Some doctors—supported by activists, parents, and even the American Civil Liberties Union—have administered surgical and pharmaceutical treatments to children and teenagers to make them resemble members of the opposite sex. Such procedures are generally irreversible, and usually render the patient infertile. Paul McHugh and Gerard Bradley argue that children should not be allowed to consent to such life-altering procedures, especially when little is understood about their long-term medical and psychological effects:
[T]he champions of the transgender campaign rest their arguments on an essentially solipsistic view (“my truth”) that endorses the individual’s will, sense, or sentiments rather than on what is demonstrably real. The posture extends far into today’s bureaucratic culture. Many official surveys and job applications do not ask whether you are male or female, but rather with which gender you identify. In business and academic settings, it is fashionable to signal support for the transgender cause by adding to one’s own signature a parenthesis enclosing “my preferred pronouns” listing them as “he, his, him” or “she, hers, her” or even “they, theirs, them.” Note that “identify” and “prefer” are words linked to will, wants, and desires, as distinct from those such as “am” and “is,” which are linked to being, nature, and existence.
The treatments do much more to the maturing child than change his or her appearance. They tamper recklessly with complicated, incompletely understood neurobiological mechanisms crucial in human physical and personal maturation. And they betray a thoughtlessness about a critical and unique distinction in the psychosocial development of human beings.
[T]he testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone released by the male testis or the female ovary have “organizational effects” on the brain as well as “stimulating effects.” Not only do these hormones evoke sex-appropriate arousal, but they are also critical to producing sex-appropriate brain structures that have crucial and measurable psychological functions in mental life. Altering the natural hormonal constitution in adolescence by providing hormonal synthetics opposite to one’s genetic constitution cannot fail to disrupt these “organizational” matters—again, with unknowable long-term effects.
Eighty-five to 90 percent of children with gender dysphoria abandon it if their puberty proceeds without interference. . . . It thus appears that the majority of children complaining of distress with their natal sex do best if not treated: they outgrow their sense of being in the “wrong body” and come to live peacefully being the male or female they were found to be at birth.