BOSTON, Massachusetts, February 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Harvard study has found an association in young people who were exposed to childhood “physical, psychological, and sexual abuse” and who experienced childhood “gender nonconformity.” While it is not surprising that such a link exists, what is astonishing is how the authors of the study flip the association between the two on its head.
“We identify gender nonconformity as an indicator of children at increased risk of abuse and probable PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder],” the authors state.
The authors call for pediatricians and school health providers to “consider abuse screening for this vulnerable population.” They also call for further research to understand “how gender nonconformity might increase risk of abuse and to develop family interventions to reduce abuse risk.”
The above statements make clear the framework in which the authors interpret their data and reach conclusions. Instead of viewing the child’s “gender noncomformity” as the anomaly that requires professional help so that the child can become a self-fulfilled little boy or little girl, it is suggested that it is simply the parents’ negative reaction to their child’s gender nonconformity that is the cause of the child’s trauma.
“The abuse we examined was mostly perpetrated by parents or other adults in the home. Parents need to be aware that discrimination against gender nonconformity affects one in 10 kids, affects kids at a very young age, and has lasting impacts on health,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, a research associate in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
The study titled “Childhood Gender Nonconformity: A Risk Indicator for Childhood Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress in Youth” appeared online yesterday in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study is reportedly the first to use a population-based sample to look at the relation between gender nonconformity and abuse. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers analyzed questionnaire data collected from a project called “Growing Up Today” in which 9000 young adults were asked to recall childhood experience about “behaviours during childhood up to age 11 years, regarding media characters imitated or admired, roles taken in pretend play, favorite toys and games, and feelings of femininity or masculinity.”
What is especially staggering about this report is while the authors make it clear that their study “cannot determine the causal relationship between abuse and gender nonconformity” they assume that it is normal and healthy for a child to choose whether or not to conform to his or her biological sex. Perhaps this is why they use the phrase “gender nonconformity” instead of “gender confused” to indicate this “vulnerable” portion of the population.
The authors wear their Kinseyian bias thickly on their sleeve, namely that children are sexual beings capable of sexual self-determination.
“Some parents may be uncomfortable with gender nonconformity in their children, possibly increasing their likelihood of being abusive toward gender-nonconforming children,” the authors state.
“Some parents also believe their own parenting can shape their child’s gender nonconformity and future sexual orientation; thus, their parenting may become more physically or psychologically abusive in an attempt to discourage their child’s gender nonconformity or same-sex orientation.”
The final advice by Roberts may leave many parents wondering if researchers have completely lost their aptitude to name a serious disorder.
“If [parents] have a kid whose behaviour is not gender typical, they really need to be supportive and protective of those kids,” she said, adding that the “consequences of intolerance can be quite serious.”
Such advice might leave parents agreeing with Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who criticized those in his profession who would rather “collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.”
McHugh might berate such researchers with the final words of an article he wrote about gender reassignment surgery: “We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”
Children deserve real help, not pseudo social science that supports a boy who thinks he is really a girl or a girl who thinks she is really a boy.