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Push for kids to choose gender identities too early could backfire
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By Andrea Peyser
June 15, 2015

Push for kids to choose gender identities too early could backfire

I’m gambling with my right to sit at the best tables in posh New York City eateries and the Dunkin’ Donuts of my choice.

(Just kidding. No more Dunkin’ after the doughnut-lacking debacle that was National Donut Day.)

I risk being denounced by some ordinary readers and members of the celebrity-industrial complex.

These folks have cheered as Bruce Jenner, a Republican man unhappy with his body, transformed into Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican woman who’s selling her transition from an aging male former Olympic gold-medalist into a female sex kitten, star of a coming narcissistic E! network reality-TV series, “I Am Cait,’’ and likely pitchperson for Hanes pantyhose.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. . .

At age 65, Jenner is a grown-up eligible for AARP membership who has undergone therapy, soul-searching and three failed marriages, all of them to women, and has sired six children while coming to the realization that her natural sexual identity felt foreign to her.

I am delighted that vast numbers of folks in America and elsewhere applaud Jenner, particularly the GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an anti-same-sex marriage candidate who’s pandering to LGBTQ-friendly voters by extolling Jenner as the embodiment of courage.

You go, girl.

But one thing bugs me more than the fact that Jenner’s super-expensive facial feminization surgery is out of reach to uncelebrated transgender individuals, or the possibility that my tax dollars may someday pay for these superficial beauty procedures.

It’s that small children too young to understand the way babies are made are being encouraged (pushed?) into making decisions about their bodies in order to join an exclusive club whose members preach tolerance while rejecting the possibility that young kids might just be playing dress-up.

Give kids the chance to grow up before shoving them into sexual boxes from which there may be no return.

There exists a trend to profit from individuals’ gender dysphoria, with a new canon of books and television programs aimed at children as young as age 4!

Kids who may not yet be able to accurately identify parts of their bodies are targeted in a scheme to sell products.

The first children’s book on the subject offered by a mainstream publisher, Little, Brown Young Readers, was “Luna,’’ a 2004 novel about a teenage girl whose brother also wants to be a girl. Since it came out, about 50 books for kids that include transgender characters have been published, The New York Times reported. Many of the works are directed at teens.

Then there is last year’s “I Am Jazz,’’ a picture book aimed at 4- to 8-year-old kids. It was co-authored by youth-transgender rights activist Jazz Jennings, the now-14-year-old star of a series of YouTube videos, who was born a boy and has lived as a girl since age 5.

Jazz founded the charity TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, landed on Time magazine’s list of The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014 and appeared in a video ad pitching Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear skin care products.

As her mom, Jeanette Jennings, told Barbara Walters on the ABC News program “20/20’’ in 2007, when Jazz was 6, the child years earlier asked her, “Mommy, when’s the good fairy going to come with her magic wand and change, you know, my genitalia?” She was 2 at the time.

This summer, Jazz is set to star in an unscripted TV show about her life, “All That Jazz,’’ on the TLC network.

Democratic US Rep. Mike Honda of California recently tweeted that he’s a “proud grandpa’’ of an 8-year-old girl named Malisa. Born a boy named Brody, Malisa started saying, “I’m a girl’’ at 18 months old and now lives as a female.

But people under 18 years of age are not eligible to undergo sex-change operations, and Malisa’s parents are considering giving the child “puberty blockers’’ and hormone therapy, as Jazz has taken, to prevent the growth of secondary sexual characteristics.

The treatments are reversible, but some medical professionals warn that they could cause brittle bones. (A study published last year by two Dutch researchers concluded that blocking such things as breast or facial hair growth in transgender youth is safe, and helps them psychologically.)

Caitlyn Jenner has helped me understand that gender dysphoria is a real thing. So has my old friend Jennifer Leitham, formerly known as John, who, as I’ve written, underwent gender-reassignment surgery when she was 48 years old. (Jenner has not taken that step at this time.)

Each believes that she always was a woman trapped in a man’s body. But each reached adulthood before doing something about it.

There’s plenty of time for kids to take steps toward altering their physical forms.

©2007-2021 Andrea Peyser and andreapeyser.com; No Reuse without permission.
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