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What Should Parents Do If Their Child Has Gender Dysphoria? These Experts Answer.

By Teresa Haney posted on:
October 29, 2019

A custody battle in Dallas, Texas has sparked a national debate about how best to treat children who are said to have gender dysphoria. The case involves the divorced parents of a seven-year-old boy, who disagree on whether he is uncomfortable being male and if so, how best to help him.

The boy’s mother believes that the boy should be affirmed as a girl by using a feminine name, wearing dresses and fingernail polish to school, and so on. On the other hand, the boy’s father believes it would be harmful to affirm his child as the opposite sex.

So, what is the best course here? For questions like these, we typically look to experts. Names like Dr. Allan Josephson and Walt Heyer come to mind.


What a Child Psychologist Says

Dr. Allan Josephson served as the Chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Louisville for almost fifteen years. But in 2017, he put his career on the line simply by participating in a panel at a conservative think tank.

Drawing on his decades of experience in his field, Dr. Josephson provided his professional opinion on treatment methods for children experiencing gender dysphoria at this event. He said that children who believe they are the opposite sex should receive counseling to identify and treat the psychological issues often underlying their confusion, rather than more aggressive forms of treatment like puberty blockers.

The truth is that between 80 and 95% of children will naturally grow out of gender confusion. Patience, paired with sensitive counseling is the sensible and long-accepted method of treatment. On the other hand, puberty-blocking drugs are not FDA approved for that use, they slow and likely weaken bone growth, affect brain development, and halt the normal development of the child’s sex organs. These hormones also lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. And ultimately, they cause sterility.


What A Former Transgender Person Says

Walt Heyer knows a lot about the risks of these treatments first-hand. He was about the same age as the boy in the Dallas case when he first developed gender confusion.

Walt has spent most of his life working through emotion and psychological turmoil that manifested itself after his grandmother affirmed his gender confusion by dressing him as a girl. After living as “Laura” for eight years, he now knows that undergoing surgery and taking cross-sex hormones does not replace biological truth. In fact, it often leads to more pain and confusion.

Children are among the most vulnerable in our society. They deserve love and truth. They deserve the opportunity to play, whether they choose to play with dolls or dump trucks. Whether they like glitter or golf shouldn’t result in being put on a path towards puberty blockers or irreversible medical procedures that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

The law has always assumed that fit parents love their children and will act in their best interests, which certainly includes guiding them through the challenges of a boy growing to manhood and a girl to womanhood. When it comes to helping children with gender dysphoria, the more compassionate approach is the approach that allows a child to grow comfortable with their biological sex.

Unfortunately, divorces happen, and too often parents wind up working out their differences in court. But when the number of children reporting discomfort with their biological sex is on the rise across the country, courts and parents need the perspectives of people like Dr. Josephson and Walt, perspectives that are often silenced, to make wise decisions about what is best for children.

We need to help people become properly educated on this crucial issue. And to achieve this we must allow doctors, mental health professionals, and individuals like Walt, who have dedicated their lives to helping families navigate childhood development, to continue their work.


To learn more about this subject, watch this video featuring Dr. Allan Josephson:


Teresa Haney

Teresa Haney

Legal Secretary

Teresa Haney is a Legal Secretary for the Center for Life at Alliance Defending Freedom.


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