Updated: Sep 21
The Gender Dysphoria Alliance will intervene in defense of Saskatchewan government’s policy “Use of Preferred First Name and Pronouns by Students.”
News - Sept 21, 2023
As an organization lead by transsexual adults, Gender Dysphoria Alliance believes that departures from sound evidence about Gender Dysphoria (GD) have led to missteps in policy and healthcare in ways that are harmful to persons with GD and society in general. The social transition of children and adolescents (changing names and pronouns) without clinical or parental oversight is one such misstep, however well-meaning these actions are intended. The new policy adopted by the Government of Saskatchewan prohibits schools from making these changes for kids under age 16 without parental knowledge and consent. We agree with this policy and are grateful for the opportunity to provide the court with evidence-based information about Gender Dysphoria to inform decision making.
Social transition is a clinical intervention that isn’t appropriate for every child with GD due to the multifaceted, multicausal, and often transitory nature of childhood onset Gender Dysphoria. To date, there are 13 studies tracking the long-term trajectory of childhood GD and all have come to the same conclusion: most cases (approx. 85%) resolve by late adolescence and most grow up to be gay adults. In light of this, gender non-conformity, including some degree of cross sex identification or gender confusion and distress, is understood as a developmental aspect of homosexuality. For this reason, the Dutch Protocol, on which pediatric gender medicine in North America is based, does not recommend the social transition of any child prior to puberty, and only then after careful screening to determine appropriate candidates (Steensma 2010). They found that premature or inappropriate social transition has the potential to concretize GD in ways that make it difficult to walk back and leads to the medicalization of individuals who would have resolved their cross-sex identification developmentally with a deeper understanding of their sexuality, without medical interventions.
Additionally, since about 2015, many clinicians have been reporting the emergence of a novel cohort of adolescents – girls in particular – adopting trans identities and presenting with complex mental health and social issues. This new cohort of young people are not suitable candidates for social or medical transition under the Dutch Protocol which specified clear, persistent, child-onset GD that significantly worsened in adolescence, and transition only with parental involvement. Parents have an irreplaceable role in understanding possible underlying causes of GD and/or transgender identity in their children. Their involvement, and the oversight of competent clinicians, is crucial to protecting the child’s best interests and protecting against medical harm.
Additionally, studies have shown that good child-parent relationships are the principal predictor of a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Conflicts between parents and their kids about matters such as identity and sexuality are opportunities to work with the family unit to improve understanding and connection with a focus on long-term health and well-being.
Regarding the claim that social and medical transition are life-saving measures, surveys and studies do report a higher-than-average suicidal ideation rate among those with GD. However, we are not aware of any evidence to support the idea that those with GD will complete suicides if not immediately socially or medically transitioned. Suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior are not the same thing and systematic reviews of the evidence, such as the UK’s Cass Review, has shed light on the weak evidence for the claim that social and medical transition improves the mental health of children and youth. Nor is there any strong evidence that suicidality is directly related to GD. In fact, studies by Dr Paul Vasey suggest that in places like Samoa, where the gender non-conformity of gay and lesbian people is socially integrated, gender related distress and medicalization are rare. We believe Gender Dysphoria is a culture bound condition, and we are therefore advocating of societal level solutions to the explosion of GD in the West.
Though teachers are well meaning in their efforts to support their students they aren’t licensed to initiate clinical interventions and may not be well informed of the child’s context or the developmental and cultural nature of Gender Dysphoria. We believe the new policy of the Government of Saskatchewan removes this burden from teachers/schools and is an appropriate step in safeguarding children. We believe they are acting in good faith and are reasonably well informed on the matter. We trust that the policy makers and educators will implement such measures in ways that respect and support the dignity and safety of their young students.
As transsexual adults who have experienced childhood onset Gender Dysphoria ourselves, and who medically transitioned as adults, we wish for greater understanding of gender non-conformity and Gender Dysphoria in its many forms, and believe that individuals are best supported through understanding, not hasty clinical interventions or ideologies which divide families and communities.
Read our affidavit, submitted to the court in application for intervenor status: