Is it justified and desirable to give children and young people the right to change gender solely on the basis of their “feeling”?

A carte blanche from Dr. Jean-Pierre Lebrun, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst; Professor Alain Eraly, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at ULB; from Dr. Beryl Koener, child psychiatrists and other signatories (see full list below)

There are more and more young people today – young people, but also children – who say that they “feel” that their anatomical gender is not sufficient; as such they are called “gender dysphoric” or “transgender”; some want to dress and be named after their chosen gender, also in school, but also to be entitled to a medical response, which can go as far as hormone therapy and later surgery.

The most surprising thing is that such a request is taken literally as if it were obvious that it should be answered positively from the start. In other words, the individual “feeling” should be authoritative. From then on, neither the reality of the genetically determined body is taken into account, which, however, will remain irreducible even if its appearance changes, nor the collectivity via especially other children and young people; thus, for example, the shock that the demand from a trans classmate could represent, namely the concrete disorder of a 9-year-old girl who does not want to understand why she in the showers of the gym is next to Julien, completely naked claiming herself as girl.

The central question of the legitimacy of such a request is thus ignored in silence: Is it justified and desirable to give children and young people the right to change gender, based solely on their “feelings”?

Everyone knows that at this point in their lives, the young person, even the child, will have to position themselves in relation to their sexual identity. This is the time when it is necessary for the young person to meet adults who are taking on a possible confrontation, the very condition for the building of autonomy.

Is it “loving” a child or a teenager, is it taking on our responsibility as adults towards him, recognizing in him from the beginning and unconditionally the ability and power of self-determination? Is not this rather to give free rein to its omnipotence and pave the way for having to ratify any individual claim?

Some put the request of the child who claims to be “transgender” on an equal footing with “homosexual orientation”. However, it is not the same. There is a radical difference between an attraction experienced in the reality of one’s body and the fact that one wants to change gender based on one’s beliefs.

Today, “conversion therapies” – which aim to normalize – are legally prohibited. In the case of homosexual orientation, this prohibition does not pose a problem. On the other hand, in the name of this prohibition, the simple fact of listening to a young person’s questions about his sexual identity and the possibility and risks of undergoing hormone therapy should not be condemned from now on, not even surgically.

Moreover, in order to justify such medical treatment, it is often invoked the child’s disorder, which would not be recognized in his intimate conviction. But do we not instrumentalize the young person by waving the ghost of a repressed intimate belief against all odds? Should we not rather ask ourselves, how can it be that such a judgment has become so frequent in such a short time? Are we not entitled to assume that we have created a so-called fashionable judgment, but which, above all, would be a contagious suggestion effect for some young people who identify as transgender? What is the part of one’s own autonomy and the part of influence and pressure from young people among themselves in the formation of this intimate belief? What is the role of social networks? And that of militant associations?

For hormone treatments that are inaccessible to young people

The basic question really remains this: does a child suffer from not getting what he wants, or does he suffer from not being prepared to not have everything he wants?

Unfortunately, such questions, no matter how important, are immediately undermined by those who must be called proselytes of the case, and immediately accuse anyone who asks such questions of being transphobic, if not worse.

In another order of ideas, how can it be that in Belgium, which is considered one of the most democratic countries in the world, the majority of citizens did not have a voice in the matter? So it should ask some questions to the less relevant ones, even if they are embarrassing. Take, for example, a measure of the effects that these possible gender changes can have on the body of those who want it: irreversibility of certain hormonal, even surgical practices (questions should not be asked as everything is supposedly reversible, which is wrong ); subjecting the body to a permanent hormonal dependence with its harmful consequences; embarrassment during sports competitions: where will the person who declares himself to be of the opposite sex go; what does it mean to force a school to call Julie the one who has been named Julien so far?

In short, how can we still form a society if each individual’s intimate belief is to prevail? In the name of what should the identity card give to an identity now à la carte? And how far can this process go? If a teenager tomorrow wants to change parents because he is ashamed of his family, will we then allow him to do so in the name of his suffering?

It is also important that the political authorities do not give in to the demands of the lobbies in this area. Let us remember, however, that recognizing the relevance of each person’s individuality cannot be imagined without maintaining a connection with the community, contrary to what the neoliberal ideology claims, for which there would be only individuals defined by their rights and their interests. .

But it is intimidation of those who still dare to ask the relevant questions. The formatting of this “political correctness” can thus prevent any doubt about the erroneous premises on which this ideology is based.

The signatories of these few lines simply want these essential issues to be discussed rationally, ie. by questioning the ideological and anthropological a priori that underlie the various attitudes present. In addition, they believe that hormonal and surgical treatments specific to gender reassignment should remain unavailable to children and adolescents.

The full list of signatories:

This text is signed by Dr. Dechêne Sophie, child psychiatrist; Dr. Einaudi Nicole, child psychiatrist; Prof. Eraly Alain, Emeritus Professor of Sociology ULB; Pr. Hayez Jean-Yves, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, UCLouvain; Ms. Boy Catherine, sex therapist, couple and youth therapist; Dr. Koener Beryl, child psychiatrist; Dr. Lebrun Jean-Pierre, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, chairman of the Walloon League for Mental Health; Pr Marchal Pierre, psychoanalyst and professor emeritus of philosophy UCLouvain; Pr. Renchon Jean-Louis, Professor Emeritus of Family Law UCLouvain and Saint Louis University – Brussels; Turine Francis, former director of a child psychiatric hospital.

This text was also co-signed by more than 200 Belgian signatories, some members of “La Petite Sirène”, an observatory for ideological discourse on children and young people, set up in Paris. Info: www.observatoirepetitesirene.org and lapetitesirenedebelgique@hotmail.com

This forum is published in conjunction with a carte blanche by Jean-Louis Renchon entitled “Shall we remove the mention of our gender?”

Leave a Comment