The Corner

Mutilating Teenagers, to Thunderous Applause

This is a sad and disturbing way to begin an article. From the New York Times:

In a cozy cottage decorated with butterflies to symbolize transformation, Katherine Boone was recovering in April from the operation that had changed her, in the most intimate part of her body, from a biological male into a female.

It was not easy. She retched for days afterward. She could hardly eat. She did not seem empowered; she seemed regressed.

“I just want to hold Emma,” she said in her darkened room at the bed-and-breakfast in New Hope, Pa., run by the doctor who performed the operation in a hospital nearby. Emma is her black and white cat, at her home outside Syracuse in central New York State, 250 miles away.

Her childlike reaction was, perhaps, not surprising. Kat, whose side-parted hair was dyed a sassy red, is just 18, and about to graduate from high school.

And so begins the Times’s exploration of the new trend of helping even children “transition” from male to female, through puberty-delaying drugs early in childhood culminating in surgery that permanently damages their bodies while they are still teenagers. There’s a word for this — barbaric. The Times, however, chooses a different way to describe it — the “transgender moment.” The way it describes this moment, however, should give even the most ardent activist pause, especially when the “moment” imposes intense ideological pressure on parents to indulge troubled children — putting them in the hands of doctors who profit from their pain. And if you think that these “doctors” are simply helping kids who’ve always identified as trans, think again. Back to Kat’s story:

Kat Boone did not fit the stereotype of a girl trapped in a boy’s body.

As a child, she dressed in jeans and shirts, like all the other boys, and her best friend was a boy. She liked to play with cars and slash bad guys in the Legend of Zelda video games. She still shuns dresses, preferring skinny jeans and band T-shirts.

But as a freshman in high school in Cazenovia, N.Y., she became depressed and withdrawn. “I knew that the changes going on with puberty were not me,” Kat said. “I started to really hate my life, myself. I was uncomfortable with my body, my voice, and I just felt like I was really a girl.”

When she discovered the transgender world on the Internet, she had a flash of recognition. “I was reading through some symptoms, not really symptoms, but some of the attributes of it did click,” she recalled.

Got that? A troubled boy goes online and bonds with a new and previously unknown world. So, rather than seek counseling or even see if these feelings persist through puberty, it’s time to start the transition and cut off body parts. Fortunately, some on the Left are, in fact, troubled by this trend. Yesterday I posted about a Northwestern University bioethicist who wrote this:

Gender is complicated. Gender identity development in children is even more so. Even with our ever-expanding understanding of gender’s fluidity and variance, we still err by reducing it to simple labels that do not apply to everyone. When children are developing their gender identities, over-simplifying gender can be especially harmful, as a nudge in one direction or another at this crucial phase might forever change a person’s life. Can we respect the expressions of gender-crossing children without being so “affirming” of their declarations that we accidentally steer them to a transgender path they might otherwise not want or need to take? [Emphasis added.]

But is the culture even “nudging” anymore? Or is it perhaps now shoving? The bioethicist who wrote the passage above now fears for her job. Moreover, but administering “administering hormone blockers at the onset of puberty” — as many LGBT activists support — represents anything but the voluntary, autonomous action of a mature individual. Instead, it’s child abuse. Children in early puberty simply aren’t equipped to make those kinds of life-altering decisions, and shame on the “doctors” who’d prescribe these drugs.

The Times, however, does at least give some voice to the dissenting view:

Given that there are no proven biological markers for what is known as gender dysphoria, however, there is no consensus in the medical community on the central question: whether teenagers, habitually trying on new identities and not known for foresight, should be granted an irreversible physical fix for what is still considered a psychological condition.

And as you read those words, don’t forget this, from Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital:

When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings.

And also don’t forget — as the Times acknowledges — that a decade after surgery, the suicide mortality rate for transgendered people is more than 19 times that of the general population. This is unsurprising, as Kat’s story just gets more brutal. Here is her post-surgery reality:

It was too late to change some things, like Kat’s tenor voice and facial hair. “I hate my voice,” she said. “I shave.” She chose not to save sperm — to her, a revolting reminder of masculinity — so she cannot have children, the one sacrifice that gave her father a pang.

The operation involved deconstructing her male genitals and repurposing the nerves and skin as female anatomy.

When it was over, Kat developed aspiration pneumonia and had vomiting and dry heaves for days, normal reactions to anesthesia, narcotics and antibiotics, but Dr. McGinn said Kat was hit harder than most.

Before the surgery, she had been impish and playful. Now she buried her nose in her Nintendo 3DS and cracked a rare smile at an old text message consisting entirely of “Meow,” “Meow.”

Her father felt helpless as she refused food and lost about 20 pounds. Dr. McGinn said it was not unusual for patients to become depressed after surgery and compared this to postpartum depression.

Kat was anxious about having enough privacy in college, since her new vagina needs constant care or it will close off like a wound. “The only thing I’m thinking about now is the room situation,” she said.

The story ends with this haunting correction:

An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misstated the circumstances of Katherine Boone’s suicide threat. She cut herself when she was 17, not 16, and when she had already begun gender reassignment, not before.

Words fail. At this moment, I’m reminded of Christ’s warnings to those who prey on children: “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” May God have mercy on their souls, and may God bless Kat Boone.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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