This seems to me to be unethical human experimentation: A doctor in Boston gives hormones to children who believe themselves to be transgendered to help prevent puberty and move them toward a sex change. From the story:
We have no true understanding of the causes of transexualism. We don’t know that a kid who is seven and thinks he is a girl will still feel that way when he is 20. He might. Some transexuals report having those feelings very early. But we don’t know how many people there might be who felt that way at 7 but don’t at 20.
Boston’s Children’s Hospital bills itself as the hospital for children—and now it’s also the hospital for children who want a sex change, a procedure some critics are calling “barbaric.” Dr. Norman Spack, a pediatric specialist at the hospital, has launched a clinic for transgendered kids—boys who feel like girls, girls who want to be boys— and he’s opening his doors to patients as young as 7. Spack offers his younger patients counseling and drugs that delay the onset of puberty.
The drugs stop the natural flood of hormones that would make it difficult to have a sex alteration later in life, allowing patients more time to decide whether they want to make the change.
Spack also offers some teenagers hormone therapy, a drastic step that changes the way they grow and develop. While the effects of drug treatments can be stopped, long-term hormone therapy can be irreversible, causing permanent infertility in both sexes.
Worse, to medically intervene with strong hormones—the long term impact on the child’s body and mental state we cannot know—when there is no underlying physical disease requiring the treatment, is to me, abuse. What if it causes cancer in 20 years? What if it impacts on the children of these children? What if the hormones impact their emotional and mental states, perhaps influencing their transexuality? We can’t know the answers. All of this is just too new.
I am reminded of “Ashley’s treatment,” in which a profoundly disabled girl’s normal physical development was interfered with through surgery and hormones to allow better ease of care. Caring motives notwithstanding, that was wrong, at least without a court order, as the hospital so admitted.
And now this: According to the story the Europeans are already traveling this path. And of course, NPR has come out with a properly nonjudgmental feature story:
The hormone blockers are the first stage of the treatment, but there’s a second stage that’s possible. Once children have postponed puberty for three or four years, at around age 16 they can choose to begin maturing sexually into the opposite gender, the gender they want to become. To do this, they begin taking the hormones of the opposite sex. For males, taking estrogen at this point will bring on breast and hip growth—and all the attributes physical and emotional of females. The reverse will happen for girls who take testosterone. Spack says this treatment can help make an adult transgender male almost indistinguishable from a biological male in terms of physical appearance. “We can make it possible that they can fit in in the way they want to. It is really quite amazing,” he says.This is unconscionable and reflects how sick our culture is becoming—and I am not referring to transgendered people. The inability or unwillingness by a growing number of us to make any judgments that might be criticized as moralism—lest one be denigrated as a bigot, premodern, or a hypocrite—has created a moral vacuum in which very little remains out of bounds. And the worst part is that the greatest victims in the ongoing and utter collapse of norms are our children.