Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) children, young people who have not yet reached puberty but who persistently show cross-sex behaviours, are, today, a hot-button issue. I strongly advocate a neutral ‘wait and see’ approach, in line with Dr Blanchard and WPATH. This is because, in the first place, there is no real consensus on what constitutes ‘persistent’ GNC.
Parents should realise that it is quite normal for children to indulge in cross-sex role-play; it’s one way that they find out who they really are. Nearly all will move on to another form of play very quickly. Boys liking pink are not trans, nor are girls liking blue. Not all men are masculine and many women are not very feminine. This does not make them trans. Loads of boy children like playing with dolls and plenty of girls like cars and motorcycles; yes there are distinguishable, statistical trait characteristic differences that allow us to be quite sure that the bases of gender are indeed innate, but these are not absolutes at all and there is huge individual variation.
Persistence of childhood GNC, then, is crucial, and while two studies, Singh 2012 and Steensma 2013, have commented that there appears to be a correlation between the intensity and precise nature of the GNC and whether the individual persisted into transsexualism, this has not been quantified sufficiently to give us a diagnostic tool; much more work is needed.
What practical measures, then, can we usefully apply to GNC to try to determine whether it is a passing phase or a lasting one and what the likely outcome will be?
The first is duration. In my experience and opinion, GNC behaviours, even quite intense ones like cross-dressing, that last less than 6 months, can and should be disregarded, especially if they are restricted to one or two specific behaviours and tend to fizzle out over time. If they last over a year and are accompanied by a gradual increase in intensity and spread of behaviours, they are more likely to indicate a deeper issue. Between the two is a sliding scale; observe. But the longer-lasting and more intense and broad-based the GNC is, the more likely it is that the child will grown up to be trans.
So this second group, the GNC children who are now, after a year, more insistent than before and whose GNC has spread from wearing a towel on the head to simulate long hair, for example, to a range of other feminised behaviours, are the persistent GNC kids. Steensma considered that those who also showed physical dysphoria, that is, some dislike of their male genitalia or a desire to grow breasts, might be more likely to be trans, and this seems useful. But also important is the reinforcement the child gets, from those around her.
While not all persisting GNC children will be trans, all will be homosexual; the issues is whether or not they desist their GNC and become gender-conforming gays and lesbians or not. While studies on this in the West suffer from atrocious methodology and cannot therefore be trusted, it is a fair assertion that, again in the West, a majority of persistent GNC children will desist at or around puberty and become gender-conforming homosexuals.
This, however, is the diametric opposite of what happens in southeast Asia, where most GNC children will transition and become GNC homosexuals, better and more accurately known as HomoSexual Transsexuals or HSTS. This happens because there are strong interpersonal networks in every country where trans is highly visible, which support GNC children and guide them on their path to transition. I call this, in the Philippines, ‘beki’ culture, but equivalents exist everywhere. One function of these is to counter the effects of transphobia on children, such as parental abuse and peer bullying. Within the beki community, young transpeople, mostly transwomen but not all, are in a safe haven.
Numbers of GNC children
This tells us that the numbers of GNC children who, relatively, desist or persist, that is, transition, are not absolutes but instead are heavily culturally influenced. Here again, the Western studies which are always quoted are flawed, since they do not control for this. Typically, in the West, until very recently, GNC children would have been bombarded with a litany of more-or-less coercive conditioning methods, from the purely psychological to the violently physical, in a deliberate attempt to cause them to desist; this is not controlled for in even one Western study that I have read.
If it is quackery to try to persuade, by the above methods, homosexuals to be heterosexual, than it is also quackery to attempt to condition GNC kids to be gender-conforming gays and lesbians rather than trans. There’s no difference, it is simply the use of coercion and conditioning to achieve a result seen as preferable by society, irrespective of the child’s desire or even best interest.
I am advocating a moratorium on all such quackery, either way and the establishment of a sympathetic but strictly neutral environment within which children are LEFT ALONE to make their own decisions on the basis of information they are able to understand and assimilate. It follows that no irreversible therapies should be engaged in before the child is mature enough to understand what is happening, and this applies both ways. It is just as immoral to use clinical methods to coerce GNC young people to desist as it is to coerce them to persist.
As parents we have a duty of care, and that must mean finding the best information and delivering it to our children timeously; but it most emphatically is NOT attempting to persuade them to follow one path or the other; and especially not for dubious social or political reasons. Psychologists, counsellors and other professionals must be held at least to this standard.
The no-trans or ‘gender critical’ movement.
We have, in recent years, seen the appearance of the so-called ‘gender critical’ movement. This, basically, is organised transphobia with a fancy name. I prefer to call it the ‘no-trans’ movement. It seems to have been formed by radical feminists as a result of their longstanding antipathy with autogynephilic transvestites claiming to be ‘real women’. That’s a position I have sympathy with, but it has now morphed into general transphobia. This has happened because radical feminists do not understand the science, which tells us that ALL GNC children who persist, will be HSTSand NOT autogynephilic transvestites. Allied to them are the old-guard gay and lesbian lobby who resent that GNC young people are becoming trans rather than ‘gay’ — and so depriving them of new recruits for their lifestyle. Throw in a few religious fundamentalists like Paul McHugh and you have a perfect storm of transphobia.
Autogynephilic transvestites: as ever, unwelcome
At the same time, the interference of autogynephilic transvestites, who know nothing of the nature of HSTS, is absolutely to be deplored and condemned, whether they insert themselves into the argument ‘for’ or ‘against’. These people have no interest in the children being affected, they are relentless narcissists who only desire garner praise, for themselves. They do not care how much damage they do to others.
If we can take any hope at all, it is that the activists pushing the ‘gender critical’, ‘no trans at any cost’ agenda have, almost certainly, already lost. I have studied this for years in southeast Asia and I can assure you that, through the internet, social media and smartphones, young people in the West have already established an equivalent to the interpersonal support networks found all over that region, which are the principal reason why we see so many transsexuals there. No matter how much noise they make, we are going to see an uptick in HSTS and the likelihood is that over the next few years the West will approach SE Asian levels. This contention is strongly supported by the referral data which we are already seeing.
That must, inevitably, mean a relative decline in the number of gender-conforming gay and lesbian expressions because, as far as we know, there is a finite number of homosexual individuals in any population. At the same time, people should recognise that these gender-conforming models are only around 60 years old, having been invented in the 1960s, and it might well be that their time is past.
Parents need to prepare themselves and realise that it might not be enough to ‘accept’ their sons and daughters as gender-conforming gays whose orientation can be discreetly hidden from public view, but that they will have to deal with them being transsexual and, oh my gosh, what will the neighbours say? The old ‘hide in plain sight’ gender-conforming homosexual presentations, the New Gay Man and his lesbian sister, are being blown into the weeds by transsexuals. There is nothing attractive, to a GNC boy, about being a boring gay, if that boy could be a supermodel transsexual instead.
Social factors have always conditioned his decision and, previously in the West, the absence of a support network meant that he would mostly choose to be gender-conforming. Now that the support network based in social media, that I predicted would appear many years ago, is here and active, that decision will increasingly go the way of being transsexual. This cannot be prevented; there is already a huge black-market in cross-sex hormones across the West and that will not go away. Denied formal medical care, young transsexuals will just do what they already do, everywhere else in the world: self-medicate.
Accepting an HSTS child is not ‘erasing gay and lesbian’ kids. It is accepting that sexuality and gender identity are not in fact separate but instead, two sides of one coin. Homosexual boys desire men and they feel, and look, girly — so what could be more natural, then, for them to appear to be beautiful girls? They spent their childhood being called names and being beaten up for being effeminate — now that they can blossom from ugly-duckling boy child to gorgeous femininity, the decision is a no-brainer. They know that that is exactly what their own sexual targets, older straight men, are looking for; and the inverse is true for GNC girls, who will become HSTS transmen who desire younger, more feminine women.
The natural end-point for some GNC children, not all, is to transition, and the only humane thing we can do is to accept that. Attempts to brainwash naturally HSTS young people into being gender-conforming are cruel, serve society and the parents’ interests and not the individual’s and, frankly, are doomed to fail anyway. Being HSTS is not a failure; it is the triumph of the individual against a viciously conformist society and parents should celebrate that.
We have seen many decades when HSTS was suppressed by quack therapists, church, state, parents and schools. We have seen everything from not very subtle psychological conditioning techniques (voir: professional browbeating), literal torture, injecting GNC boys with testosterone to ‘man them up’ and vulnerable young people being thrown into the street by their supposedly-protective parents, all the way through to beatings and murders of HSTS for daring to be who they are. That time, I hope, is finally at an end. After nearly 20 years of hearing the terrible stories of what HSTS have been put through just for being themselves, I celebrate that. We have had quite enough Gwen Araujos or Jennifer Laudes.
Those ‘gender critical’, no-trans people who are, right now, attempting to crush GNC children and force them into being gender conforming ‘gays and lesbians’, because it suits their political agenda, have the blood of those harmless girls and many other individuals on their hands. A plague on you and your houses.
The genie is out of the bottle. You’re too late to change it, better deal with it.
Also published on Medium.