The push to ban the sexual reassignment of children has begun, as states step into the fight against surgeries and hormone regimens branded by their advocates as “gender affirming.” In May, Florida legislators forwarded a bill preventing children from accessing medical substances capable of permanently affecting their hormones, building off previous mandates eliminating access to surgeries capable of permanently affecting their bodies. In Missouri, lawmakers passed a bill that would ban hormone blockers and sex reassignment surgery for children; in all, more than a dozen states have passed restrictions on gender-related medical prescriptions and procedures, in a move that the Missouri ACLU claims is an attempt “to intimidate people through the denial of basic health care.”
Is this truly intimidation? Is preventing a fifteen-year-old from receiving gender-altering surgery a “denial of basic health care,” or “cruel” as one ex-WPATH psychologist claims? Or, could such arguments be detracting from the true point?
This issue is coming for Generation Z more than any other generation. The people involved in this issue and the people victimized by the darker sides of this issue are disproportionately from Generation Z—this is my generation’s fight. For the sake of those who will bear the brunt of the consequences on this issue, let’s have an honest discussion about the real risks of medically transitioning children. It’s time to take up the fight on behalf of a generation, my generation, and say that it is not truly compassionate to allow children to make life-altering decisions of a permanent nature.
Dr. Eli Coleman, director of the human sexuality program at the University of Minnesota Medical School, had this to say about the issue of children undergoing sex reassignment surgeries: “Certainly there are adolescents that do not have the emotional or cognitive maturity to make an informed decision,” he said. To him, such issues are alleviated by a “careful multidisciplinary assessment.” That’s not how the argument for children consenting has ever worked, or will ever work. The end goal of Coleman’s rhetoric, intentional or otherwise, is that with the proper pathways, no position regarding children’s access to life-altering surgeries can be rendered outside the realm of acceptable solutions. And that’s simply not true.
Children cannot understand the risks of sex reassignment surgeries — risks that are hardly being presented in transparent fashion. Hormone therapy branded as ‘gender-affirming’ has been linked to outsized risk for ischemic heart disease (hardened arteries), with certain regimens of feminizing hormones connected with complications including infertility, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke (all conditions that are, to use the medical term, not inconsequential).
If surgery is considered, the risks simply grow. “Families are often preparing their children for sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) without being given the knowledge of the serious, documented risks associated with such surgery,” writes psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons in an publication on the risks of sex reassignment surgery. “Patients … should be apprised of these risks.”
If one looks up gender-based surgery however, the Cleveland Clinic (one of America’s most prominent hospitals) tells a much different story. What are the risks of a child undergoing fundamental and life-altering surgeries? “With any surgery, there is a small risk of complications, including: bleeding, infection, side effects of anesthesia.” Really? That’s the only risk?
The voices of regret surrounding transition surgery certainly do not see infections and anesthetic issues as the only risks. Chloe Cole, now 17, says she regrets how she was medically fast-tracked through the decision process as a child, including being provided testosterone at 13. “The professionals all seemed to push medical transition,” she explains: “I thought it was the only path for me to be happy.”
Cole and her fellow ‘detransitioners’ are all victims, and there’s nothing compassionate about what was done to them. Their lives are now immeasurably harder than than they would be, had someone honestly informed them about the actual risks of procedures they were simply too young to understand. Yet validating and understanding victims like Cole means nothing without actually confronting the systems that have contributed to their oppression. Without such action, in the next couple of decades, many more victims will emerge, victims my age, traumatized and scarred by the ramifications of decisions they did not understand. That is a truly cruel outcome, and it’s certainly not “basic health care.”
This is not about hating trans people—we have a moral obligation to love trans people—it is about recognizing that being evasive, in any way, about the medical complications of “gender-affirming” care for children is far more hateful. Hiding the risks that trans surgeries pose to young teenagers is not an act of love. And nothing can make it so.
Reason demands that the advocates of gender surgeries for children bear the burden of proving the legitimacy of their strategy. It is they who must demonstrate that such surgeries do not cause harm and do not damage children. They cannot. Furthermore, as regards children, they cannot command the moral high ground. It is on us, as conservatives, believers in medical ethics, and people who care about the health and safety of America’s young people, to draw a line in the sand on this issue.
We cannot tone police or seek nuanced consensus on the risks of sex reassignment surgery to children. The age we live in demands compassion that only the truth can provide. There are many issues on which we can agree to differ in the modern age. For the sake of my generation’s future, this isn’t one of them.
Isaac Willour is a freelance journalist.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.