The only thing that spreads faster on the internet than outrage is heartwarming stories, and this past week, aunts across America used their Yahoo email accounts to share a”touching” story of a Dad who wore a helmet to show solidarity with his 4 month-old child.
Nevermind the fact that these baby helmets don’t even work, the most pressing question about this story is why people think this dad is doing some great thing for his child. His kid is a 4 month-old baby who literally can’t see farther than two feet in front of him. The baby has no idea that he’s wearing a helmet, nor can he see that no one else is wearing a helmet. All the baby understands is that he likes bright lights and ceiling fans.
What are the odds that this dad has given birth to the one super baby who is smart enough to understand that he is wearing the helmet, yet is dumb enough to be fooled into thinking his helmet is normal because his Dad wore a completely different type of helmet for an hour at breakfast?
The truth is that the helmet gesture is not a sign that the dad is a great dad, it is a sign that the dad wants everyone to know that he is a great dad. It is parenting for the selfie generation. He is a modern day stage mom, on par with the man who takes pictures of himself in a tutu to raise awareness for breast cancer (sure, 10% of his dressing up is to raise money, but the other 90% stems from his desire to have everyone looking at him in a tutu – he definitely had the tutu in a drawer for years before finally finding an excuse to bust it out).
While the above examples are benign illustrations of people trying to garner attention on social media, it is important to note that other parents have adopted a more extreme version of parenting to seek online praise – raising “transgender” kids.
The word transgender is in quotation marks because when it comes to children, multiple scientific studies have shown that around 80% of kids with gender dysphoria tend to accept their birth sex as they age:
The Amsterdam study reported on 127 adolescents, 79 of them boys, and found that 80 of those adolescents, or about two-thirds, had desisted — that is, now identified as cisgender — at the time of followup. Singh, meanwhile, found that of the 139 former GIC patients she got in touch with, all of them natal males (that is, born with a penis), 122, or 88 percent, had desisted.
And when you combine these two studies with the other, admittedly earlier and smaller ones Cantor lists, all of which find the same thing, the case grows even stronger. While the numbers vary from study to study, as you would expect to between research conducted at different times in different places, the basic storyline is always the same: If a kid has gender dysphoria, the most likely outcome is that he or she will grow up to be a cisgender, gay or bisexual adult.
Part of the reason that the public at large was so accepting of Caitlyn Jenner was that her story was so compelling. She was not jumping on a fad for attention, gender was something that Jenner had struggled with since childhood. She was cross dressing in the 80’s – a time when women’s fashion was at it’s ugliest. You definitely had to think you were a woman to want to wear shoulder pads and a denim jacket. That’s why when, as a grown adult, she decided to live her life as a woman, most Americans recognized that as her right to do what makes her happy.
But it’s much harder to adopt a libertarian viewpoint when it comes to children. Their minds are not fully formed, and what has been formed has usually been shaped by their parents. If older studies found that 88% of children questioning their gender ended up desisting, one can only imagine how large that number will be now that transgender kids are the new “it” accessory. In 20 years, kids will go back to their childhood homes and look at their hormone blockers like they were beanie babies or Ferbys – the fad of 2017.
The great irony is that liberal parents have made a billion dollar product line off of fears that soap is too dangerous and the need to feed dogs a blend of grass fed chicken and quinoa, yet they are willing to inject synthetic testosterone into their 8 year-old. And while some no doubt have good intentions, many others do it because they hope to get praise on the level of 7 million Youtube views. The parents want a pat on the back. They want to be called brave. They want to feel oppressed. To feel important.
That’s all great, so long as you have the 1 out of 5 kids who doesn’t outgrow their gender dysphoria. But if you don’t beat the odds, then you’ve created a new problem. Because while it’s easy to take off a bicycle helmet, it’s a lot harder to reverse the collateral effects of pumping a child’s body full of artificial hormones.