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EXPOSED: Gender Workshop for Parents Supporting Trans/Non-Binary Youth
Gender “experts” say that children are the real experts.
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On May 26, 2022, I attended a private online workshop titled “Supporting Your Trans/Non-Binary Youth: A Starter Guide for Parents and Caregivers” which, as the title indicates, is geared toward parents are caregivers of children who have adopted trans and/or nonbinary identities. The workshop was a led by Kyle Weitz (he/they), a trans-identified female who works at the University of Guelph as a “trans/non-binary queer educator and advocate” and with Egale Canada as a “Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ Advocate/Community Worker,” and Jessie Myhill (they/them), who describes herself as a “non-binary queer therapist.”
This workshop proved to be particularly illuminating, as there were several long pauses between sections where the presenters took questions from the audience. This allowed me to ask very specific questions—with follow-ups—regarding gender ideology’s reliance on sex-related stereotypes and how they define “boys” and “girls,” forcing them to struggle in real time to make sense of their ideology’s most absurd and regressive aspects.
As you will see, the presenters conflate sex and “gender identity” throughout the workshop, misrepresent the evidence on puberty blockers, suicide, and transition regret, and claim to be experts on “gender” while openly admitting to being unable to define core concepts like “man” and “woman” or adequately address criticisms without deferring to the central importance of personal experience to avoid resolving issues of philosophical sloppiness. Because these “experts” believe they are speaking to a sympathetic audience, exposing this private workshops provides a rare and useful glimpse into how gender ideology is discussed behind the scenes to likeminded “allies.”
Below is an overview of the workshop’s most troubling aspects. The full 2-hour workshop can be viewed at the end of this article.
The workshop starts off with a land acknowledgement before beginning their “Intro to Gender Diversity,” which provides an overview of common terms and breaks down “four parts of human identity that are pretty relevant within the 2SLGBTQ+ world, and within human identity [and] everybody’s lives.”
Kyle explains that a person’s “gender identity” refers to their “internal sense of self,” or “how you know in your head, in your heart, who you are.” Kyle then immediately conflates sex and gender identity by portraying a doctor saying “It’s a girl!” when someone is born as “assigning” a “sense of self” that may not match with how someone grows up to identify, as opposed to the doctor simply observing and recording an infant’s biological sex.
We then learn that a person’s “gender expression” is “how you show the world who you are,” which is communicated through things like hair, clothing, body language, how you walk or talk, and even how you “take up space.” According to Kyle, this can be thought of in terms of “masculine, feminine, or androgynous.”
A person’s “sex assigned at birth” is explained in terms of “the body parts you have when you’re born” as well as traits like hormonal makeup, chromosomes, and both internal and external reproductive organs. Kyle says that we’ve all “been taught from a pretty young age that sex is very binary,” but that isn’t the case because all these traits have “a lot of fluidity.” Kyle then incorrectly lumps “trans folks” in with intersex people as examples of people who have a “combination of primary and secondary sex characteristics.”
Myhill then chimes in to discuss the acronyms AMAB and AFAB (assigned male/female at birth) and how they are commonly now used to describe that “the gender you were assigned at birth.” Notice that she uses the term “gender assigned at birth” instead of “sex assigned at birth” to describe people who were recorded at birth as “male” or “female,” which are sexes instead of “genders.” This is a constant conflation that is never clarified, seemingly on purpose, in order to blur the distinction between sex and gender identity. If a person’s “gender” refers to their “inner sense of self,” then it’s ludicrous to think that doctors are “assigning genders” at birth. And, if your sex refers to your body parts, then what could it possibly mean for a person to grow up to not “identify” with having certain body parts?
To show the relationships between all these variables, the presenters show an image of the “Gender Galaxy,” which they prefer to other educational tools like the Gender Unicorn because of how it depicts reality as a “blurry blob of existence” instead of “linearly.”
Kyle then pulls up a slide to help visualize the other “nonbinary” gender identities, and then allows Jessie to take it from there. This slide (below) uses the image of an umbrella labelled “nonbinary,” which is defined on the slide as “an umbrella term for a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male or female.” Jessie further explains that “nonbinary” people are “folks who don’t identify as exclusively male or exclusively female,” which can mean they’re “a little bit of both,” neither male nor female, or “a little bit more one than the other.” Notice again the overt conflation of sex (male and female) with “gender identity.”
Beneath the nonbinary umbrella are all the identities subsumed under its label. These identities are listed as “androgynous,” “gender fluid,” “agender,” “genderqueer,” and even “gender non-conforming.” Yes, if you are simply gender non-conforming—such as a tomboy or effeminate boy—you are considered “nonbinary” and thus transgender.
Staying true to the above figure, Kyle then uses the terms “transgender” and “gender non-conforming” as apparent synonyms when he proceeds to the next slide about transitioning: “When we talk about, you know, gender non-conforming folks, we talk about trans people, a lot of times that then comes to this concept of transition and transitioning.”
Jessie then interjects by saying she first wants to address some “misinformation” about transitioning (my emphasis):
When we talk about children, so I’m thinking you know like 10 and under, kind of before the tweens, we’re only ever talking about socially transitioning, right? Little kids are never kind of put on hormones or puberty blockers, or undergoing any kind of medical transition or surgery. And that, I think again, a lot of misinformation out there, and what it looks like for children of 10 is, you know, changing their appearance, maybe changing pronouns, maybe changing name. So when we’re talking about children, we’re talking about social transitioning, and sometimes legal, but we’re not talking about medical transitioning. It’s when people slowly approach puberty that then we’re starting, for some people, where they’re you know, really distressed or need to have other options, then we sometimes start talking about puberty blockers, right? And that’s really when people have just kind of started puberty.
According to Jessie, the term “children” only refers to people “10 and under.” She then uses this preferred definition to falsely claim that medical transition does not ever happen in children.
Kyle then goes on to talk about the differences between “gender dysphoria” and “gender euphoria.”
“Gender dysphoria,” according to Kyle, is “a feeling of disconnection around your body experience,” which encompasses both how you feel about your body and gender expression, as well as “how people read you.” “Gender euphoria,” on the other hand, is “when you’re feeling this connection, comfort, and joy with your body. You’re feeling like ‘Yes!' This is it!’” Kyle says that you can feel dysphoria over one body part and dysphoria over another, and so “access to transition-related supports, whether that’s your name change or that’s medical changes and supports, can really really help with those feelings of dysphoria. It can help you to start feeling like ‘Okay, what I see on the inside when I visualize how I look is now starting to match what I see in the mirror, or how people see me.”
But what person, and especially a child around puberty, isn’t self-conscious about one or more aspects of their body? What Kyle is advocating for is essentially on-demand plastic surgery for any child who is not comfortable with every aspect of their body. Why, for instance, would a girl self-conscious about her flat-chest (a very common feeling) not qualify for breast implants?
The presenters then discuss the importance of pronouns and neopronouns for trans and nonbinary youth.
Jessie says that using correct pronouns is “one of the top things that you can do that makes such a huge difference to trans and nonbinary youth” to communicate respect, love, and understanding. She even says that using a child’s preferred pronouns “is a form of suicide prevention,” despite the link between gender dysphoria and suicide being tenuous at best.
This is the first of two breaks for Q&A.
The first question comes from a mother asking where she can get facts about puberty blockers from a “gender affirming” professional because her child “is very eager to start the process.”
Jessie recommends visiting the Rainbow Health Ontario website, but then decides to offer her own advice on puberty blockers, falsely claiming that “there is no long term health impacts of around taking puberty blockers, because essentially what it does, right, is it pauses puberty, which gives the family and the youth or tween…more time to kind of decide what the right pathway is.” There are, however, no long term studies on the impacts of puberty blockers for treating gender dysphoria. From the limited data we do have, we know that around 98 percent of children placed on puberty blockers continue on to cross-sex hormones, and some of them surgeries, while around 85 percent of children who do not receive puberty blockers eventually desist and accept their natal sex. Far from being a “pause button” for confused children, puberty blockers appear to instead cement for life what would have otherwise been a passing phase.
The mother then asks about whether she can go to their family doctor with questions about this. Jessie says that many family doctors should be able to prescribe puberty blockers, but warns that “many family doctors are not comfortable because of their own biases, transphobia, etc., etc.” According to this framing, the only reason a doctor might not assist in a child’s transition is due to their bigotry toward trans people.
Finally, it was my turn to ask questions.
Question: What is the binary that nonbinary people might be rejecting? Is it the sex binary (male and female), or the binary socially constructed roles associated with males and females?
Here is Kyle’s answer:
So the idea of being nonbinary, it means that you not necessarily are rejecting, I mean for some folks sure, but it’s like that idea of like, okay, like I don’t feel like a man, I don’t feel like a woman—that’s a binary—those are two genders, and you’re like, well, if these don’t fit for me then I suppose I’m nonbinary. And so for some folks that might mean that they fall in between these two genders, or maybe they’re like ‘I feel like I’m a combination,’ or maybe they’re like ‘Nope, I’m neither, I’m none.’ And so it is, yes, this binary of man and woman, that is the gender binary that you are stepping outside of.
I immediately post a follow-up question in the chat about the difference between being nonbinary and simply being gender non-conforming.
And so the difference between being nonbinary and gender non-conforming is like so nuanced [both Kyle and Jessie smile and laugh]. I think I could probably Google it and like you would, um, see it and be like ‘Okay, those sound very similar, I don’t really… uh, I, but I, you know, it’s just these like, little differences. Gender non-conforming, meaning you’re not conforming to gender, but lots of people kind of use it almost like synonymously, but then for some folks it just feels right to use nonbinary instead. What do you think, Jessie?
Jessie then chimes in:
I think it’s, you know, ‘cause some of these definitions they’re so, especially under the nonbinary umbrella, they’re so kind of, um, yeah close together almost, right? So, we want to just really invite conversation around what it means to the person, right? Because sometimes they just really resonate with uh, with like the term nonbinary, or with agender. Like there’s very little difference between those two things. Like agender really is part of the nonbinary umbrella, but maybe they just more closely associate with, say, agender or something. Um, so, I think it’s really about kind of just having the conversation, and getting them to like explain what it means to them, and what is it about that term that kind of resonates for them. You can kind of get a lot more information.
One thing I’ve noticed just in my practice where I work with youth, right, and this is around sexuality too, there’s so much fluidity now with this new, what’s the new generation? There’s Alpha and Gen Z, right? There’s so much just fluidity that a lot of times, you know, I’ve heard nonbinary folks they’re like even rejecting nonbinary and they’re just like ‘I’m just me and this is what I want to look like, and this is how I feel inside.’ Um, and so to just really open up that conversation, because there is a lot of nuance and I think it’s different for everybody.
Got it? All we can take from this word salad of an answer is that we need to have conversations about how people feel, even if those feelings cannot ever be articulated in a way that makes sense. Subjective experience reigns supreme.
Question: Is “man” and “woman” defined by social roles and stereotypes?
I think yes and also your internal sense of self, like you know, I think this is getting like quite philosophical I suppose but it’s true that the concept of what is man and what is woman is a social construct as well. Like what makes us a man, what makes us a woman? So often it’s based on your sex, but we’re saying no, like your sex doesn’t define your gender identity, so I think, you know, if the binary is man and woman, um, and that is defined by like social constructs, social roles and stereotypes, but also internal sense of self, like how you feel when and how you identify when you think of who you are and what your gender is. So like, yes, and, um, for that which is very hard to put into words.”
So yes, “man” and “woman” are defined by social roles and stereotypes, and you are a man or a woman if your “internal sense of self” reflects those stereotypes.
Jessie and Kyle then move on to how to offer support to trans youth as well as their family members.
One way for parents to cope with a child who comes out as trans is to learn to “reframe” any fears they might have over their child’s transition. If a parent worries that transitioning will make life much more difficult for their child, we are told that life is even “harder when you’re hiding your authentic self.” If a parent worries that their child is too young to know who they are, we are assured that “most people have a sense of their gender identity as young as 2 years old.” And to quell any fears a parent may have that their child may regret their decision, the presenters suggest that because less than 2 percent of children places on puberty blockers do not continue with medical transition, this means that there is little to worry about.
The possibility that puberty blockers may be solidifying dysphoria isn’t even considered. Instead, they insist that any transition regret is most likely due to “society’s treatment of trans folks.” Kyle says that because we don’t question whether a child is too young to know they’re not trans, we shouldn’t worry about a child being too young to know they are trans!
Next we are instructed to follow the “Listen. Validate. Affirm.” approach to supporting your trans child, which involves questioning absolutely nothing, suppressing your natural parental instincts and fears, and allowing your child to fully dictate the terms of their transition.
Jessie says that children need to know that “it’s okay to be uncertain or scared” or even “terrified” about puberty blockers and hormones, but asserts “that doesn’t mean that you’re not trans.” She says that parents need “to get on board as soon as we can” with their child’s transition, even though “it’s hard, and sometimes it’s confusing, and sometimes it feels like it comes out of nowhere.” Parents are instructed to “accept the new reality of who your child is” and to “let go of you imagined future for them.” And in order to not cause distress to their trans child, parents are told to refrain from sharing their “emotional process” with their child.
The message to parents is clear: suppress all your instincts, emotions, and doubts about transitioning your child.
This is the final Q&A period. Few others had questions, which gave me the opportunity to ask a handful of very specific questions with follow-ups to Jessie and Kyle.
Question: Are certain bits of anatomy really not “matched” with certain gender identities? So why don’t we teach people with any anatomy that they can behave as they wish and that they’re not out of alignment with themselves? I feel like doing otherwise just reinforces stereotypes. Why don’t we teach that men can be feminine, women can be masculine, or whatever is most comfortable for them? What’s wrong with that approach?
That’s the dream. That sounds amazing. That is our goal. When that happens Jessie and I don’t have a job anymore, and we will be happy to retire. I think that that is, you know, why do we teach such strict binaries? And it’s just, like it’s just the way it has been in Western society with colonialism, with this rigid belief of like there is man and woman, and there is a certain way that we live and a way that we will grow up. And to break free of that is really important, and I think that it is more than even just though, like, teaching your kid that at home because you know then they watch TV and they see it reinforced. Then they go to school and it’s reinforced. And then they go into their lives and they’re being told like ‘You gotta man up!’ or you’ve gotta, whatever, all these things, ‘be a good girl’ and that stuff, and so it is like an ongoing unlearning and unbreaking of those binaries.
And I would love if it were taught in school that like, you know, anatomy doesn’t necessarily match with a gender identity. I think that might be the way it’ll go one day, but I think like, what we all learn in school about people who are intersex, or at least I didn’t, and like that is very very valid. People are born intersex, meaning that, as I said, you have a combination of masculine and feminine primary or secondary sex characteristics at the same rate as people who are born with red hair or green eyes, or twins are born. So it’s definitely not uncommon, and yet it’s like something that I have to define when I talk about it because a lot of folks don’t necessarily aren’t familiar with it, and it feels like something and up to a certain point it was something that was ‘dealt with’ through medical intervention.
If the “dream” is indeed to allow people to behave as they please and detach this behavior and expression from sexual anatomy, and allow men to be feminine and women to be masculine, it seems that the best way to ensure this goal is never achieved is to literally define “man” and “woman” according to social roles and stereotypes, and then teach gender non-conforming children that the mismatch between their expression and behavior can be “fixed” and brought into alignment with hormones and surgeries.
Kyle then brings up intersex conditions, which is totally irrelevant to the question, and perpetuates several common myths about about them, such as that they’re as common as red hair, green eyes, or twinning in humans.
Question: Do you need to have gender dysphoria to be trans?
Kyle responds, “Absolutely not, no. Not every person is going to experience dysphoria, or sometimes it might develop, or it might come and go like a little annoying house guest.” Kyle then says “You don’t need to have anything to be trans besides the knowledge or the feeling that you’re trans.”
Question: How are the terms “man” and “woman” and “boy” and “girl” defined?
Kyle: “Oh wow, this question is going to be difficult to answer ‘cause it’s a bit philosophical.”
Jessie then answers:
Well that’s a great question. So I did an undergrad and a masters in Gender Studies, and like, I don‘t know if I could even tell you that, right? Like, because part of it, it’s, you cannot get away from social constructionism and language. So we define these terms based on many different things, but they’re always defined by the current context in which we live, like culture, time, all of these pieces, right? I think, and in that, we also define it by things like hormones, and things like anatomy, right? It’s like, how do we decide, um, you know, when we assign somebody male or female at birth, what is that based on? That’s based on anatomy, right? But there’s actually so many things, um, that are, that we’re not kind of looking at, right? That we also have to take into account. So, I mean, I honestly can’t answer those questions.
Um, you know, it’s, when we talk about gender identity, right, people, uh, say like ‘How do you know you’re trans?’ kind of almost like ‘How do you know you’re gay?’ It’s like, how do you know you’re straight? Right? It’s just kind of like, it’s often times like an internal feeling, but we define these things in terms of like biological factors, social factors, psychological factors, um, and they change from, like, different eras, different centuries, and mean different things at different times. I don’t know, that’s a hard one.
You read that correctly: Jessie did both an undergrad degree and completed a masters degree in Gender Studies, yet cannot even provide definitions for the two “genders” that children are identifying with and away from that serve as the basis for removing and modifying their body parts.
Kyle then adds:
We spoke a bit earlier about this idea of like labels and alphabet soup, and sometimes I think like yeah, these ideas of what is man and what is woman, what is boy what is girl? They’re just like arbitrary words to describe, you know, experiences and labels to put on people. And like who really knows what it means to be man, to be woman, to be masculine, to be feminine? I think it is what you say it is.
If “man” and “woman” and “boy” and “girl” are indeed only “arbitrary words to describe experiences,” then how can we possibly justify any medical interventions for children describing themselves in these terms? This concern leads to my next question.
Question: If we can’t understand these concepts, why do we think children can grasp them?
Kyle responds that’s because the real experts are the children themselves!
I think that we need to give way more credit like, when I’m, as I said when I’ve run these workshops it’s like students who are the ones being like “We don’t care that you’re trans and telling your story because, like, that’s fine, you be you.” I get asked so many times “Why were people ever mean to you for being trans? Like, it’s just you.” And it’s like, yeah, they get it way more, like I think it’s the unraveling that we are doing presently, the peeling of the onion, has already happened for them. They’re there with this fresh onion already, like crying away and being like “Cool,” like this radical acceptance of like this is how things are, and it is like an unlearning that has already been happening, um, and so we’re catching up, I think.
Jessie echoes Kyle’s sentiment about how children are the true experts because they’ve yet to be corrupted by socialization, whereas adults are perpetually engaged in a “process of unlearning” their biases, phobias, and preconceptions about what it means to be a man or woman.
These are challenging ideas, and we can get into philosophy and all these things, but you have to remember the way that we were all socially kind of, like, you know, taught about these concepts, and so we’re very much in a process of unlearning, where you know, there’s almost like a simplicity to kids, right? Like around, um, just being who they are, and being accepting, and loving of themselves and other people, and then, you know, and then bias kind of comes into play, and a lot of hat is taught, actually.
A mother from the audience then interjects—“My child is the one who’s constantly educating me and their classmates!”
This workshop represents the standard introduction into transgender issues. It is not an outlier in terms of content and ideology. The only thing that makes this workshop somewhat unique is the fact that I was there asking the questions that your standard believer never does in order to force the presenters to grapple with fundamental issues with gender ideology.
Are gender identities based on stereotypes? How are “man” and “woman” defined? How can we expect children to understand concepts that people with masters degrees claim is beyond their capacity to understand? These questions should not be viewed as aggressive or out of bounds. These are fundamental questions that any gender “expert” should be able to easily answer, but they can’t. Yet they somehow remain so sure of the truth of what they believe that they’re willing to shuttle children down the path to irreversible hormone and surgical treatments to conform to identities they readily admit are “arbitrary words to describe experiences.”
Children are not the paragons of wisdom and self-knowing that gender “experts” claim they are. Children lack the life experience and perspective to make radical permanent decisions about extreme body modification. It is the duty of parents to apply their real life experience and perspective in order to ensure their children make it through childhood with healthy bodies and minds.
Gender ideology indoctrination does the exact opposite.
Watch the full gender workshop below on the Reality’s Last Stand YouTube channel. The video has been lightly edited to mute the names of parents and caregivers in attendance.
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