YOUR COVERAGE of a transgender child’s treatment at Dr. Norman Spack’s clinic was absorbing, but parents of kids who exhibit transgender behaviors need more comprehensive coverage ( “Led by the child who simply knew,’’ Page A1). An excellent starting point is the 2008 “Report of the Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance,’’ which is available at the American Psychological Association website.
Here are some points made by the report: Most young children who exhibit transgender behaviors do outgrow them later on; traditional intervention treatment features encouraging, through rewards, normal birth-gender behaviors as well as psychotherapy that tries to identify postnatal factors that have triggered the transgender behaviors. This report does not disparage or dismiss either of these approaches. There is strong evidence that transgender disorder is less fixed in a child’s toddler years than later on.
Spack’s group appears to feature a live-with-it approach, and to de-emphasize efforts to enhance a child’s chances to outgrow the transgender fixation. Surely, parents of these kids should consider finding a treatment that opposes the disorder itself before they settle for one that struggles to live with it. Outgrowing the early transgender tendencies would be a vastly better outcome than living with them and perhaps resorting to sexual reassignment surgery.