CV NEWS FEED // The New York Times last week ran an opinion piece that extensively criticized the LGBTQ movement’s narrative that children can “know” they are “transgender.”
The February 2 op-ed penned by journalist Pamela Paul is titled “As Kids, They Thought They Were Trans. They No Longer Do.”
“Progressives often portray the heated debate over childhood transgender care as a clash between those who are trying to help growing numbers of children express what they believe their genders to be and conservative politicians who won’t let kids be themselves,” Paul wrote. “But right-wing demagogues are not the only ones who have inflamed this debate.”
“Transgender activists have pushed their own ideological extremism, especially by pressing for a treatment orthodoxy that has faced increased scrutiny in recent years,” the columnist went on:
Under that model of care, clinicians are expected to affirm a young person’s assertion of gender identity and even provide medical treatment before, or even without, exploring other possible sources of distress.
Many who think there needs to be a more cautious approach — including well-meaning liberal parents, doctors and people who have undergone gender transition and subsequently regretted their procedures — have been attacked as anti-trans and intimidated into silencing their concerns.
Paul’s column featured an interview with Grace Powell, a young woman who identified as “transgender” as a minor. Powell is now in her 20s and has since detransitioned.
The author detailed that Powell “was 12 or 13 when she discovered she could be a boy.”
Powell said that, at the time, she “felt so detached from my body, and the way it was developing felt hostile to [her].”
At 17, desperate to begin hormone therapy, Powell broke the news to her parents. They sent her to a gender specialist to make sure she was serious. In the fall of her senior year of high school, she started cross-sex hormones. She had a double mastectomy the summer before college, then went off as a transgender man named Grayson to Sarah Lawrence College, where she was paired with a male roommate on a men’s floor. At 5-foot-3, she felt she came across as a very effeminate gay man.
“At no point during her medical or surgical transition, Powell says, did anyone ask her about the reasons behind her gender dysphoria or her depression,” Paul highlighted.
“At no point was she asked about her sexual orientation,” she added. “And at no point was she asked about any previous trauma, and so neither the therapists nor the doctors ever learned that she’d been sexually abused as a child.”
Powell noted that instead, she was repeatedly told that so-called “gender-affirming care” was her only option.
“I was told there is one cure and one thing to do if this is your problem, and this will help you,” Powell said (Paul’s emphasis).
“What should be a medical and psychological issue has been morphed into a political one,” the young woman told Paul later in the interview.
Powell called the entire situation “a mess.”
Later in the article, Paul noted the effect that the “transgender” movement has on parental rights.
She wrote that all of the parents she interviewed for her piece “said they felt compelled by gender clinicians, doctors, schools and social pressure to accede to their child’s declared gender identity even if they had serious doubts.”
“Many parents of kids who consider themselves trans say their children were introduced to transgender influencers on YouTube or TikTok, a phenomenon intensified for some by the isolation and online cocoon of Covid,” Paul continued:
Others say their kids learned these ideas in the classroom, as early as elementary school, often in child-friendly ways through curriculums supplied by trans rights organizations, with concepts like the gender unicorn or the Genderbread person.
Paul also mentioned the widely-known link between children who identify as “transgender” and autism. A previous report from CatholicVote noted that “[b]eing on the autism spectrum increases a person’s likelihood of identifying as transgender or ‘non-binary’ by up to a factor of six.”
Paul explained: “One mother described a meeting with 12 other parents in a support group for relatives of trans-identified youth where all of the participants described their children as autistic or otherwise neurodivergent.”
“Moreover, the incidence of suicidal thoughts and attempts among gender dysphoric youth is complicated by the high incidence of accompanying conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder,” Paul wrote:
As one systematic overview put it, “Children with gender dysphoria often experience a range of psychiatric comorbidities, with a high prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders, trauma, eating disorders and autism spectrum conditions, suicidality and self-harm.”
“But rather than being treated as patients who deserve unbiased professional help, children with gender dysphoria often become political pawns,” Paul argued.
“Instead of promoting unproven treatments for children, which surveys show many Americans are uncomfortable with, transgender activists would be more effective if they focused on a shared agenda,” Paul concluded:
Most Americans across the political spectrum can agree on the need for legal protections for transgender adults. They would also probably support additional research on the needs of young people reporting gender dysphoria so that kids could get the best treatment possible.
A shift in this direction would model tolerance and acceptance. It would prioritize compassion over demonization. It would require rising above culture-war politics and returning to reason. It would be the most humane path forward. And it would be the right thing to do.
In an analysis for The Daily Caller, Gage Klipper wrote that Paul’s op-ed “could signal [the] tide is turning against child mutilation.”
“The Times lobs a grenade at its readership by asserting that not all ‘transgender kids’ are, well, transgender,” Klipper wrote in his review of the column:
Rather, it implies that the social contagion theory (or, to use its clinical name, “rapid onset gender dysphoria”) is a very real phenomenon, despite typically its frequent portrayal as a bigoted, right-wing conspiracy theory.
“Of course, anyone not clouded by trans ideology can see this perfectly clearly,” Klipper noted.
Paul has served as a columnist for the Times since 2022. For the previous nine years, she edited The New York Times Book Review. Most observers consider the 172-year-old newspaper to have a left-wing bias, particularly in its editorial content.
Readers can find Paul’s full piece here.