“My 15-year-old transgender son is going through menopause — and I’m so proud of him.” As headlines go, this is gob-smacking. So proud that her child will be spayed? So proud that her daughter’s fertility will be destroyed? So proud that her daughter is going to be a client of the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of her life?
The story comes from a recent issue of Essential Kids, a site linked to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, which describes itself as “part of Australia’s largest parenting community, connecting real mums and dads all over the country”.
Carolyn Tate explains that her daughter has clearly identified as a boy at least since she was 12 years old. They have been going to “our local gender clinic”.
Treatment involves taking a puberty blocker called Lucrin (or Lupron) every three months to stop normal female puberty. Carolyn says that side-effects are minimal – just “a short and sharp menopause” and “potential bone brittleness from a loss of calcium”.
Not long ago, her daughter began to have nausea, sweats and hot flushes. It wasn’t coronavirus –menopause had arrived 40 years early.
When she turns 16 she can legally start taking testosterone to give her a deeper voice and a beard. “We can’t wait,” says Carolyn.
After that there might be surgery – a “top job” to remove her daughter’s breasts. Many transgender males prefer not to have “bottom jobs” to create fake male genitalia, but that’s always a possibility.
Does this make sense?
The lunacy of allowing a child – a 15-year-old is still a child who cannot drive or vote – to destroy her capacity for bringing new life into the world suggests that we are witnessing a crisis of parenting, not necessarily a crisis of gender identity.
“What I know about parenting is that I’m just the custodian to these children living in my home. I’m here to love them and do what I can to help them to grow into whoever they know themselves to be,” Carolyn explains. “Because what the world needs is more people who are truly comfortable being themselves – and who accept and celebrate others for doing the same.”
But Carolyn’s “son” is biologically a female. Every cell in her body has XX chromosomes. At this fundamental level, she is a woman and always will be a woman.
No doubt there is a lot of background that Carolyn left out of her article. The apparent absence of a father. The tantrums of a 12-year-old girl who wants to be a boy. The claim that she can never be happy unless she lives as a boy. Bullying. Threats of suicide. The sorrow of a mother who dreamed of grandchildren.
But parenting isn’t about making kids happy until they’re 18 and to hell with what happens after that. It’s about doing your best to give them the wherewithal to be happy for a long and healthy maturity. Most children – boys and girls – with gender dysphoria get over it by late adolescence. Aren’t two or three years of screaming matches worth it?
Besides, Carolyn is misrepresenting the dangers of the drugs that her daughter is taking. Lupron is a drug for middle-aged or older men with late-stage prostate cancer. It is unknown whether off-label use is safe for teenagers. Brittle bones are one consequence – and not a trivial one! – but it may also affect cognition and emotional development.
The UK government isn’t transphobic, but it is sceptical about allowing teenagers to destroy their sexuality. Earlier this week the Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, told Parliament that LGBT people deserved protection, but that children should be protected from their own folly:
I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.
Parents of gender-dysphoric children should let those five syllables sink in – irreversible. That means there’s no going back. Ever. Can a 12-year-old really make such a momentous decision?