Originally posted 2022-09-19 18:44:56.
‘Gently but firmly’ is the manner in which parents of children manifesting sex non-conforming behaviour are adjured to make those children desist.
Professors J Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard penned an open letter to the Fourth Wave Now website in 2017. It is as relevant today as it was then. In it they made many valuable points. The article is long but the most concerning part is here:
If you want your childhood-onset gender dysphoric child to desist, and if your child is still well below the age of puberty (which varies, but let’s say, younger than 11 years), you should firmly (but kindly and patiently) insist that your child is a member of his/her birth sex…You should not allow your child to engage in behaviors such as cross dressing and fantasy play as the other sex. Above all else, you should not let your child socially transition to the other sex.
At the same time, you should recognize that despite your best efforts, your child may ultimately need to transition to be happy. If your child’s gender dysphoria persists well into adolescence (again, the ages vary by child, but let’s say age 14 or so), s/he is much more likely to transition. At that point, in our opinion, parents should consider supporting transition.
(I will put a copy of the original paper on my websites at https://www.rodfleming.com and https://.com/sexology )
Bailey and Blanchard are both highly respected and here they are simply restating what we might call the ‘establishment position’. However, there are significant problems with the above statement and I will deal with these. I am aware that they do not use the phrase ‘gently but firmly’ here, but that is a reasonable rendering of the phrase they do use.
Why are you doing this?
Firstly, ask yourself why would you want your gender dysphoric child to desist? Understand right now that a genuinely gender dysphoric child is either going to be transsexual or sex-conforming homosexual, in nearly all cases. Why would you prefer the latter?
Why would you not let your child ‘socially transition’? (Cross-dress in public.) Is this something to do with your own embarrassment? Or is it genuinely out of concern for the child? Finally, for now, what constitutes ‘best efforts’ applied ‘gently but firmly (or kindly and patiently)’? As we shall see, these definitions are important.
Before I go further, I want to address the question of ‘grooming’. I am totally opposed to this in every sense. I think, as regards any question of gender, that parents should present appropriate male and female role models and that they should teach by example. I do not believe they should fill their children’s heads up with potentially confusing information about sex, sexuality or gender but should, by their own behaviours, teach their children the most suitable roles for them to play. It follows that I fully support the gender binary and believe that everyone should live in conformity with it – no matter what their birth sex might be.
I think parents bringing their children up to be ‘gender neutral’ or to believe that that being part of the ‘gay’ lifestyle is a reasonable choice, is wrong. I believe that gender is the foundation of healthy, stable societies and we must protect it. Therefore I am absolutely opposed to trans-activists, gay-activists and others trying to persuade children into their lifestyle. However, there are some children who appear to be naturally shifted towards the norms for the opposite sex and who are definitely attracted, at first romantically and later sexually, to sex-conforming members of the same sex. There are many terms for this, but the most apt is ‘Sexual Inversion’.
(Note that these are not the only individuals who may display Gender Dysphoria. There are several types and I deal with them elsewhere.)
So, what do I mean by ‘children’?
I specifically mean a young human under the age of puberty, or. In practical terms, less than twelve years of age (as per Blanchard/Bailey above.) I have heard some, particularly from the USA, try to suggest that they remain ‘children’ until they are eighteen and in some cases, even twenty-four. These might be juvenile but they are not children. This is an important distinction which far too many have tried to obscure, usually for political reasons.
Every authority accepts, and I agree, that children under around twelve are not capable of making serious decisions. It is this group I want to discuss first.
Children of up to twelve are unable to do certain other things too. In the first place, they do not understand sex, sexuality or gender. Indeed, they should not be confused by precocious introductions to these ideas, as happens too often today. That should mean that everyone would take a completely ‘hands-off’ approach and basically, protect their innocence. But that is not what happens, in much of the West today. That is because sex, sexuality and gender has become a political battleground. Super-heated rhetoric and hyperbole, as have become usual, help nobody.
Gillick Competence and the Fraser Guidelines
What about children a little older than twelve? Well, in the 1980s, a case was brought to the High Court in England by Mrs Veronica Gillick. Mrs Gillick, a Catholic, had learned that the family doctor had prescribed contraceptive pills to her daughter, who was under sixteen, without telling her. The case went to appeal and in the end an important piece of jurisprudence was established. It is that the adult ability to make decisions for oneself does not arrive, as if delivered by storks, at puberty, on the eighteenth birthday, or any other arbitrary point, but instead develops over a period of years, beginning around ten, but varying with the individual.
The Court of Appeal found against Mrs Gillick and this decision implied that her daughter, while being under the legal age of sexual consent (sixteen in the UK), could still decide to have sex and that if she did so, she should have access to contraception. This ability to make such decisions became known as ‘Gillick Competence’. The Court held that preventing an unwanted pregnancy was the crucial issue. It also clearly stated that in such a case the parents had no right of disclosure.
Lord Fraser, the senior judge who heard the case, drew up a set of guidelines to be used in cases like this, and these became the basis of laws all over the world. ‘Gillick competence’ and the ‘Fraser Guidelines’ are usually conflated to ‘Gillick-Fraser’. They constitute a rational and objective approach to a complex question.
Many people came to agree with Gillick-Fraser, to accept the underlying premise that young people’s ability to make decisions develops over time and that individual’s liberty had to be defended, while at the same time protecting that individual from undesirable decisions and influences.
In assessing Gillick Competence of a young person under sixteen, the following must be considered, amongst others:
The young person’s experiences and the child’s ability to manage influences on their decision making such as information, peer pressure, family pressure, fear and misgivings.
The young person’s understanding, ability to weigh risk and benefit, consideration of longer term factors such as effect on family life and on such things as schooling.
Further, Gillick Competence varies with the nature of the decision or treatment being considered:
Gillick competence is a functional ability to make a decision. It is task specific so more complex procedures require greater levels of competence. When assessing Gillick competence… a health professional has to decide whether the child is or is not competent to make that particular decision. It is not just an ability to choose where the child recognizes that there is a choice to be made and is willing to make it. Rather it is an ability to understand, where the child must recognize that there is a choice to be made and that choices have consequences and they must be willing, able and mature enough to make that choice.
One problem with Gillick-Fraser is that it doesn’t specifically address the questions of transsexualism or transgender, but instead the general competence of the young person and the severity of the treatment being considered. Are these to be considered as somehow different in nature from other similar questions?
I have always agreed with the basic premises of Gillick-Fraser and think it is one of the most reasonable pieces of jurisprudence I have ever read.
Ultimately, who decides?
That puts me in a difficult position. Where does my antagonism towards ‘grooming’ and my support for the individual meet? Where does a parent’s right to decide for a child interface with that child’s right to decide for him or herself? Where is the line in the sand? Ultimately, who decides?
As regards children, that is, those under twelve, this is relatively simple. They are not able to make decisions about their futures, in any meaningful sense. This means that a child (under twelve) cannot decide if he or she has a gender that does not conform to his or her sex. However, we know from clinical experience that sex-non-conforming behaviours are not usually ‘chosen’ in that way, but rather are responses to feelings that the child may not understand.
This immediately causes a problem. How far can we take the matter of questioning a sex-non-conforming gender presentation, before it becomes abusive? At what point should we start listening to the child? Further, since much childhood sex-nonconformity appears to spring out of nowhere, from whence does it really come? And what should parents do about it?
Disclosure: I have seen much delinquent behaviour on the parts of parents.
Now I will fully disclose here. I am a parent of four children and so have some experience in this regard. I have spent the last five years intensively researching these questions in south-east Asia, which has co-loured my perspective. I recognise that not all experience gleaned from that can easily be transposed to the West.
However, there is a big ‘but’. In the time I have researched, I have met and interviewed many transsexuals, other homosexuals, lesbians and others. I have interviewed over a hundred, have become close to some and remain so.
I can state without hesitation that almost every transwoman — here called ‘ladyboys’ or a local equivalent — suffered horribly at the hands of parents, normally their fathers, as a result of their being ‘girly’ as little children. They were beaten – ‘thrashed’ might be more appropriate – made to suffer horrible indignities and often, ended up living on the street.
‘Gently but firmly’? Anything but
I have met transwomen who bear the permanent physical scars of those thrashings, marks left on their bodies by the canes used. That’s right, garden canes. Some suffered broken bones and at least one a fractured skull. They were tied by their ankles and hung from rafters, chained into the dog kennel, tied to a stake driven into a red ants’ nest, beaten with belts – the buckle end leaving permanent scarring in one case – hit with batons and other vicious abuses, all to ‘man them up’. It was not always the father alone: older brothers often formed the squad of torturers.
Many such children ended up on the street, picking a living from what they could find. I have met fourteen-year-olds who had been living like that for two years and many adults have said the same happened to them. And why? Either because they could not stand the violence and yet they could not change themselves, or because their fathers simply threw them out.
The psychological trauma
That is just the physical damage, of course. I can honestly say I have never met a transsexual here who does not bear the imprint of her childhood trauma. I have known girls who would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, provoked by some horror twenty years before. Others suffer personality problems, sometimes bordering on disorders, because they developed a protective second one. These are not rare. They’re normal.
I am, therefore, biased. I am absolutely disgusted by these vicious acts against sweet little boys who just happened to be girly and had no idea at all of how to be masculine.
Back to ‘gently but firmly’
So that brings me back to the point: what is ‘gently but firmly’? What does that mean? Well, as far as Professor JM Bailey is concerned, I know him. I have spoken to him on the phone and exchanged other messages. I think he is a thoroughly decent man and a good father, who would never harm a child. But how sure can you be, Mike, that others will not interpret your words differently? When does ‘gently but firmly’ become straightforward child abuse? When does the flogging start?
Ray Blanchard I believe also to be a decent man who bends over backwards to be fair; but how can you be sure your words are taken as you mean them, Dr Blanchard? And Dr Ken Zucker, while I am sure you are well-meaning, you are on record as saying ‘take away the Barbies’, that girlish boy children should not be allowed to read literature written for girls, or watch television programmes aimed at them, or play with toys designed for them. And heaven forfend they should ever put on a dress! Are these measures in accordance with ‘gently but firmly’?
I am not accusing you of child abuse yourself, Dr Zucker, but how do you know in which way your statements will be interpreted, by ordinary parents reading them? And that is without considering any religious imperatives that might be in the mix.
‘Gently but firmly’. What is that? What does it mean? Being sent to bed with no dinner? Having television privileges withdrawn? Being prevented from playing with girls? Being forced to play field sports you loathe? Having all your favourite toys thrown away? Having your bedroom ransacked for hidden ‘girly’ artefacts as if you were a criminal – at age four? And what might happen if such a thing were found? Oh, the horror, the horror! You can call me cynical if you like, but I have seen with my own eyes the other side of this coin and I know how easily ‘gently but firmly’ can turn into abuse.
What about clothes? It is often said that ‘allowing children to dress as they would like, if that is in the clothes usually worn by the opposite sex, will “cement in” cross-gender behaviour’. I have rarely heard a more specious and circular argument. For it to make sense, you must believe that all boy children have to grow up into ‘men’ and that anything else is not just a failure, but a disastrous one. After all, if a boy is genuinely pre-transsexual, a Sexual Invert, why would he not wish to dress as a girl, at some stage? And would his later completion as a transsexual not, therefore, simply be the natural end-point of his personal development, rather than being the result of kindly parents letting him wear a frock? It’s utter poppycock, a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one.
Consistently, persistently and insistently
We know that nearly all boy children who are ‘consistently, persistently and insistently’ sex non-conforming over a long period, will grow up to be either ‘gay men’ or transsexuals. Parents of children like this can forget having a heterosexual son or daughter. I know individuals whose parents even fought tooth and nail to coerce them into being ‘ordinary gay boys’ rather than girls. But why is ‘gay’ better?
The usual trope, as specious as any in this, is that it ‘avoids a lifetime of hormones and surgery’. Well the fact is that in global terms, most transsexuals are intact; that’s right, they still have their penises. The pressure towards surgery in the West appears to be the result of the way sex-non-conformity is handled by the medical profession, rather than the needs of the individuals.
Is it inappropriate to point out that many surgeons make damn good livings out of this surgery and that they might not always be acting strictly in the patient’s best interests, but rather in those of their bank accounts? Especially today, we have good reason to doubt the medical profession.
And then, there is parental transphobia to be considered. Many parents would far rather their homosexual sons at least appeared to be masculine, than have to explain to the neighbours why she’s hopping around the street in a pair of hot pants. But what does that have to do with the interests of the child? She’s quite happy flashing her bottom at passers-by.
Surgery is not permitted until eighteen anyway, in most reasonable places.
In any case, such surgeries are not permitted, in most jurisdictions, prior to the age of eighteen. So a person may vote, may serve in the armed forces, may marry, may enter into legal contracts, may go to prison for life, but not decide whether to have what is in effect a cosmetic surgery? Nonsense! And I am sorry, but if they make such a decision and later regret it, then they simply have to learn to live with the consequences of their own actions. Nobody ever said being an adult was easy.
As regards hormones, we now have transwomen in their seventies and older, who completed in the 1960s and are fine. What exactly is the problem here? They’re not dropping like flies, not do they have elevated rates of illness. That applies even when they have been self-medicating all their lives, like Filipina Barbie Anderson, seventy-four this year and showing no sign of slowing down.
So, while I do understand and to a great extent sympathise with Doctors Bailey and Blanchard’s position on ‘gently but firmly’, I am alarmed by the way this has been received in some sectors. I think it is highly likely that children will be abused by parents’ over-enthusiasm for this approach. Most parents today do not have training in child psychology and since the destruction of the extended family in the West, no proper resources to advise them.
Amused toleration: a better approach.
There is only one approach that I think makes sense and avoids, at least to a great extent, the risk of abuse implicit in ‘gently but firmly’ and that is ‘amused toleration’. Do not encourage, but do not oppose. Just express your love for the child and make sure that he or she knows three things: firstly, that anything she breaks, at this early stage, can always be mended; that nothing is written; and that you will always love her.
So what does that mean, in practical terms? Well, the experiences I have had in Asia and the numerous interviews and exchanges show one thing for certain: the beatings and the intimidation, sometimes amounting to serious injury, simply do not work. Many of the actions I have learned of, on the part of fathers particularly, were they to happen in the West and the authorities to learn of them, would result, unquestionably, in a custodial sentence for the perpetrator and very likely the removal of the child from the home. Yet despite that severity and all the problems, the sleeping rough for years, the missing school, the hunger, the wounds both physical and mental, these young people will not desist.
It is possible that extreme treatment like this could turn a re-transsexual boy, for example, into a ‘gay man’, at the cost of no little suffering. But to justify that, you would have to show how this is a ‘better outcome’ which at best appears to be a matter of opinion, possibly, of political loyalty to the ‘gay’ lobby and at worst, simple transphobia and horror at the idea of male femininity. None of these are valid reasons for abuse, whether physical or psychological.
This is not a groomer’s charter. There is no excuse for encouraging sex-non-conforming behaviours, for confusing children about their gender or for leading them up a path that suits trendy leftist or ‘wokeist’ ideas. Parents need to look at themselves: are you providing the correct gender role models? Is the man in the house adequately masculine and the woman feminine? What about ‘families’ where both adults are women? Or more rarely, males? How do they transmit the appropriate gender behaviours to the children in their care? Yes, I know these ideas may be unpopular with some, but you have a choice: either accept that gender is real and important or sacrifice your kids to cult ideologies.
Even if you do fit the above, it is a simple fact that a small number of males will be transsexual or feminine homosexual and a smaller number of females the equivalent. No amount of ‘gently but firmly’ persuading is going to turn them ‘straight’. This is so well documented that it should need no explanation. For the parents of children like that, especially once they are thirteen or so, then I would suggest becoming used to the idea, urgently. Those young people are never going to be ‘regular straight folks’ and that is that. And please do not jump on the ‘gay is better’ bandwagon. It might be for some but it is not for others. It is for the young person, as they grow up, to decide – not you, or me, or your pet quack.
For those parents who think their children have been ‘turned’ by exposure to gender ideology, then care is required. You must locate and challenge the adults who are inculcating this. You must break it up, challenge the school boards, campaign to ensure that wokeist teachers are fired and that confusing materials are removed from the classroom and indeed the nursery. If necessary, isolate your children from malign influences and home-educate them.
Your target is not your children, it is the people filling their heads up with nonsense.
However, please bear in mind, in all of this, that there are some children who are genuinely pre-transsexual; they are Sexually Inverted. Their numbers may be small but they do exist. Their needs have to be considered. Parents are on the front line here and have a tremendous responsibility.
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