LONDON – Whilst experts, in any field, are afraid to express their honest professional opinion on the record for fear of cancellation, something has gone terribly wrong in public discourse.
So when some well-established experts in transgender health told us they weren’t ready to repeat on camera what they admitted to us in private because they sit on diversity boards and would almost certainly be called transphobic, it was our confirmation. The story was necessary. If only for gender dysphoric children and young people, as well as their families, who are struggling and don’t know what to believe.
The first thing we did was dig into the W5 archives. What we found was an unprecedented, and at times extremely graphic, report about trans women produced in 1973.
One of the women pictured is Diana Boileau who started transitioning at the age of 16.
“Probably at age 14, at age 15 I was unconscious that I had a problem,” she told the host of W5. “But other kids made me well aware that my different response to emotion, because of participating in sports at school, made me more inclined to let go of instincts and move on with girls than I was playing baseball with boys. “
She was brought to the attention of a doctor in London, UK, who recognized a “transsexual problem” and “recommended” [her] parents that [she] Cross-dress.”
Boileau, who has died, wrote a book about his experience and claimed to be the first person in Canada to have sex reassignment surgery. At that time, patients were subjected to a comprehensive medical evaluation before any procedure was performed.
Which brings us to 2021 and increased referrals of children to gender clinics. We asked medical professionals in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom whether there are appropriate safeguards in place for children and young people prone to infection.
In the UK, the Keira Bell case has sparked a heated debate over the treatment of children with gender dysphoria. According to the UK’s National Health Service, the term gender dysphoria is used when a person feels uncomfortable “due to a mismatch between their biological gender and their gender identity.”
By the age of 14, Bell, who was born as a biologically female, had been sexually abused, felt abandoned by her parents and struggled with her attraction to girls. He began his transition as a male at the age of 16, but later regretted it.
Bell took her gender clinic to court, claiming that those who know best should have challenged her further. In other words, experts took it too easy and didn’t consider how a turbulent childhood might affect her relationship with her body.
Bell is a so-called detractor who believes there are many others like him. As does Sinead Watson, whom we spoke to in Glasgow, Scotland. During the interview, to establish that she was female by birth and was infected, Watson placed a hand on her face and joked that she shaved it for us that morning.
It has taken Watson a long time to accept her body as it is today, ie thinner hair, deeper voice and no longer breasts. Watson stopped taking the testosterone when he sent the woman back, but the effects are still there and will last longer. “It’s not the kids who are messing up,” she told us, “it’s the therapists.”
There are those who believe that exposing the experience to detractors is transphobic in itself because it overpowers the majority for whom the experience was successful. We wanted to hear from both sides.
Kian Olshevsky was a born woman. He says he knew something was not right at the age of four. To this day, he remembers how upset he became as a kid when he didn’t get Happy Meals for boys at McDonald’s. That’s when it started. Over the years, he became increasingly victimized by what he describes about the relationship between his biological sex and the gender he identifies with. By the age of 14, he was harming himself. Today, at age 20, Olshewski awaits the final stages of her medical transition, with the full support of her parents and twin sister.
We first met him at his old high school in Pembroke, Ont. Next to him sat Morgan Campbell who was his friend before his transition, and who became his girlfriend shortly after.
“I would rather die right on the operating table than die without surgery and not be who I am,” he told us.
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