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White Ribbon Toolbox

“Toolbox for Parents – Kids and Gender” was published in late 2021 by White Ribbon, purportedly to help parents understand and support their transgender children.

This toolbox should come with a WARNING! The resource is filled with confusing and incorrect notions about gender and sex, with dangerous misinformation about puberty blockers, and with unsubstantiated judgemental assumptions about parents who may not feel comfortable about their child suddenly declaring they are ‘trans’.

There is absolutely no consideration given to the social context in which a child declares a trans identity or to ways of supporting a child to fully explore what it means to be trans. Neither is there any discussion of a child’s (in)ability to consent to life-altering and health-damaging medical interventions.

The errors begin on page one with author, Sandra Dickson, asking the question: “What if your child is sure the doctor got their gender wrong when they were born?’

Gender is not determined at birth; sex is. Gender refers to the behaviours and expectations that will be imposed on the child because of their sex – behaviours and expectations that are different for boys and girls and which vary according to time and place. There is nothing innate about gender – of itself it is not right or wrong – although in most places and in most times throughout history, gender expectations have been limiting, especially for girls and women. No one is born with a gender – we are born with a biological sex – male or female (or very occasionally – 0.018% – with a disorder of sexual development, or DSD). The person who ‘transitions’ does not change sex. They remain the sex they were born, no matter how much this assertion might upset them.

More conflation of sex and gender follows, when the resource describes how boys may prefer dolls or girls may prefer short hair and uses those outdated sexist stereotypes as an indication that a child may be transgender. Dickson is again implying that sex can be ‘assigned’ as though it is not an unchangeable biological fact. Gender non-conforming behaviour is not an indication of anything and certainly does not mean a child is really the opposite sex.

The absolute untruths in the section on ‘safe’ and ‘reversible’ puberty blockers and chest binding that starts on p.9 are appalling. The reverse is true: It is not safe to start children on puberty blockers. They are not a safe and reversible pause button. They almost inevitably lead to further medical and surgical damage to a natural healthy body and there is more and more evidence about the damage they cause.

While waiting for a child to be old enough for puberty blockers, Dickson advises parents to encourage ‘social transition’ which, she enthuses, “will reduce your child’s distress”. Get them to choose a new name, choose pronouns of the sex they wish they were, select hair styles or clothes (that fit the stereotype of the sex they wish to imitate), she suggests.

Being socially ‘transitioned’ is not observing a wait period. It becomes a priming period, ensuring that the child will not question their path until long after puberty. Once kids are started on the trans train, it is very hard to get off; it rattles along very quickly, and very seductively.

When transitioned people reach maturity and look at their disfigured body, lack of fertility or pleasure in sex, and the ongoing painfulness of their surgically altered body parts, many wonder why they were sent down the transgender pathway by adults they trusted, instead of being supported to explore other possible reasons for their gender distress.

On page 5, disguised as kind support, the real undermining of parents begins. Let go of what you know, it advises. You are the ones with the problem, concerned parents, so find support, watch and read Rainbow media. In other words: learn our way, our ideology. Your child knows who they are. We are right and you are wrong.

Parents are encouraged to get their kids to Rainbow groups which are described as ‘safe places’. In reality, Rainbow groups are swamped with extreme attitudes and resources exactly like this one and are far from ‘safe’. They are echo-chambers that will reinforce a child’s belief in being transgender, raise none of the valid concerns of parents, and in many cases encourage teens to perceive their parents as “the enemy”.

This Toolbox lacks the most useful and simple advice for parents: Anyone who really cares about kids ‘being themselves’, will encourage them to explore their gender expression, while accepting the sex they were born as. No child should be coached to identify as the opposite sex simply so they can do the things they enjoy.

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