The conservative media propaganda machine has been losing its mind over a Texas-based custody battle regarding a Transgender Child. The child , who was assigned male at birth, identifies as female; and has an affirming mother, and a non-affirming father. The decision to permit a primary conservatorship to the child’s affirming mother was determined by an 11–1 jury.
Unsatisfied with the efficacy of the already conservative-leaning Texas Justice system, the child’s father, Jeffrey Younger, decided that he was going to appeal to a higher power. He rallied conservative Christians who actively mainline the Bible as an “end-all-be-all” authority on science; and
espouse a focused hatred for Godly beings, who happen to bear one or more labels that are reflected in the LGBTQ+ Rainbow.
The results of Mr. Younger’s religious pandering set the internet’s Christian Keyboard Commandos in a Jack-booted lockstep tirade that seethed with anger fueled by an abundance of ignorance regarding the best practices for safely and successfully transitioning a child to the gender they with which they identify.
Devoid of research, or even common sense, these self-righteous and anti-social justice warriors lit a proverbial bonfire so big that even the most rational among them couldn’t see past the lies, misinformation, and conveniently ignored statistics. They dragged out old and tired anti-trans tropes in an effort to rally around the rights of the father, while conveniently ignoring that not addressing a child’s need to transition can ultimately be a death sentence.
Here are samples of this published outrage. Should you venture into these pieces, please understand that, not only will the body of these texts probably gaslight you, but also, the comments (when permitted) will make you question how anyone saying such hateful things could dare to identify or even relate to the words of Jesus Christ. The complete lack of empathy and outright denial of the existence of Transgender people boggles the mind. Of course, the prevailing narrative is that allowing a child to transition is “Child Abuse.” The wording has been twisted so that the affirming mother (who is a pediatrician) is actually engaging in “forcing” her child to transition.
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YOU GET THE IDEA!
As if that vitriol weren’t enough, State Representative Savannah Maddox is setting out to draft legislation that would bar parents who would affirm their child’s gender identity. Her motivation for doing this is apparently a link from one of the most Transphobic and Alt-Right leaning rags on the Internet (link directly above). Of course, I’m not really one to allow these lies to go unaddressed, so in case you are one of those dullards who bought into this prevaricate (or you know one who did); I’m going to explain the necessity of transition to you as though you were a 7-year old.
As you can see, the prevailing language that was used to contort this story into an epic battle of good vs evil is use of the words “genital mutilation” and “chemical castration.” That kind of language has a way of making this issue extremely black-and-white; and if I’m honest, I would gladly sign up to oppose anyone performing such procedure on an individual who was being stripped of their right to choose.
So, for example, babies born with an intersex condition have routinely had their genitals mutilated before they were even able to speak to whatever gender with which they identified. But these morally outraged Conservative Morality Police (CMP’s) aren’t rallying to the cause of the intersex community. Statistically speaking, a few of them have probably have even allowed this to happen to their child.
Consider nearly every male born to Christian parents. Those boys typically have their genitals mutilated without their consent. I was a victim of that genital mutilation long before I ultimately chose to affirm my gender by removing my penis. The result of that mutilation may have contributed to tissue shortage which lead me to have an unsatisfactory result from my vaginoplasty. This ultimately means, that the pain I will have to endure in order to affirm my gender will continue as I (eventually) have to undergo a revision. This matter is central to the very necessary treatment that transgender children must be permitted to receive. It’s also the core reason why I advocate for childhood transition.
Many of the CMP’s, especially those trying to gain political points, are quick to point out the impulsiveness of the average child. They argue that a kid doesn’t know what they want for dinner; that they can’t vote, smoke, drink beer, or drive a car, yet are spuriously allowed to determine their gender. That seems like a valid point; but then it begs the question: at what age did those individuals understand their own gender? Whether they want to admit it or not, they knew their gender before puberty; it just so happened that how they identified aligned with their physical body. This meant they never experienced what gender dysphoria feels like; yet somehow they speak from a point of authority, as if they had. It’s easy then to tell oneself that there is a simple “pray it away” solution to a problem they themselves have never encountered first-hand.
Of course every time there’s this kind of a story in the media, the CMP’s mobilize their self-aggrandized and detransitioned sock-puppet, Walt Heyer, to share his own statistically-marginal experience with “Trans Regret.” Walt’s a scary dude who will tell you how his grandma would put him in dresses and compliment him, naturally warping his sense of self and causing him to seek gender affirmation later in life. What cannot be stressed enough, is that his experience is just that, HIS experience. Putting dresses on a boy does not create a Transwoman; if that were the case, FDR would have been Transgender. Breeching was common practice in that era; and that would have been when Walt’s own Grandmother would have likely considered it an acceptable practice. So while he might have been playing up some deviant narrative that twisted his sense of self, it’s probably more likely that his Grandma breeched him; and that he’s clinging to that memory to account for what probably was the result of an undiagnosed borderline personality disorder.
Now, I’ll admit that’s just my speculation about where Walt went off the rails; but it’s critical to illustrate that the medical establishment has come a long way since the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care that he feels lead him astray. Moreover, in the period that Walt transitioned, the social pressures to blend in and cover up one’s trans status were infinitely greater than they are today. This lends a lot to the reasoning as to why he would have detransitioned. While it’s still challenging to find respectable employment as a Trans person in today’s progressive society, I can only imagine that, regardless of how educated he was; very few were able to see past his Trans status. I know at least one person who did opt to detransition because of matters relating to employment; so it’s not unheard of. As one of the most famous (if not the most famous) detransitioner, Walt has secured a consistent paycheck writing for publications and speaking for religious organizations that seek to completely invalidate every aspect of the Trans community. While the category of detransition is relatively niche, since only about 3% of trans people will ever seek to do so, it’s a very profitable narrative for an individual who could possibly be completely unemployed and indigent if not for his ability to push this very specific agenda. Since this is Walt’s meal ticket, it tends to make his position seem particularly biased.
I, on the other hand, do not profit from the exploitation of my gender transition. I have a primary job and I do not need to capitalize on my experiences for my basic survival. This is a critical component in what is currently playing out in the Supreme Court. The desire of the current President’s administration, to increase the financial marginalization and disparity among the Trans community, is designed to foist stories of detransition, self-destructive tendencies, and suicide, all of which help to fuel the narrative that transition is doomed to fail. It’s not difficult to see that it is impossible to succeed at any game that is rigged from the onset; and the rules change while in play, making winning even less likely.
So how do we succeed?
The trans folks who have the greatest difficulties are those who are encumbered by physical attributes which serve as “tells.” I personally have plenty of “tells”; but somehow I am passable. Passability is a goal that everyone wants to achieve, because passing means a life free of inherent hassle, harassment, assault, and possibly murder. This community aims for passability because it is more realistic to make one acceptable in the eyes of society than to simply expect society to treat us as human beings. It’s a twisted dichotomy: that life as a trans person means living by the rules set by those who are simply incapable of even being kind to us.
Those who have begun this journey later in life often fall into negative coping mechanisms and behaviors. I, myself, have not been immune to these. Many of these bleed into the very stereotypes that the Anti-Trans establishment uses to continue diminishing and demoralizing our community. It’s easy to say Trans people are all drug addicts and sex workers when you refuse to hire them, offer affirming healthcare, equality in military service, or even access to homeless shelters. When we are forced to live as a stereotype, it becomes nearly impossible to break free from it.
The late transitioners who do manage to succeed, usually have to position themselves over many years, if not decades, to avoid the financial pitfalls of transition. It’s a game that taxes a person emotionally and reinforces self-destruction, and ideative tendencies. So for those of us who are older, succeeding in transition is a lot like chasing one’s own tail.
This is why I advocate for youth.
While Walt might have felt his first pangs of gender variance as a child, his failure in fully knowing who he was, does not serve as a prophecy for the greater Trans community. Again, that was his experience.
Of all the Trans people I have met in groups and online, I would say that more than 90% claim to have known they were not their assigned gender by the time they reached the age of eight. For me personally, I can definitively say I knew when I was six; but I suspect I knew even a few years earlier. By in large, most of these individuals, myself included, grew up in a time when there wasn’t any medical intervention for youth struggling with Gender Dysphoria. This meant that many of us tried to do the very thing that the CMP’s promote. We sucked it up, we tried to pray it away, and believe it or not; a surprisingly high number of Trans people served in the military as a ham-fisted attempted to “man-up” or die honorably without anyone ever learning their secret. I find that fact intriguing because of the ban on Transgender members of military service. It begs the question, how many are still serving this country while trying to run from their gender identity?
So, the prevailing incompetence among the CMP’s who felt so emboldened as to call an affirming mother a “child abuser” has to do with the methods by which Transgender children are affirmed. It appeared to be a forgone conclusion that had the court had not bowed to political pressure; and had the child’s mother had retained full conservatorship, she would have immediately begun treating her child with blockers, hormones, and surgery. This cannot happen, and does NOT happen.
The WPATH Standards of Care issue guidance for the ideal methods with which to assist an individual with affirming their gender. When it comes to adults, these standards can be partially circumvented by means of informed consent; but the actual pursuit of gender-affirming surgeries is still subject to the oversight of mental health professionals.
When it comes to the care of children, the rules are more rigid.
When a child begins to show an alternative gender expression they would begin consistently meeting with a counselor who specializes in recognizing and diagnosing Gender Dysphoria. The child would then continue this counseling over the course of his or her entire transition or until he or she decided that transition was not really something that interested them.
Counseling helps the individual navigate the sometimes difficult challenge of transitioning socially. This is the first step in transition. Does the child thrive while living as, and presenting as, the gender with which they identify? This process can last for years, depending on the age that the child began counseling. In the case of a seven-year old, it is likely that he or she wouldn’t move into the next phase of transition (puberty blocking) until the age that they would begin their natal puberty. Before this time, it would only be advisable to begin blockers in the case of “precocious puberty.” Only when the child has been persistent, insistent, and consistent over the entire course of their counseling would they receive a written recommendation to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Another false narrative that the CMP’s push in many of their articles is that HRT causes “chemical castration” or “permanent sterility.” This is not true. Many of the effects of HRT will begin to cause body changes that can be difficult or even impossible to reverse, but sterility is not among them. Without having undergone any form of surgical intervention, the cessation of blockers and hormones will result in the normal functionality of the individual's sexual anatomy. This means that until such time as gender affirming surgery is performed, it is possible that a Transgender person could sire or give birth to their own offspring. There have been several publicly documented cases where this has happened. Personally, I think it’s super creepy that the CMP’s are putting that much thought into whether another person will be able to procreate. But the fact is, that by the age these kids would be able to be parents, they would have already been well advised on the steps they would have to traverse in order to become a parent.
The last stage of transition isn’t even one that is always taken. CMP’s have a delusion that in order to be Transgender one MUST transition surgically. This highlights a massive disconnect in their understanding of what it means to be Transgender. There are some individuals who are completely content with their existing anatomy, and they may not choose to move beyond the stages of social transition or HRT. The ability to negate one’s feelings of Gender Dysphoria are a very personal matter, and not to be dictated by what cisgender individuals deem as convention.
This is where we address the actual concerns of CMP’s regarding surgery. Surgery is simply not an option until the individual has been persistent, insistent, and consistent, socially-transitioned, hormonally-transitioned, and reached the legal age of adulthood. Children are simply NOT getting surgeries without having gone through this very thorough transition period. At which time, it is typically mandated that there be no fewer than two letters recommending gender affirmation surgery; and at least one of which must come from a psychiatrist.
Congruent with the CMP’s objections to affirming surgeries, they offer the typical anti-Trans tropes. Firstly, that gender affirming surgery involves taking a perfectly functioning anatomy and destroying it. This argument makes a lot of sense, until you realize that an inability to have such a surgery prevents the individual from negating the body issue that continues to cause them emotional distress. The suicide rate is high for this community. CMP’s finding the means to prohibit people from alleviating their Gender Dysphoria by preventing them from modifying their natal anatomy, may result in their committing suicide. If one considers oneself truly Christian, there should be a preference for living people without the capacity to procreate, over those who kill themselves. After all, when a cisgender person has a necessary surgery which costs them their reproductive ability, they aren’t considered invalids. Why then would anyone base a Trans person’s worth on their ability to create life.
I’ve also seen the arguments framed around the horrors of the grafts required to perform a phalloplasty. The procedure is typically performed in two stages; the first of which involves creating the penis by using a skin graft taken from the person’s forearm, or from their inner thigh. Anti-Trans folks love offering these photos and berating the individuals who undergo these procedures by claiming “This is what mental illness looks like.” That’s a fairly significant disconnect to that person’s humanity. But what seems to be wholly ignored is the fact that we have such a desire to feel complete that we will risk our lives to get there. I lost an amazing friend last year just days after she had her affirming surgeries. She lived more than 40 years of her life suffering, as a person they hated; but in the short time she lived as her true self, she was a beacon of hope for hundreds of people on their own journeys. We all know the chances we take in affirming our gender; and it’s a price we’re all willing to pay. CMP’s simply cannot understand the strength and steel that a person’s soul must possess to finally feel complete. It scares them; so calling it “mental illness” only serves to make them feel better about how comparatively weak they are. Trans people are some of the most brave and sincere people I’ve ever met. If being true to oneself is mentally ill, then yeah, I own it. At least now, I can look in the mirror and love the person looking back.
Now that I’ve laid out the facts of how a child would actually transition, for the CMP’s who really won’t take the time to read this; I’m now going to explain why that child should not be prohibited from transition.
I hear CMP’s repeatedly say that a child should be able to transition only when they have let their natal puberty run its course and they are legally an adult. To force that matter, one is actually willing more emotional and physical pain on that child. What is framed as well-intentioned is actually masochistic and cruel.
A child assigned male at birth but is prevented from transitioning to female prior to the effects of their natal puberty will suffer these tells, which will be painful to rectify, be cost prohibitive, and possibly permanent. These can include:
- Above average height
- Disproportionate build
- Adam’s Apple
- Deep Voice
- Facial Hair
- Body Hair
- Thinning Hair
A child assigned female at birth but who is prevented from transitioning to male prior to the effects of their natal puberty will suffer these tells which will be painful to rectify, be cost prohibitive, and possibly permanent:
- Less than average height
- Disproportionate build
- Spread hips
Additional issues stemming from prohibiting a child’s transition relates to the social stigmas associated with developing as a gender with which one does not identify. This could be characterized by bullying, harassment, and assault; much of which is actively promoted by CMP’s in the articles referenced above. However, the big issue is the actual level of Gender Dysphoria (mental distress) which ramps up once the body begins changing in ways that the individual doesn’t desire.
All of these characteristics can be negated by the timely use of blockers and HRT prior to onset of natal puberty. Assuming the individual seeks Gender Affirming Surgery, there is a strong possibility that a transition in their youth will only require that specific surgery in the future. However, if they are not permitted to transition before their natal puberty, the number of necessary surgeries begins to climb.
The athletic disparities that are currently being politicized are also avoidable. Youth who are never exposed to their natal sex hormones simply cannot be accused of any hormonal advantage, and should be permitted to compete as the gender with which they identify without scrutiny being levied as a perceived advantage.
Moreover, early transition facilitates the avoiding what I have previously referred to as “Collateral Damage,” the unintended consequences of transition.
So, what’s my opinion about Luna?
I found this quote from her father in one of the following articles, to be somewhat intriguing:
“Affirming a son as a girl violates the Father’s Christian religious beliefs,” Younger wrote. “When James is with his Father, he refuses girl’s clothes, says he is a boy to family and to friends, refuses to play with girls, and engages in typically male play.”
What I find suspicious about this is that it sounds like the father has taken steps to intimidate Luna into behaving like a boy when she’s in his presence. One of these articles goes on to indicate that her father gave her a short haircut even though the mother had indicated she had wanted it to grow out. Jeffery did NOT give the same haircut to Luna’s twin brother who identifies as a boy. This seems like an intimidation tactic by Luna’s father to make it very apparent with what gender she should identify in his presence. This kind of shame game isn’t unlike a form of conversion therapy.
Furthermore, a jury heard evidence regarding this case; and still (originally) ruled that the mother was doing what was best for the child. It wasn’t until Jeffrey Younger got his army of CMP’s to spread ignorance and lies regarding the child’s affirming mother and her desire to allow Luna to live as female that the social and political pressure caused the court to grant joint conservatorship. This tactic might have served Mr. Younger for the time being, but he has placed his ex-wife’s life in danger, and by proxy, Luna’s life as well. Whether Luna has been properly sheltered from this media frenzy, I cannot know. But, since her face has been published, Mr. Younger has managed to make her a target of the very people for whom we try to “pass.” She has been publicly outed by her own father; and if any harm comes to her because of that fact, that will be on him.
Thankfully, not all the media regarding this story was entirely biased; some actually did a fair job of neutral reporting.
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One outlet even removed the spit-shine that Mr. Younger is a person of high moral caliber by highlighting the very fabrications that brought his marriage to an end. This information probably had a lot to do with why the jury almost unanimously voted in favor of the mother. Mr. Younger seems to be trying to paint himself as a hero and Luna as a victim. Unfortunately, this attempt at heroics will probably cause Luna more pain than she ever wanted, probably enough for her to even deny her identity until it’s too late to undo the damage. I pray that she doesn’t end up a statistic simply because her father couldn’t be burdened to treat her condition in a manner that’s been deemed effective by thousands of practitioners.
Kira Wertz (she/her) is a married Transgender woman who openly identifies as pansexual. She is a top writer in LGBTQ for Medium, Editor of The Transition Transmission, and Professional Truck Driver. Kira is a strong advocate for Transgender rights, especially the rights of Transgender youth. She is a public speaker, a panelist, and can often be found helping her local Transgender community. You can connect with Kira on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.