Tina K. Russell

August 29, 2008

Give it time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 10:25 pm

Please read.

Response: Young transsexuals should be allowed to put puberty on hold | Comment is free | The Guardian
Your article (‘My body is wrong‘, G2, August 14) sensitively reports the anguish of the young teenage transsexual as the body changes in the direction of the wrong sex. That anguish is medically treated in other countries. But in the UK the “wrong puberty” is allowed to progress for years before treatment. Not only are these unwanted body changes traumatic as they develop, but if the teenager goes on to live as an adult of the other sex, they pose additional hardship. Aptly, the article tells of a mother whose (now) daughter was denied hormone treatment “until the age of 16, by which point she already had an Adam’s apple, a deep voice and facial hair”.

It is difficult for someone who is not a parent of a very distressed – perhaps suicidal – young teenage transsexual to empathise with what appears to be such a radical treatment. This is similar to the situation 40 years ago with sex-change surgery for adult transsexuals. In 1969, when I endorsed the first transsexual surgery for the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, not only were most physicians opposed, but I was, with my surgical colleague, concerned about the possibility of prosecution for mayhem, punishable by 14 years in prison.

There are arguments against early puberty suspension. Your article quotes Polly Carmichael of Gender Identity Development Service as saying: “The Dutch data [on gender suspension] looks promising. But they have not been doing it for so many years that you have long-term follow-up.” Perhaps. But we do have long-term follow-up of the consequences of denying timely treatment.

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