In 1987 an advertising campaign was launched by the Partnership for a Drug Free America organization. A man, holding up an egg, says, “Here’s your brain.” He then cracks the egg in a hot frying pan and states, “And here’s your brain on drugs, any questions?” The emphasis was the long-term effects of recreational drug use. Fast forward a few decades and now there are activists actually promoting a different kind of drug use that will have horrific effects. In the U.S. there may be an important reason that young people cannot legally drive until they reach 16 years of age, cannot vote until they are 18 years of age, cannot legally purchase alcohol until they are 21 years of age, and cannot rent a vehicle until they are 25 years of age (for most companies).
Anne Fetterman, RN BSN, Joseph Campellone MD, and Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN from the University of Rochester Medical Center made some interesting statements about the brain of a teenager:
“It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet. The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part. In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.”
This seems to be something worthy of consideration when addressing children regarding gender and sex. While reviewing this week’s text and the article recommended by our lead mentor I was moved back and forth between deep grief and outrage. The reviewer in summarizing the essay by Davies-Arai said, “What transgenderism represents is not a medical problem or even a psychological condition requiring treatment, but a species of adult identity politics being applied to children whose identities are not fixed, but are in development, and are therefore vulnerable to distortion and abuse.” Davies-Arai believes, “what we have been witnessing is not only a medical experiment on some children’s bodies but a psychological experiment on all children’s minds.” If, in fact, this transgenderism in children is being driven by a political agenda, these activists should be the ones accused of abuse, not the parents who refuse to allow sex change in their young children.
In the review, the eighth point of the summary clearly outlines the logic that seems to be ignored. If one’s biological sex has no bearing on a person’s true sense of self as these activists proclaim, then why the press to change it with such extreme measures? One should simply pay no attention to it at all. Why the insistence to alter my sex if it really does not make me any part of who I am? Research has shown the negative effects of pharmaceutical treatment resulting in various life threatening and debilitating physical illnesses, not to mention adverse emotional effects. Our children are not lab rats, and yet this seems of no consequence to those who are politically motivated, and they are the ones with the fully developed brain.
Though my grief is for the children, my outrage is toward the adults, those who should know better but are blinded by their own selfish agenda. I understand the context of Jesus’ words about those who cause little ones to stumble, but it seems he would use the same warning about this behavior, “…it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned into the depths of the sea.”
The editors and reviewer all represent varying personal perspectives in what they contribute to these texts. I appreciate the broad spectrum of expertise and personal relationship with the topic. I am especially grateful for the enormous risk taken by the editors, to say what needs to be said even to their own peril. My outrage at adults, includes myself, for being intimidated by a vocal minority about such a society altering subject. What would happen if the majority would take a stand against being silenced? There is still beauty in democracy when it works as it should.
Typically, when reading someone’s blog with such a strong opinion as I have been expressing, I wonder if they have any personal knowledge of that which they are ranting about. Before you wonder the same, this is a subject that has relational content. In our recent pastorate we walked through gender dysphoria with one of our teenagers. She was 14 when we met her and had struggled with this, from her mother’s narrative to us, since she was two years old. As a small preschooler she would exclaim, “I’m a boy!” After two suicide attempts her mother came to us in desperation. I will never forget her question, “What am I to do? I tried everything to shape her as a girl all her life while loving her and caring for her. I can’t lose her to suicide, that’s not a choice I can make.” No pastoral training prepared us for this conversation. Politics, science, and academic arguments mean nothing when looking with empathy in the face of a broken-hearted mother and a confused and tormented child.
As spiritual leaders, we must educate ourselves on the subject, walk in humility and pray for wisdom far beyond our years of experience. We must be courageous and use our voice to stand up for the child who cannot make a logical choice with an under-developed brain while giving much grace and support to parents torn in two. We must support educators, therapists, and the medical profession as they continue learning and informing us. That said, we cannot capitulate to a political minority at the expense of our children and grandchildren. If they cannot rent a vehicle, they cannot make a healthy decision about their long-term future. These are extremely complex matters with no easy solutions but doing what is best for our children has never mattered more. Their brains are our responsibility to protect.
 Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, eds., Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body (UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018), 6.
 Matthew 18:6b NIV