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Culture War Roundup for the week of August 28, 2023

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Everybody starts using the child's new names/pronouns in everything from casual conversations to official reports...and the parents don't notice for >2 years

You should listen to stories from educators who deal with these issues in reality.

Yes absolutely kids ask teachers to use different names/pronouns in class and the parents never find out.

Yes absolutely kids ask if they can use the gender-neutral single-stall bathroom next to the teacher's lounge, or change in bathroom stall instead of in front of the other kids, and parents never find out.

You can't 'ensure' that the parents never find out, but you can maximize your odds.

And even if they find out eventually, buying 6 months or a year or three years of time can be very important for a kid trying to build a secondary support network.

I’m sure that’s what the educators say and believe but it doesn’t follow that is good for the kids. The whole debate is who is in the best position to make an intelligent decision: the kid, the educator, or the parent.

The kid is young, dumb and subject to peer pressure with limited long term thinking.

The educator has little skin in the game.

The parent has a ton of skin in the game and likely can be a bit more long term thinking.

The question is not whether parents should ever be informed that a child is experiencing gender dysphoria; ideally, the child should tell them immediately.

The question is what happens in the rare cases where the child feels that it would not be safe to do this.

Child protective services does exist; some parents are bad parents, and the state is aware of this and has policies that acknowledge it.

Acknowledging that some parents are bad and need to be treated differently from other parents is in no way at odds with saying parents should generally be trusted to make good decisions for their children. It's just that every rule has exceptions.

The question here is what to do about exceptions. So far it has been up to the student and teacher's best judgement about what to do in each case, based on their local precise knowledge of the situation.

The proposal here is for the state to override that local judgement and regulate that all parents be treated the same no matter what, ignoring the possibility of legitimately dangerous exceptions.

This is big government overreach into people's private lives, in a way that's legitimately dangerous as well as onerous. And it's being done for clear culture war reasons, there's a reason we have 50 high-profile bills about trans kids in school and few to none about school funding or other things with much bigger impact.

Before this issue became a culture war battleground, the majority of children who expressed gender dysphoria were natal males who first showed gender non-conforming behavior in early childhood. What we now refer to as social transition was not recommended for children in those days. Names and pronouns were not changed. For a solid majority of them, the dysphoria resolved in puberty. Most grew up to be gay men.

The past ten or fifteen years have seen a 6,000% increase in trans identification among minors. A majority are now natal females. The usual explanation for this explosion is a decrease in social stigma and a (facile) comparison to left-handedness. (See a less misleading graph on p. 41 of this paper.) Other explanations involve internet culture, the ubiquity of pornography, and whatever is causing this shit show. The truth is that we don't actually know what is causing this increase.

Social transition is now a common first-line response to dysphoria. Having everyone in a child's life treat them as a member of the opposite sex is, in fact, a pretty major psychological intervention. This is not similar to the situation of a gay kid who isn't out to his parents. We're starting to see data on the results of social transition. One study found that 94% of socially transitioned children did not desist at puberty, just as 90+% of kids who went on puberty blockers at GIDS went on to cross-sex hormones. Perhaps this is because "kids know who they are" (and perhaps even express it at age two by pulling off barrettes, as claimed by psychologist and Satanic Panic woo peddler Diane Ehrensaft). Or perhaps this is because something about these interventions solidifies an identity at odds with one's birth sex. Again, we don't actually know.

The kids who present with dysphoria are disproportionately likely to have autism, ADHD, OCD, and eating disorders. While their rates of self-harm and self-destruction are not nearly as high as suicide-baiting activists would have you believe, they are elevated - about as elevated as those for kids with eating disorders. If a kid comes out as trans, their parents should probably be on the lookout for other issues as well.

The protocol for these kids is currently a matter of debate, not only among point-scoring sociopaths behind podiums, but among scientists and care providers. Systematic reviews of studies on puberty blockade and cross-sex hormones have shown no high quality evidence of benefit. Here's a child psychiatrist expressing surprise that pediatric gender medicine shows so little benefit, when the placebo effect alone should be bigger than what's observed. the The UK, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark have all rolled back youth gender medical procedures. France, Australia, and New Zealand have urged caution among their clinicians. Clinicians are starting to talk about iatrogenic harm without losing their careers. The people who confidently proclaimed that, "The science is settled!" and that we already know how to help dysphoric kids? Those people are looking pretty untrustworthy right now.

K-12 teachers and administrators are not empowered to provide therapy or other significant psychosocial interventions to the kids in their care. Not even the school counselor can diagnose or provide therapy. They need parental consent to initiate any of that. There's a high bar to show that parents are unfit to make such decisions for their kids. K-12 teachers and administrators are certainly not qualified or empowered to put kids on an uncertain treatment path for a condition we don't understand. There is no other situation where the school is permitted to do something like this without parental consent. No, failing to mention Johnny's boyfriend to his conservative father is not the same thing.

It is not "big government overreach" into people's private lives not to permit public school officials (agents of the state) to make these decisions for other people's children. This is the normal thing. You need extraordinary evidence that a parent is unfit to guide this process or even to know about it.

K-12 teachers and administrators are not empowered to provide therapy or other significant psychosocial interventions to the kids in their care. Not even the school counselor can diagnose or provide therapy. They need parental consent to initiate any of that.

That used to be the norm at least. Not so much any more.

Many states, including Washington, allow schools to give out prescriptions to any minor over age 13 without getting permission from a parent if they are seeking treatment for mental health services.

My experience has been that you have to sign a specific form at the beginning of the school year to authorize the school nurse to administer common over the counter medications if needed. Odd that the Pacific Northwest is less fastidious.