|Back to December Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 251||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||DECEMBER 2006|
|Gender Variance Order or Disorder?|
Park Day's transformation took place over the past few years, as parents began enrolling children as young as kindergarteners "who didn't fit on either side of the gender line." In 2005, the school hired a consultant to help teachers deal with the transgender students.
SFGate reports Park Day's staff members "are among a growing number of educators and parents who are acknowledging gender variance in very young children. Aurora School, another private elementary school in Oakland, also is seeing children who are 'gender fluid' and hired a clinical psychologist to conduct staff training."
A survey by the Washington, DC-based activist organization GenderPAC, found that nearly 2,000 elementary schools and 150 preschools nationwide have district policies banning discrimination based on the gender identity and sexual orientation of students.
These schools reflect a growing trend among some educators, psychologists and pediatricians to normalize behaviors in very young children that have long been considered Gender Identity Disorder (GID). "Children who suffer from GID are being redefined by radical pediatricians as 'gender variant' children who should be affirmed in their sexual confusions," laments Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) Executive Director, Andrea Lafferty. "These children need serious therapy, not affirmation for their gender confusion."
Conversely, one clinical study showed that boys with GID had an overly close relationship with a mother accompanied by a distant, peripheral relationship with a father. Another study found that feminized boys spent less time with their fathers during the ages of one through five years than sons in a control group.
Dr. Zucker adds that GID children are often brought up in homes where "tolerance and non-responsiveness was common. Encouragement of these behaviors seems to be more common than negative or discouraging reactions."
On the opposite side of the issue, the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC publishes A Parent Guide "for parents who want information and advice on a child with gender-variant behaviors." The Center denies parents bear any responsibility for children with gender identity problems: "Although science has yet to pinpoint the causes, we know that gender-variant traits are not typically caused by parenting style or by childhood events, such as divorce, sexual abuse, or other traumatic experience."
According to NARTH, there are also behavioral traits linked to biological processes that may characterize children with GID. For example, prenatal sex hormones may impact the developing brains of pre-born children, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), an intersex condition affecting genetic females. During fetal development, the external genitalia of these infants become masculinized. Dr. Zucker says it is presumed that this phenomenon also affects their developing brains; studies of girls with CAH indicate they have a higher risk of becoming bisexual.
The Center's reference to left-handedness is interesting. According to NARTH's literature, Dr. Zucker's findings show that boys with GID have "a significantly greater rate of left-handedness than other boys." Additionally, Zucker found that GID boys have "an excess of brothers to sisters and a later birth order than non-GID boys, suggesting 'maternal immune reactions during pregnancy,'" whereby a male fetus is experienced by the mother as more "foreign" or "antigenic" than a female.
The Children's National Medical Center agrees there is a link between GID and homosexuality. "Research on boys with gender-variant histories suggests that most of them have a same-sex orientation (i.e., they are gay) . . ." However, the Center rejects the assumption that gender variance is abnormal and discourages any attempt to change such behavior. "What drives gender-typical or gender-variant traits cannot be changed through the influence of parents, teachers, coaches, or therapists. . . . We strongly oppose parenting approaches or therapies that focus on pressuring children to change and accommodate to a stereotype of how a girl or a boy is 'supposed to be.'"
NARTH professionals disagree. "Boys and girls with gender identity problems are not freely experimenting with gender atypical activities," writes NARTH Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. Richard P. Fitzgibbons. "They are constrained by deep insecurities and fears and are reacting against the reality of their own sexual identity, usually as a result of failing to experience love and acceptance from the parent of the same sex or same sex peers. Therapy is not directed toward forcing a sensitive or artistic boy to become a macho sports fanatic, but toward helping the boy grow in confidence and be happy he is a boy."
Grove City College Associate Professor of Psychology, Warren Throckmorton, agrees that some gender-variant children can be redirected to their birth sex. Quoted on SFGate.com, Throckmorton said: "I've treated kids who were quite sure they were the opposite gender and are now quite consistent in their behavior and their feelings with their biological sex."
"This is absolutely crazy, but pediatricians from some of the nation's most prestigious children's hospitals are involved in this gender confusion movement," maintains Lafferty.
In a statement of "Purpose" titled "Defending True Diversity," NARTH offers this 50-year-old definition of normal from researcher C.D. King, which is perhaps the bottom line: "Normality is that which functions according to its design."