Perhaps it would be an idea to look at Dr Zucker’s long-term follow-up results.
“Bradley has been in therapy now for eight months, and Carol says still, on the rare occasions when she cannot avoid having him exposed to girl toys, like when they visit family, it doesn’t go well.
“It’s really hard for him. He’ll disappear and close a door, and we’ll find him playing with dolls and Polly Pockets and ... the stuff that he’s drawn to,” she says.
In particular, there is one typically girl thing — now banned — that her son absolutely cannot resist.
“He really struggles with the color pink. He really struggles with the color pink. He can’t even really look at pink,” Carol says. “He’s like an addict. He’s like, ‘Mommy, don’t take me there! Close my eyes! Cover my eyes! I can’t see that stuff; it’s all pink!’ “
Inducing anxiety attacks in children is one of the more common sequelae of Dr Zucker’s treatment.
The difference in our positions is best explained by Dr Zucker’s own remarks on the subject:
“The therapists supporting a child’s transition early, I have characterized them in a half serious way as liberal essentialists. On the surface, the approach comes across as very humanistic, liberal, accepting, tolerant of diversity. But I think the hidden assumption is that they believe the child’s cross-gender identity is entirely caused by biological factors. That’s why I call them essentialists. Liberals have always been critical of biological reductionism, but here they embrace it. I think that conceptual approach is astonishingly naive and simplistic, and I think it’s wrong.”
Like McHugh, he sees it as a political rather than medical issue. I see it as one of biology (as Dr Zucker accurately describes), and there are numerous animal experiments that back that up. Experimentation on human children, manipulating foetal hormones is obviously not merely unethical, but actually evil. However, we do have the results of “Nature’s experiments” - Intersex people.
“Prenatal hormones versus postnatal socialization by parents as determinants of male-typical toy play in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia” Pasterski VL, Geffner ME, Brain C, Hindmarsh P, Brook C, Hines M Child Dev 76(1):264-78 2005
Data show that increased male-typical toy play by girls with CAH cannot be explained by parental encouragement of male-typical toy play. Although parents encourage sex-appropriate behavior, their encouragement appears to be insufficient to override the interest of girls with CAH in cross-sexed toys.
Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35
Boys and girls behave in different ways and one of the stereotypical behavioral differences between them, that has often been said to be forced upon them by upbringing and social environment, is their behavior in play. Boys prefer to play with cars and balls, whereas girls prefer dolls. This sex difference in toy preference is present very early in life (3–8 months of age) . The idea that it is not society that forces these choices upon children but a sex difference in the early development of their brains and behavior is also supported by monkey behavioral studies. Alexander and Hines , who offered dolls, toy cars and balls to green Vervet monkeys found the female monkeys consistently chose the dolls and examined these ano-genitally, whereas the male monkeys were more interested in playing with the toy cars and with the ball….
Atypical Gender Development: a review Besser et al International Journal of Transgenderism 9(1): 29-44. 2006
44. In sum, gender identity, whether consistent or inconsistent with other sex characteristics, may be understood to be “much less a matter of choice and much more a matter of biology” (Coolidge et al., 2000). The scientific evidence supports the paradigm that transsexualism is strongly associated with the neurodevelopment of the brain (Zhou et al., 1995; Kruijver et al., 2000). It is clear that the condition cannot necessarily be overcome by “consistent psychological socialisation as male or female from very early childhood” and it is not responsive to psychological or psychiatric treatments alone (Green, 1999). It is understood that during the fetal period the brain is potentially subject to the organising properties of sex hormones (Kruijver et al., 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003). In the case of transsexualism, these effects appear to be atypical, resulting in sex-reversal in the structure of the BSTc, and possibly other, as yet unidentified, loci (Kruijver, 2004). The etiological pathways leading to this inconsistent development almost certainly vary from individual to individual, so no single route is likely to be identified. Different genetic, hormonal and environmental factors, acting separately or in combination with each other, are likely to be involved in influencing the development of the psychological identification as male or female. Psychosocial factors and cultural mores are likely to impact on outcomes (Connolly, 2003).
Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol(DES) in males and gender-related disorders:results from a 5-year study Scott Kerlin. Proc. International Behavioral Development Symposium July 2005
More than 150 network members (out of 500) with “confirmed” or “strongly suspected” prenatal DES exposure identified as either “transsexual, pre- or post-operative,” (90 members), “transgender” (48 members), “gender dysphoric” (17 members), or “intersex” (3 members).
In this study, more than 150 individuals with confirmed or suspected prenatal DES exposure reported moderate to severe feelings of gender dysphoria across the lifespan. For most, these feelings had apparently been present since early childhood. The prevalence of a significant number of self-identified male-to-female transsexuals and transgendered individuals as well as some individuals who identify as intersex, androgynous, gay or bisexual males has inspired fresh investigation of historic theories about a possible biological/endocrine basis for psychosexual development in humans, including sexual orientation, core gender identity, and sexual identity (Benjamin, 1973; Cohen-Kettenis and Gooren, 1999; Diamond, 1965, 1996; Michel et al, 2001; Swaab, 2004).
Such results are inxplicable by a psychiatric view, so they get ignored by psychiatrists. Conversely, there is no good evidence for the “absent father” or “distant mother” memes so widely proclaimed by NARTH and Dr Nicolosi. Some Trans children do indeed have distant fathers, or overprotective mothers, or distant mothers, but no more so than non-trans children. This idea was first propagated over 40 years ago based on three cases. No controls, no comparitors, three anecdotes.
A follow-up study of girls with gender identity disorder. Drummond KD, Bradley SJ, Peterson-Badali M, Zucker KJ. Dev Psychol. 2008 Jan;44(1):34-45. From the abstract:
At the assessment in childhood, 60% of the girls met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for GID, and 40% were subthreshold for the diagnosis.
When only 60% of the cohort meet the diagnostic criteria, and we know 80% of those aren’t Transsexual anyway, the results reported by Zucker are not statistically significant, as he now admits.
“Zucker put me in touch with two of his success stories, a boy and a girl, now both living in the suburbs of Toronto.
When I visited the family, John was lazing around with his older brother, idly watching TV and playing video games, dressed in a polo shirt and Abercrombie & Fitch shorts. He said he was glad he’d been through the therapy, “because it made me feel happy,” but that’s about all he would say; for the most part, his mother spoke for him. Recently, John was in the basement watching the Grammys. When Caroline walked downstairs to say good night, she found him draped in a blanket, vamping. He looked up at her, mortified. She held his face and said, “You never have to be embarrassed of the things you say or do around me.” Her position now is that the treatment is “not a cure; this will always be with him”—but also that he has nothing to be ashamed of. About a year ago, John carefully broke the news to his parents that he is gay.
Yet Zucker’s approach has its own disturbing elements. It’s easy to imagine that his methods—steering parents toward removing pink crayons from the box, extolling a patriarchy no one believes in—could instill in some children a sense of shame and a double life. A 2008 study of 25 girls who had been seen in Zucker’s clinic showed positive results; 22 were no longer gender-dysphoric, meaning they were comfortable living as girls. But that doesn’t mean they were happy. I spoke to the mother of one Zucker patient in her late 20s, who said her daughter was repulsed by the thought of a sex change but was still suffering—she’d become an alcoholic, and was cutting herself. “I’d be surprised if she outlived me,” her mother said.”
This is a success?
Perhaps Dr Fitzgibbons should look at some more recent research, rather than relying on 20-year old papers that even the authors now say are flawed.
He could start with the proceedings of the 2009 APA annual conference, seminar S10,
S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism
1. Brain Gender Identity Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
2. Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Milton Diamond, Ph.D.
3. Novel Approaches to Endocrine Treatment of Transgender Adolescents and Adults Norman Spack, M.D.