Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

NY Times: Parents Navigating Choppy Gender Waters

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | June 12, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: boys will be boys, child care, gender, gender variance, New York Times

New_York_Times.jpgThe New York Times published an article on Friday called Boys Will Be Boys? Not In These Families.

The article starts with this sentence:

"A 3 ½-year-old named Harry was playing at home in Los Angeles recently when his father walked in with a Target shopping bag. Inside was a special gift for the little boy: a sparkly princess Barbie doll."

The article goes on to discuss the rewards and problems of allowing children to express themselves as they want.

There's a quote from Arlene Istar Lev, a well-known gender therapist in the Albany, New York area, a discussion of various gender-bending children's books, like 10,000 Dresses, the Raising My Rainbow blog, the J. Crew-Toemageddon controversy, the research into gender-variant children, and some of the problems those children and parents are having.

The research seems to indicate that most gender-variant children grow up to be gay, and not transgender or transsexual, though there is some question of self-selection.

There's also the NYT Motherlode blog, where readers can make comments on this topic. Interestingly, most are supportive. Except for "Concerned Citizen" from "Anywheresville, USA," who begins as follows:

Why don't we talk about what this REALLY is? It's not like the old days, when I was a little girl (late 50s) and I wanted to dress like a cowboy (not a cowGIRL) and my parents smiled and indulged me. This is new age, lefty POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, so obsessed with the gay agenda that absolutely dominates their cultural conversation, that a parent in Oakland, California can go to the PSYCHIATRIST with a little boy who simply wants to wear his sister's princess dress and DEMAND the child be given "hormone blockers".

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Children who are painfully distressed by their birth assignment, their born sex characteristics or looming, often irreversible, pubertal changes face very different issues than mere nonconformity. Youth who actually transition to affirmed gender roles at school and receive hormone blocking treatment to defer natal puberty very, very rarely revert back to their birth-assigned gender. This population is ignored by "researchers" at the infamous Toronto Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (formerly the Clarke Institute), who have promoted gender-reparative psychotherapies for children and authored the psychiatric diagnostic labels of Gender Identity Disorder and Transvestic Fetishism.

"The research seems to indicate that most gender-variant children grow up to be gay, and not transgender or transsexual, though there is some question of self-selection."

Great article. Of particular interest to me is the above statement. Could it be that the recent trend to defy gender roles at a young age are in fact a cultural phenomenon? Throughout history, youth typically seek to express their own "group identity" in non-conformist ways. It seems to me that genderbending is simply the latest outlet for teens.

I almost regret to suggest that transgenderism could ever be a fad. But is it beyond reason to infer that while some children are genuinely gender dysphoric, that most may well be the subject of peer pressure or overwhelming pop culture influence?

This is not to marginalize the issue of transgenderism in youth, but certainly one has to now speculate whether gender nonconformity itself can be a fleeting or ephemeral phenomenon.


Actually, when 20% or 1 in 5 of those children (you'll note they said most, not all) are transitioning, as opposed to an incidence of transition in the general population of about 1 in 250 - 1 in 800 and an estimated incidence of transexuality of 1 in 100 according to a recent paper submitted by Dr. Conrad, then I think, perhaps, that what we have here is a significant marker for transexuality, which needs not just non-judgementalism but often time-sensitive medical treatment at least in terms of HRT, as opposed to a sign that being trans is just having sexual orientation frustrated.

Further, a recent study on the trans population indicated that transitioners are about 23% 'exclusively straight' as far as defining their orientation by their target gender.

Somehow I think my girlfriend and I belie the idea that if I were encouraged to be a twink I wouldn't be a tryke.

Btw, I should clarify that my comment is referring to teenagers whereas the article is focusing primarily on prepubescent children. My hope is for more intensive research in both areas, although the factors influencing teenagers are of particular interest since at that age they have developed a greater sense of individuality and independence and have begun establishing a more mature social role.