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A Medical Scandal as Horrific as Lobotomies: Dr. Miriam Grossman on ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ and What Parents Must Know

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW] "These kids that are going through gender-affirming care, they become lifelong patients. They become lifelong consumers of pharmaceuticals,” says Dr. Miriam Grossman. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and author of “Lost in Trans Nation: A Child Psychiatrist's Guide Out of the Madness.”
In this episode, Dr. Grossman breaks down what’s causing the sharp rise in teenagers saying they’re transgender, what every parent needs to know about so-called "gender-affirming care," and a series of steps parents can take at home and at school to protect their children.
"What you want to do is put the school on notice, even if your child is only entering kindergarten. You want the school to know that you do not want your child exposed to gender ideology. … You do not give your permission for your child to meet with the guidance counselor without your knowledge or with any other third party without your knowledge. And you certainly do not give permission to the school to socially transition your child,” Dr. Grossman says.


Jan Jekielek: Dr. Miriam Grossman, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Dr. Miriam Grossman: I'm so glad to be back, Jan. Thank you.
Mr. Jekielek: Congratulations on your book, Lost in Trans Nation. We sat down before for a pretty long two-part interview, and we looked at a lot of elements that are in the book. You're pretty unique in standing up to gender ideology as a child psychiatrist. Please tell me how you ended up here.
Dr. Grossman: It really all started around 15 years ago. I was studying sex education and I came across all this material about gender and gender identity, that the binary of male and female is false, that male-female binary is actually oppressive and restrictive, and it's something that we need to fight against. First of all, as a child psychiatrist, I was astonished to come across such bizarre ideas. Because it is a bizarre idea to tell children that they might be neither male or female, that they might be both or something in between, and that the way they feel is more important than their own bodies.
I was immediately alarmed because these are very destabilizing ideas. Male and female are at the core of our humanity. I wrote a chapter on this in one of my earlier books on sex education,You're Teaching My Child What? It came out in 2009. I have a chapter there called Gender Land, because I was comparing it to Alice in Wonderland. It was so bizarre and not founded in any biological truth whatsoever.
I warned parents at that time in 2009, that this would be a disaster for our children. It took the calamity that we're now in with the tens of thousands of kids who are now proclaiming an identity other than being male or female, other than their biology, demanding hormones, demanding that their puberties be stopped, and asking for mastectomies and genital surgeries. Finally, people began to wake up and notice this.
People think that it happened overnight. It did not. I've been watching it in slow motion over the past 15 years, one step at a time. It's important for parents to understand how long this has been around and where it came from, where the ideas came from, and how we've reached where we are right now. I spell all of that out in the book.
Mr. Jekielek: In our previous interview we talked about the role of John Money and his experiments. I recommend that our viewers take a look at that interview as a compliment to this one. In the book, you say there are three kinds of gender dysphoria. There are two traditional types that we're seeing. The third one is this new, rapid-onset gender dysphoria, but it's pretending to be one of the first two.
Dr. Grossman: I'll start off by making one point about John Money. John Money spent his life promoting his theory that you could separate identity from biology and that it was how a person felt that took precedence over the particulars of their anatomy and their chromosomes. He did an experiment on those unfortunate twins in order to prove his theory.
The experiment was the worst kind of disaster that you could imagine. Yet, because we only knew decades later that his experiment was a disaster and a total failure, his theory took hold in medical disciplines, and in the soft sciences. Psychology, sociology, and numerous other fields all adopted his theory, but the foundation is just quicksand.
You asked me about the different kinds of gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is an intense feeling of discomfort with your sex and with your body. It's also a feeling of discomfort with the expectations that are placed on you by society, by the culture, and by the nature of being a boy or a girl. We've always known that there are extremely rare individuals who have gender dysphoria. They suffer and it can actually be a very debilitating condition. In psychiatry, we've known about this for about a hundred years.
Essentially, people with gender dysphoria, and I'm going to oversimplify here, fall into two categories. The first category were mostly young boys that were preschoolers or that were pre-puberty. The poster child for childhood onset gender dysphoria is Jazz Jennings. Jazz Jennings went to his parents when he was two or three years old. At that time, he was already insisting that either he was a girl, or that he had to become a girl, because he felt so uncomfortable with his body. That is classic childhood onset gender dysphoria.
Those kids were mostly boys. We know from the studies that were done on them throughout all the decades that they have been very, very rare. The studies are scarce with a small number of kids in them because those kids were so rare. So rare in fact, that 20 years ago, Jan, in the entire world we only had three clinics that helped these families that had kids with gender dysphoria. There were only three clinics; Toronto, London, and Amsterdam. They weren't busy and did not see a lot of kids at all. They may have seen 18 to 20 kids a year.
We know that with the vast majority of these kids, we can adopt a watchful waiting approach. Watchful waiting means you give them support with their feelings, you give the family support, and you might allow certain behaviors or ways of dressing. But you do not socially transition them the way that we are doing now. Between 60 and 90 percent of these kids, if they go through puberty and into young adulthood, will outgrow their gender dysphoria. A lot of them are gay and lesbian, but they are comfortable with their bodies. That's a majority of those kids.
The other group of individuals with gender dysphoria that we were always aware of are middle-aged heterosexual men who enjoy cross-dressing and wearing women's clothing. Typically, after being married and having children, they decide that they would like to go through the remainder of their lives presenting as women. They are the second group. They sometimes go through medical transitioning so that they appear more like women. Now, those are two unique groups with different demographics.
As I explain in the book, gender dysphoria is a symptom much like a fever. Fever can be due to many different conditions. You can have a fever because you have an infection, an autoimmune disease, or cancer. Many different conditions can cause fever. Fever is not a condition where you're going to treat all fevers the same way—absolutely not. That's not medicine, and we don't do that. We try to understand the source of the fever and then we treat that accordingly.
With gender dysphoria we now have this third group that we have never seen before. It's really only been around for 8 to 10 years. We've had an explosion of gender dysphoria in maybe 60 percent of teenage girls. It’s a majority of girls, and affects a lot of boys as well. But what's new here is the demographic. They're teenagers, and most of them never had any issue with being a girl in the past. In fact, they might have been very girly girls. With the boys as well, many of them never had an issue with being a boy.
What we know about this particular group is that they have a lot of previous psychiatric conditions. A lot of them are on the autism spectrum. They have anxiety, depression, ADHD [Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder], family issues, a history of trauma, and all sorts of things. We also know that before they come out as being transgender, they have spent an inordinate amount of time online and they have been exposed to these ideas through social media, and through influencers on YouTube.
YouTube has hundreds if not thousands of kids who document their transitioning. They will come on there once a week and say, "I've been on testosterone now for two weeks. My voice is starting to go ..." They're documenting their journey and it's sounding very exciting and very positive. I know that many of these kids are binging on these YouTube videos and getting drawn into them.
There's a whole picture that is being formed about this new demographic of kids. It was first described by a researcher from Brown University, Lisa Littman. She wrote a groundbreaking paper in 2018 describing this new group of kids. They are teenagers, mostly girls with psychiatric comorbidities, and no history of being unhappy about being girls.
When we talk about the Scandinavian countries and England, as well as medical groups in France, New Zealand and Australia urging caution in treating these kids with medical interventions, it's because they have realized that we don't yet have enough data on this particular group. I described this in the book, especially in Sweden.
There was a huge case in Sweden regarding a girl that was placed on blockers and developed osteoporosis and spinal fractures after a few years. It was that particular case that really blew the lid off of the whole gender-affirming care in Sweden and led them to an investigation. An apology was issued to the family of that girl, and the hospital acknowledged their malpractice.
That was when they examined this whole treatment protocol and decided to essentially ban it, until such a time as when we have more information on this group. What these kids really need is psychotherapy. They need to look at their lives deeply with somebody who has experience and compassion and understanding. They need someone who will help them explore where this new identity came from. What is it a solution for? What is going on internally and in their life leading them to believe that living life as the opposite sex will make life better or easier?
We're told certain things by the crusaders, by the ideologues. I use that word crusader, and I don't use it flippantly. I've given a lot of thought to this and I really do feel as many others do that this is a crusade. This is a movement that seeks to impose a certain way of thinking on us and especially on our children.
But we are getting to the point where they are saying that they have to move in with experimental medications, which puberty blockers are, and cross-sex hormones. They propose giving girls testosterone at levels that they would never ever experience, unless they had some sort of an endocrine tumor, and giving boys levels of estrogen that are harmful. There is a whole laundry list of medical issues.
To say nothing of the fact that some of these kids then go on to have healthy organs removed. They end up disfigured and many of them end up sterilized. Let's just hold on a minute. This is all couched in the language of compassion and it's all packaged within civil rights, “We have to be kind, we have to be inclusive.” Of course, we have to be kind and we have to be inclusive of many different types of people that exist on this earth. No one is saying that we shouldn't be.
What people like myself are arguing, and what I argue in the book is that we should honor every person's mosaic of male and female without harming their body. We should not be touching these kids' bodies with these medical interventions that are experimental. We have no evidence that the kids actually do better on the other side of all these interventions. They possibly do worse.
Mr. Jekielek: You describe the incidence of psychiatric comorbidities. They are common in most of the kids in all the studies that I've looked at. With this one-way approach of affirming at any cost, and then all these very invasive treatments that are added on, including the social transitioning, the kids are still left with those original psychiatric comorbidities. It somehow makes it extra horrific to even consider that.
Dr. Grossman: It is extra horrific. You can hear it from the detransitioners, the individuals who have been through so-called affirming care. They're now in their late teens or 20s and they've had those treatments. They have had their voice lowered, their breasts removed in some cases, and their genitals removed in some cases. When they look back on their lives and how they got sucked into the ideology, they realize that they just wanted to feel better.
They wanted treatment. They just wanted to feel good and not feel anxious and depressed, and they wanted to like themselves. They want to fit in. They wanted to find a group that they could fit in with. They were told over and over again, “If you're not 100 percent comfortable with yourself, if you don't fit in, if you haven't found your group of friends, if you're uncomfortable with the changes of puberty, you may not be a girl, you may actually be a boy. That may be the solution to how you're feeling right now, and it's worth trying it out.” This is how kids start off on this pathway.
They get love bombed. Not every school, but at a lot of schools when you come out as being transgender or non-binary it means instant status and instant points, and that can also be a big motivation. We have to remember when we were all 13 or 14 years old in middle school or high school and how tough that is, and how difficult the social situation is. You will do practically anything to just assemble and have a group of friends to sit with in the cafeteria. You just want to belong.
When you become transgender or if you're a member of the LGBTQ group, automatically, you are no longer an oppressor. Otherwise, if you are a white, heterosexual, middle or upper middle class student, you're going to fall into that category of being an oppressor. Believe me, you don't want to be an oppressor. You can't change your socioeconomic status, but you can say, “I'm non-binary, and I'm neither sex. I'm neither sex, and I'm in this gray area.” That makes you an oppressed minority. But getting back to what you asked me about, this belief system is lumping together every single case of the symptom of gender dysphoria, lumping them together and saying, “Okay, there's one path for all of you,” and this is a big mistake.
Mr. Jekielek: What is the current state of affairs? You said there is this explosion. The argument by the crusaders is simply that this was just hidden. They say that people didn't feel comfortable talking about it, so that's why it's all coming out now. That's the argument. I want to get you to respond to that. There has been this explosion.
Dr. Grossman: A 5000 percent increase.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes, I was going to say it’s exponential. 5000 percent, exactly. There is a whole multi-billion dollar industry that has developed around it. But in the last year or two, there has also been a significant mobilization in the other direction, doing the things that you're doing. I want to understand how you see the field of play here.
Dr. Grossman: At this time, at least in this country and in Canada, we are still very gung-ho with the narrative of you having gender dysphoria. That means it should be affirmed, not questioned, not deeply investigated, and the child should be put in the driver's seat. The state of affairs in this country is to tell parents that puberty blockers are safe and that they are reversible. Actually, I don't know if they're still saying that.
Maybe they stopped saying they're completely reversible. But they're certainly saying that they are safe and that there is a medical consensus that this is the best way of treating these kids—to socially affirm them, to give them blockers that will prevent their natural puberty, and then shortly thereafter to begin a synthetic puberty of the opposite sex.
In the book I say that it is an assembly line. The reason I say that is because we know that once kids are put on this path, almost all kids on blockers go further down the path to cross-sex hormones, almost all of them, 90 percent or up. We know that the blockers are a big deal, and they are not just buying time. Because during that time, the kids are not changing their minds. For the ones that change their minds, it happens later.
I want to point out for your audience, and I'm sure everyone knows this, but I will point out that sex is established at conception. There's no assigning anything at birth. The egg unites with a sperm. In 99.98 percent of cases, you have either a boy or a girl at conception. That condition of being a boy or a girl is permanent.
Every cell in the body that has a nucleus of all our many billions and billions of cells that make up every system in the body has our code. The DNA code is in that cell. It is directing the proper functioning of that cell. If you have a Y chromosome, every cell in the body is going to be impacted by the presence of that Y chromosome. I'm bringing this up just to underscore the biological reality.
When you take that 10-year-old boy and you comply with his request to be considered a girl, and you are following the directions of all the medical organizations, let's just call it what it is—you are enforcing a falsehood. He is not a girl and he can never be a girl. By the way, in a developing brain, every experience in your life, everything you hear and see and experience creates a memory, and it actually changes the brain.
It has an impact on the brain. We know this because we studied brain plasticity, and the actual functioning and the wiring between the neurons in the brain is impacted by our experience. I argue in the book, “Don't we need to consider the impact on the brains of these young people? Their brains are still developing until their mid-20s.
When Johnny is being called Emily hundreds of times a day by everyone that knows them and being called she and her by everyone that knows them at school, home, and everywhere, over and over and over again, when everyone is addressing them as a girl, that's going to have an impact. An impact on the brain is one thing, but what about an impact later on in life if the child has doubts.
The child is going to have doubts. They may not express them or acknowledge them, but when they do have doubts at some point, do you understand how difficult it will be for a child who is already young, has premorbid conditions, and might be on the autism spectrum with all these various emotional conditions?” They may not be able to stand up and say to the adults, "I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Maybe I am Johnny."
We have to be thinking about that because we put them on this social affirmation path, we put them on an expressway toward the blockers, toward these interventions that are going to have permanent, huge, life-altering effects, like not being able to have biological children. What's bigger than that? What could we possibly be doing to these kids that would be more massively impacting their futures, their relationships, and the kind of lives that they're going to have?
Instead of being careful and asking all these questions, the professional organizations just jumped on the bandwagon and said, “Affirm, affirm, affirm, with everything on demand. There is no deep analysis of, “What's going on with this child? What's going on in the family? Maybe there was some trauma. Maybe this girl was molested and is afraid of growing up, afraid of growing up as a young woman.” There could be an endless number of things.
I've seen these kids, so I know this. These are complex issues. Is there some opposition? Clearly. I have to say there is finally more and more opposition, even within the medical organizations. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics has now announced that they are going to review their policy they came out with in 2018.
That policy was written by just one doctor who was just finishing his residency. That policy statement in 2018 from the American Academy of Pediatrics is basically just a regurgitation of all the ideology, from A to Z. There were pediatricians that tried to question it, and tried to debate and have a panel discussion. They were silenced.
Mr. Jekielek: You dedicate a whole chapter in Lost in Trans Nation to euphemisms. A lot of the woke march into all of the institutions involves this redefinition of terms, or the use of terms euphemistically. You chart this in intricate detail in this chapter, and it’s incredibly important. For example, the term top surgery. With top surgery, you don't get the sense how invasive it is, and how life altering it is. It seems like just something you could do easily.
Dr. Grossman: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Please tell me more about this specific use of language that's euphemistic, or in some cases just deceptive.
Dr. Grossman: We could be here all day talking about the Orwellian terms that we have in gender ideology, like the term affirming. If you affirm someone's new identity, it actually means you have to deny their biology. But affirming sounds like such a wonderful term. If someone is not affirming a child well, then what kind of person would not affirm a child? That just sounds terrible.
That chapter on euphemisms is specifically about the euphemism top surgery. As a physician, I'm enamored of female biology, the biology of reproduction, the biology of pregnancy, maternal child bonding, and the magic, if I could say that word, of nursing and what goes on during nursing. It is magical.
To me, that term top surgery is particularly offensive as it leads young girls to believe that it's not a big deal. They are led to believe that your breasts are unnecessary sex objects. That's their purpose. You're not a girl, and you're not a woman, so you don't need these objects on your chest.
It's odious to get young girls and their guardians, usually their mothers, to sign on the dotted line and have breasts removed. This is happening in girls as young as age 12. In the book I talk about the surgeons who openly say, "I have no lower age requirement in my office." These surgeons presumably are getting informed consent from the girls and from their guardian who also has to sign if they're underage.
The question I'm asking in the book is, “What kind of informed consent could this possibly be?” To get a valid informed consent, the person has to understand exactly what is going to be happening to them in this procedure. What is being removed? What are the possible consequences of the procedure? What are the other options that might be available to them to deal with the issue aside from surgery? What might be the long-term consequences of the surgery?
Chloe Cole is the 19-year old detransitioner who has courageously stood up and testified in Congress and in other places. She had a bilateral mastectomy when she was 15-years-old. A few weeks after that mastectomy, she was in a psychology class in high school, and she learned about the experiments of Harry Harlow who studied baby monkeys, and the importance of maternal bonding and nursing.
Then it hit her. It hit Chloe that, “Oh my gosh, I won't be able to nurse. I don't have breasts. I won't be able to nurse.” Now, mind you, she had been told as she was going into the surgery, “You're not going to be able to nurse.” But at that moment she said to herself, "I'm a boy, and boys don't nurse." Then she went through with the surgery.
Chloe Cole: It's caused permanent changes to my body. My voice will forever be deeper, my jawline sharper, my nose longer, my bone structure permanently masculinized, my Adam's apple more prominent, my fertility unknown. I look in the mirror sometimes, and I feel like a monster.
Dr. Grossman: In order to be truly informed and give informed consent I'm arguing in the book that girls need to be educated about what these organs actually do. There is a purpose for breasts, and they are not simply sex objects that people stare at. They are so much more. Nursing is an incredible experience, both for the mother and the child. There is bonding going on.
There's pheromones that are being shared. Oxytocin, the trust hormone and the bonding hormone, is being released in the mother and the child. There's all kinds of health benefits to Oxytocin in the mom and in the child. It's just wonderfully complex and awesome. I call it an ecosystem.
Kids are being told that the earth is a delicate ecosystem and we have to respect that. We can't assume that we’ll have an endless supply of clean air, or we can't expect to have an endless supply of natural resources. We have to be careful. We have to understand this ecosystem and honor it. We, each of us, are all delicate ecosystems.
This whole gender-affirming care is erasing all of that and just steamrolling the entire medical profession, the educational profession, and the mental health profession. They are just saying, “Pump these kids full of these medications.” We've never done this before. The last time, Jan, that we in psychiatry tried to help people with emotional disorders by changing their body, do you know when that was?
Mr. Jekielek: I have an idea.
Dr. Grossman: Lobotomies.
Mr. Jekielek: Right.
Dr. Grossman: Lobotomies. It was a horrific chapter in medicine not that long ago, and done by respected doctors. The inventor of the procedure got a Nobel Prize for coming up with this idea that people who are mentally ill—some of them were really not terribly mentally ill, they may just have had behavioral issues—that the way that we can treat them is by inserting an instrument into their brain. They drilled holes into the brain, or alternatively, they used the instrument and they entered the brain through the eye socket. Yes, it was completely barbaric. They would sever the connection of one part of the prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain. It was a very primitive, barbaric surgery that was actually done without anesthesia.
This was done to nearly 50,000 people in the U.S., including Rosemary Kennedy. The sister of JFK, and the aunt of RFK, Jr. had a lobotomy. I've been thinking about that. Because the Kennedy family, with their standing and their wealth, must have had the top professors advising them on what to do with Rosemary.
Rosemary was a problem. She had all kinds of mental health issues and behavioral issues. They didn't know how to help her and they ended up giving her a lobotomy. Look, I wasn't there, and obviously, it was before I was born. But clearly the Kennedys must have been told, “This is the standard of care. There is a medical consensus.” This is what the experts said was going to help Rosemary, and they signed on the dotted line. She was never the same, and she was institutionalized for the rest of her life. It was catastrophic.
We've had this before. We've had trends in medicine and certainly in psychiatry where doctors have come forward and aggressively promoted treatments and have said that there's a medical consensus and reassured families that were worried about their loved ones that this is the way to go. That's what's happening right now. I have so many parents who are contacting me who are desperate.
Just a few days ago, I got an email from another mom who was begging me. She gave me the phone number of the surgeon that was going to be operating on her daughter that day, later in the afternoon. She wrote me an emergency email in the morning and she begged me, "Here's the phone number of the surgeon. Please call him. I'll pay you whatever you want. Please call this surgeon. I know you can do this. Dr. Grossman, please convince him not to operate on my daughter." Of course, there's nothing I could do. I can't pick up a phone and call a surgeon and tell them not to operate.
What I can do is come and do an interview like this and talk about what's going on. What I can do is write my book and warn parents about this, not only parents that are currently dealing with this problem in their family, but parents who might deal with it in the future. I want them to be prepared, and I want them to have the information and the knowledge that they need. My book is not written for PhDs. It's written for everyday moms and dads to understand the landscape. Where did this come from? What is it? What can I do now to inoculate my kids against this ideology?
Mr. Jekielek: Let's jump into that. This is one of the most important parts of your book for me as well. I recently read a book of 75 essays by the PITT parents [Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans]. It was shocking stuff, and I hadn't thought about this from the perspective of parents until I read that book. It's a very fraught environment for parents who are actually trying to help their children.
Dr. Grossman: All the parents that I've talked to, and I've talked to hundreds of parents, were blindsided. They didn't see it coming. They never imagined that there would be such an announcement from their child. When it happens, they are stunned. They don't know what to say. More importantly, they don't know how to help their child. They don't know how to move forward and know what to do, and so, they're at a disadvantage. But in any crisis and in any situation, if you're prepared, then you're at an advantage.
What I want parents to know is that there's so much that they can do when their kids are still young. I'll just go through a few of these things, and there's a lot more in the book. First of all, they can begin to expose their child to these biological truths. For example, you have a daughter, and you want your daughter to know that she was a girl from the very moment that she was created. From the very moment that she was formed on this earth, she was a girl. Then from that moment forward, she will always be a girl.
There is no assigning that's going on in the delivery room. I want even little kids to be hearing this from their parents. I want their parents to reach them first. Later on, either at school or even in preschool, there's a whole library of books now for preschool kids that push this in a very aggressive way.
If your daughter already knows that she was a girl from the first moment of her existence, and has heard this many times from you, when she's first exposed to that phrase, assigned female at birth [AFAB], your child is going to say, "No, that's not right. I wasn't assigned. I was always a girl and I will always be a girl."
You're already giving her some ways of being a critical thinker. When she hears these things, it won't sound right to her. Maybe the rest of it won't sound right either. You want to explain to your child that we all have DNA in each cell. It doesn't have to be sophisticated. You can just say it's like the control center, like a computer that has a certain program. If there's some little hitch in that program, and if the programmer made some little mistake there, that's going to be a big issue. Our DNA is that program.
I want kids to understand that every part of their system, their heart and their lungs, and certainly their brain is all impacted by whether they have two X's or an XY. We have to honor that the same way that we honor other things in biology and biological systems.
The other thing that's important to tell girls and boys from an early age, and the parents also have to absorb this idea and really believe it, is that there's many different ways of being a boy and a man, or a girl and a woman. We are all a mosaic of masculinity and femininity. Sometimes the most masculine football-playing, tough-guy father has a really feminine son. You want to understand that there are all kinds of ways of being a man or a woman, and you do not want to give your child negative feedback about being the way that they might be.
With the child themselves, you want the child to not feel badly about being a little bit different than the stereotypical group of boys in their class that's all talking about cars or whatever it is. I hate these stereotypes. We all hate stereotypes. But part of why this ideology is just awful is that it forces the stereotypes into the discussion.
One of the other things that parents can do is plant seeds in the child's head that there are different ways of being men and women, and that we never want to harm our bodies in any way in order to appear more male or female. We can dress how we want and we can have whatever haircut we want, and all that is fine. We do not want to play around with medicines and surgeries that are invasive and that are not good for us.
Jan, I do want to add something at this point, and maybe I should have said it earlier. There are extremely rare individuals for whom living life as the opposite sex and going through these medical procedures may indeed be the right thing. There are individuals that claim that it was lifesaving for them to have the surgeries and the cross-sex hormones, and they can't imagine life without it. The thing is that we do not have any evidence that these are the majority of people who go through medicalization, nor do we have any way of predicting beforehand who is going to end up being content and who is not.
Mr. Jekielek: Kids are on the internet a lot, and that only seems to be increasing, despite more and more evidence of how addictive some of these apps are, and how compelling some of the content is. In some of the PITT parent essays they discussed the prevalence of pornography and how addictive that can be, and how that can get them thinking about their identities. If you're a parent today, how do you deal with the internet?
Dr. Grossman: I cannot underscore enough how critical it is for parents to be aware of what their kid is doing on the internet. Otherwise, it's like driving your child to the worst crime-ridden, drug-ridden part of town, and just leaving them off there to go in and out of people's homes. The internet is a very dangerous place. It's not at all uncommon for kids to explain that they were drawn into adopting a new identity because of someone they met on the internet.
I describe several kids in my book who became obsessed in relationships with strangers they met on the internet who had a big impact on their thinking and on their behaviors. One of the appendices in the back of the book is written by an expert on all sorts of filters and ways that parents can monitor internet usage, and can limit the websites, the contacts, and pretty much everything. This is mandatory.
You may have the best kid on the face of the earth, but there are temptations there. One of their friends may send them a link. You open up that link and it could be the worst kind of pornography you can imagine. Then they've seen it and there's no erasing it. You really want to be on top of your child's internet use.
Mr. Jekielek: Another one is about how to deal with schools that may be fronting this gender ideology in the first place. Please tell me about that and others that you want to mention.
Dr. Grossman: I have two appendices that have been written by brilliant attorneys who are experts in this field of parental rights, and one is on schools. This is not only relevant to parents who have a child currently questioning their gender identity. This is relevant to every family because you can see that radical sexual and gender ideology is being presented to kids at the schools in various contexts. What you want to do is to put the school on notice.
Even if your child is only entering kindergarten, you want the school to know that you do not want your child exposed to gender ideology. You want to know beforehand about any instance in which this is going to be taught. You don't want your child attending that class. You don't want your child joining any club at school where these things are discussed. You do not give your permission for your child to meet with the guidance counselor without your knowledge, or with any other third party without your knowledge.
You certainly do not give permission to the school to socially transition your child, meaning to use a new name and pronouns. There are numerous instances that I talk about in my book where there are lawsuits against schools, not only in blue states, but in red states as well, in which schools are keeping this from parents and placing a wedge between the child and the parents.
I have these appendices on how you can proactively deal with the school to avoid these kinds of scenarios. Put the school on alert. Know your rights. Parents have a constitutional right to be in charge and direct their child's education and healthcare and mental healthcare. The Supreme Court has been very clear on this issue. Parents have to know their rights.
Another important appendix by the same attorneys is about Child Protective Services [CPS]. Unfortunately, in some instances, Child Protective Services are being called on families that will not go along with the gender identity narrative. They refuse to use the names and the pronouns and take their children to a gender clinic. This is now being called emotional abuse and medical neglect.
I tell a terrible story of a child actually being removed for those reasons. Parents have to know their rights. What else do I have? I have an appendix with basic biology for regular moms and dads. I want you to know what to say when you're a high school student or eighth grader comes home and says at the dinner table, “Trans is as normal as having red hair. Intersex is as normal as being redheaded.” That's not quite correct.
I want parents to understand how the language and how biology itself is actually being co-opted and twisted and used for this agenda. I also have that; biology, schools, and CPS. I have a list of current key articles on this topic so that if you have an appointment with your principal, guidance counselor, therapist, or pediatrician, you can go to their office if this is something that you need to be discussing with them.
You can say, "Look, you may have not heard of the other side of the argument. There's actually a debate going on, and I have done a lot of research. Here are some articles that have been written by leaders in the field that are on the other side of the gender-affirming care debate. Please, take a look at these and then we can talk about it some more."
I provide that. What I'm really excited about, Jan, is that while I was writing this book, I decided to make use of all my connections that I have with parents. With the parents' help, I did an international survey asking parents that have or have had a gender distressed child, “What do you wish that you had known or had done before all this happened in your family, before your child came to you with the announcement? What do you wish you had known? What information would you want to share with other families who might go through this in the future that might make their experience navigating this great difficulty somewhat easier?”
I received responses from 500 parents in 17 different countries. I have an appendix to the book where I gathered the valuable and touching input that I got from those parents. It's parent-to-parent advice, because who knows better than the parents who have already gone through it, some of them for many years?
Mr. Jekielek: What do people do when they're faced with this situation in their own home?
Dr. Grossman: That's not easy. What you're trying to do is walk on a tightrope. The tightrope is on the one hand, “I'm with you and I'm connected to you and I love you, and whatever you're going through, I'm a part of it. I'm going to go through it with you and support you and do as much research as I need in order to become an expert in this.” That's one side.
The other side is, “I'm not going to give you what you want right now with what you're asking me. I am not calling you by a different name or different pronouns, and I am not making an appointment at a gender clinic to get puberty blockers. I am not doing that right now.” You're balancing those two things. The advice that I give to parents is that basically your child needs you. It may not look like that. It may not seem that way, but please remember that your child needs you and wants your approval. This is a difficult conversation for your child as well.
What you want to do is use this time to focus on the child. This is not a time to argue. This is not a time to start Googling and start getting data and information on suicide or on blockers. No. You want this to be a time that your child walks away from the conversation feeling, "Well, they didn't agree with me. They're not giving me what I want right now but they also didn't reject me at all. They didn't make me feel bad for the way that I'm feeling right now. They want to understand. They want to learn more. They're open to it." You want to model for your child that there can be big disagreements between people, but that doesn't mean that you have to lose your loving connection.
This might be the first area where you strongly disagree with your child. Because some of these kids actually have been, until this time, unbelievably compliant. They were perfect kids, never causing any trouble, and then the parents were hit with this biggie. First of all, it's a conversation that's focused on the child. As a parent, are you freaking out? Yes. Can you not believe that you're even having this conversation with your child? Yes. You've got to put that aside, and you can freak out later. You've got to stay in control.
Like I said, it's not easy. I have parents that tell me that when they talk to their kids sometimes, their kids say such outrageous things that they're biting their tongue. Their tongue is bleeding because they're keeping themselves from responding and saying, "Are you crazy? Where did you hear this? This is impossible. How can you even be saying these things?" But you're not talking like that during this conversation.
You're saying, "Oh, wow. I didn't expect this. I am surprised. Tell me more. When did you start feeling this way? Where did you hear about this? Could you explain to me what you mean when you say that you're actually a boy? How could you know that? Please tell me and educate me. You know more than me on this. Tell me how this works." Now, the kid is going to often have answers such as, "I don't know, I just feel this way," or, "I don't know, I've read it somewhere. It's on the internet."
I want parents to understand that even if the child is putting on this appearance of being 100 percent certain, they are not. Trust me. They're not at all. They want to appear that way. They want to appear certain and grown up and like, “I've thought about this a lot, mom and dad, and this is who I am and this is what I want.”
You can say, “Okay. Tell me more. Let's spend some time. I'm going to do research. I'm going to look at your websites. I might find my own websites.” You want to try to keep it like you're not opposing the child, and you're not standing opposite the child. You're walking next to the child.
The child has a struggle. Just like any other struggle that your child may come to you with, you're going to be next to them. You're going to be walking down the path with them. That doesn't mean that you always agree. You're not going to always agree, but you want to hold onto them.
I feel so much empathy for the parents. You see, as the child is learning about gender ideology and about being born in the wrong body and all of that stuff, the child is also being led to believe that anyone that opposes this, anyone that doesn't "respect your identity" or allow for you to express your "authentic self" is a bad person. They are not a good person, but a transphobic person and a hateful person.
I have a lot of kids tell me that, “Gosh, my parents were so wonderful on every other issue and my parents were always so LGBT-friendly and respectful. Then I came to them and I came out with my new identity.” There's disappointment. But there's also this feeling, “Oh my gosh, my parents are like those parents. They're like those transphobic people.” It's black and white thinking. The kids are indoctrinated to think in a black and white way.
That's why it is so difficult for the parents to both hold on to the kid emotionally, but to refuse to go along with the lie. I'm going to call it a lie—to affirm the opposite sex of what the child actually is, or to agree to the child becoming another sex and denying their biology without having to pay a price. They're going to pay a huge price for denying their biology.
I have that chapter called Lasagna Surprise, and I provide a model conversation. It's an ideal conversation and something to strive toward. Is it going to go exactly like the psychiatrist is saying? No, of course it's not. Parents are human and are going to make mistakes. Welcome to humanity. You're going to make a mistake. You don't know what to say. But they are basic guidelines for those first few conversations.
Mr. Jekielek: Miriam, this has been a fascinating conversation. Any final thoughts as we finish?
Dr. Grossman: I've seen so much with these families and kids, that I put my heart and soul into this book more than my other books, actually, because I so much want to prevent needless suffering. This is a man made catastrophe that we're in right now. It's manmade. It's not schizophrenia. It's not the bipolar disorder that I see so much of as a psychiatrist. This is actually a man made catastrophe. I want to prevent needless suffering, and I do believe that this book will do that. I've given parents so much information, so many tools, and so many ways of protecting their families and inoculating their families against these dangerous ideas.
I'll finish by saying that I don't want to have any more families emailing me and wanting an appointment for their kid. I want their kids to thrive, do well, be happy with who they are, love who they are, and grow up to be healthy, happy people with every option available to them, whether it’s marriage, family, or children. These kids that are going through gender-affirming care, and they will become lifelong patients. They become lifelong consumers of pharmaceuticals. We want to prevent that. Thank you so much for having me on.
Mr. Jekielek: Dr. Miriam Grossman, it's such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Dr. Grossman: Thank you so much.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Dr. Miriam Grossman and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I'm your host, Jan Jekielek.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.