dry and a court case. I am not a lawyer but I do have thoughts on it.

I actually believe this to be a serious case of misjustice. I base this on the statement put out by the youth trans charity Mermaids on Facebook, who had been working with both parent and child for years. They state that the child has been interviewed by two gender expert psychologists and they find the child to be transgender and not influenced by the mothers views. Two gender experts. Where are the gender experts in the court case? None are mentioned.

Mermaids can be thought of as knowledgeable when it comes to knowing about transgender children. I am not the expert, but these guys are. They also know the child and mother.

Further, the whole case has opinions about the mother. The case discusses how the mother is on edge, defensive. Now imagine that this was your child. If you were a parent and had child services called upon you all the time, wouldn’t you start to become defensive? Why are they called? Well, in at least one case because of the child dressing 'femminine'. 
I do not believe that it is unreasonable themother would be on edge. I would be a state. Hell, I am and it isn’t my daughter here. The local services didn’t seem to feel that they needed to intervene and the mother has not actually been arrested for possession, etc, of drugs – so the inclusion of this in the case is all here-say. Sure, there is no evidence that I am wrong or that the mother is not unbalanced – but there is none except circumstantial evidence to say that she is.

This bloody kid is really sounds trans and her mother is doing the VERY BEST THING she can do for her. Her father and this judge have taken that away. This mother is a hero.

The case discusses how the father is ‘very willing to work with the child and let them be whatever gender they wish’. Well, has the father been in touch with Mermaids? Have they been with the child to see the trans experts and see what they think? The ones who have worked with the child for a few years? If the boy is playing with 'male' (ugh) toys - does he have both to choose from? And privacy to choose what they want. Because...

I also have a serious issue with some other statements – that the child is just doing whatever they can to placate the mother. So the child is ‘acting’ like a girl to please their mother – well, does that not work both ways? Could it not be that the child is acting like a boy to please the father? 

It says that at first the child acted like a boy when placed with the father with the hope that they would be allowed to return to the mother. 

Erm, well… this says a lot too. The child is behaving as they think they are supposed to in order to have a quiet life and be left alone. To be allowed to carry on with their mother initially. This really sits poorly with me.

From this I really believe that this case should be looked at by a judge who does not live in a world of gender binaries and preconceived, archaic opinions. The judges statements show that he made his decision on his opinions – and these opinions are widely disproved in the medical and psychiatric fields. Gender identity is real, whether he likes it or not. What I read from the court I have so many concerns.

Yes, sure, you can find argument both to support and disprove gender identity. But again, I use my experience. I am a transgender woman, assigned male at birth. I do not suffer from hallucination, psychotic episodes, delusions. I am a scientist, currently managing a group at the University of Oxford. I have a PhD and a decent enough reputation in my field. I am told I am thoughtful. I try to look at both sides of the argument and make informed decisions based on the evidence around me – even if that challenges standard opinion.

So yes, gender identity is real and can be different to sex. I discuss that elsewhere on this blog. 

There is a petition circulating at the time of writing, I would appreciate you take a few moments to sign it and spread the word. It was formed by Fox Fisher, a well respected and thoughtful trans-activist. I signed it based on their name – even before I looked into the case. 

There is a strong case to have this re-looked at by a non-biased judge.

I put the full statement from Mermaids below for you to read and make up your own mind. Then do what you think is right.

Today as CEO of Mermaids I spent my morning supporting a Mother whose child was removed earlier this year, when the judge overseeing a contact case decided that the child was being emotionally abused as the Mum was forcing the child to live as female. Mermaids has known and supported this family for a number of years. This case is hugely upsetting as well as completely prejudicial. It is difficult to imagine the suffering this removal has caused both the Mum and the child, with no actual basis in truth.
The Judge has now issued the judgement which not only brands the Mum as abusive, but will also have a huge impact on all families supporting a younger child to live as the gender they identify as. During the 3 years that Mermaids have supported this family there has been no evidence AT ALL to support this judges views.

Mum has listened to her child and supported her unconditionally. There have been 2 independent gender specialists who have reviewed the family and agreed that Mum is not responsible for her child’s gender expression.

This judgement is a disaster. In current times with laws protecting gender non-conforming children and young people, this judgement is deeply and profoundly shocking.

Mermaids will continue to support the Mum and try to help to reverse this decision through appeal and any other avenue available. This cannot be allowed to stand.

When people ask me how can a child this young decide, it makes me so angry. No child decides this. Most children are happy with their birth gender. But sometimes they are not. Sometimes this feeling will change in time. Sometimes it won’t. But listening and supporting your child so they know whatever the outcome they are loved for who they are is vital.

If you are known to the press you may be asked for an opinion. If you are affected by this issue and need some support let us know. It is a very sad day.

Below are some of the comments and posts I have received from parents who could potentially find themselves in a similar situation. Mermaids has supported thousands of people over the years. From a parent dealing with their child’s gender variance, to the teen whose parents refuse to acknowledge their identity. This is not a choice. (COMMENTS ARE AT THE BOTTOM, THIS POST WAS FROM 22.10.16)
Further clarification is added here from Mermaids in response to press reports.

I have just posted this into the Daily Mirror story that was shared recently. I thought it might help others understand some of the things that did not make the judgement.
The judge in this case has effectively gagged the Mum which has stopped her from being able to defend herself. I personally (Susie Green CEO) and other members of Mermaids have known this family for 3 years. There have been 2 independent assessments done by psychologists who work with gender variant children, both concluded that the child was very clear about who she was and was not being coerced in any way. Mum was supportive but not directing or causing the behaviour. The independent psychiatrist that the judge quotes also stated there is no evidence that the mum caused the gender identity issues. But that didn't get into the judgement. Why weren't the only NHS centre supporting children with gender identity issues not consulted on this case? The Tavistock are clear that allowing a child to express their gender identity is not a child protection issue. Why did an anonymous allegation of smoking pot that has never been proven or substantiated and is clearly malicious make it into a court judgement? The Mum was subjected to multiple malicious anonymous referrals to social services. Schools are often unable or unwilling to accept gender issues in children and yet the Mum was criticised for removing the child due to bullying. She has been painted as a controlling and abusive character by events being depicted in such a way that makes her entirely understandable protectiveness seem extreme.
It wasn't. I was party to meetings that were called without the Mums knowledge or participation, the clear disbelief from the school and GP that a child can express themselves and their assertion that it was the Mum. It wasn't. The child knows who they are. I can only imagine the bewilderment and distress she must be feeling now having being removed in the middle of the night and placed with a father she had not seen in 3 years, who the last time she saw him he was involved in an altercation with her Mum through the car window, the car that she was in.
Let's be clear here. Cross gender play and expression does not constitute gender dysphoria. Kids should be allowed to play with whatever they want without any conclusions being drawn. I love sponge bob, but that doesn't make me a boy. Most children are perfectly happy with their birth gender. But some are not. This child consistently and repeatedly asserted that she was a girl. This Mum was undermined by professionals that had no experience or understanding of gender identity issues in children, so Mum protected her child and fought for recognition of her gender expression.
The judge said the mum did not follow the Tavistock recommendations. This was because she decided that her 5 year old, who was happy, outgoing and confident, should not be subjected to appointments with a mental health professional who undoubtedly would know nothing about gender issues for no reason. The judgement states in one sentence that the child was isolated and not even registered with a GP, then in another line says she was registered as a girl. Which is it? This child was home schooled, but was part of a local network of parents and children who met regularly and socialised well. Social services stated in a report that the home schooling Mum was providing was of a high standard.
Do not believe everything you read in the papers. I personally know this family and it is heartbreaking to see the Mum made out to be some kind of controlling abusive parent when the truth is so very different.
And I really do love spongebob (THESE COMMENTS WERE MADE 23.10.16)

The parents comments follow:

Today I feel afraid. As a parent of a young transgender child, this fear is not new. It rises and falls, but never goes away. How can I protect my sweet child from so much ignorance, prejudice and hate. I’ve never felt so isolated and alone. Through many challenges, rejections, abuse – being called a terrible parent, my young daughter being called it, he-she, told she doesn’t even have a right to exist – the one life jacket I have clung to, that has stopped us from sinking as a family, is our clear legal protection under the Equalities act. Now, through the prejudice of one high court judge, this legal protection is being threatened. Yet those of us who are devastated, terrified, distraught, are too powerless and vulnerable to speak out openly against this hate. We are weak and feeling alone. We need allies. We need friends. We need you. This is a defining civil rights battle for the 21st century. If you do care, don’t stand silent and allow an already vulnerable and persecuted group of children to lose their right to exist. Our children and families face hostility, criticism, abuse, isolation every day. No loving parent would choose this for their child. I love my daughter to the moon and back. And I will not allow hard won rights and protections to be taken away by ignorance and hate. We need your help. Please share this post. Please sign the petition. Please be visible. We can’t do this on our own

I am a community leader within the Transgender community, vice-chair of Sparkle – National Transgender Charity, Secretary of TMSA-UK (the largest trans Masculine peer support group in the country and Vice-Chair of the newly established Tempyouth service which is a transgender employment mentoring support service for people who are NEET aged 16-25. 
The judges decision is not made on the basis of good fact, it is deplorable that the mother here has been punished and in turn the child punished for being who they are, as a transgender person; it is a disgrace that anyone would prevent a child from being happy and themselves regardless of their gender presentation. THIS IS NOT ABUSE, it is a selfless act of love for their child.
This must not be allowed to continue.
With Concern;
Jay Crawford

Shocked and terrified by this ruling. The damage being done to this child and her mother is appalling. Our acceptance of our own child’s gender dysphoria has allowed her suicidal ideation and depression to weaken and we have seen her become happier. I cannot bear to imagine what would have happened if she had been ignored, taken from us and forced back into living as a boy. The judge in this case must have ignored all expert advice which would have made it clear that we must listen to the voice of the child in these situations.

I have just found out about the case and the judgment. I am a mother to a wonderful little girl who is only 2 years older than this child. My child hasn’t been forced or encouraged in anyway shape or form to identify as female. The fact is I couldn’t of made my daughter do this even if I had wanted this all by for myself. We as parents struggle daily to ensure we are supporting our children through this, the best way possible. Don’t we all have a right too explore our own individuality and the free will to decide how we want to live, even children have the right to happiness and security and to not be abused by the people who are there to protect them. This child was being loved and supported by her mother and instead of helping mum to continue to do this they have placed this child with a person who isn’t going to support this child the way the child needs.
Is the child being allowed to play with anything other than the toys her father wants her to play with??? Is the child allowed to dress as she feels??? Is this child being protected from other people’s ideology?? I already know the answers because it’s obvious who is forcing this child. This is unjust and upsetting and my heart breaks for the child and for the mother.

How can the child be made to live as male if, as the judge expresses, they are too young to know their gender. This decision shows no logical grounds and gives concern to the thousands of families living with young transgender children, that they will be spilt apart because of their child’s identity, which is purely transphobic and highly prejudice.

When studies show that 48% of transgender youth in the uk have admitted to attempting suicide, I simply could not believe what I read in today’s newspaper. It is totally wrong to remove a trans child from an environment where this child can fully be themselves. To place them in an environment where they are forced to live as their birth gender is simply abuse! As a parent of a trans child myself I am completely horrified and disgusted that this is allowed to happen “legally” in 2016. Shame on you.
I hope that this gets challenged, this is a total breach of human rights.

When I read this ruling, I was sickened. As the mother of a 6 year old, I cannot even imagine this mother’s agony, nor that of the child who was ripped away from her. All she did was listen to her child and respect her baby. That is not child abuse. It is ignorant to think parents FORCE children to dress, live and act as the opposite gender. This judge needs to be taken away with his outdated assumptions of gender, and his insane assessment of what true emotional turmoil is for gender non-conforming children. Please reunite this mother with her child. This is sickening to rip a family apart.

To Mr. Justice Hayden,
I have just heard of your verdict and comments on the case of the 7-yr old who identifies as a girl, and I am writing to express my utter incomprehension and dismay at the judgment.
It seems to me that the girl’s mother was doing exactly what most caring parents of gender-questioning children do, myself included. Quite simply, we listen to our child. We might not immediately like what we hear first time when our child ‘comes out’ to us, we might even be distraught by the news or shocked, but we put that to one side, we ignore our initial feelings because we love our child and we can witness their happiness and delight at assuming their true gender. So how is it possible to say that the mother was somehow imposing this on her child? Can we all in fact be doing this, we parents of transgender children, imposing this choice on our children? That makes no sense, because no-one would freely choose this difficult road for their child. And it is a difficult one, fraught with fear and anxiety for the future for both parents and child. Who would make that choice for their child? We tread this narrow and precarious path because we have to, for our children’s sake, and we do it over many years, with often a great deal of anguish, pain and sadness.
To take this child away from its clearly most caring mother is not only short-sighted and cruel, but quite irrational in view of modern medical thinking. I urge you to reconsider your verdict.
Is this judge living in the dark ages? How in this day and age can someone be so uninformed and cold hearted. This judgement is criminal itself. Please help this family and ultimately this poor child.

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