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They Are Scared
Gender activists no longer have total control over the narrative, and they know it.
On May 5th and 6th, 2023, I attended a training conference organized by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). My aim was to gain an in-person perspective on the unfolding developments within my profession, particularly concerning gender ideology. I was eager to witness the current discourses imparted to my colleagues first-hand. Some striking revelations emerged from these sessions, some of which I will share, while primarily focusing on why I am convinced that gender activists feel their narrative is under threat.
In one of the sessions, Linda K. Reeves, a WPATH GEI Certified Gender Specialist, openly voiced her concerns, saying she was “afraid” of the new bills being passed in the Republican States, labeling them as “anti-trans.” The bills she referred to are designed to protect minors from irreversible medical interventions before they’re capable of informed consent. Reeves’ sentiment of fear was expressed twice during her 90-minute lecture, indicating the perception of losing legislative ground amid previous progress made by the trans community.
In another intriguing move, the workshop “Gender-Affirming Medical and Mental Health Care for Transgender Adolescents,” hosted by Ayden Olson-Kennedy, LCSW, and Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD, requested that no filming take place due to a “tumultuous and hostile environment.” Ayden, a fully transitioned trans man, and Johanna, a Los Angeles Children’s Hospital pediatrician with 16 years of experience prescribing puberty blockers, were the sole workshop to issue such a request. This class “taught” me that puberty blockers are as harmless as a new haircut or clothing style. My question for them is: If you are an expert sharing important clinical information that you are certain of, why would you want your workshop to be hidden?
This workshop attempted, albeit clumsily, to debunk various gender-critical perspectives, signifying that opposing narratives are reaching their audience. For instance, the common question of a child's self-awareness at a young age was addressed. Both Ayden and Johanna asserted that children as young as three know their identities. They countered the prevalent concern about the internet’s influence on young people, stating that more time online is actually a good thing and indicates a healthy journey of self-discovery. Johanna advocated the transitioning of children since every trans adult was once a child, conveniently omitting that a majority of children with gender dysphoria, when not “affirmed,” ultimately desist.
According to a summary of multiple studies, about 80 percent of children desist.
Evidence from 10 available prospective follow-up studies from childhood to adolescence indicates that childhood gender dysphoria will recede with puberty in ~80% of cases. A Dutch paper notes that follow-up studies show the persistence rate of gender identity disorder to be about 15.8%, or 39 out of the 246 children who were reported on in the literature.
During the workshop, the Olson-Kennedys emphasized that gender dysphoria often causes other co-morbid mental health issues, contradicting what many therapists observe—distressed children clinging to trans identity with the misguided belief that it will resolve their underlying issues. “Depression treatment does not treat dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria for some folks is Depression. Gender Dysphoria = Depression,” stated Ayden Olson-Kennedy.
Unexpectedly, the instructors discredited the standard psychology manual, the Diagnostic Standard Manual-5 (DSM-5), which states a person must experience Gender Dysphoria for at least six months. Ayden described the DSM as a book smothered in cis-white privilege. Ayden stated the DSM was “colonized” due to its problematic binary language and its emphasis on Gender Dysphoria as distress. However, Ayden spent much of the lecture, including a video, showing the audience how distressing being trans is. Ayden even said it’s “normal” for dysphoric feelings to increase after receiving hormones and surgeries and, in fact, “There are pieces of dysphoria you can’t undo,” negating the prevailing narrative that transition ameliorates distress. Nevertheless, the audience was assured that offering puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries is a compassionate form of treatment. Ayden rhetorically asked the audience: “At what point is it mean to let people suffer?”
Finally, Olson-Kennedys acknowledged the existence of detransitioners, a group often overlooked due to their narratives challenging the notion that those who claim to be trans always know. The instructors downplayed the numbers of detransitioners but couldn’t entirely ignore their existence given the compelling stories increasingly being shared by individuals like Chloe Cole, Ritchie Herron, and many others who fell victim to “gender-affirming care.” “People are going to detransition, that’s OK, but we need not to organize our practice around it,” she said.
Shockingly, Olson-Kennedy also dismissed concerns about the excessive prescription of puberty blockers, arguing that legislation about their use is unnecessary given that “Only 5,000 children total are on puberty blockers in the U.S. That’s a small amount of kids to be writing legislation about.” However, most people would (and should) agree that 5,000 healthy children being medicalized for life is 5,000 too many. She also argued that puberty blockers are very helpful because they prevent future surgeries. Yet, she failed to highlight potential side effects, like the inability to achieve a sexual orgasm later in life for those initiating puberty blockers before Tanner stage two (age 9-11), or the FDA’s warnings about brain swelling and blindness.
Another astonishing argument came when the detrimental effects of cross-sex hormones were downplayed, with the simplistic reasoning being that “everyone has hormones.” Yes, that was the argument, from a credentialed medical professional nonetheless. A few side effects were mentioned but many serious ones, like early-onset menopause, urinary tract issues, mood instability, blood clots, and heart issues, were omitted. “At least the patient is alive,” she stated, alluding to the high suicide rates of trans people, but she did not share any data on that point.
Lastly, Linda Reeves addressed Lisa Littman’s research on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) in her presentation, claiming it had been “debunked” by WPATH due to its reliance on parental observations. It was dismissed based on the assumption that parents possess no real insight into their children’s emotions or histories. A slide from the presentation included an emotion-based argument claiming the report was “intended to cause fear” instead of revealing factual insights.
I see this as a win. WPATH knows these data are a threat to their questionable “standards of care” and they had to get their audience to hear about it with their spin first.
In summary, it was interesting to hear people who promote the sterilization of children and vulnerable adults attempt to defend their faulty ideas. Most of what I heard were blatant lies and the bending or omission of truth. They openly said they were afraid of the “attacks” on trans people (which are simply bills to protect minors from high-risk procedures) and they tried unsuccessfully to discredit the thoughts, ideas, and experience of many outspoken critics of transgender medicine. Their quick-paced deliveries and limited question times further hinted at an awareness of growing scrutiny. For those opposed to the gender transition of minors and vulnerable adults, this means your voices are being heard and making a difference. Continue standing up for your beliefs; it’s causing those pushing these transitions to reassess their stance.
Pamela Garfield-Jaeger is a licensed clinical social worker in California. She completed her MSW in 1999 from New York University. She has a variety of experience in schools, group homes, hospitals and community-based organizations. Since getting fired for not getting the COVID vaccine, she has dedicated herself to educate parents and embolden other mental health professionals to challenge the ideological capture of her profession.
For more detailed information on how to empower yourself as a parent and navigate the mental health field, see the Parents' Guide to Mental Health.
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