According to a news report, a lesbian couple in San Francisco have started giving their 11-year-old son hormone blockers in an attempt to delay the onset of puberty.
Because when the boy was 3 years old he told them he was a girl. He holds this belief to this day and the hormone blockers administered by his two mothers are intended to put his sexual development on hold until he can decide who he really is.
His name is Tommy – but they now call him Tammy. He wears dresses to school and presents himself as a girl. He picked out four bras for himself, even though he has no practical use for them.
The story has incited strong emotional reaction, and understandably so. As the father of two boys, ages 11 and 9, I can’t imagine deliberately altering their natural development through adolescence via powerful drugs. In fact, to do so strikes me as tantamount to child abuse.
Gender confusion or Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is a serious and complicated matter, largely because our gender identity is complex and fundamental to who we are. But the University of Toronto’s Dr. Kenneth Zucker, one of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced professionals on this issue explains that such children don’t need hormone blockers, but loving and directive guidance from parents and therapists in understanding who they are in their gender. And this is the job of both mothers and fathers. Unfortunately this young boy has two moms who think fathers are optional. Fathers are essential.
In his book, Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, Glenn Stanton who works with me here at Focus on the Family quotes the work of Suzanne Frayser, a widely respected anthropologist in the study across various cultures on how mothers and fathers both help girls and boys develop a healthy sense of gender.
Each process complements the other. The boy can look at his father and see what he should do to be male; he can look at his mother to see what he should not do to be male.
Mothers and fathers help their children develop a healthy gender identity by demonstrating in a thousand different ways in every day life what men and women do as men and women. These two moms – as loving and caring as they might be – will find it nearly impossible to help Tommy through his gender confusion to healthy masculinity because they have never been boys.
Dr. Zucker explains that this intentional direction by parents is important because the overwhelming majority of young children who experience gender confusion grow out of it by their teen years. “So what that means,” Zucker recently explained to CNN, “is that one should be very cautious in assuming that a 6-year-old who has a strong desire to be of the other gender will feel that way 10 years later.” And that giving that child hormone blockers will only interrupt and delay the natural development of their real gender that nature has coursing through every cell of their body.
Gender identity is not a fork in the road of human development where we decide to go either male or female at some point. To be human is to be male or female, and those tracks don’t cross in childhood. They only seem as if they do in some unfortunate instances and that is where the loving and consistent direction of both mother and father are needed. It is too bad that increasing numbers of children today don’t have this benefit. The consequences of this loss can be quite dramatic, as we see here in Tommy’s case.