Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Modern Castrati

The Modern Castrati

If you don't know about castrati, boys who were emasculated before puberty so that they could sing soprano parts, read here, and try not to get angry. Then read this account from World Net Daily, and say to yourself, "But that barbarism was long ago":

A doctor at the renowned Children's Hospital Boston has launched a new program to drug children to delay puberty so they can decide whether they want a male or a female body, according to a report today in the Boston Globe.

Pediatric endocrinologist Norman Spack, 64, says he started the Gender Management Service Clinic because he found himself encountering 20-somethings who were "transgendered" and in good shape socially, "but they were having trouble getting their physique to conform to their identity.

"I knew the 20-somethings could have better chances of passing if they were treated earlier," he said.


In a question-and-answer session with Globe columnist Pagan Kennedy, she starts the apologetic for doing surgery on children by saying, "Little boys sob unless they're allowed to wear dresses. The girls want to be called Luke, Ted, or James."

"Until recently, children with cross-gender feelings rarely received modern medical care – and certainly not hormone shots. After all, who would allow a child to redesign his or her body?" she asks.

But Spack, she wrote, has started a clinic that "is one of the few in the world to give children treatments that change their bodies."

She reports he uses drugs to delay puberty, "granting them a few more years before they develop bodies that are decidedly male or female."

Spack tells the interviewer he's seen "preadolescents" who have been dressing in underwear of the opposite sex "for years."

"The puberty-blocking drugs work best at the beginning of the pubital process, typically age 10 to 12 for a girl and 12 to 14 for a boy," he said. He's based some of his work on a Dutch model for sex-change, and said the recommendations there are age 16 for hormones that forever change a child's body.

But "for others," he wrote, "you lose opportunities if you wait. [One of my patients, a] transgendered girl from the UK, was destined to be a 6-foot-4 male. With treatment, she's going to end up 5-foot-10."

He said such treatments not only change the physical characteristics of the growing children, but also could leave them sterile for life.

"You have to explain to the patients that if they go ahead, they may not be able to have children. … But if you don't start treatment, they will always have trouble fitting in," he said.

I've previously linked to an article by the head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University medical school explaining why they stopped doing sex changes because it became apparent that what needed work wasn't genitals, but minds. I think it would be really interesting to do a detailed study of children (as young as 12) who are convinced that they are in the "wrong" bodies. Something tells me that you will find a lot of disrupted family structures, probably some sexual abuse, and a lot of other indications that these kids are in desperate need of help--but not a sex change, or messing with their hormones.

These are the sort of stories that if the masses knew about them, they would be lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks for an assault on Dr. Frankenstein's castle.

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