Governor Wolf Sets Pennsylvania on a Sad Road

The Problem

The high comorbidity rate of gender dysphoria with other disorders, combined with the idea that pushing transition will solve these other disorders when there is no evidence that it does, means that about half of trans-identifying youth are suicidal, and three quarters of them experience symptoms of anxiety.

 

Suicide is a danger whether they transition or not. One study, Gender Dysphoria in Adults in the January 2016 Annual Review of Clinical Psychology found that, following genital surgery, trans folks were 4.9x more likely to attempt suicide and 19.1x more likely to have died from suicide.

 

The Announcement

To address these troubling symptoms, Governor Wolfe yesterday made the strange decision to bring the power of the government of Pennsylvania against therapies that help youth become comfortable with their own bodies. A mere 13.5% of all trans-identifying youth (that includes those crossdressing for sexual arousal) nationwide get access to such counsel, but that is enough for the governor to take a stand against it. In a bizarre reversal of the meaning of actual words, he is calling efforts to help a youth remain as she is “conversion therapy” and measures to push her into non-reversible, body-maiming operations, both chemical and surgical, the governor is terming “affirming therapy.”

 

It is hard to say all that this means for Pennsylvanian efforts to help young people determine themselves differently than their feelings of alienation. While the governor’s executive order “discourages” and “directs,” it does not make counsel that encourages healthy self-determination illegal. Yet the net effect brings the power of the commonwealth to bear on stamping out any such counsel and to pave the way for laws against it.

 

The “Science”

Perhaps more disturbing is the loosely termed “science” cited to back up the governor’s decision. It is stressed that the study upon which this decision is based is “peer reviewed” and using a “cross-sectional” sample.

 

I guess it depends on the “peers,” doesn’t it? This keystone study is published by the American Public Health Association (APHA), which “represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policymakers and health officials.” In other words, professional advocates and bureaucrats, not actual scientists.  As the APHA’s descriptive video shows, they advocate for the Black Lives Matter organization, abortion rights, and LGBT causes as a big part of what they do. That is the source.

 

But lest I be accused of simply an ad hominem argument, let us ask about the study itself that APHA published and that the governor finds so convincing? It was conducted by Trevor Project of West Hollywood. They recruited the study subjects “through targeted advertisements placed on 2 social media platforms: Facebook and Instagram. The advertisements targeted those who interacted with material deemed to be relevant to the LGBTQ community… Eligible participants were between 13 and 24 years of age [and] identified as LGBTQ.” So, there’s your sample. A method not unlike the Kinsey research of the 1950s, who got his subjects from advertising in the back of gay magazines. We can tell right from the get-go who will not be included in this study: Young people who decided not to identify as LGBTQ because their recovery-from-alienation-to-your-body therapy worked! How many of those exist? In fact, even among those who responded, the analysts deliberately eliminated any who “identified as both straight/heterosexual and cisgender.” Is this really a cross-section? What do you think the results will show? The biggest news of this study is that the suicide rate is not higher among this sample of those rejecting the counsel they received.

 

The Truth

As PA Family notes, even as recently as February of this year,  “Frontiers of Psychology” published actual data contradicting the advocacy group study. Other countries have already realized the need to help by contradicting a teen’s false beliefs about himself, but not the U.S. And apparently not our beloved Pennsylvania.

 

The truth is, parents who do not reject their children when they disclose their struggles will greatly reduce any chance of suicide. But parents do not at all need to accept the behaviors or “affirm” the false beliefs of their children to avoid suicide.

Gov. Wolf claims the solution to suicide among youth is to “accept them exactly as they are.” Any halfway competent parent knows that that is the last thing to say to a teenager. You can instead love that teen while telling him that some of their ideas about themselves are just wrong. If a parent doesn’t do that, she is courting death for her child.

 

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