from Gender Identity Disorders
January 11, 2007 - A feature in the December 2, 2006 issue of the New York Times (by Patricia Leigh Brown) describes a growing trend among pediatricians and psychiatrists to view Gender Identity Disorder (GID) children as gender variant - and in need of encouragement and protection.
Brown describes this trend in the Aurora School, a progressive facility in Oakland, California, headed by Reynaldo Almeida. Aurora and Park Day School both encourage cross-dressing in children and make certain that no distinctions are made between boys and girls.
Tom Little, director of Park Day School says: "We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed in. We allow them to move back and forth until something feels right."
Dr. Herbet Schreier, a psychiatrist with Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland observes: "Parents are now looking for advice on how to make life reasonable for their kids - whether to allow cross-dressing in public, and how to protect them from the savagery of other children."
Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, a psychiatrist with Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC also believes that GID children are only gender variant. "The goal is for the child to be well adjusted, healthy and have good self-esteem. What's not important is molding their gender."
Former NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D. responded to this Times article by noting: "The sad reality is that boys can never be girls and girls can never be boys -- as much as they may want to be.
"Calling a boy by a girl's name, using the pronoun 'she' and letting him dress up as a little girl won't make him any happier, because what he will become is but a caricature of femininity. When adults conspire with the child to pretend he's something he is not, we aren't helping him adjust to who he was created to be. Should we help a white child pretend to be black? A Latino child pretend to be Asian? Our bodies tell us who we are; we can never alter human design.
"Such boys need supportive counseling that will gently but firmly help them accept the fact that they were created and designed to be male, and always will be male."
NARTH professional David C. Maynard, MA, LPCA has written:
"The New York Times recently published an article entitled, Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn't Clear. In it, the author makes known a small fraction of children and their families dealing with gender-variant issues; in sum, a child born male wanting to dress and play like a female or vice versa.
"Anyone who has ever tended to a tomato plant realizes it must be staked up--meaning tied to a pole in order to keep it from floundering on the ground and having the tomatoes waste away. However, one would also realize the gardener will not restrict a budding tomato. In much the same way, children are given guidelines in which to grow, but at the same time allowed to 'find who they are.' While this may be a simplified example to such a complex issue, the principle remains the same.
"In this article, Cassandra Reese, a first-grade teacher outside Boston, reflects that her colleagues do not 'see children as sophisticated enough to verbalize their feelings.' What I sensed Reese saying is that as we grow older, we lose our 'feelings' vocabulary that we are apparently born with. Nearly every time I ask an adolescent or adult client how the incident they just described to me caused them to feel, they tell me what they thought. Therefore, when I open a new case, one of the first issues we begin to tackle is distinguishing between thoughts, feelings and emotions, and increasing the client's feeling vocabulary. If adults need assistance in developing their vocabulary, children certainly do.
"The three-year old son of an acquaintance is fortunate to have such a family. When he throws a temper tantrum or displays unacceptable behavior, he is engaged by being given various feeling words, to which he chooses one. He is also given direction in expressing his feelings in a behaviorally appropriate manner. If a child were to repeatedly display anti-social behavior, wouldn't it make sense to explore what the child was attempting to communicate rather than give in and support such behavior?
"Dr. Dea reports her four or five child-patients, all under the age of 15 living as the opposite sex, as being 'much happier' and having better grades. She also stated she was 'waiting for the study that says supporting these children is negative.' I'm waiting on the research that says supporting such behavior is positive on a long-term basis. The problem I see with this approach is that there are professionals engaging in this type of psychotherapy without valid, empirical research to support it. Would you take a pill that has not been through the rigorous testing of not only the developer, but also the FDA? Even then, such treatment can be questionable.
"Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and head of the gender-identity service at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, is mentioned as disagreeing with this approach. Having treated about 500 pre-adolescent gender-variant children, he has found that 80 percent grow out of the behavior while the remainder continues in distress about their gender and sometimes change their sex. While this is not valid, empirical research, these are preliminary figures of long-term results merit our attention.
"The central point of this story is allowing children to figure out who they are without community interference. While children do need freedom to discover themselves and the world, they need boundaries in which to do this. No boundaries can become problematic on several fronts. Would one allow an eight-year-old to have sex with the 32-year-old neighbor in order to discover themselves? As a child, who knew what career he or she would choose? I wanted to be the President of the United States. This hearkens back to Zucker's results of a child's sexual identity not being set in stone.
"In conclusion, an unidentified, biologically male child who dresses and acts like a girl stated, 'It feels like a nightmare I'm a boy.' This is, indeed, a terrible situation and most people can only imagine the immense pain. Childhood is supposed to be filled with long, carefree summer days at the park and the excited anticipation of a man in a red suit coming down the chimney to bring lots of toys. Wouldn't it be helpful to present him with a different definition of masculinity, maleness, manhood, and men than rejecting it altogether?"