Raising a Trans Child Is Not Child Abuse

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Aug. 14 2014 10:00 AM

Raising a Trans Child Is Not Child Abuse

A child at the 2013 L.A. Pride Parade.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Conservatives are rapidly redirecting their anti-LGBTQ animus. In North America and Western Europe at least, opposing gay rights has become an increasingly toxic political stance: In the last decade alone, support for marriage equality has increased by almost 50 percent, and a record-high 59 percent of Americans now support same-sex unions. It’s clear that on mainstream gay rights issues, conservatives have lost the battle of public opinion. Consequently, some have adopted a tactic that hard-liners caught in unwinnable battles often resort to: Retreat, review, and find a new, weaker target.

An increasing number of people who invested time and effort into fighting advances in gay rights have pivoted to more winnable fights. For many, this means taking aim at transgender rights, and as in the war against marriage equality, they often frame their arguments as an appeal to family cohesion and the best interests of children.


Last week, conservative columnist Margaret Wente published an op-ed in Canada’s Globe and Mail titled “The March of Transgender Rights.” The piece, nearly identical to her Feb. 15 op-ed, “Transgender Kids: Have We Gone Too Far?,” reduces the dysphoria experienced by transgender children to “a fad that has been spread by social media and embraced by individuals (and families) as the explanation for their confusion, loneliness, and dysfunction.”

Apparently, the first week in August is prime trans-bashing season in Canada, because last Wednesday, the National Post published an op-ed by Barbara Kay headlined “Transgender Advocacy Has Gone Too Far.” Throughout the piece, Kay laments recent advances in transgender rights, suggesting that advocacy has gone “too far” by encouraging parents and society at large to be more accepting of transgender children. She suggests that providing trans preteens with medication designed to temporarily postpone puberty—which would afford the child, the parents, and their medical provider the opportunity to delay the development of irreversible physical characteristics, allowing all involved parties the chance to review their options before moving forward—is more harmful than forcing them to endure the permanent, dysphoria-inducing effects of a puberty in line with the gender they were assigned at birth. (Should they eventually decide to forego hormone replacement therapy, they can resume their body’s biologically induced puberty at a later date without any significant physical effects.) Also signaling the transgender movement’s overreach, as far as Kay is concerned, is the number of states that have banned psychiatrists from attempting to “re-orient” children to the sex society sees them as. Never mind that reparative therapy has been proved to be scientifically bankrupt, and, in fact, to inflict lasting harm on those forced to undergo such barbaric tactics.

On the day that Kay’s column appeared, conservative radio and TV personality Laura Ingraham hosted Wente on her radio show. Together, the two of them continued their assault on trans children, with Ingraham arguing that trans kids simply “want attention.” Ingraham then accused parents who accept their child’s transgender identity—as groups like the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health recommend—of child abuse.

The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reveals that transgender children who have been rejected by their families were nearly 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accepted them. Additionally, kids rejected by their families were 85.7 percent more likely to engage in sex work, 72.7 percent more likely to experience incarceration, 68.4 percent more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and 20.6 percent more likely to contract HIV. Unsurprisingly, none of these statistics made it into Wente’s or Kay’s op-eds, nor were they mentioned on Ingraham’s show.

A parent who wants to decrease the likelihood that their child will be forced to partake in sex work, to attempt suicide, or to find themselves homeless and impoverished is not guilty of child abuse. A parent who accepts their transgender child for who they are is a hero.

Parker Marie Molloy is a freelance journalist and media activist. Parker's work has appeared in publications ranging from Rolling Stone to the New York Times to the Advocate. She can be found on Twitter at @ParkerMolloy.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.