Commentaries

A critical commentary on follow-up studies and “desistance” theories about transgender and gender-nonconforming children

International Journal of Transgenderism (2018)

Julie Temple Newhook et al.

It has been widely suggested that over 80% of transgender children will come to identify as cisgender (i.e., desist) as they mature, with the assumption that for this 80%, the trans identity was a temporary “phase.” This statistic is used as the scientific rationale for discouraging social transition for pre-pubertal children. This article is a critical commentary on the limitations of this research and a caution against using these studies to develop care recommendations for gender-nonconforming children. A critical review methodology is employed to systematically interpret four frequently-cited studies that sought to document identity outcomes for gender-nonconforming children (often referred to as “desistance” research). Methodological, theoretical, ethical, and interpretive concerns regarding four “desistance” studies are presented. The authors clarify the historical and clinical contexts within which these studies were conducted to deconstruct assumptions in interpretations of the results. The discussion makes distinctions between the specific evidence provided by these studies versus the assumptions that have shaped recommendations for care. The affirmative model is presented as a way to move away from the question of, “How should children's gender identities develop over time?” toward a more useful question: “How should children best be supported as their gender identity develops?” The tethering of childhood gender diversity to the framework of “desistance” or “persistence” has stifled advancements in our understanding of children's gender in all its complexity. These follow-up studies fall short in helping us understand what children need. As work begins on the 8th version of the Standards of Care by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, we call for a more inclusive conceptual framework that takes children's voices seriously. Listening to children's experiences will enable a more comprehensive understanding of the needs of gender-nonconforming children and provide guidance to scientific and lay communities.

Fracking is a feminist issue: An intersectional ecofeminist commentary on natural resource extraction and rape.

Psychology of Women Section Review (2016)

Dr. Jemma Tosh & Dr. Maya Gislason

While it has been acknowledged that the language used to describe natural resource extraction is highly gendered (Russell, 2013), the relationship between gender and natural resource extraction is under-researched, ‘undiscussed and silenced’ (Laplonge, 2013, p. 2). Similarly, there are increasing reports that the introduction of extraction industries results in an increase in sexualized violence in workers camps and host communities proximal to intensive industrial activity (Hotaling, 2013; James & Smith, 2014; Minor, 2014). In this brief commentary, we reflect on the relationship between gender, the environment, and violence, in particular in relation to psychological, social and ecological impacts of intensive natural resource extraction. We draw on examples from around the globe to highlight the importance of including ecofeminist approaches to psychological theorizing of sexual violence.

‘Zuck off!’ A commentary on the protest against Ken Zucker and his treatment of childhood gender identity disorder.

Psychology of Women Section Review (2011)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

The Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) invited Professor Ken Zucker as a keynote speaker to their annual conference in December 2010 (BPS, 2010). Zucker works at the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and is considered an authoritative figure in the controversial diagnosis and ‘treatment’ of children with ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ (Hill et al. 2006). He is also Chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group for the DSM-5 (APA, 2010). His invitation was proposed by the DCP conference committee expert group who research potential speakers for the division (J. Unwin, personal communication, November 15, 2010). This invitation sparked an angry and concerned response from many. Zucker’s work at the CAMH GID clinic has been widely criticised by academics (e.g. Wilson, 2000; Wren, 2002; Menvielle & Tuerk, 2002; Hird, 2003; Langer & Martin, 2004; Lev, 2005; Bryant, 2008), organisations (e.g. Burleton, 2008; Choe, 2008; Queerty, 2009) and individuals concerned with LGBT issues and gender diversity.

Academic debate or transphobic hate? A response to ‘Zuckergate’.

Clinical Psychology Forum (2011)

Dr. Jemma Tosh

As an assistant psychologist working in Manchester and a PhD student studying issues around gender, I felt it was necessary to respond to Zucker’s keynote at the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) Annual Conference. I was shocked and confused as to why he had been invited; with his well known and controversial take on ‘treating’ childhood Gender Identity Disorder (GID) (Hill et al. 2006). However, what was equally unexpected was the progress made in opening up these issues for discussion and the collaboration between the DCP and a variety of other groups and individuals with very different perspectives. 

Professor Zucker’s invitation as a Keynote Speaker to the Division of Clinical Psychology Annual Conference: A response.

PsyPAG Quarterly

Dr. Jemma Tosh

The Division of Clinical Psychology has invited Professor Kenneth Zucker from Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) as a keynote for their annual conference in December 2010 (www.dcpconference.co.uk). Professor Zucker is considered an authoritative figure in the controversial diagnosis and ‘treatment’ of children with ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ (Hill et al. 2005). He is also the Chair for the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group for the DSM-5 (www.dsm5.org), who have proposed several highly contentious revisions including the introduction of ‘Paraphilic Coercive Disorder‘ (PCD).

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