On the September issue:
On Trans Kids
To the Editor:
Thank you for publishing Paul McHugh and Gerard V. Bradley’s article about the reality of trans children in America (“Uninformed Consent: The Transgender Crisis,” September). I am the parent of a 15-year-old boy with multiple mental-health issues who is caught up in this insanity. I have been waiting for more professionals to speak up and am wondering when the tide will turn. Following the recommendations of the clinician at the gender clinic we went to, I allowed our child to start puberty blockers at age 14, before learning about what was happening. Once I understood the reality, it was too late to change that path without causing our already fragile child incredible mental distress and putting us at the very real risk of losing custody of our son (efforts to block gender transition are now considered child abuse in my state). Now I’m fighting to get him skilled, intensive mental-health support to forestall his starting the hormones he is desperately demanding, and which the same clinicians who sold us on the “harmless pause button” now say will help him.
The gender clinic, which is part of a major medical provider, has no mental-health provider on staff. Our child hasn’t had any mental-health support for the vast majority of his “treatment,” and the scant support he had initially consisted of occasional meetings with a licensed social worker who was clearly out of her depth. When I asked the clinical director what criteria they were using in their recommending life-changing hormones for my child, she said there were none. But she did say, “You get kind of a sense” of who will benefit. This is the state of the science on which they’re making decisions. Unless clinicians stop protecting their bank accounts instead of protecting children, we are headed for a medical travesty of monumental proportions. I grieve for my son and for us all.
Maureen J. Lewis
Clifton, New Jersey
To the Editor:
You published an excellent article on the treatment of transgenderism. I am the mother of a now 30-year-old daughter who decided to transition at 27. She experienced anxiety attacks in college and sought help from a campus counselor, and that is where, I suspect, the influencing began. I was totally unaware of her intentions until she announced that she had already been on male hormones for two months. She was, by then, beginning graduate school. It’s as if she has become part of a cult.
Pushing something like this on underage children is nothing short of child abuse and malpractice. Seeds of confusion are being sown in those who need counsel. My daughter discontinued hormones after nine months because of horrible acne, but her voice remains changed. She legally changed her name and recently married another trans woman. Our family is heartbroken and wonders how psychological counselors approved this mutilating makeover. We are Christian and raised both our children to know the Lord. We are all devastated. Thank you for pushing to expose this madness.
Saint Charles, Missouri
To the Editor:
Thank you for your article on the transgender crisis. The medical establishment is suffering from a shared psychosis, some sort of a contagious reality dysphoria. Try complaining to your doctor of pain and you’ll likely be laughed out of the clinic. But the same medical community that’s sending pain patients to an early grave or onto the streets in search of pain relief is accepting the gender dysphoria self-diagnosis of young (mostly) women (many with mental-health problems). And they’re using this as the basis for irreversible hormonal and surgical treatments. I cannot think of any other medical condition that renders the doctor nothing more than an instrument of the patient—frequently, a mentally ill patient.
To the Editor:
Paul McHugh and Gerard V. Bradley have provided the most concise yet thorough piece on transgenderism to date. Their conclusion that the long-term legal implications are what will ultimately doom this misadventure by the health sciences is reasonable, and it’s the opinion I’ve held as well. The only question not addressed in their piece is, how do we accelerate the demise of this policy?
A legal marketing campaign analogous to the asbestos legal suits would strike fear in the self-anointed medical practitioners who would hear these ads. At the end of the day, self-preservation is the most consistent motivator of all. Debating with folks who have abandoned reason and the scientific method, and who are motivated by nothing other than a cause, is an impossible task. Rather than taking them head-on, foundations should start funding a campaign that focuses on the need for self-preservation of the practitioners who are involved with this injustice. Instead of, say, mesothelioma, the ads would be focused on transgender procedures done too early in development. It would force people’s hands and get them to follow the science.
Allen Kamrava, M.D.
Los Angeles, California
Paul McHugh and Gerard V. Bradley write:
We thank our correspondents for these touching and pertinent letters and wish to underline an idea from each of them. First, we’d say to Maureen J. Lewis, this travesty has already reached “monumental proportions,” with thousands of families in America now facing the same quandary she does—recognizing the “insanity” that has “caught up” their children but finding confusion rather than help in the health system.
Second, we’d emphasize with Cathy Campbell the cult-like features of this craze by noting the crowd of advocates advancing it through the schools, media, and Internet but also, as cults do, fostering a jargon to shape the public conversation (e.g., “gender” rather than “sex,” “trans” and “cis” for expressions of those “genders,” “assigned” rather than “recognized” sex in newborns, and the “preferred” label for personal pronouns).
Third, we note with Elin Lee how practitioners, instead of bringing the benefits of wisdom and systematically studied experience to clinical encounters, seem to be taking dictation from patients as to their diagnosis and therapy.
Finally, we agree with Dr. Kamrava’s provocative opinion that a foundation-based approach is needed to thwart this misdirection successfully. In the past several decades, other therapeutic crazes that had captured the biomedical establishment, and that were being steadfastly and ideologically advanced in medical journals and clinics, succumbed to court verdicts supported by evidence from just such foundations. As a paradigmatic example, one of us (Paul McHugh) has recounted in his book Try to Remember how courts ended the “recovered memory”/ “multiple personality” craze of the 1990s with evidence developed by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Surely, though, the welcome news for us all is that many others are awakening to the carnage and chaos caused by this enterprise and have begun a counterattack against it (especially in other countries) that will most assuredly prevail but only after a fierce battle and at great cost to its victims.
The Parents Movement
To the Editor:
It seems that Christine Rosen’s essay on activist parents is too centered on the geographical area of the Northeast suburbs (“Will Parents Become Activists?” September). It misses, therefore, the reason that there will be no parents’ movement or at least not one resembling what the author envisions or hopes for. If there is to be a parents’ movement, it will be made up of multiple local and regional movements that fight those radicals who have undue influence in their areas. In the Northeast suburbs, that apparently means pushing back on the radical leftists. In suburbs in the South and Midwest, however, that would more often mean pushing back on right-wing extremists. Similarly, urban parents would be up against the left, and rural parents would have to deal with right.
The larger point is that it’s important for people to call out the extremists on their own political side. The leftists in blue-state suburbs can have undue influence on local governing bodies partly because the more moderate, though still center-left, residents aren’t inclined to view the excesses of the left as that big of a problem. In my red-state suburb, we see the same difficulty coming from the other direction. We don’t have racialized teaching here, but that doesn’t stop the political right from screaming about critical race theory. Our suburban schools did not shut down (except for spring 2020, when COVID was new), but the activists of the right insist that any mitigation measures to prevent the spread of COVID and keep schools open are an imposition on their freedoms.
It’s easy to see and call out those on the opposing ideological side, and I don’t want the extreme left to be in charge. In my location, though, the extreme left is not the biggest threat to a functioning civil society.
I appreciate that Commentary is not afraid to call out extremists on the right, but please understand that while you may deal with more left-wing radicals in your geographic areas, it is a different situation in much of the country.
Christine Rosen writes:
I appreciate Seth Swanson’s reminder that the efforts of parent activists are not always in pursuit of goals with which one might agree, and he is correct that in some parts of the country, the extremism is coming from the right, not the left. In Johnston County, North Carolina, for example, the school board recently passed a policy stating that teachers could not teach anything that might “undermine” the nation’s foundational documents, a ludicrous and overreaching ban that could suppress healthy debate.
Mr. Swanson is correct to note that extreme claims by people on the right do no good in moving the country away from ideologically motivated education. But it’s important to remember that the parents’ and legislators’ responses are a reaction to concerted efforts by activists to transform school curricula. Schools have seen earlier waves of this—battles over the teaching of civics and American history standards, for example.
The difference today is that critical race theory (CRT)–style claims have rapidly captured many major cultural, social, and educational institutions in this country: mainstream media; higher education; and, as the past year demonstrated, the board rooms of many large corporations.
CRT has become a catch-all term to describe a host of sins, and the reaction (or, in some cases, overreaction) to it sometimes stems from a misunderstanding of what it is; but that misunderstanding is often deliberately created by ideologically motivated educators who hope to transform school curricula to better suit their worldview. When parents push back on CRT-inspired changes to school curricula, these same officials accuse them of trying to “ban history” or claim, incorrectly, that schools that reject CRT also reject the teaching of the history of slavery and race discrimination. In most cases, this is an attempt to avoid confronting the parents’ real concern, which is teaching children that their country’s past and present is little more than a story of systemic oppression.
This is a fight about whether educators should be free to indoctrinate children with ideas that are controversial and often factually incorrect—and to do so without allowing for debate and discussion about the principles stated. Such principles include: All white people are complicit in white supremacy; the success of minorities isn’t evidence of a society that strives for equal opportunity; and the notion that equal opportunity and a range of Enlightenment values should be discarded in favor of “equity” claims that demand equality of outcomes regardless of merit, individual interest, and hard work. Unfortunately, the CRT side has racked up many more victories thus far than their opponents.
The Temple Mount
To the Editor:
Meir Y. Soloveichik’s column put me in mind of an experience I once had (“The Real Truth About the Temple Mount,” September). Seven years ago, I visited the Temple Mount with a representative of the Ateret Cohanim organization who showed me where I could walk “safely” without fear of entering what was the Kodesh Hakodashim (the Holiest of Hollies). We were accompanied by two Israeli policemen who, I was told, would ensure that we didn’t say Tehillim or any other Jewish prayer. When they stopped to talk to a tourist, we kept on walking and started saying Ashrei in a soft whisper. One of the policemen immediately bolted toward us, accused us of “praying,” and said he would escort us out of the area if we did this again. I am happy that this rule is now relaxed.
Teaneck, New Jersey