Opinion | The rise of youth identifying as LGBTQ

To the editor:

Re “How to understand the new LGBTQ culture war”, by Ross Douthat (column, Sunday Review, April 17):

I’m sure there are cases of children for whom their trans status may be a phase or motivated by external forces. But there are many well-documented cases where, from an early age, the child knows that he has been misunderstood. I am in awe of the courage of their parents, especially those from very conservative backgrounds, who have sacrificed so much for the love that only parents can have to help save their children, as, in particular, the conservative governor of Utah eloquently acknowledged in denouncing an anti-transgender bill.

We must not allow the most vulnerable among us to become collateral damage in anyone’s “culture wars”, whether left or right. Accepting being trans for these children and their families is never a default position. It’s traumatic and very hard and they don’t wish it on anyone.

These children and their fiercely protective parents want no part of these culture wars. They just want to survive and hope for the future. Help ensure that it is about limiting government interference and respecting the family.

Michael Klein
Darien, Connecticut

To the editor:

I don’t usually agree with Ross Douthat, but I applaud his recent measured piece on the LGBTQ culture war. As a long-time feminist, progressive, and Democrat, I am frustrated by recent trends in the transgender rights movement, primarily for two reasons.

First, “gender-affirming” medical professionals should not encourage young children to make decisions that will affect their entire lives, sometimes involving medical treatments such as puberty blockers that can cause irreversible physical damage. These children may make the decision to change their gender and undergo medical treatments to do so as adults.

Second, the progressive transgender rights movement, by insisting on care for “gender-affirming” children, is handing the right-wing Republican Party a new culture war megaphone on a silver platter. Authoritarians have often risen to power by accusing more liberal citizens of harming children. Look at the things made up in the 2016 election that accuse Democrats of sexually abusing children at a pizza place in DC

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There was no truth to that, but, in this case, there may be some truth to the damage caused by giving kids hormones and puberty blockers before they are old enough to make those lifelong decisions.

joanne father
The Angels

To the editor:

I am a medical doctor and a transgender woman, so I have both experience and expertise in the area Ross Douthat writes about. I’d like to counter some of the arguments he used to bolster his case.

First, the use of puberty blockers is to suspend further development of sexual characteristics. The use of puberty blockers is completely reversible. Puberty blockers have been used for decades for boys with precocious puberty and have no effect on gender identification to my knowledge.

Data from well-run gender clinics show that early support for gender identification and early treatment can greatly improve and normalize the mental health of adolescents with gender dysphoria.

You insinuate in your article that children could end up having surgery without their parents’ knowledge and consent. This is alarmism. An article that starts out trying to be reasonable ends up selling hysteria.

Clara Tuck Meng Soo
Ainslie, Australia

To the editor:

Ross Douthat predicts that “we have been conducting an experiment on the identification of trans youth” that will be considered in the future “as a serious medical-political scandal.” Here’s my prediction: Trans-identifying youth who are heard and supported now will be much more likely to be healthy, happy adults, and the opportunities they had to transition into young adulthood will be viewed as medical success. political.

The people most likely to regret their silence will be parents whose children who identify as trans committed suicide because no one advocated for them.

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Sally K. Chrisman
Princeton, New Jersey

To the editor:

As a gay man in his late 30s who is active in San Francisco’s LGBTQ community, I consider myself solidly in the second camp on Ross Douthat’s list (it’s just kids experimenting, so don’t panic) and even sympathetic to the third. (“This trend is bad news”).

However, a more effective and much more humane solution than trying to sweep the problem under the rug is to simply provide age-appropriate education about what it is to be LGBTQ and, more importantly, what it is not.

Teens and young adults need to understand that the identities of LGBTQ people are not formed out of fleeting fantasies or occasional doubts, but out of a deep knowledge, often dating back to early childhood, that they have always been “this way.” .

Clearing up young people’s misconceptions about the LGBTQ community is the way to topple the shockingly high statistic of 21 percent of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ that Mr. Dou cites as a more realistic figure. .

joseph glatt
Berkeley, Calif.

To the editor:

Ross Douthat is intended to highlight a variety of personal and political perspectives on LGBTQ issues, particularly with regard to healthcare for people who identify as transgender. What Mr. Douthat does not focus on, however, are the perspectives of transgender people and the medical professionals who support their well-being.

We disagree with Mr. Douthat’s characterization of transgender medicine as “conducting an experiment on identifying trans youth without good or certain evidence, inspired by ideological motives rather than scientific rigor.” It’s not ideology that inspires us, but solid data that clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of transaffirmative care.

For example, a recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (“Mental health outcomes in transgender and non-binary youth receiving gender-affirming care) found that “receiving gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones, was associated with a 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and a 73% lower odds of suicidality at follow-up of 12 months”. The effects of these treatments are largely reversible; suicide is not.

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Furthermore, as noted in a statement by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Many reputable professional organizations…recognize natural variations in gender identity and expression and have published clinical guidance promoting nondiscriminatory supportive interventions for gender-diverse youth based on the current evidence base.”

Sherwin Shadian Loo
leonid poretsky
New York
Dr. Shadianloo is a psychiatrist with the Gerald J. Friedman Transgender Health and Wellness Program at Lenox Hill Hospital, founded by Dr. Poretsky. Dr. Poretsky is chief of endocrinology at Lenox Hill.

To the editor:

In an informative and thought-provoking column, I question how Ross Douthat uses statistics about the different rates at which members of certain generations (boomers, Gen X, Gen Z) self-identify as LGBTQ.

There is no reason to believe that such a self-report of gender identification is reliable. In particular, while there is a broader acceptance of the LGBTQ community today, boomers, for example, might have found it difficult to admit such self-identification given the prevailing cultural values ​​that were part of upbringing and experience of that generation.

It’s not entirely unlikely that one’s actual identity hasn’t changed that much over the years, just the comfort of telling a pollster.

ronald bogio
Reston, Virginia
The writer is a retired clinical psychologist.

To the editor:

It’s really quite simple. Conservatives, as defined by Ross Douthat, now and always seem to have been utterly obsessed with what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. First was the 19th century assault about contraception, even for married couples. So it was all about abortion. And now they are going after homosexual practices.

Before we worry too much about adolescent self-identification, we should worry about this truly creepy concern with other people’s sex lives.

barbara robey
New York