The Corner

Culture

Bioethicist: Block Transgender Puberty Even If Parents Say No

Children play on a giant rainbow flag as they take part in a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan, October 28, 2017. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

The American Journal of Bioethics is a mainstream professional publication with wide distribution among members of the bioethics movement and within the medical intelligentsia. If advocacy appears in AJOB, it is considered respectable; it is considered defendable; it is considered justifiable.

Which is why the article I am about to describe should alarm the hell out of everyone. A bioethicist named Maura Priest, from Arizona State University, argues that children with gender dysphoria have the right to have their puberty blocked medically — and that if parents don’t consent, the state should push them aside and do it anyway. From, Transgender Children and the Right to Transition:

The formal argument runs as follows:

1. The state has a duty to protect minors from serious harm inflicted by their caretakers.
2. Harm that leads to suicide is a serious harm.
3. Transgender youth with non-supportive parents are at a high risk of psychological harm leading to suicidal tendencies.
4. Therefore, the state should pay special attention to, and has a duty to protect, transgender minors from psychological harm inflicted via their caretakers.

Notice that the concept of harm” is turned on its head:  Parents are harming their children who identify as the other sex for refusing to permit radical, body-altering transitioning interventions wanted by the child before puberty, i.e., long before children have decision-making capacity. Why, refusing to block puberty promotes suicide!

This is utterly nuts. Parents can love and support their gender-dysphoric children in many ways beyond yielding powerlessly to a child’s desires. A gender dysphoric kid’s suffering and despair can be compassionately addressed while refusing to allow their child to be injected with strong drugs and hormones.

Besides, blocking puberty is itself a harm. It should be seen as unethical human experimentation, the long-term health consequences of which cannot be known given that it has only been clinically applied for the last few years. Preventing the natural development of secondary sex characteristics and normal maturation can also cause immediate deleterious side effects, such as a loss of bone density.

And guess what: Some dysphoric children move past their other-sex gender identification and go on to live happily as the sex they were born biologically.

That could happen less if Priest gets her way. Rather than treating the condition, she would reinforce gender dysphoria in those so afflicted.

Which is why Priest argues that the state should propagandize dysphoric children to want this radical intervention, and moreover, to strip objecting parents of their right to decide:

My strategy for defending the formal argument above revolves around arguing in favor of two normative claims:
1. Transgender youth should have access to treatment that is not dependent upon parental approval.
2. There should be state-sponsored, publicly available information regarding gender dysphoria, transgender identification, and means of appropriate treatment.

More specifically, Priest argues that schools should propagandize for transgenderism and provide medical and psychological interventions without parental consent:

Implementing this policy only is half the battle. Transgender youth without supportive parents are not helped unless they access health care clinics and counseling that will help with the transition. Hence, there is an additional duty of the state to help facilitate sharing this information with vulnerable youths. I argued that one of the first places this should be done is in public schools. In addition, information should be available at publicly funded health clinics.

Eventually, as you knew she would, the ironically named Priest shouts her bigotry against traditional faith values:

One objection to my proposal is simply a concern about the intrusion it imposes on the autonomy of the family. Imagine that parents have religious values against children expressing transgender dress and behavior. Are not parents allowed to raise their kids according to their own religious values? And if so, how can I argue that parents must be forced not only to accept, but to facilitate, transition?

The mistake here is in thinking that parents have rights to raise their children according to their religious values, full stop. Like nearly all rights, the right of parents to raise children according to their own values is not absolute. Rather, parents have such authority up to and until the point at which a given decision or practice threatens serious harm. According to some religious sects, after all, girls who are raped should be put to death. Obviously, parents have no right to do this regardless of whether doing so accords with their religion.

Good grief. Refusing to allow your child to be the subject of experimental interventions is equivalent morally and should be legally, she says, to killing a child who was raped? That’s just flat-out nuts.

Don’t just roll your eyes and say this will never happen. Bioethics radicals intend to impose their views in law, medical ethics, and public policy. And as I wrote above, AJOB isn’t a fringe publication. By publishing Priest’s piece as a target article, accompanied by shorter commentaries supporting or disagreeing with her advocacy, the editors are declaring that advocacy to push parents of children with gender dysphoria aside in deciding how to care for and treat their disturbed children is a respectable argument.

Bioethics is growing increasingly radical. Its most visible advocacy organs increasingly promote hard, ideologically leftwing and authoritarian policies — such as urging that doctors be forced to perform abortions — not to mention, as in Priest’s piece, advocacy that is stridently insane. We follow these so-called experts” at society’s peril.

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