The “Occasional” Butchery of Children

By James C. Sherlock

Chloe Cole after childhood surgical transition to a boy (left) and de-transition to a girl (right) – Courtesy of Chloe Cole and the New York Post

The New York Post wrote recently:

At 12 years old, Chloe Cole decided she was transgender. At 13, she was put on puberty blockers and prescribed testosterone. At 15, she underwent a double mastectomy. Less than a year later, she realized she’d made a mistake.

Note the gracious acceptance of agency by this young woman, even though she made a “decision” at 12 that she was transgender.  Some clearly think that a child of twelve is mature enough to make such a decision.

We see no such agency proclaimed by her parents, pediatrician, endocrinologist or psychologist.  I am sure they were “supporting” that child.

No agency is apparently accepted by the state in which she lived.  The state in which her doctors were licensed.

Let’s examine the agency of the adult players in such matters in Virginia.

People organize into governments and give away some freedoms to ensure safety of themselves and their children.  

The federal government and the government of Virginia have not just abandoned children to monstrous trends in progressive tastes for re-gendered children. They actively encourage and ensure payment for the irreversible butchery of kids in that pursuit.

We now have a federal law that makes the genital mutilation of a child for cultural reasons a felony.  True, but only if those cultures are foreign.  

Progressives in America, who control the heights of the American culture as well as the federal government, are in love with such mutilation in support of the gender transition of children.

Having rejected God, progressives are applying for the position.

They consider surgical changes to children to meet their definition of perfection to be the culmination of a great arc of control that includes full term abortion and post-birth abortion as described so eloquently by Dr. Northam.

Hillary Clinton suggested in an interview with The Financial Times published Friday that the transgender debate “should not be a priority” for Democrats.  She avoided mentioning that the biggest “debate” is over the genital and reproductive mutilation of children.

Ms. Clinton, with an eye for deplorables, thinks there may be too many of them on this issue.

Let’s look into it anyway.

President Biden, a reliable remora to progressive trends, went on record June 15th with an Executive Order officially encouraging the surgical removal of healthy genitals and wombs from children as part of “comprehensive health care” in gender transition.  

Such surgeries proceed unimpeded in Virginia.  Indeed Virginia Democrats, ever vigilant, have ensured they are paid for by health insurance in this state.

Despite the cultural onslaught from the left, polls continue to show that by large majorities Americans are outraged by the surgical mutilation of a child to support gender transition.  

Fifty six percent of Americans recently polled in political battleground states supported an outright ban on the practice.  Thus the caution to Democrats by Ms. Clinton.

But those are not the “right” Americans.  They are not woke. 

Federal Government has two positions.  First, some forms of such mutilation are recognized as child abuse by the federal government.  Female circumcision or clitoridectomy of a child are illegal, designated as felonies under federal law, with up to a ten year stint in federal prison as punishment.  

The federal law banning female child genital mutilation or cutting has an exception.  The surgery is not a violation of that law if the operation is necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner.

Yet the U.S. State Department, in an attempt to prevent genital mutilation tourism, declares that “the practice has no health benefits and can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems.”

Other surgeries, such as removing a female child’s healthy breasts, womb and genitals, are legal in America, have their own nonprofit support groups and are now officially encouraged by the President. 

From the White House fact sheet:

To safeguard access to health care for LGBTQI+ patients and address the LGBTQI+ youth mental health crisis, President Biden is charging HHS with taking steps to address the barriers and exclusionary policies that LGBTQI+ individuals and families face in accessing quality, affordable, comprehensive health care, including mental health care, reproductive health care, and HIV prevention and treatment. (emphasis added)

So we have a mental health “crisis” among kids whose families face “barriers and exclusionary policies” in addressing this crisis.  Certainly no state bans child mental health care.  None restricts HIV prevention and treatment. 

So why do those two sentinels stand guard on either side of “reproductive health care” for children?  We know why.  

Poll testing.

Virginia has one position.  Virginia law formerly neither supported nor banned the genital mutilation of children in any form.  It was silent on the matter.

But no more.  

Code of Virginia § 38.2-3449.1. Prohibited discrimination based on gender identity or status as a transgender individual was passed and signed in 2020 with Democrats in full control in Richmond.  The law prohibits health insurers from denying coverage for gender transition treatments, including surgery.

The bill contained no mention of the age of the patient. Governor Northam, a pediatrician, signed it.  He clearly considered it a piece with his infamous comments on post-birth abortion.   

In January of 2019, he told NBC Washington’s Julie Carey that a baby born alive could be “kept comfortable” and then “resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired”.  

For Northam and the Democrats in Richmond, the quest for the “perfect” child has no age limits.

Today I have asked the government of Virginia in a FOIA request to provide details on how many such surgeries are performed on children in Virginia annually.  I will be pleasantly surprised it they know the answer.  I will pass on the information in this space when I get it.

This would be the spot to proclaim my recommendations of what the Commonwealth might do to protect these children, but it is too complicated for a casual solution.

Perhaps the state should discuss it. We need a serious public study of the options and consequences of each idea for law and policy changes in Virginia. I hope the Secretary of Health and Human Resources will:

  • convene such a debate before a bipartisan panel;
  • oversee it with a Democratic co-chair – invite Danica Roem to sit in that chair;
  • ensure testimony from both advocates and opponents of the current hear-no-evil, see-no-evil approach;
  • broadcast it live; and
  • publish it on YouTube.

Bipartisan support is necessary if any law or regulation is to survive future elections.

Perhaps a proposal for a peer review requirement prior to proposed  medical and surgical interventions supporting child gender transition can offer a starting point for the discussions.

With most Americans wanting the procedures banned, that is perhaps a middle ground that is politically achievable.

The medical professions are already regulated by the state.  Consider a requirement for a pre-medical and pre-surgical state review of proposed child gender transition procedures by a panel of members of the boards that regulate the professions involved.  It might prove to get some bipartisan support in the General Assembly, especially if backed by Democratic members of the study group.

The details.  Female circumcision or clitoridectomy of a child, common as a cultural ritual in many countries, was once prescribed for girls in the United States as a cure for masturbation, hyper-sexuality and other cultural transgressions.  We have evolved.

Under 18 U.S. Code § 116 – Female genital mutilation, the parent, guardian, or caretaker of a person who has not attained the age of 18 years who facilitates or consents to the female genital mutilation of such person shall be fined, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.  

For purposes of this law, the term “female genital mutilation” means any procedure performed for non-medical reasons that involves partial or total removal of, or other injury to, the external female genitalia. 

Such surgeries are not violations if the operation is necessary for the health of the child on whom it is performed and is performed by a physician.  Yet the Department of State proclaims the “practice has no health benefits and can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems.”

Health of the person is a wide goalpost.  It includes physical or mental health.  But at least federal law criminalizes the act absent a diagnosis.

On the other hand, removing that same child’s breasts and womb is not only legal, but officially encouraged.  President Biden just signed that executive order with the express intent of making such surgeries more common.  

The President, you see, wants to ensure the health of children by making it impossible for them to have children themselves.

What could go wrong? Regardless of your position on medical and surgical gender transition in children, you owe it to yourself to read the story in the New York Post titled “‘I literally lost organs:’ Why detransitioned teens regret changing genders”.  

The stories are absolutely heartbreaking.

There are no “people with knowledge of the matter who have asked not to be identified” quoted in this article.  This is not The Washington Post. The story names the names of the incredibly brave victims who have volunteered their personal stories and images for the article.  

You will discover that:

Dr. Lisa Littman, a former professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University, coined the term “rapid onset gender dysphoria” to describe this subset of transgender youth, typically biological females who become suddenly dysphoric during or shortly after puberty. Littman believes this may be due to adolescent girls’ susceptibility to peer influence on social media.

Dr. Littman often explores publicly the social influences in transgender surgeries for children.  Her famous paper on “rapid onset gender dysphoria” suggested the possibility of “social influences and maladaptive coping mechanisms” in gender dysphoria in children.

The mob.  Since the publication of her original paper, she of course has been under fierce assault by transgender activists.

The publication of the paper was greeted by the outrage of trans activists who denounced the paper and Littman, calling it hate speech and transphobic. Brown initially touted the paper as providing bold new insights into transgender issues, but then removed it from their announcements.

Brown University did exactly what one would expect of a coward of Brown’s extensive pedigree.  It turned and ran.  Wonder why Dr. Littman left.

The predictable Maoist reaction of the academic papers website that published the original paper was to demand from the author a “correction”.  It got one, but one that did not correct any facts in the original.

In her study, the “children described were predominantly natal female (82.8%) with a mean age of 16.4 years at the time of survey completion and a mean age of 15.2 when they announced a transgender-identification.”

Most (86.7%) of the parents reported that, along with the sudden or rapid onset of gender dysphoria, their child either had an increase in their social media/internet use, belonged to a friend group in which one or multiple friends became transgender-identified during a similar timeframe, or both.

Validation. The Post article tells personal stories that validate Dr. Littman’s findings:

“I was failed by the system. I literally lost organs.”

When Chloe was 12 years old, she decided she was transgender. At 13, she came out to her parents. That same year, she was put on puberty blockers and prescribed testosterone. At 15, she underwent a double mastectomy. Less than a year later, she realized she’d made a mistake — all by the time she was 16 years old.

Now 17, Chloe is one of a growing cohort called “detransitioners” — those who seek to reverse a gender transition, often after realizing they actually do identify with their biological sex. Tragically, many will struggle for the rest of their lives with the irreversible medical consequences of a decision they made as minors.

“I can’t stay quiet,” said Chloe. “I need to do something about this and to share my own cautionary tale.”

Chloe …  joined Instagram at 11. “I started being exposed to a lot of LGBT content and activism,” she said. “I saw how trans people online got an overwhelming amount of support, and the amount of praise they were getting really spoke to me because, at the time, I didn’t really have a lot of friends of my own.”

“Because my body didn’t match beauty ideals, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough to be a girl, so I’d be better off as a boy. Deep inside, I wanted to be pretty all along, but that’s something I kept suppressed.”

You will read in the Post story that the massive and sudden increases in transgender youth are “typically biological females who become suddenly dysphoric during or shortly after puberty”.

Experts worry that many young people seeking to transition are doing so without a proper mental-health evaluation. Among them is Dr. Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist specializing in gender, sexuality and identity. A transgender woman herself, Anderson has helped hundreds of young people navigate the transition journey over the past 30 years. Anderson supports the methodical, milestone-filled process lasting anywhere from a few months to several years to undergo transition. Today, however, she’s worried that some young people are being medicalized without the proper restraint or oversight.

Here is the story of another such girl.

Helena Kerschner, now 23, is part of a growing number of “detransitioners,” returning to the gender of their birth. She said her male transition (left) was “definitely triggered” by trans activists online. Courtesy of the New York Post and Ms. Kerschner

Helena Kerschner, a 23-year-old de-transitioner from Cincinnati, Ohio, who was born a biological female, reports she first felt gender dysphoric at age 14. She says Tumblr sites filled with transgender activist content spurred her transition. … She said she felt political pressure to transition, too. “The community was very social justice-y. There was a lot of negativity around being a cis, heterosexual, white girl, and I took those messages really, really personally.”

According to an online survey of detransitioners conducted by Dr. Lisa Littman last year, 40% said their gender dysphoria was caused by a mental-health condition and 62% felt medical professionals did not investigate whether trauma was a factor in their transition decisions.

“My dysphoria collided with my general depression issues and body image issues,” Helena recalled. “I just came to the conclusion that I was born in the wrong body and that all my problems in life would be solved if I transitioned.”

Rights activists.  So where are the child rights activists, the civil rights stalwarts, the feminists on this.  When will they will speak out to protect the children?  How about the churches?  Virginia’s 40,000 lawyers?

I looked.  Their protests for the children permanently damaged, if present, must be mostly whispered.  There are honorable exceptions, but not many.

What is the position of Virginia’s children’s hospitals on the use of their operating rooms for these “procedures”?  I’ll ask.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  The experiences of these children will cause readers to want to know what safeguards the medical profession has in place to protect them, given that the state apparently has none.

So let’s look at the policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  That group of physicians that treats only children “supports gender transition”.  Fair enough.  

Let’s look at the background and the details.

We note that most of the breakthrough studies in surgical “gender transition” of children were originally documented in Germany in the early 1940’s.  We can assume they have been translated into English. We doubt the words were poll-tested.

But the AAP has clearly spent a great deal of effort on “messaging”.  We will pause and marvel at the sunny choices of words.  I will highlight some of them.

You will be pleased to read that “many medical interventions can be offered to youth who identify as (Transgender and Gender Diverse) TGD and their families”.  

Pediatrician members are offered a Gender-Affirmative Care Model (GACM).

Alas, the medical and surgical “interventions offered” to children and their families are only performed on the kids themselves.  We can surmise that a family plan for the surgeries, sort of like couples massages but with scalpels, would go mostly unused.

What the AAP defines as medical management with these children puts them on drugs to delay puberty.  But, to put it in a positive light, note that:

 pubertal suppression creates an opportunity to reduce distress that may occur with the development of secondary sexual characteristics and allow for gender-affirming care.

But medical management in this case is of course not gender-affirming for children at all.  It is gender-denying.  It blocks kids’ bodies from developing their natural gender characteristics.  

And who is kidding whom?  It permits easier surgical intervention once adults decide which gender to select.  

But, in the spirit of full disclosure, the AAP informs its members that “pubertal suppression is not without risks”.  

So they have an “opportunity”, but “not without risks”.

The actual cutting is described as “surgical affirmation“.  Gentle word, affirmation.  For not-so-gentle surgeries.

Surgical approaches may be used to feminize or masculinize features, such as hair distribution, chest, or genitalia, and may include removal of internal organs, such as ovaries or the uterus (affecting fertility).

These changes are irreversible.

So with this procedure, the child has “risk” of an endless array of post-surgical physical and mental problems.  But he or she also has one absolute assurance.  No natural children of his or her own.  Ever.

The AAP again:

Although current protocols typically reserve surgical interventions for adults, they are occasionally pursued during adolescence on a case-by-case basis, considering the necessity and benefit to the adolescent’s overall health and often including multidisciplinary input from medical, mental health, and surgical providers as well as from the adolescent and family.

“Typically” performed on adults, but “occasionally” not.  The AAP should check with Dr. Littman and Dr. Anderson on the use of the word “occasionally” in this context. 

Another AAP website defines adolescence as starting at age 10.  

So pediatric surgeons “occasionally” remove the healthy breasts, genitals and healthy wombs of children – as part of the AAP’s “gender-affirmative care model.”

For the record, I would be very surprised if more than a small percentage of pediatric surgeons and endocrinologists participate in this barbarous practice. Dissenters have ample medical and moral grounds upon which to decline.  It is likely most remember “First, do no harm”.  I wish they would organize against it.

But we are left to wonder how many physicians who honor the AAP’s  “gender-affirmative care model” with 10-year old patients practice in Virginia.

And wonder how they get nurses to participate.

And how often.

Updated June 21 at 7:18 AM