Transgender Medical Care for Children – Do not Parents Have a Role?

by James C. Sherlock

Yesterday’s two-part column, I responded to the Virginian-Pilot’s assertion that transgender rights are being conflated by conservatives with critical race theory in schools. 

I agree that they are, and I find it appropriate.  

Child instruction in CRT and transgender affirming psychological and medical interventions for children without parent participation are being advocated by the same people.

Some of our progressive commenters professed shock — shock — that I would characterize VDOE’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools as child transgender advocacy.  

A motion for immediate relief from Model Policies filed in Lynchburg circuit court offered some of the legal objections. Amicus briefs have been filed on both sides. So fair enough to disagree with me.

I will relate two contrasting viewpoints, one expressed in The Washington Post and the other by the the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The first minimizes the role of parents; the other considers parents as partners.

That is the primary political bone of contention in both the CRT in K-12 public schools and transgender student model policies controversies. The rest is details. To argue otherwise is sophistry.  So pick a side.

The Washington Post

We’ll take a look first at progressive thought leaders to see if there is any evidence that Model Policies is part of a trend towards encouraging child transgender psychological and medical “support” without parent involvement.

I go to the progressive bible on this issue, The Washington Post, to see if it sheds a light or helps democracy die in darkness.

The Post published on April 22, 2021 a 3700 word article,FAQ: What you need to know about transgender children,” by Samantha Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt has reported on gender and family issues for the WP local desk, with a focus on the LGBTQ community.

If you can’t get through the WP’s paywall, the article has been reprinted.

Early on, Ms. Schmidt sets the terms of the discussion. “Conservative legislators” are bad.

“Many of these political debates are laden with misinformation and misunderstandings about what it means to be a transgender teenager today, advocates and medical experts say.” 

“Informed by medical guidelines, and interviews with doctors and experts, The Washington Post compiled answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about transgender young people.”

What would we do without advocates? We will assume these were not parents rights advocates. The term “parents” is used four times in 3,700 words. 

But Schmidt’s discussion of medical guidelines is interesting.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) takes an affirmative stance on parents’ roles participating in transgender medical treatment. That forces Ms. Schmidt’s first mention of parents.  

It is also her last mention of AAP. It won’t be ours.

She instead parrots the Endocrine Society, which fits more closely her agenda. That organization has a position statement on “Transgender Advocacy at the State Level” that will satisfy those hoping to eliminate parents from the equation.   

Transgender medical care for children

S,o let’s look at her lengthy section on “Transgender medical care for children.”  

There is a 450-word subsection on “How does a young child transition.” No mention of parents. But we are informed that: 

“Medical guidelines generally do not recommend genital gender-affirming surgeries before a child reaches age 18.”

“Generally do not recommend.” Strong stuff  Nothing to see here for legislators.

A 450-word subsection titled “What are hormone treatments and when are they offered to transgender youth?” Parents? Characterized as idiots.  

“He argued that many of these children were not transgender to begin with and may have simply been brought to the clinics by their parents because they were “tomboys” or gender-nonconforming children. 

By the time a reader gets to the subsection “What legislation has advanced in the U.S. to restrict these medications?”, he pretty much knows what is coming.

There we find the last of the article’s four uses of the word “parents,” this time quoting Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.

So, that is what parents are seeing from the left — an active campaign to sideline them in the certainly most important decision in any child’s life.

Which is exactly what they are seeing from CRT advocates. They are the same people, so conflation is appropriate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics

If you are looking for a medical organization that recognizes parental rights, consider the American Academy of Pediatrics.  

Pediatricians chose their specialty because they want to help kids. They have long known that parents and kids are a package.

Please go to the AAP website and read their article on “Gender-Diverse & Transgender Children” by Dr. Jason Rafferty, M.D. dated June 7 of this year. Dr. Rafferty is an advocate on a national level through work with the American Academy of Pediatrics on issues including access to care for LGBTQ youth.

The article is, refreshingly, addressed to parents, not to government agencies at any level.

The AAP has taken a very balanced approach for a long time. Again from Dr. Rafferty:

“Some caution has been expressed that unquestioning acceptance per se may not best serve questioning youth or their families. Instead, psychological evidence suggests that the most benefit comes when family members and youth are supported and encouraged to engage in reflective perspective taking and validate their own and the other’s thoughts and feelings despite divergent views.”

The AAP philosophy is pretty much all parents ask.  

And demand.