DEBUNKING ANTI-TRANS PROPAGANDA FROM CHANNEL 7
On September 3, 2023, Channel 7 aired a propaganda piece about how minors from around the country are changing their gender on a whim, only to change their mind later in life, emphasizing their idea that gender transition is the bogey-man of the modern era. We aim to provide clear, evidence-based information to tackle the rhetoric pushed within the Spotlight regarding gender transition. Our objective is to illuminate the misconceptions, provide statistics and citations to separate fact from myth, and, most of all, prove that gender transition is a valid and potentially life-saving path for transgender individuals, shedding light on its importance and dispelling fears associated with it.
“It is not possible to be the opposite sex;
it’s just a fact.”
During the Spotlight, the argument about how sex cannot be changed medically was made multiple times. In fact, this was allegedly the main reason as to why 2 of the 3 featured detransitioners ended up detransitioning in the first place.
“I just realised: Oh, I live in the real world and I cannot be the man I want to be. So suck it up.” This was stated by one of the featured detransitioners after being asked why they decided to detransition. This has a very heavy implication that they only detransitioned because of internalised transphobia and the idea that one cannot fully change their sex and not because they didn’t feel gender dysphoria towards the sex that they were transitioning towards. This highlights just how important it is for trans people to understand what sex is and how sex isn’t as rigid as people like to make you believe.
So what do people mean when they say that sex can’t be changed? To understand this, we need to dissect how the people that use this rhetoric typically define sex, but to understand how these people define sex, we need to first explore the various ways one could define sex:
Biological sex is defined by a multitude of factors including genitals, gonads, hormones, chromosomes and secondary sex characteristics. Some of these variables can be changed via non-surgical medicine (hormones and secondary sex characteristics), some can be changed or removed via surgery (genitals and gonads), and only one of these are perpetual and cannot be changed via modern medicine (chromosomes).
How a transphobe defines biological sex usually depends on which flavour of rhetoric they are trying to push, but for this instance, they will typically define it solely on what sex chromosomes someone has as that is the only factor of sex that cannot be altered via modern medicine. (In some instances, people may also try to argue that there is a structure to how someone’s body prioritises a certain binary gender of reproduction and that this cannot be changed either, but this is unfalsifiable pseudoscience that has no scientific backing or research.)
Arguing against the chromosome rhetoric can be difficult as it technically isn’t incorrect from a scientific standpoint. Yes, chromosomes are unchanging, and yes, chromosomes can be used to easily categorise someone’s sex into a simple grouping; however, the mistake that a lot of people make when arguing about this is when they categorise someone with XY chromosomes to strictly be male and someone with XX chromosomes to be strictly female. This is a social construct: a set of rules that were created to make things easier to understand.
Another example of a social construct would be words. To put it simply, words are just concepts and sounds we created to make it easier for us as a society to communicate with each other. The definitions of words aren’t things that we found on trees or dug up from out of the ground, they’re things that we collectively decided to use; definitions of words are determined by how the majority perceives them. This is why the word “auto” means for something to work without manual intervention in English, but means car in German.
This is the same with sex; male and female are defined by our collective societal understanding. This means that the question isn’t “Is biological sex defined by chromosomes?”, but rather “Should biological sex be defined by chromosomes?”. So, should it? I believe that the answer is fairly obvious once we delve deeper into the implications.
If we were to define biological sex solely on chromosomes, then that would realistically cause a lot of stress to, not only trans people, but many cis people too. This is because trans people aren’t the only ones that can have sex chromosomes that don’t reflect their gender identity accurately. 0.002% of cis woman are born with a condition called Swyer syndrome (cis women with an XY chromosomal makeup) and 0.004% of cis men are born with a condition called de la Chapelle syndrome (cis men with an XX chromosomal makeup), and these figures account for only confirmed cases. Some individuals with these conditions remain unaware of them until later in life when they have already established their gender identity.
If we defined sex solely based on chromosomes, these cis individuals would be classified as the opposite sex to their gender identity, which is not only problematic, but also very dystopian. And this isn’t even accounting for the fact that 0.2% of people are born with chromosomal makeup other than XY or XX (up to 4% if accounting for intersex people in general), meaning that we would have to create additional sex categories to account for these cases.
You can probably see now how defining biological sex solely on chromosomes can cause a lot of problems and is anything but simple. This is why most doctors and scientists don’t define biological sex as strictly male or female, because doing so creates oversimplifications on one’s actual biology and can lead to dangerous assumptions. I say dangerous because there have been cases where trans people’s sexes have been labelled as their assigned sex at birth in hospitals by untrained doctors and, as a result, got sick when they received medication meant for people with opposing hormonal levels.
Considering all this information, there is only one conceivable reason as to why someone would persist in defining biological sex by chromosomes, despite the mess it would create: a profound bias against trans people and a desire to invalidate their gender identities. That and, of course, the intention to validate transphobic ideas for a larger following and/or more voters in a political context. This is, obviously, not a very good thing and I hope that it’s plain to see just how harmful this way of thinking can be.
“There are currently more than 1000 adolescents on waiting lists at state-run gender clinics across Australia.”
The number of adolescents on waiting lists for gender clinics around the country was brought forward twice during the special; both at the very beginning and at the very end. Because of this, it is safe to assume that this was the main talking point throughout the Spotlight, and it makes sense too.
It is implied throughout the show that the majority, or at least an undeniable portion, of children going through gender transition end up detransitioning out of regret and dissatisfaction. This, however, is only implied and not outright stated and this is for a very deliberate reason: because it is objectively incorrect.
A very detailed study goes over the facts and statistics regarding gender detransition. According to the article, detransition rates can range from as low as 1% and as high as 8%. This is already a very low number, but it doesn’t end there. Out of all people who reported having detransitioned, only 5% reported to have detransitioned specifically because they found gender transition was not right for them. That means that only a measly 0.4% of all people that go through gender transition end up regretting it.
It might not fully register to you just how small of a number that is, so let me put that into perspective: going back to the statistic of 1000 adolescents on waiting lists for gender clinics, if we were to calculate the product of 1000 by the ratio of regretful detransitioners (0.4%), we would return with a total of 4 people. Suddenly, this number becomes a lot smaller and a lot less scary.
So if there aren’t actually as many children regretting gender transition as it is implied there is throughout the Spotlight, then what is the purpose of showing this statistic? All it does is say “Hey! This is how many trans people exist, I guess. Okay, bye!”, but that’s just it, they’re using this statistic as a way to imply the incorrect idea that detransition is a common thing as a form of fear mongering and manipulation, but even though this statement is made in bad faith, let’s dissect it anyway to reveal the microscopic details.
Let’s create a mathematical experiment to better understand what the best course of action would be: In an overt simplification, the suicide rate amongst trans people comes to around 40%, which is a lot and there are multiple reasons as to why this is, ranging from depression from gender dysphoria to social discrimination to disownment from family, but for the sake of this experiment, let’s pretend that gender dysphoria is the only reason for the high suicide rate and drop the number down to 25% to compromise. (The exact number isn’t too important as this is completely hypothetical and a mathematical experiment.)
If we allow gender clinics to stay open and continue to allow children to receive gender-affirming care in Australia, then 4 of the 1000 adolescents that will likely receive gender-affirming care will end up regretting their decision and 1 of these 4 children will statistically experience suicidality. This leaves us with 1 potentially dead child and 3 additional traumatised children.
If, however, we decide to ban gender-affirming care for minors and shut down these gender clinics, then that will result in 996 children not getting the care they need and 249 of these children experiencing suicidality. That’s 747 children going through preventable trauma and 249 children potentially dying. This scenario poses a much greater risk compared to leaving gender clinics open.
So now we have a very simple trolley problem: A single cis child is tied up on a track and a train is coming at full speed. There is no way for the train to stop in time before running over the cis child, killing them. Beside the track, there is a lever, and pulling this lever will set the train onto a new path, avoiding the cis child; however, on the other track lies 249 trans children tied up and unable to escape. Do you allow the train to move along its initial track, killing the cis child, or do you pull the lever in order to save the cis child, but kill the 249 trans children?
Any sane person would not pull this hypothetical lever as, believe it or not, 249 lives is more valuable than a single life, but transphobia isn’t for the sane. In the eyes of a transphobe, a cis life is infinitely more valuable than a trans life; therefore, they don’t care how many trans people they may inadvertently kill, as long as they’re saving the life of a cis person.
There is, however, a flaw to my argument: The Channel 7 Spotlight isn't using mathematics to convince their audience, they used emotions. The Spotlight challenged the audience with a very simple, yet effective implication: "What if this was your child?" It wouldn't matter how many people's lives were on the line, trans or not, parents would do anything to save their child. This is the real trolley problem here and, in this scenario, most people would pull the lever, but what if I told you that there was a third option? A way to save everyone?
The Spotlight puts forward the idea that banning gender affirming care for minors will save children from making the wrong decision based on how quick gender dysphoria diagnoses can be, but this assertion has it all wrong. It is true that people are quick to diagnose children with gender dysphoria, but there is a good reason for this.
Trans minors are a ticking time bomb and their body is constantly changing to something they are terrified of, so they need to be cared for as quickly as possible to minimalize the risk of suicidality and depression. The problem is that there are only 7 gender clinics all around Australia and the demand for gender affirming care is astronomical, this makes the waiting lists for gender clinics to be up to 2 years.
Because of the extremely high demand for gender affirming care for minors, gender clinics just realistically do not have the time to be thorough and the best course of action is to allow the child to go through with gender affirming care and then quickly move onto the next patient, as there is a 99% chance that they desperately need it.
With this new information laid out, let's return to the trolley problem: Before, I stated that the only 2 options were to save 1 cis child or to save 249 trans children, but now we have a third option. If Australia uses their resources to open up more gender clinics and put more funds into gender affirming care, then there would no longer be a need for gender clinics to rush care. With this solution, there would be no need to pull the lever because there would be no one in the way. Everyone would be saved and our country would become a much safer place for children, trans and cis alike.
Around 1000 adolescents around the country are on waiting lists to visit gender clinics and potentially receive gender-affirming care and, based on all the information that has been laid out in front of us, we can safely conclude that this is indeed a good thing. Without gender clinics and gender-affirming care, there would be an overwhelming larger amount of trans people with depression and suicidal tendencies. Gender-affirming care saves so many lives and banning such practices solely on a select few people is irrational and upside-down.
“You can’t just play with nature in that way;
puberty is a human right.”
The above quote was stated by one of the detransitioners that featured in the special. It implies the idea that natural puberty should not be interfered with, and that going against nature is harmful and wrong. This subjective idea can stem from many different sources including religious beliefs, distrust in modern medicine, a lack of understanding towards certain medical practices and, of course, bias against trans people.
The notion that natural things are inherently superior to artificial ones is common, but irrational. In fact, this notion is so irrational that it's challenging to find arguments supporting it that don't merely reflect personal aesthetic preferences; you could try and think of one yourself, but don’t think too hard about it or you’ll end up making far fetched conspiracy theories.
If you still don’t believe me when I say that ‘natural’ is not always better, then look no further than… well, nature. Birth defects, dementia, cancer; these are all natural things that happen regardless of the existence of medicine and manual intervention. In fact, gender dysphoria is a natural thing; the main reason why people ‘defy nature’ and transition in the first place.
We’ve been defying nature for millennia. Ever since humans rubbed sticks together to create fire. Ever since we put wheels on carts to make them easier to move. Ever since we injected smaller versions of viruses into our bodies so that our immune system can build up defences against the virus and protect the body from the real deal. These are all examples of humans defying nature for the benefit of humanity, so why is defying nature suddenly considered a bad thing once it involves benefiting trans people?
This idea is placed on a whole new level of ridiculousness once we investigate the specifics of this a little further. The statement suggesting that one shouldn’t defy nature was most likely in regards to hormone replacement therapy; a therapy that includes medically altering one’s hormone levels so that they go through a more fitting puberty.
The thing about hormone replacement therapy is that, although it involves medical intervention, it’s still the most natural form of gender-affirming care there is. You aren’t physically cutting out one puberty and replacing it with another, you’re ingesting oestrogen/testosterone and aromatase inhibitors/anti-androgens in order for your body to naturally initiate a certain puberty and naturally develop certain secondary sex characteristics. So saying that hormone replacement therapy is unnatural is not only semantically empty but also factually inaccurate.
Puberty can be a very traumatising experience for people diagnosed with gender dysphoria and, just because it is natural, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tampered with. Gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy, provides trans people with the ability to avoid any unnecessary stress and depression that comes with gender dysphoria. If our goal is to do what is best for the most amount of people, then gender-affirming care needs to remain open for those that need it.
“If your child asks you for a tattoo
and you say no, you are a good parent,
but if they ask you for puberty blockers
and you say no, you are breaking the law.”
This quote comes directly from a Tweet posted by an anonymous user that was briefly featured during the Spotlight. It implies that a child undergoing puberty blockers would be the equivalent of a child receiving a tattoo and attempts to draw up a double standard about how one is seen as a good thing and how the other is seen as bad. Let’s try and break this down as much as possible so that we can better understand how this analogy is flawed.
Firstly, and most obviously, tattoos are, for the most part, pretty permanent. If you want to remove a tattoo, you would need to go through a very painful procedure involving lasers that can sometimes take multiple sessions and, even then, the tattoo would likely not be completely removed, still showing a shadow of where the tattoo used to be. This is why it wouldn’t be such a good idea to allow a child to get a tattoo, because it’s quick, permanent and is solely cosmetic.
Puberty blockers, on the other hand, are completely reversible. They are so reversible, in fact, that all it takes is for the patient to simply stop taking the medication (whilst listening to their medical professional) and their puberty would continue as if nothing had happened. Sure there are some cases where puberty blockers have caused complications, but that’s with literally every medical practice as everyone’s body is different and can react to certain medications in different ways.
Due to puberty blockers being completely reversible, you cannot regret having taken puberty blockers the same way that you can regret having had a tattoo. In fact, there isn’t really any significant downside to a child going on puberty blockers for a few years. There are, however, many benefits to puberty blockers and this includes the fact that they can literally save the lives of trans children.
People go on puberty blockers to pause or prevent their puberty so that they have enough time to decide whether or not gender transition is right for them without having to deal with a potentially traumatising puberty. I can’t emphasise enough just how essential puberty blockers can be for certain people and comparing this to a permanent body modification that is solely cosmetic is not only ignorant, but malicious and likely intentional.
I’ve explained, so far, how comparing puberty blockers with tattoos is ridiculous, but I haven’t yet pointed out the fairly sized elephant in the room and that is how the quote implies that it is illegal, not immoral, illegal to refuse one’s child puberty blockers if they so ask for it. Now, I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a load of doo-hickey, so I did what anyone would do in my search for answers, I did a quick Google search and, sure enough, I found an article explaining this situation further. A single, very interesting article.
If the fact that I could only find one article published regarding this issue doesn’t strike immediate doubt into your innards, allow me to cite the opening paragraph: “The Change of Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021 was enacted on Feb. 17, 2022, and bans parents from engaging in any practice that does not encourage gender transition. Parents cannot deny their child puberty blockers, hormone treatments or gender transition surgeries. Parents also cannot seek out non-affirming counseling for their child in Victoria—or anywhere else in Australia.”
Holy moly, folks! Looks like we have ourselves some very juicy propaganda. Now, if you aren’t as aware of language that typically resides in propaganda pieces, allow me to shed some light. The article contains language implying that “it is illegal for a parent to not encourage gender transition” and that “you are legally not allowed to deny your child gender transition surgeries”.
This is so cartoony that I don’t think I can even argue against it without sounding like an absolute dork. You can’t convince someone that the sky is blue when they so confidently believe that the sky is brown (trust me, I’ve tried), so if you can’t immediately recognise just how silly this is, then you are likely too far gone into the alt-right rabbit hole (which would be surprising considering how far you've made it in this article).
Upon researching the company behind the article further, it appears that they are a hardcore Christian organisation that “exists to spread the good news of Jesus Christ” and that they have created other propaganda pieces including one praising Putin, yes, that Putin, so no surprises there.
Another thing to note is that, upon sifting through the actual Act, there doesn’t seem to be a single reference to gender-affirming care of any kind and seems to just contain some basic anti-discrimination stuff like making it illegal to assert that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is broken and/or in need of fixing in a medical context. This should be a good thing, but some people are upset that they cannot use their religion to discriminate against others. So much for “love thy neighbour”.
To summarise what I’ve pointed out, comparing puberty blockers to tattoos is not only ridiculous, but also cruel, and the only article backing up the idea that it’s illegal to refuse puberty blockers to children is from a propaganda piece by a corrupt Christian organisation. So it likely isn’t actually illegal for parents to deny their children puberty blockers if their children require them. Should it be illegal? Eh, probably, but that’s a discussion for another day.
“They (Australian gender clinics) prevent their (children’s) gender dysphoria
Gender transition is nothing to scoff at; transgender people from all over the globe go through immense measures to affirm their gender identity, from hormone replacement therapy to voice training to gender-affirmation surgeries. These processes can prove to be very extensive and demanding. From being physically and emotionally taxing to financially costly to sometimes even dangerous in transphobic environments; however, they rarely ever deter transgender individuals from pursuing their goal of being perceived as their identified gender. Why is that?
The most common reason by far as to why trans people transition would be a diagnosis known as gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is the discomfort and dread one may feel when associated with a certain gender, for trans people, this would typically be their assigned gender at birth. Gender dysphoria can be triggered by being socially perceived as a certain gender, physically reflecting a certain sex, and even irrationally associating oneself with a certain gender based on stereotypes and one’s own hobbies.
Gender dysphoria is no laughing matter as it typically comes with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. So the priority for someone diagnosed with gender dysphoria would be to remove or at least suppress it in some way so that they can live a happy and fulfilling life without the existence of an existential dissociation with one’s own gender. So how do we achieve this?
A common belief that many transphobes hold is that gender dysphoria can be cured via conversion therapy or will eventually go away on its own. This has been proven time and time again not to be the case. In fact, conversion therapy tends to cause even more harm to the patient due to the practices having unethical methods of therapy including shock therapy, paralysis-inducing drugs and religious assertions.
The only effective treatment for gender dysphoria is, of course, gender-affirming care and gender transition, but some people like to ignore this fact in order to push their hatred towards trans people. One of these people is Dr Jillian Spencer, a child psychiatrist that featured in the Channel 7 Spotlight.
Spencer believes that gender dysphoria is not as serious as most medical professionals would lead you to believe. In fact, she implies during the Spotlight that gender dysphoria can be healed if left alone for long enough. This is a very perilous way of thinking as gender dysphoria, if present in a child or anyone for that matter, will not resolve on its own. Many trans people mistakenly believe it's just a phase that will fade over time, but this is rarely ever the case. Even when it appears to subside temporarily, it often resurfaces even stronger years later.
After being asked how she believes children with gender dysphoria should be handled, she replied with the following: “We need to take a different approach towards children with gender dysphoria. We need to be able to say to them: We understand that you’re in distress and that you’re feeling really uncomfortable in your body and we want to do everything we can to support you through it, but we know that the risks and long term consequences of transition are so serious that we can’t just assume that that’s the right way forward. Because of this, we’re gonna continue to use your biological name and pronouns, but we’re gonna work with you to understand exactly what you’re going through and do everything we can to try and help you.”
I can’t emphasise just how damaging something like this would be for a child, who suffers from gender dysphoria, to hear from a child psychiatrist whose job it is to help children through their struggles. This response not only negates how the child is feeling under the guise of false sympathy, but completely shuts the child down from exploring their gender identity in any meaningful way.
The phrase “biological name and pronouns” is exceptionally absurd. While one might attempt to derive some logic from 'biological pronouns' (even though pronouns aren't biological, but linguistic markers tied to the social construct that is gender), 'biological name' is utterly incomprehensible. How can a name be biological? Did Spencer come out of the womb with “Jillian” tattooed on her scalp? I guess we’ll never know.
Another thing to note is that there isn’t a single non-transphobic reason as to why someone would refuse to use someone’s preferred name and pronouns. People can’t regret names or pronouns like they can regret a surgery and ignoring a child’s name and pronouns could only ever harm them. The fact that Spencer is in the position of a child psychiatrist is beyond worrying and it’s no wonder why the hospital that she works for wants her fired.
These are already some pretty problematic ideas that Spencer has put forward so far, but it doesn’t end there, as she also argues that gender-affirming care doesn’t actually prevent suicides within people who experience gender dysphoria: “There’s no evidence that social transition or puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones reduces the suicide risk in children with gender dysphoria.”
This isn’t just a bold claim, but also an objectively incorrect one. A very quick and easy Google search regarding this will bring you to an article that was created specifically to counteract statements like the one Spencer put forward. The article states that an astounding 73% of patents who underwent gender-affirming care were less likely to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies compared to those that did not. That is a massive difference! Ignoring such a statistic would be the equivalent of humanity never discovering water.
Gender dysphoria is a real and serious condition and should never be undermined by any medical professional or child psychiatrist. Negating claims and signs of gender dysphoria within children is not only harmful and cruel, but may also just be the final straw that pushes a child to take out their frustrations on themself and end up seriously injured or worse. And to the medical professionals that refuse gender-affirming care to children out of their own hatred towards trans people, you may just have blood on your hands.
“Children are being
surgically mutilated and sterilised.”
What comes to mind when someone mentions surgical mutilation? You may be someone who thinks of surgically stealing someone’s kidneys to sell on the black market. Perhaps you’re thinking of one of the many horror movies involving putting someone to sleep and performing terrifying surgical procedures against their consent, like in The Human Centipede. You could also be someone that thinks of extreme cases of plastic surgery performed on people with body dysmorphia issues. Or maybe you’re Dr Dylan Wilson; a paediatrician that featured on the Spotlight that thinks of gender-affirming surgeries on consenting individuals.
Now, I will give a light benefit of the doubt as Wilson is only openly against specifically children from going through gender-affirming surgeries. This is an understandable perspective compared to a lot of other ideas that were pushed during the Spotlight; however, this still puts a magnifying glass over the issues in gender-affirming care, exaggerating its risks and making it seem more hazardous than it truly is. The fact of the matter is that there is only one gender-affirming surgical procedure that is consistently performed on children, and that is breast reduction surgery.
According to a study published in 2021, regret from any gender-affirming surgeries comes down to an astoundingly low number; of 7,928 people who underwent any sort of gender-affirming surgeries, only 77 reported having regretted the surgical practice, that’s less than 1%! This study doesn’t include the age range of the pooled patients, but the youngest that someone can legally have breast reduction surgery for gender-affirming reasons in Australia is still 16 years old, a measly 2 year difference compared to other age requirements for more extreme surgeries.
The notion of children undergoing surgical mutilation isn't confined to Australia; it's a global issue, being present in places like the United States, where cis children as young as 13 are legally allowed to have cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentation. The backlash towards these procedures is a far cry compared to the backlash against breast reduction surgeries for gender-affirmation purposes. This suggests that those advocating for a ban on gender-affirming surgeries for trans children don't object to cis children undergoing similar cosmetic surgeries; talk about a double standard.
Surgeries aren’t the only thing that Wilson is openly against. Wilson also made a few points against puberty blockers in his open letter: “Paediatric endocrinologists in gender clinics in Australia and around the world are taking a cohort of physically healthy children and they are suppressing the puberty of these children at its earliest active stage, Tanner Stage 2.”
This comment was made in an attempt to vilify puberty blockers, stating that medical professionals are taking healthy children and suppressing their puberty. This statement doesn’t make up for what its implications are as people don’t take puberty blockers because they are physically unhealthy, they take puberty blockers to… well, block puberty. And it’s not like children are taking puberty blockers for no reason. The entire purpose for puberty blockers is to pause or prevent a child’s natural puberty so that they have enough time to explore their gender identity without having to go through a potentially traumatising puberty.
Wilson goes on: “Puberty for these children is never allowed to progress. The bodies of these children are frozen forever at this stage, even though they are growing chronologically older.” This part of Wilson’s statement is a lot more malicious and deceitful. No one is telling children who are puberty blockers that they are never allowed to stop the medication and children aren’t “frozen forever at this stage”. In fact, the overwhelming majority of children who undergo puberty blockers stop taking the medication after a few years to either return to their natural puberty or undergo hormone replacement therapy.
It was also mentioned, during the Spotlight, that there is a statistical rise in transgender children worldwide, which extends from the argument that children can’t consent to gender-affirming care due to them being susceptible to trends. This was stated during the interview with Ian Hickie as an attempt to imply that being transgender is becoming a fad and that children are being influenced by others to transition for social validation.
Although it is true that there has been a rise in recorded trans people throughout the past few decades, this doesn’t mean that being transgender is a trendy thing. The actual reason as to why there is a rise in recorded trans people is because it is easier for trans people to explore their gender identity with more accessible information about gender identity, safer environments for trans people to express themselves and less people trying to push trans people into the closet.
A similar phenomenon is made apparent when
searching up the history of left-handedness.
A graph shows that, in the early 1900’s the
number of left handed people started to go
down due to the social stigma associated with
it and the idea that being left handed was evil
and wrong. The numbers then started to rise
again around the 1910’s, as people started
understanding left-handedness more, and straightened out to how it is today from the 1960’s. This phenomenon is pretty much exactly what happened with the number of transgender people too.
Ian Hickie doesn’t mention the common argument mentioning left-handedness, but he does do a very good job explaining how more children are becoming more open about their gender identity as society understands how people aren’t as binary as people used to believe. He brings forward the fact that social media isn’t influencing children to be trans, but rather increases awareness to what it means to be trans; therefore, allowing more trans people to understand themselves, which should be seen as a good thing.
Overall, gender-affirming care should not be referred to as mutilation as this language can harm the people who need such care and ignores why gender-affirming practices exist in the first place. Though it is possible for the wrong people to find themselves in a situation where they receive certain surgeries and can regret such surgeries later in life, the overwhelming majority of people going through this care absolutely need these surgeries to exist as they are essential to them living a functional life.
“No children should be socially
transitioning in schools without the
parents' knowledge and consent.”
A segment near the start of the Spotlight went through a very common situation when it came to trans children in schools. I am of course talking about when trans children decide to socially transition in school without their parents knowledge.
There are a few reasons as to why children might decide to do this. They might be too embarrassed to bring up their gender identity to close family members, they may be afraid that they would be treated differently by their siblings, they might even just be testing the waters in a safe environment before committing to their identity, but what tends to be the most common reason as to why trans children hide their identity from their parents is because they are afraid of what their parents might do to them.
These fears that trans children may have aren’t irrational either. There have been countless instances of children coming out to their unsupportive parents and, as a result, getting beaten, scolded, disowned and, in extreme cases, murdered. This is why it is so important for trans children to have the option to hide their trans identity from their parents whilst exploring themselves further in a safe environment such as their school, but the people featured in the Channel 7 Spotlight seem to disagree.
During the special, the unsupportive parents of a trans child came forward to share their story about how their child socially transitioned at school without their knowledge. These parents were so transparent (wink wink) about their transphobic beliefs that they not only misgendered their child repeatedly, but also misgendered other trans people from online spaces that have nothing to do with their lives.
If you think that’s bad, well then you are in for a highly disturbing treat. During a conversation about their child's hospitalization following a suicide attempt, the mother showed more concern over the inclusion of her child's preferred name on the hospital bed than the fact that her child had tried to commit suicide. This is evident as the mother only mentioned the suicide attempt to add context to the story and focused all her attention on how the hospital was affirming her child’s gender identity.
If your child finds themselves in a hospital bed after trying to commit suicide because you refuse to provide a safe space for them to be themselves and you find outrage at the only thing supporting your child because you can’t put your transphobic beliefs aside for just a moment to feel sympathy for the fact that your child almost died, then you are a horrible, and I mean horrible, excuse for a parent and there is no wonder why your child didn’t feel comfortable coming out to you.
Despite all of this, the parents seemed to be confident in their belief that they are not actually transphobic and are simply just doing what is best for their child. This is quite bizarre and almost humorous as I am willing to argue that these parents are the second most transphobic characters featured during the special, right behind Spencer (and maybe Wilson). The only things saving this couple from being the most transphobic contenders is their ignorance and the fact that they only have the power to destroy one child’s life.
As I stated earlier, the trans child of these parents didn’t feel comfortable disclosing their own gender identity with them, and for good reason too, so they socially transitioned in school without telling their parents. Eventually, however, the mother did find out via a Facebook post and, as you could probably imagine, they reacted in the most predictable way possible: confronting their child, calling their identity ‘ridiculous’ and then acting surprised when she was called transphobic.
I’m not exactly sure what the host of the Spotlight expected from all of this. They brought in someone to explain how children shouldn’t be socially transitioning without their parents knowledge and consent, and then proceeded to bring in a living, breathing example of why children should not be obligated to tell their parents about their gender identity. They unintentionally proved just how dangerous telling unsupportive parents can be as it lead to child neglect that was so bad that it persisted even with the child in a hospital bed.
So, going back to the initial argument. Should children be forced to out themselves to their parents? After everything that I have put forward, the answer should be an obvious “no”. Unfortunately, people fail to see just how harmful this can be and there are laws being passed in the United States that intend to do just that. It is almost inevitable that children will end up scared, traumatised and murdered, but people don’t care, they just want to do what is worst for trans people. The good news is that such developments are highly unlikely in Australia; however, we should still be prepared to fight against the harmful rhetoric targeting trans kids.