I am a pediatrician in Seattle. I started listening to your podcast today on the rules of dating. You made mention that male and female are immutable. I wondered if you had ever met someone who is transgender. I wondered what you thought of people who are attracted to other people of the same sex.
I wondered if you knew how your conception of them does not match the reality of who they are, or how using your platform to reinforce the idea that there are only male and female are some of the reasons why I see transgender and homosexual youth who are suicidal in the ER. Why would anyone choose to be transgender in our society with people like you who make their life as a young child hell? I do not believe this is a choice and I believe that because you are a good person you would see this if you did more learning on the subject.
Thank you for reading.
~ Dr. M
Dear Dr. M.,
We appreciate your willingness to have a conversation rather than just to indict. (We do overlook you insulting us as “people like you” who make other folks’ lives “hell”. What is people like us? Jews? Rabbis? People who disagree with you? Just wondering.) However, we shall reply in good faith, as we believe that you are a good person and working hard to do your best for the young people in your care.
We do know that there are very rare instances when babies are born with confusing external gender indications that can be seen physically and revealed through genetic testing. There are discussions of this going back 2,000 years in our tradition. Let us stipulate that we are not talking about the infinitesimally small number of cases such as these.
We are talking about the relatively recent stupendous increase in teenagers declaring that they are transgender. We are concerned about increasing anxiety and depression in children and teenagers. Our concern about suicidal youth is precisely one of the reasons that we believe that caring people should strive to make sure that our children are not confused, misguided and misled by the adults around them.
We do not think that the sexualization of society has benefited our children. Children do best in stable environments with age-appropriate exposure and we think that children are paying the price for adult fixation on sexuality that has only grown since the 1960s. Today, we might be incredulous to read of a nine-year-old in the 1800s who didn’t realize her mother was pregnant, only to be sent out of the house one afternoon and to be greeted by a newborn on her return. However, clearly the pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction. An eight-year-old should be concerned with reading, writing and arithmetic, games and puzzles, friendships and family, not with deciding to whom she is sexually attracted. She should be able to enjoy construction toys and climbing trees without having those around her suggest she is really a boy. Similarly, didn’t we just spend decades stressing that boys can enjoy sewing or ballet without being told they are being “girly” or weird? Forcing sexuality and sexual identity into the forefront of children’s consciousness in order to make adults happy or to promote an agenda is unhealthy and borders on the depraved.
You raise homosexuality as well as transgenderism and while we (and we assume you too) don’t automatically lump them together, our response will flow from the same place. It concerns us greatly that the deletion of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder and then the later addition of homophobia as a psychiatric disorder in more recent editions of the DSM were both political decisions rather than medical ones. (Whether it should have been seen as a psychiatric disorder in the first place is a separate and interesting question. The point is that medicine is being dictated to by political agendas rather than by scientific discovery.) It concerns us even more that parents whose children have shown no previous signs whatsoever of gender confusion, are discovering their children parroting lines straight from Internet chats to them. Why are teachers, social workers and psychologists cheering on confusion that involves providing complex surgery and drugs to adolescents who do not have the maturity to make life-altering decisions? We do not tell the parents of anorexic girls that they must provide liposuction for their daughters if they don’t want their daughters to commit suicide. Yet parents are being threatened with their children’s suicide if they don’t use the demanded pronoun. Does this really suggest a road to building healthy family and individual lives or does it hint at a mad hysteria that has taken hold of American culture and that in a few years will be viewed as a bizarre artifact of the early 21st century? Do you really think that future generations will view positively that the California Teachers Association began in January 2021 to push a rule that will allow children of age 12 to leave school premises for transgender hormone treatment without parental permission? We find it hard to believe that as a pediatrician, you support this madness.
For a bit more learning on this subject, may we recommend Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Come to think of it, we feel sure that as an open-minded scientist, you have already read this book as well as the numerous articles on the topic, despite the strong-handed attempts to suppress information like this. Perhaps you have come to share our concern that peer and adult-generated pressure is leading teens to actions that have a great probability of increasing suicide and unhappiness in the coming years. It is one thing to want to be popular and “with it” by wearing the same clothing as your friends. It is quite another thing to undergo surgery and take body-altering drugs to fit in or be happy. Parents of boys, in particular, find that their less psychologically stable sons are most prone to announcing they are actually girls. These identities are often relatively short-lived when these boys get help from professionals who put the boys’ welfare ahead of their own agendas. Sometimes they discover, for example, that the boys’ impetus to change comes from having been falsely taught that all white males are irredeemably evil and racist.
We are concerned about girls getting hurt playing sports with male teammates and rivals who have a body mass and strength that the biological female body does not match. And what about girls’ mental state at knowing that no matter how hard they work and train, they can never win?
The question we would ask you is whether we are doing a great deal of psychological damage to our children in many areas, including sexuality, starting at a very young age. Perhaps fewer children would be in the emergency room if the adults in their lives acted like adults rather than trend-setters.
Thank you for your letter,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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