The Kafkaesque Transformation of Puberty

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Note: This post talks about trans people and suicide. TLDR I fully support trans people and this article is me venting about how this group is treated.

A user on Reddit took to the /r/nostupidquestions subreddit to ask, Are children actually getting sex changing surgery? Some comments shared metrics (such as how 0.045% of youths diagnosed with gender dysmorphia had some form of surgery as a minor), but this one really caught my eye. Here are a few things I wanted to comment on:

It is not common practice to perform surgical transition on a minor. The largest exception to this is among infants. Infants who are born intersex are often surgically corrected to one gender or the other.

Definitely worth noting that some children are born without being clearly one gender or another and we kinda…pick for them. Other times this does not present at birth, and it's discovered later in life. These things are not as fixed as some suggest. You can read more here.

They then go on to talk about why suicide rates are so high among young trans people, and raises that it's often not bullying or abuse, but the fact that puberty hits and they start to change in ways that don't make sense to their inner vision of themselves. They describe it as "Kafkaesque".

Imagine if you woke up one morning with dog paws for hands. Imagine waking up every morning, and maybe your face is just a little longer. There's a little nub over your tailbone that gets just a little bigger every day. Your fingers get just a little smaller, your palm gets a little firmer, your hands get a little furrier every day.
You're turning into a dog. Your body is changing into something it's not supposed to be, something that doesn't at all represent who you are, and you can't stop it. And meanwhile, everyone around you is telling you that it's natural, that you'll enjoy being a dog, that you'd look so good in a little bandana.

They also mention that the typical process is to socially transition (new clothes, new name, etc.), and then to move onto puberty blockers if the social transition helped them. Surgical changes are exceptionally rare, and those that do happen occur when the individual is an adult.

we don't wait for them to be adults because doing so is beyond cruel. We have the technology to hit the pause button and let them figure it out.

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention estimates that about 0.5% of Americans have attempted suicide at some point, with upwards of 9% of high schoolers saying they have attempted suicide in the past year. The latest estimates I can find show 19% of transgender youth have attempted suicide, so more than double the rate of their peers. That study also showed a majority (55-70%, varying by state) of trans youth were unable to get the mental health care they felt they needed.

Attacking trans people, a marginalized, hurting group as a political football to activate your base is morally bankrupt and politicians doing that today should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sorry this group makes some people feel uncomfortable, but they get to exist and should be allowed to live their lives to the fullest like everyone else should be able to do. Ostracizing them from society, as many states are trying to do, and refusing to invest in methods for trans youth to get mental counseling, all while being laser focused on athletes and surgery on minors, two things that almost never happen (and never happen lightly) is cruel and shameful.