Teens identifying as transgender

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: More teens say they are transgender or gender nonconforming. That’s something most of us never heard of until a few years ago.

NICK EICHER, HOST: A report last month by the journal Pediatrics studied some 80,000 9th and 11th graders in Minnesota.

The study said nearly three percent of Minnesota teens last year claimed to be “transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or unsure about [their] gender identity.”

REICHARD: Kiley Crossland is assistant editor for WORLD Digital and she’s written about this in her weekly roundup called Relations. She’s here now to discuss it.

Kiley, previous estimates of teens identifying in that way were much less than one percent, let alone three percent. What’s going on to account for the difference now.

KILEY CROSSLAND, GUEST: Well, LGBT activists argue that the normalization of transgenderism in wider culture has given teens the confidence to come out and express their true gender identity, but some doctors and experts are pushing back on that idea. Instead, arguing that the mass-marketing of transgenderism to young people is actually what’s behind this recent jump.

Tell us more about the pushback coming from physicians, especially pediatricians. Who’s behind it and what are they saying?

CROSSLAND: Well, I spoke with Michelle Cretella. She’s the president of the American College of Pediatricians and a pediatrician herself. She pointed to twin studies that show post-birth effects—so not genes or prenatal biological factors—are the primary cause of transgender beliefs. Basically just the belief no one is born transgender, and based on that she said this sudden exponential increase in transgender belief among teens both in the U.S. and in Europe, we’re seeing it in both places, is due to the mass-marketing of transgenderism to youth in these countries.

So, science has established, we all know this, the negative effects of mass media on children and teens when it comes to a host of things: Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sex, violence. And she argues that marketing transgenderism is no different in its influential effects.

A 30-second super bowl ad costs millions, because they’re effective to change behavior. What does your research tell us about the psychological development of young people as it relates to this latest study?

CROSSLAND: Yeah, a couple of things: We know that the teen years are one of the most vulnerable times in a person’s psychological development. And so then right in the midst of this, activists are holding out transgenderism as the “cool” thing for kids to try on. And the young people who are falling prey to this, according to Cretella, are teens with a history of mental illness, teens on the autism spectrum, teens whose parents are going through a divorce.

The second thing we know is that in the Minnesota study, nearly 60 percent of the teens who identified as transgender or gender non-conforming reported that they had long-term mental health problems. And that’s compared to just 17 percent of these other students. And that aligns with what other studies have shown. That transgender adolescents have an increased risk of mental health problems: depression, self-harm, disordered eating, and suicide.

And to what do the study’s authors attribute that mental health ratio and what does the physician group say?

CROSSLAND: Well, the study’s authors blamed the difference in health effects on what they say is minority stress and then barriers to healthcare for transgender people. Basically arguing that with the right support, that difference would disappear. But Cretella disagreed. She cited a study that found transgender individuals in Sweden, a very LGBT-accepting community, still had a suicide rate 19 times that of the general population. And so in conclusion she said that the marketing of the transgender delusion to youth will go down in history as one of the gravest crimes committed against children.

Very sad. Kiley Crossland, thank you for bringing us this report.

CROSSLAND: My pleasure, Mary.

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