...Debra Soh was a gender dysphoric child. She liked trucks, not dolls. She hated being a girl. In the 1980s, the idea that a kid might transition to another sex was completely unknown. “My parents allowed me to wear boys’ clothing and shave my head, to live as a girl who otherwise looked and behaved like a boy,” she wrote in The Wall Street Journal. By her late teens, she outgrew her dysphoria. Her parents’ support, she says, “helped me work things out.”
Today, a child like Debra might be treated at a gender clinic (where the waiting lists are very long). Canada was renowned for having one of the best in the world – the child and youth clinic at CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The clinic’s former head, Ken Zucker, is world-renowned for his path-breaking research. Hundreds of parents – and former clients – testify to the care and guidance they received there.
But last month, the clinic was abruptly shut down, and Dr. Zucker was dismissed. CAMH, after releasing an external review of the clinic by a pair of independent psychiatrists, issued a bafflegab statement saying that not all the clinic’s practices were “in step with the latest thinking.”
In fact, Dr. Zucker was the latest victim of the raging battles in gender-identity politics. Critics say CAMH’s decision has sacrificed science to ideology, and put children on the front line. They think it’s a disaster for science, and for kids.
Dr. Zucker’s approach was to encourage children to explore different ways of gender expression. He believes that a child’s gender identity isn’t necessarily fixed in stone, and that helping him feel comfortable in his birth sex is a reasonable approach. He has never tried to steer the ultimate outcome. The research shows that most kids with gender dysphoria will grow up to become bisexual, gay, lesbian or straight adults. For some, transitioning is best, and when that’s the case, he helps them.
But that approach is now politically taboo. The activists argue that children with doubts about their gender should be automatically “affirmed” in their new gender by adults. In a society that’s squeamish about chemicals in foods, the activists want to give them drugs that will postpone puberty, start them on a lifetime of hormones and rush them into irrevocable surgery...