Transgender Psychologist Reveals What’s Behind Explosion of Childhood Gender Transition Cases


A clinical psychologist who is transgender is raising red flags about the huge cultural shift among children and teens that is fueling an explosion of gender-questioning cases.

Erica Anderson argues that healthcare providers must examine all contributing factors to a child’s condition, “not to dissuade them of their assertive gender, but to understand how other things might be related,” such as mental health challenges like anxiety or a history of abuse.

With over 40 years of professional experience in both pediatric and adult psychology, Anderson has worked in various healthcare settings, most recently at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) in behavioral pediatrics. Anderson urges professionals to consider the relationship between pre-existing mental health issues and a child’s assertion of a different gender.

“I’ve never seen a major mental illness cured by a gender transition,” Anderson states. Contrary to the belief held by some peers that “the distress that kids experience is all due to gender issues,” Anderson finds such cases to be “quite simple” and “rare.”

“We need to explore the course of this gender journey on the part of the young person,” Anderson emphasizes. The psychologist argues that the exploration of gender among teenagers is not immune to peer pressure, just like any other aspect of teenage life.

Drawing from her extensive work at UCSF and now in private practice, Anderson notes the a shift in the patient demographic from primarily young males identifying as female, to a more diverse group consisting largely of young females who hadn’t previously questioned their gender. This challenges current treatment protocols for transgender youth, Anderson explained.

“Large social surveys in recent years have confirmed what I’ve been saying, which is a huge number of kids questioning their gender beyond anything we ever expected, as many as one in five kids who are adolescents in the United States are expressing a gender sexuality different than straight and cisgender. That’s a huge shift,” the psychologist said. “We used to think of transgender kids as a very small proportion, maybe half a percent, 1% or less.”

Most trans activists, Anderson explained, have celebrated this shift, but doesn’t think that is the only factor.

“It is obviously common for kids to talk among themselves, so we have to wonder, well, what’s going on with these kids?” Anderson asked. “Are they all going to be transgender? The research in the past told us that some proportion of kids who are gender questioning when they’re younger persist and become what we call transgender, but not all.”

Then the clinical psychologist explored the “emotional blackmail” that is coaxing parents to allow their children to gender-transition.

“I call that emotional blackmail,” Anderson said. “Parents love their children, they don’t want any harm to come to their children, so if a responsible professional, a doctor tells them that … ” Anderson added this claim is a “misreading of the literature.”

“The most often quoted 40% or 41% suicidal ideation rate is based on a retrospective study, self-report of adult trans people from five, six years ago and other reports … comport to rates of suicidal ideation and other young people who have mental health challenges,” the psychologist said. “It’s out of context, it’s a scary statistic and inappropriately used, I think.”

“That statistic has been used to bludgeon lots of parents and manipulate them, in my opinion, into consenting to treatment that they had reservations about,” Anderson added. “I think that’s wrong.”

European countries have already started taking a “more cautious approach,” recognizing that the population of those seeking gender-related care has evolved. Anderson points out that certain events, like the pandemic, may have complicated the issue, with teenagers resorting to online sources that might offer misleading advice.

Anderson also warns that the medical community is too quick to affirm a child’s chosen gender, often neglecting to carry out the needed individual assessments. “I’ve been worried that too often kids are rushed towards medicalization,” the psychologist says, noting that such hasty decisions could amount to malpractice.

The medical health practitioner also brings attention to the long-term effects of medical interventions such as puberty blockers, citing European research and specific cases that have shown the lack of thorough understanding of these treatments’ impact.

Anderson criticizes the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for not updating their guidelines, accusing them of “hubris” and highlighting the need for an evidence-based review.

As for the claim that non-affirmation of a child’s gender identity leads to higher suicide risks, Anderson calls this “emotional blackmail,” stating that the statistic is often taken out of context.

In sum, Anderson believes there is a “crisis of mental health among American teenagers,” urging for a comprehensive and individualized approach that considers “all aspects of a child’s life.”

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This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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