Dana at Mombian points out this NPR report on the mother of a transgirl who was sent to Kenneth Zucker (who's the chair of the panel charged with revising Gender Identity Disorder's entry for the DSM-V). Let's just say he isn't going to be waving the Transgender Pride Flag any time soon:
So, to treat Bradley, Zucker explained to Carol that she and her husband would have to radically change their parenting. Bradley would no longer be allowed to spend time with girls. He would no longer be allowed to play with girlish toys or pretend that he was a female character. Zucker said that all of these activities were dangerous to a kid with gender identity disorder. He explained that unless Carol and her husband helped the child to change his behavior, as Bradley grew older, he likely would be rejected by both peer groups. Boys would find his feminine interests unappealing. Girls would want more boyish boys. Bradley would be an outcast.
More after the jump.
The article goes into some depth as to what he thinks about transgenderism:
Because Ehrensaft sees transgenderism as akin to homosexuality, she says, she thinks Zucker's therapy -- which seeks to condition children out of a transgender identity -- is unethical.
But that isn't how Zucker sees it. Zucker says the homosexuality metaphor is wrong. He proposes another metaphor: racial identity disorder.
"Suppose you were a clinician and a 4-year-old black kid came into your office and said he wanted to be white. Would you go with that? ... I don't think we would," Zucker says.
If a black kid walked into a therapist's office saying he was really white, the goal of pretty much any therapist out there would be to make him try to feel more comfortable being black. They would assume his mistaken beliefs were the product of a dysfunctional environment -- a dysfunctional family or a dysfunctional cultural environment that led him or her to engage in this wrongheaded and dangerous fantasy. This is how Zucker sees gender-disordered kids. He sees these behaviors primarily as a product of dysfunction.
The mistake the other side makes, Zucker argues, is that it views gender identity disorder primarily as a product of biology. This, Zucker says, is, "astonishingly naive and simplistic."
I suppose by extending his racial metaphor, a white child who likes rap music should have all her CD's taken away and replaced with Neil Diamond albums.
He also doesn't think transgender children should be made comfortable with being transgender or expressing their gender, but rather they be shamed back into the closet:
Zucker has come to believe that taking the view that kids are born transgender ultimately produces more transgender people.
"By declaring the child as transgendered at, say, age 3 or age 4 or age 6, and then saying in a sense, 'Go with the flow,' ... that will impact, I believe, on how the kid's gender identity differentiates," he says.
In other words, allowing a child like Jonah to transition in kindergarten will essentially track him into becoming a transgender adult. And for Zucker, no child under the age of 10 or 11 can be definitively labeled transgender. He says that kids' gender identities are flexible. And that even a child like Jonah, who appears to be absolutely consistent from the ages of 1 and 2, can change.
It's coercive therapy and shaming these kids isn't going to change what they want to do. Like for Bradley, in the before-the-jump blockquote, being forced to play with boys' toys, only have friends who are boys, draw pictures of masculine things, and not use the color pink all seem to take their toll on him:
"He turned to coloring and drawing, and he just simply wouldn't play with anything. And he would color and draw for hours and hours and hours. And that would be all he did in a day," Carol says. "I think he was really lost. ... The whole way that he knew and understood how to play was just sort of, you know, removed from his house."
His drawings, however, also proved problematic. Bradley would populate his pictures with the toys and interests he no longer had access to -- princesses with long flowing hair, fairies in elaborate dresses, rainbows of pink and purple and pale yellow. So, under Zucker's direction, Carol and her husband sought to change this as well.
"We would ask him, 'Can you draw a boy for us? Can you draw a boy in that picture?' ... And then he didn't really want us to see his drawings or watch him drawing because we would always say 'Can you draw a boy?'" Carol says. "And then finally after, I don't know, a month or two, he just said, 'Momma, I don't know how. ... I don't know how to draw a boy.'"
Carol says she finally sat down and showed him. From then on, Bradley drew boys as directed. Male figures with anemic caps of hair on their heads filled the pages of his sketchbook.[...]
Bradley has been in therapy now for eight months, and Carol says still, on the rare occasions when she cannot avoid having him exposed to girl toys, like when they visit family, it doesn't go well.
"It's really hard for him. He'll disappear and close a door, and we'll find him playing with dolls and Polly Pockets and ... the stuff that he's drawn to," she says.
In particular, there is one typically girl thing -- now banned -- that her son absolutely cannot resist.
"He really struggles with the color pink. He really struggles with the color pink. He can't even really look at pink," Carol says. "He's like an addict. He's like, 'Mommy, don't take me there! Close my eyes! Cover my eyes! I can't see that stuff; it's all pink!' "
So Bradley's not that happy with the treatment. But the article indicates that he's learning to give stock answers when his parents ask him if he wants to be a girl anymore. His parents even suspect that he's breaking the rules when they can't see him and then lying to them about it (what a great lesson to teach a young kid, the same one I learned - lie, lie, lie to adults who really, really, really want you to grow up one way).
But Zucker says they have to stick with it:
Despite these difficulties, Zucker clearly feels it's important to at least attempt change. He points out that the burden of living as the opposite gender is great, and should not be casually embraced.
"We're not talking about minor medical treatments. ... You're talking about lifelong hormonal treatment; you're talking about serious and substantive surgery," he says.
I didn't know that we were talking about surgery and hormones, just about kids playing with toys that make them happy.
The article contrasts Bradley's treatment from Dr. Zucker with the treatment another transgirl got from a friendlier doctor. The entire NPR report is definitely worth reading.
Dana also found this quotation from Zucker's book Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents:
The rights of parents to oversee the development of children is a long-established principle. Who is to dictate that parents may not try to raise their children in a manner that maximizes the possibility of a heterosexual outcome?
And he also says that he's in favor of "ex-trans" therapy because it'll prevent homosexuality:
Dr. Zucker admits that there are complex social and ethical issues surrounding the politics of sex and gender in postmodern Western culture. He note that the "most acute ethical issue may concern the relation between GID and a later homosexual sexual orientation. Follow-up studies of boys who have GID that largely is untreated, indicated that homosexuality is the most common long-term psychosexual outcome."
Zucker says that clinicians have an ethical obligation to inform parents of the relationship between GID and homosexuality. Clinical experience suggests that psychosexual treatments are effective in reducing gender dysphoria and that individual counseling and parental counseling are both effective methods of treating GID.
And even though he knows science doesn't support his position, he's in the "Fuck knowledge, I'll believe that I want to believe" camp:
Zucker and Bradley recognize a very important point missed by most gay activists-that homosexual attractions in adolescence may represent nothing more than transitory idealization of same-sex individuals, rather than a deep-seated sexual orientation. Their goal is to help the client find his "real"-i.e., most deep-seated on a feeling and fantasy level-sexual orientation.
One important question remains in this book: can treatment of the gender-disturbed child prevent future homosexuality? Although there are "no formal empirical studies demonstrating that therapeutic intervention in childhood alters the developmental path toward either transsexualism or homosexuality," nevertheless Zucker and Bradley maintain a cautious optimism, saying there is some "indirect support" for the efficacy of treatment.
That blockquote comes from the NARTH's website ("secular" ex-gay doctors). They love him there.
This person should definitely not be in charge of the panel on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders. 20 years ago he would have been advocating ex-gay therapy. 35 years ago he would have been against getting rid of homosexuality from the DSM-IV. He's putting his agenda of reducing the numbers of LGBT people before helping his patients, and a doctor like that should not be formulating policy for the APA.
To extend his racial metaphor even further, suppose a "4-year-old black kid" came into a doctor's office and "said he wanted to be white." Should the doctor refer him to a known and published racist?