Reversing the damage of misinformation: truth of trans affirming healthcare for children

Updated: Apr 28

When it comes to the newly published book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters; drama and inflammation root deeper than the title suggests.


In this day of misinformation overload, as readers it is important we perform due diligence when gathering knowledge to form an educated opinion. We need to decipher fact from fiction, especially when it comes to understanding gender identity and trans children.


As Jack Turban breaks apart the book's false narrative in New Book “Irreversible Damage” Is Full of Misinformation, we are able to better understand the motive behind the fear-inspiring words like 'craze', 'seducing' and 'damage' strategically planted within the title of this book.



I began sharing and debunking the myths circulating about transgender people in November 2018, during trans awareness week. At the time, my own child, who was assigned female at birth, and a target of this recently published book that the Economist endorsed as 'novel of the year', had told us they were not a girl, that they are transgender and were 'born in the wrong body.'*


They were in elementary school.

I decided to write, Trans Awareness Week: Myth Debunking, with the hope of countering a sea of false and harmful information on social media. False media with the sole sad intent to detract parents and caregivers from supporting and loving their trans and gender diverse children.

I wanted to create space to make it easier for us to make sense of gender identity and what it truly means to be yourself in the world. I wanted to smash the stigma facing my child and many other beautiful, brave and remarkable people.


Students watching Jazz Jennings reading, 'I Am Jazz' on a screen
Students hearing Jazz Jennings read 'I Am Jazz' during an Inclusive Schools Read event

It is in this sense of the word 'irreversible damage', is actually the language being used to drive fear in those caring for the world's most vulnerable little people.




This irreversible damage would in fact be the harm inflicted upon children, should parents use this book as an educational source to decide if they should support their child. This is not education, but rather reads like some kind of warped propaganda philosophy.


While intellectual freedom gives this book legs, freedom of intelligence and intel can guide you in seeing it for what it really is: misinformation.


It was refreshing to read Jack Turban's call-out article, New Book “Irreversible Damage” Is Full of Misinformation as a focused, journalistic breakdown of the continuous flaws intended to fuel fear in parents of trans children.


Now....it's up to you the reader to decide if you'll give more clout to Turban's article in Psychology Today and The New York Times, versus the Economist.

As a physician and a researcher who has dedicated my career to taking care of and understanding transgender youth, I recognized the book as bizarre and full of misinformation. I assumed it wouldn't gain much traction. I was wrong. Jack Turban, MD MHS

As Turban debunks the myths within the pages of the book, it is important to highlight where specifically, the Economist failed to fact-check before they provided an endorsement.


As parents, care-givers and community members who truly want to better understand trans affirming healthcare for youth, I encourage you to seek your resources elsewhere. Don't risk losing your child because an author is transphobic.


And here is why:


What we know:

There is broad consensus from The American Psychiatric Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Endocrine Society, The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and The World Professional Association for Transgender Health that gender-affirming medical care is appropriate for transgender youth so long as clinicians follow guidelines set forth by these major medical organizations (e.g., The Endocrine Society Guidelines). As one can read in the guidelines, recommended interventions depend on the developmental stage of a person, and a young person must meet specific criteria to be eligible for treatment. I wrote about this careful stepwise approach for The New York Times a few years ago.

The above sources, Turban writes should not be confused with the fringe group The American College of Pediatricians, which is an anti-LGBTQ group.


I wrote about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) when they released their updated standards of care for transgender and gender non-conforming youth: Q&A on Pediatricians support and care policy for Trans and Gender Diverse Kids.

This policy was released in 2018 by the AAP, which is comprised of 67,000+ medical professionals, a long-standing credible body of physicians, who work with children.


Being WPATH trained and working closely with the Trans Health Team at the IWK, I encourage learning about the differences in historical and current ideologies of care for trans and GNC youth, as described in The inside track on Gender Affirmative Care: 'The (trans) kids are all right' .


Back to this harmful book about a supposed surge in transitioning teen femmes, Turban highlights the abundance of journalistic flaws.

Here are a few:

  • The Author did not interview most of the transgender adolescents she wrote about and most of the parents were estranged from their children and unsupportive;

  • The author changed details about the youth she wrote about, so they would not have an opportunity to counter the findings because it couldn't be proven it was actually them; If you are so confident in your findings, why hide the details?

  • 'The author claims she is apolitical, but the book was published by Regnery Publishing, a publisher whose mission is advancing politically conservative viewpoints,' writes Turban.

It's easier to be trans than LGB


As a parent of trans child, I have yet to understand why these hate-fuelled groups are focused on harming and/or erasing trans children?


What is the agenda?


As you'll read in New Book “Irreversible Damage” Is Full of Misinformation, Turban challenges the basis for the author implying children are too afraid or stigmatized to come out as LGB and so they find it easier saying they are transgender.


Ummm, excuse me?



The author's presumptions quite simply, don't add up.


If you're not a parent of a transgender or gender diverse child (GDC), you likely don't know how challenging it is to get the support needed. It is rarely easy, always exhausting and support is often not readily accessible. Vanessa Nichols nails it here.


Thank you Jack Turban for your thorough de-bunking of this harmful book and encouraging potential readers to seek out fact-based information from reputable resources. More of this is needed.


As a volunteer with Pflag Canada and a Diversity and Inclusion Educator with a beyond binary focus, respectful, truth-based information must rise above the fear if we are to inspire a kinder, more inclusive world. It is within our power to do so and change this murky narrative.


Because it is worth sharing again, here is Turban's Reference list, with links, should you wish for a deeper dive!


#inclusionmatters #transyouth


References

De Vries, A. L., McGuire, J. K., Steensma, T. D., Wagenaar, E. C., Doreleijers, T. A., & Cohen-Kettenis, P. T. (2014). Young adult psychological outcome after puberty suppression and gender reassignment. Pediatrics, 134(4), 696-704.

Costa, R., Dunsford, M., Skagerberg, E., Holt, V., Carmichael, P., & Colizzi, M. (2015). Psychological support, puberty suppression, and psychosocial functioning in adolescents with gender dysphoria. The journal of sexual medicine, 12(11), 2206-2214.

Turban, J. L., King, D., Carswell, J. M., & Keuroghlian, A. S. (2020). Pubertal suppression for transgender youth and risk of suicidal ideation. Pediatrics, 145(2).

van der Miesen, A. I., Steensma, T. D., de Vries, A. L., Bos, H., & Popma, A. (2020). Psychological functioning in transgender adolescents before and after gender-affirmative care compared with cisgender general population peers. Journal of Adolescent Health.

Achille, C., Taggart, T., Eaton, N. R., Osipoff, J., Tafuri, K., Lane, A., & Wilson, T. A. (2020). Longitudinal impact of gender-affirming endocrine intervention on the mental health and well-being of transgender youths: preliminary results. International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology, 2020(1), 1-5.

Allen LR, Watson LB, Egan AM, Moser CN. Well-being and suicidality among transgender youth after gender-affirming hormones. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology. 2019;7(3):302.

Kuper LE, Stewart S, Preston S, Lau M, Lopez X. Body Dissatisfaction and Mental Health Outcomes of Youth on Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy. Pediatrics. 2020;145(4).


*Not all transgender people feel or express they were born in the wrong body. Every journey is unique, just as every person is unique.