At a recent gathering, a daughter’s friend told us, “I’m probably trans because I don’t like female puberty.” This instantly got my attention, because I have known this child for years, and I never saw any indication of her being trans. I innocently asked her why she would say that. Was it a joke, perhaps? She replied, “I don’t like my boobs growing, and Reddit says I’m probably trans.” That night, I tracked down these Reddit exchanges, and my jaw dropped when I saw how many people and organizations were heavily pushing the possibility of her being trans. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the way such attitudes have gone mainstream. This includes the pediatrician mom whose recent opinion piece for the New York Times was titled What I Learned as the Parent of a Transgender Child. For kids Googling this subject, the overall effect is the equivalent of one big glitter bomb going off on their screen.
I write all this as a 47-year-old transgender man who transitioned five years ago. I’m also a parent to three teenagers.
During my own transition, I had seven surgeries. I also had a massive pulmonary embolism, a helicopter life-flight ride, an emergency ambulance ride, a stress-induced heart attack, sepsis, a 17-month recurring infection due to using the wrong skin during a (failed) phalloplasty, 16 rounds of antibiotics, three weeks of daily IV antibiotics, the loss of all my hair, (only partially successful) arm reconstructive surgery, permanent lung and heart damage, a cut bladder, insomnia-induced hallucinations—oh and frequent loss of consciousness due to pain from the hair on the inside of my urethra. All this led to a form of PTSD that made me a prisoner in my apartment for a year. Between me and my insurance company, medical expenses exceeded $900,000.
Children who claim to be trans typically are receiving such drugs at a pivotal time in the development of brains and bones. They’ve become a generation of guinea pigs, to answer such questions as: What will happen to a biological boy who takes sex hormones associated with the opposite sex (or vice versa), and grows up without the benefit of natural puberty? What happens to a male body on estrogen over the long term? No one knows.
Kids who are suicidal before their transition will likely continue to be suicidal, and the most intense ideation often comes years after transitioning. (Transgender folks themselves sometimes speak anecdotally of a seven-to-10-year trans suicide “itch” observed within the community.)