BOSTON, December 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A front-page story on the Boston Globe’s Sunday edition highlighted the work of a prestigious Massachusetts hospital which blocked and altered the development of one young boy’s body to match his self-identification as a girl.

Wyatt Maines, now 14 years old, is the identical twin of brother Jonas - but thanks to powerful hormone blocking drugs, he is now five inches shorter and several pounds lighter than Jonas, sports more feminine features, and goes by the name “Nicole.” “The thought of being a boy makes me cringe,’’ said Maines. “I just couldn’t do it.’’

Soon, Maines plans to begin taking estrogen to develop hips and grow breasts, an irreversible change that will cause permanent sterility. The last stage - what the Globe calls Maines’ “final step on her journey to womanhood” - will be surgery to remove Maines’ penis and create a vagina-like structure.

The Maines family said they opted for the treatment to remedy young Wyatt’s gender identity disorder (GID), recognized as a psychiatric condition by the American Psychiatric Association. The APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual states that only a very small number of children with GID maintain the symptoms into later adolescence or adulthood.

Endocrinologist Norman Spack, co-founder of the Gender Management Services Clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston, began blocking Wyatt’s development at age 11 to ensure no masculine features arose. When children are still young, he noted, gender perception is more pliable: “I bet I could go to any fourth or fifth-grade class, cut the hair of the boys, put earrings on various kids, change their clothing, and we could send all those kids off to the opposite-gender bathrooms and nobody would say boo.’’

“We can do wonders if we can get them early,” he said.

Spack also played an important role reassuring the twins’ parents, particularly their father, who said he was anguished at the loss of his son. Wayne Maines noted that Spack was particularly helpful at getting him used to the idea, having had long experience with “dads who are just freaking out.”

“I wasn’t always on board,’’ he said. “Kelly and I were not on the same page. My question was, what is this doctor doing? It scared me. I was grieving. I was losing my son.” At first Wayne said he struggled to accept the identity change, but eventually learned to call Wyatt “Nicole.” “Once you get past that, I realize I never had a son,’’ he said.

Sex reassignment therapy remains a highly controversial practice among the psychiatric community. Paul McHugh, the chairman of the Johns Hopkins psychiatric department at Johns Hopkins University, concluded that to perform such changes on a gender-confused individual was to “cooperate with a mental illness rather than try to cure it.” Johns Hopkins closed its gender clinic after McHugh found in follow-up evaluations that most transgender patients’ psychological functioning had not improved.

Walt Heyer, a former transsexual who embraced his male identity after years of attempting to live as a woman, said the attempts to change Wyatt’s body was only a temporary fix that didn’t have the child’s best interests in mind.

“They are only looking at the short term ‘solution.’ But in ten, fifteen, twenty years out there is tremendous regret, invariably accompanied by alcoholism, drug addiction, and even suicide attempts,” Heyer, who attempted suicide after his own gender-reassignment surgery, told Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance.

Sarah Allis Yang of Los Angeles, another former transsexual, testified to the Massachusetts Legislature earlier this year with Mass Resistance that she learned to embrace her femininity after 19 years feeling like a man - even though she says her first words as a child were, “I’m a boy.”

“If anyone could claim that they were ‘born this way,’ it was me,” said Yang, who now says she is happily married to a man. “I thought I had no choice but to either get surgery or continue dating women as a man trapped in a girl’s body.

“I became suicidal not because of societal pressures or lack of understanding or acceptance from others, but because I personally didn’t want to live this way, because it was a detrimental and painful lifestyle and no one offered me any other choice or option but to be this way.”

Researcher Dr. Michael L. Brown, author of “A Queer Thing Happened to America,” told LifeSiteNews,  “We certainly need great compassion as Christians addressing these issues, but in this case, there surely must be a better way than tampering with the life of a child in such a significant way and then preparing this boy for a future in which he will no longer be fully male and will never be fully female.

“Is this the best we can do?”