Both The Associated Press and the British newspaper The Telegraph recently published stories about an alarming societal trend: Children as young as 4 are being subject to gender reassignment procedures and therapies.
Though research data in recent years show that the human brain likely does not fully mature until sometime in the mid-20s, some doctors say that very young children are able to determine that they were born in the body of the wrong sex. Critics say that parents are behind the children’s beliefs.
Dr. Norman Spack, director of a U.S. gender identity medical clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston, told the AP that one in 10,000 children likely have a gender-identity problem. He says that the condition exists because of differences in the way the children’s brains operate and should be addressed with treatments and therapies.
Spack authored a report that details a fourfold increase in young patients seen for gender reassignment at the Boston hospital. His gender clinic, which opened at the hospital in 2007, averages about 19 patients each year, compared with about four per year treated for gender issues at the hospital in the late 1990s. The report says 97 girls and boys were treated between 1998 and 2010. The youngest was 4 years old.
The children and their parents are psychologically evaluated and the children given hormone blocking drugs that prevent them from entering puberty, according to the report. Spack said boys switching to girls will develop breasts and girls transitioning to boys will be flat-chested if puberty is blocked and sex hormones are started soon enough.
The Telegraph reports that one 5-year-old, thought to be the youngest person in Britain with a gender identity disorder, decided he wanted to become a girl at age 3 after becoming obsessed with the female character in the children’s show “Dora the Explorer.”
The child’s mother, Theresa Avery, said that she allows her son to live as a girl because, “He just turned round to me one day when he was three and said: ‘Mummy, I’m a girl’. I assumed he was just going through a phase and just left it at that. But then it got serious and he would become upset if anyone referred to him as a boy. He used to cry and try to cut off his willy out of frustration.”