Gender confused children
Mr M., from Canada, who has asked that his name be withheld, wrote,
I’ve come across a few videos on YouTube of interviews discussing ‘transgender’ kids. Not teens but little kids. These kids born male identify as being female. They act and dress and whatnot as the opposite sex. By the age of puberty they begin taking prescribed drugs that would stop their natural physical progression to adulthood. Is there a gene in the body from birth or a mental or psychological issue that would cause this? Is this a result of the curse of sin?? And is encouraging this also sinful? If one is born a man should the parents not encourage him to be such and vice versa if one is born a girl? Apparently transgender children are happening more often.
Dr Don Batten responds:
Dear Mr M.,
This article presents some basic principles: Hermaphrodites and homosexuality. This refers specifically to those who are born biologically ambiguous regarding male and female genitalia, but many of the same principles apply.
Gender confusion identity crisis is a very complex issue. I heard of one boy here in Australia who injured himself trying to cut off his penis “because he wanted to be like mummy” (he was in a single parent family, which is a common factor with a lot of problems in children; see table appended below). However, this particular child on the YouTube video seems to be from a family with both parents together throughout (although a blended family, which can bring its own stresses).
The child’s doubts (about wanting to be a girl) expressed at about 10 years of age raised alarm bells with me. Many children go through phases of cross-dressing, pretending to be the other gender in play, etc., but grow out of it as they mature. This growing up particularly happens at puberty, at which time sex hormones kick in.
Parental expectations and reactions to behaviour are probably a key to what has happened. Playing with girl things might have evoked a reaction from mum that the child liked and this reinforced his behaviour (that is, to keep going along this line). It is certainly a way of getting a lot of attention. The early bad behaviour, for which the boy was prescribed drugs, might not have been gender confusion but attention getting, and acting as a girl got the attention without the unpleasant conflict and so it was reinforced.
The human brain is incredibly plastic (malleable) and reinforcing certain behaviours (with concern, attention, etc., for example) can reinforce that behaviour. The Bible says, “Train up a child …” (Proverbs 22:6) because children are most open to direction and correction. If we put that in the context of a society where gender-bending confusion is rampant in the media and you have all the ingredients, after some time of reinforcement, of thinking ‘I was born this way’, thus reinforcing the notion that ‘I am really a girl, although I look like a boy’.
Another possibility is that the mind-altering drugs given for the bad behaviour messed with things too; that is a possibility; how many pills did the mother say he was given at one stage?
There are also gender-bending chemicals in the environment today that might be causing problems. For example, there are various estrogen-like (‘female’) chemicals now in the environment, including synthetic ones from birth-control pills and plastics. There are also natural ones from plants such as soybeans that are now eaten in novel ways very unlike the traditional fermented products of China and Japan. The effects of these on sexual development in humans are largely unknown. Studies on fish have shown detrimental effects on physical development but the effect, if any, of these chemicals on physical development of humans is unclear.1 The effect, if any, on psychological health is even less clear.
Our brains are also not above being messed up through mutational degradation, which is happening, and has been happening since the Fall (Genesis 3) and it is always possible something is wrong with the brain’s circuits.
However, overall, I think that this sort of gender confusion is more likely due to behaviour reinforcement.
It is significant that mental aberrations in children have increased with the decline of church involvement. [Secular reporter] Miranda Devine commented on a Dartmouth Medical School study in North America, reporting that, “A ‘direct personal relationship with the Divine’ is associated with reduced risk-taking and better mental health.”2 And, in Australia, “As churchgoing slumped, so did children’s emotional wellbeing … a staggering 20% have mental health problems … [this] has developed since WW2.”
When a society ceases to honour God, the consequences are manifold and not good. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.
I hope this helps.
- Vidaeffa, A.C. and Severb, L.E., In utero exposure to environmental estrogens and male reproductive health: a systematic review of biological and epidemiologic evidence, Reproductive Toxicology 20(1):5–20, 2005. Return to text.
- Devine, Miranda, Church and family can save kids, Sun-Herald (Sydney), 16 Nov 2003, reporting on a 2003 Dartmouth Medical School Study: Hardwired To Connect: The New Scientific Case For Authoritative Communities; www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/15/1068674433713.html Return to text.