Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Transexuality, Homosexuality, & Freedom in Children

Today online, I was introduced to Kenneth Zucker and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. It seems that if you have a child who is exhibiting activities that seem inappropriate to his or her gender, you can take that child to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and have him or her treated.

What form does this treatment take? Well, to begin with, Zucker feels that if your child is participating in behavior that he sees as atypical for its gender, then there must be something wrong with the mother. (Sound familiar? It is easy to remember a time when autism was blamed on the mother.) So the mother has to learn to be a better (read more strict) parent.

Second, the therapist meets with the child and tells the child that all sorts of bad things will happen to him/her if he/she keeps up this behavior. For example, a four year old might be told that no one will play with him if he brings a doll to school. This line of reasoning is repeated throughout therapy. If you do the things that make you happy, bad things will happen to you, and no one will like you.

The third step is probably the worst. The child is to no longer be allowed to do any of the things that the clinic deems inappropriate for their gender. A boy must give up any toys with even a remotely feminine cast. If he is in a group play situation, he must play only with other boys and only with boy toys. His hairstyle and clothing must be masculine. No pink or flowers may decorate his room. His parents must be consistent and punish any infractions.

It is so hard to imagine anyone doing this to their child! First of all, it is terribly stereotypical. Who is to say what is girl behavior and what is boy behavior? I know that statistically differences exist, but there are overlaps. There is no black and white in this area! We are all different! I can't imagine trying to draw a line between what is acceptable and what isn't.

Also, telling a child that doing the things that make him or her most happy is bad, is very likely to lead to mental health issues! Even if this so called therapy worked in preventing someone from growing up to be transgendered, it would be sure to lead to a whole host of other problems. As I am sure most of my readers know, I believe that everyone, including children, has a right to pursue joy. Punishing your child for being themselves and actively pursuing joy goes against so much that I am for!!!

We only have so many days in our lives. Every day counts. A day when you are three or a day when you are six or a day when you are fourteen. Childhood is not a time to prepare for adulthood, it is a time to live! Children die. It is sad, but it is a fact. Through the internet I know several families that have had children die. Many of these families were unschoolers. (Not because unschooling children are more likely to die, but because most of my online friends are unschoolers.) In those families, the children really had a chance to live life! They weren't forced to sit in a classroom and to do homework and put in situations where they felt bad. They lived with love and support seeking joy. I cannot imagine a parent telling their son that he had to give up his best friend (a girl) because he might grow up to want to be a girl...*is baffled*.

By Kenneth Zucker's own admittance, about 20% of the children who go through his program still grow up to want to change there gender. He claims this as an 80% success rate. I say that some of those 80% are now so confused they don't know what they want (and may be terrified of being themselves) and the others probably would have never had serious gender identity issues when they grew up anyways. There is also the chance that some of the 20% he doesn't claim to "cure" may have not grown up transgendered but are actively rebelling against so much control!

Oh! The whole reason I have been reading up on Zucker is that he has been nominated to lead a working group that will be revising the sexual identity and gender disorders section of the DSM-V. This poses a problem. If someone with his attitude is revising definitions of mental health disorders, we are likely to move back a bit in our progress in this area as a society as a whole. There is a petition online at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/objection-to-dsm-v-committee-members-on-gender-identity-disorders if you want to formally protest this nomination. If you want more information, just google Kenneth Zucker.

1 comment:

Abby said...

WOW! Just..wow!