By FRC's Joseph Backholm
A series of stories this week highlights the incoherence and danger of the arguments coming out of transgender activism.
An article published by the New England Journal of Medicine is arguing that birth certificates should no longer include the sex of a baby. This is justified, they claim, because of the "particularly harmful effects of such designation on intersex and transgender people."
The argument is now familiar. Whether a person is male or female has nothing to do with anatomy and can only be determined by the individual. The argument has gained a troubling amount of sympathy amongst those who see no harm in allowing people to do or be what makes them happy. But it's much bigger than that now.
Proponents of transgender theory are demanding that the logic of their position be implemented broadly. If it is true that anatomy and sex are unrelated, then a child's sex can't be known at birth. We wouldn't put a child's favorite color on their birth certificate, would we?
From the perspective of transgender activists, the greatest harm is the loss of self-determination, and telling a child that he is a boy is depriving him of the chance to make that decision for himself.
While some of the harms of pretending people can choose their own sex are self-evident, others are just now beginning to be understood.
California endocrinologist Dr. Michael Laidlaw took to Twitter this week to highlight the harmful effects of puberty blockers on children -- the primary tool used to interfere with the natural physical development in adolescents with gender dysphoria. Puberty blockers are encouraged in some circles because of their claimed "reversibility," but Dr. Laidlaw highlighted the dramatic and permanent decrease in bone density caused by puberty blockers.
Dr. Laidlaw described the change in bone mineral density that happens in 12 to 15-year-olds after 24 months on puberty blockers as "terrible." "This 'treatment' with puberty blockers is leading these adolescents to a much higher risk of early osteoporosis and fractures," he said, going on to point out that bone density should not just be maintained during adolescence -- it should be building.
Awareness of the long-term physical harm being done to children with puberty blockers should be even more troubling in light of recent comments by one transgender activist who suggested on Twitter that all children should be given puberty blockers until they are old enough to determine their gender for themselves. Recently on "Washington Watch," FRC President Tony Perkins discussed this topic with Peter Sprigg, FRC's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies.
"For years, these transgender activists ... have been accustomed to people just taking the things that they say as truth just because they are politically correct, and having nobody question them. And now people are questioning them," he said.
Most will see the activist's argument as absurd on its face (as Tony noted on "Washington Watch," the activist later said she "wasn't really serious"). Yet it is logically consistent with the transgender claim that the healthy development of our body is in conflict with the right of self-determination.
If individual autonomy trumps all, our bodies' natural development is not a gift but a curse. In that case, puberty does not help us fulfill our created purpose, it is an assault on our right of self-determination. Right now, there are purportedly serious scientists who are making that exact argument.
They claim that the sex designation on a birth certificate is not an acknowledgment of biological reality but a tool of oppression. Ten years ago, they wouldn't have been taken seriously. Today, it will be.
Where does this lead? This path leads to the destination one activist has already arrived at: the conclusion that puberty itself is a form of oppression that should be stopped in all children until they have the chance to decide for themselves whether they like it or not.
Graduate degrees and good intentions aside, the biggest problem is that they are wrong. If they are allowed to prevail, despite being wrong, the permanent damage to a child's bone density will be the least of our concerns.
The Update will resume publication in January 2021. To stay informed on the latest issues affecting faith, family, and freedom during the holidays, be sure to tune in to "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins."