60 Minutes Science of Sexual Orientation mother of twins, part 2

At last, I am posting some follow up comments made by Danielle, mother of the twin boys featured in the 60 Minutes segment, Science of Sexual Orientation. Part one is here and should be read first.
Danielle said this in her initial email:

I often wonder “if” I had told Adam that “yes” he could be a girl when he became old enough would he have stayed on that track of thought? However, at the urging of his therapist I told him I understood he was a girl yet he was really a boy and couldn’t be a girl.

Wanting to be clear, she wrote to elaborate:

This was my response when he was three years old. We thought it would be confusing for that age of a child to hear he could be a girl but not until he was older. Later in his life I was up late watching a tv show about transgender surgery. Adam had awaken and was watching the show behind me – I didn’t know he was there. I heard a gasp. When I turned around there was my Adam staring intently at the tv. He asked me in a shocked whisper “Can I do that surgery and be a girl?” I told him “yes” he could but not until he was 18 years old. He became very excited. You have to understand the differences in his age. I believe the information I gave him at each step was based on age appropriate responses. He did stare at me for a bit and asked me if I would really let him do something like that if he wanted. I assured him I would if it would make him happy. He wanted to know why I would help him change his body. I informed him because I loved him and I didn’t want him to be sad or hurt. He asked me if I really loved him that much. My response was a very sound “yes!” that seemed to please him very much.
The last time Adam and I talked about him being able to change his body into a girls body Adam was indecisive. Again, I believe it’s the age/stage of his life and awareness of all around him. This conversation occurred after Tyra Banks had issued an invitation to be on her show. At that time Adam advised me he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He didn’t know if he should change his body so he could be a girl, stay with a boys body, if he was straight sexually or gay. Again, I believe his answer and confusion to be age appropriate. I declined the show offer because I didn’t want him to expose himself when he was so unclear about his future. I didn’t want to “lock” him into any particular role. That was when I decided to proceed with the hormone therapy to give him more time and maturity to decide what he wanted for himself. However he was already fully into developing so we decided not to go ahead with the treatments.
We are in the process of working on another television project. I am allowing Adam to participate because I believe the show will allow him to show his confusion and be himself as he is for a 12 year old. This lead us to another conversation about the issue. For all of his wise wisdom he informed me he still didn’t know what he wanted to do. “After all Mom, I’m only 12. I’m not suspose to know 100% for sure where my sexuality belongs. I’m suppose to be able to explore and decide later” And that’s where I have left it. For him to be a normal 12 year old child, maturing, developing and exploring the possibilities of his future. I’m here to guide him, support him, and show him all the possibilities of the future. I can love him, hold him, praise him and catch him if he falls. That’s my role as a parent.

I then wrote to her to clarify how these thoughts related to her parenting decisions, specifically with his name and school. She said:

The issue of what name to use during school was never really discussed. I wouldn’t have allowed him to use a girls name at school even if he had pushed me to do so. He was “Adam” and that was that.
During school hours he could wear what he wanted as long as it followed the school dress code. He only asked to wear a dress to school a few times. My response was always that his brother couldn’t wear his fireman clothing so he couldn’t wear his dresses to school however, he did wear them around the house. He did wear a girls black sweater with gold thread for two years. He wore girls tennis shoes all his life because of the color and sparkles and still wears them. He would wear girl shirts; however, in today’s fashion world, sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference except in color. In his younger years, he wore girl jeans with sparkles but only for about an year then he didn’t want to wear them anymore. But the really feminine clothing was only at home. My life was easier dealing with this issue because I had twins. His twin wanted to be a fireman. He had everything to do with a fireman just like Adam had everything to do with being a girl. My rule was that the girl clothing (dresses, heels, jewelry, skirts, femme blouses, makeup) and the fireman clothing stayed home when we went to the library, grocery store, grandma’s, church, school and so on. My main reason for my restrictions were due to my parents who are totally against Adam’s gender issues. However, his Nana didn’t care what he wore so he could take his dresses to her house and wear them over there. I did have an issue at school once where the principal asked me if I could get Adam a different book bag (his was pink) and buy him different shoes (his were white with a pink logo on them). I advised her that he wasn’t breaking any rules by his choices so I wouldn’t make him give them up. I told her I could give in to him and allow him to wear dresses to school if she really wanted to push me since there isn’t a dress code that says he can’t. She backed off after that. However, I wouldn’t have ever allowed him to wear a dress to school anyway. Yes, I had restrictions about what he wore and did in society but he did have a bit of freedom by his choice of shoes.

I again want to thank Danielle for her candid comments. I have received emails from parents and professionals who are glad for this glimpse into how one parent reasons through these difficult issues.

American Psychological Association comments on DSM gender identity issue

The other APA (the psychologists) has now commented on the appointment of Ken Zucker to the psychiatrist’s APA DSM task force.

American Psychological Association
Office of Public Affairs
(202) 336-5700
Public.affairs@apa.org
Statement on Gender Identity Disorder and the Planned Revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
May 2008
There has been some recent confusion regarding the American Psychological Association and work being done on the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The DSM is a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, not the American Psychological Association (APA). Questions regarding the DSM-V and the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group should be directed to the American Psychiatric Association.
For many years, the American Psychological Association has worked to end discrimination, including discrimination based on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. APA is committed to taking a leadership position among the mental health professionals, scientists and scholars who are addressing the issues surrounding gender identity and transgenderism. APA formed a task force in 2005 to study gender identity and gender variance. This group has been reviewing both the scientific literature and APA policies related to these issues and developing recommendations for education, training, practice, and further research.
The task force has completed a report that is slated to be presented to APA’s governing Council of Representatives in August. It will make a series of recommendations, including that APA call upon psychologists to provide appropriate, nondiscriminatory treatment to all transgender and gender-variant individuals. It is expected that the Council will adopt the report and its recommendations.
The task force did not take a position with regard to the gender identity disorder diagnosis because there was no consensus among its members. Indeed, there is no consensus among professionals working in the field; reputable scientists continue to disagree about GID. Regardless of the disagreement concerning the GID diagnosis, there is a need for greater consensus on treatment of gender dysphoria. The task force strongly supports the development of practice guidelines for transgender clients.
APA believes that no psychological disorder should be stigmatized or used as the basis for discrimination. People who are concerned about issues having to do with their gender identity should have access to appropriate and non-discriminatory treatment. Mental health providers need to educate themselves about how to provide such care.
Responses to Possible Questions:
Q.What is the American Psychological Association’s position with regard to the appointment of Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Ray Blanchard to the work group reviewing GID? Are you actively working to have them removed?
A. APA is pleased that well-qualified psychologists who are also members of APA have been included in the leadership of this aspect of the DSM revision. We are also aware that there are substantive disagreements in the field over the GID diagnosis and over the treatment of gender dysphoria. We call on this group and others working on the new DSM to apply the highest professional standards in reviewing the science and we encourage the careful consideration of all legitimate perspectives.
Q.Why did the American Psychological Association allow Dr. Kenneth Zucker to be part of its task force on gender identity?
A. APA’s Task Force on Gender Identity was given a very specific charge — to complete a review of the research literature on gender identity and transgenderism and to make recommendations based on that review. Nominations to the Task Force were widely sought and appointments to the task force, including that of Dr. Zucker, were made through a very thorough review process based on an individual psychologist’s research, clinical expertise and experience. As is the case with all APA task forces, the final work product is grounded in the strongest, peer-reviewed science available and undergoes a rigorous review process within the APA governance structure before it can become APA policy. Ultimately, what becomes APA policy must be well-grounded in science not individual opinion.

UPDATE – Elsewhere the American Psychiatric Association issued a statement reviewing the credentials of Dr. Zucker, which are impressive indeed.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force questions the APA on DSM choices

There appears to be a growing schism within LGBT circles regarding the APA appointments of Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard to the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group (see the APA statement here). Today, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued a press release calling Zucker and Blanchard “clearly out of step with the occurring shift in how doctors and other health professionals think about transgender people and gender variance.”
The APA and Jack Drescher has stepped up in favor of the appointments.
Thus far, to the best of my knowledge, the opposition has primarily been from transgender advocacy groups and writers. The press release stops short of calling for the appointments of Zucker and Blanchard to be canceled, but rather expresses disappointment. I wonder if any other advocacy groups will follow suit.

Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy

Part of the chorus of dissent bringing down the recent APA symposium was an April 24 article in the Gay City News, called “Junk Science on Stage.” In that article, some false claims were made about sexual identity therapy and my work. I addessed themhere on the blog recently.
Generally, “junk science” is a phrase used by advocates when they want to discredit views with which they disagree. The tobacco industry used the term to describe the research on second hand smoke and generally the term is little more than an ad hominem attack. Such was the case in the GCN report.
So I am glad that Paul Schindler, editor of GCN and author of the article in question, allowed me to make the record clear about the SIT framework. At the end of the letter, he acknowledges the error.

UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL IDENTITY THERAPY
05/22/2008
To the Editor:
In “Junk Science on Stage” (by Paul Schindler, Apr. 24-30), a claim was made about the Sexual Identity Therapy framework. The SIT framework was to be presented at the cancelled May 5 American Psychiatric Association symposium on religion, therapy, and homosexuality.
Gay City News described SIT this way: “‘Sexual Identity Therapy,’ which [Throckmorton] says he has successfully applied to help patients ‘alter homosexual feelings or behaviors’ and live their lives ‘heterosexually’ with ‘only very few weak instances of homosexual attraction.'”
This is false. The article attributes to me claims about SIT I have never made. In fact, the SIT framework says this: “Prior to outlining the recommendations, let us define what they are not. They are not sexual reorientation therapy protocols in disguise.”
The SIT framework, first contemplated formally in 2005, does not provide any means to do what the Gay City article references – “alter homosexual feelings…” etc. These quotes are taken out of context from a 1999 speech. Putting these phrases in quotes makes it appear that I was interviewed for the article and quoted in reference to SIT, which is not true.
Endorsed by Robert Spitzer, the former editor of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and former American Psychological Association president Nicholas Cummings, the SIT framework provides guidance for therapists who work with clients experiencing sexual identity conflicts but does not prescribe beliefs about homosexuality or religion. The SIT framework specifically discourages several practices conducted by reparative therapists and so it is disappointing that the Gay City News wrongly suggested that my presentation would somehow support their work.
Warren Throckmorton, PhD
www.sexualidentity.blogspot.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Schindler acknowledges Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s advisory that he made the statements about the results of his therapeutic work, quoted in Schindler’s article, prior to the development of his Sexual Identity Therapy framework.

Note my statement about reparative therapy. You cannot be in compliance with the SIT framework and tell clients that you (the therapist) know why people are homosexual. Explaining a theory and helping clients find themselves in it is not the way we believe this work should be done. We likewise do not promote a view of same-sex attraction that views it as a disorder to be cured or grow out of. The GCN article created a false picture of what the symposium would discuss and falsely attacked me for trying to promote views I do not hold.

Court says Texas had no right to keep children

Testing the intersection of religious liberty and child protection, the state of Texas removed over 460 children from a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in April, 2008.
Today, an appeals court said the state of Texas was in error given that Texas law requires imminent danger as a test for removal. The authorities appealed to the “pervasive belief system” of the cult as one reason to take all children. The court indicated that the beliefs of the cult was insufficient basis for imminent danger.
The memorandum is here…
While I have no sympathy for the doctrines or practices of this group, I do think an appeal to the beliefs of the cult as a prime foundation for removal could set a ambiguous precedent for how child welfare professionals regard religious beliefs. There are less dramatic actions that can be taken and indeed probably should be taken to prevent harm to children.

WND Day of Silence incident reports – The rest of the story

Yesterday, WorldNetDaily filed a report about Mission America’s efforts to keep kids out of school on the Day of Silence. I noted that the WND article reproduced the Golden Rule Pledge card and called it a “popular poster used to promote the Day of Silence.”
However, reading further, I became curious about some of the bullet-point reports from various schools labeled by the WND article as Day of Silence “incidents.”
This post is the follow up of two allegations. First, from a Kirksville, MO parent:

Kirksville, Mo.: A parent reported that the Kirksville High School principal and superintendent laughed when she asked if her child could be excused from participating in the school’s Day of Silence. According to Mission America, she said, “They called me a narrow-minded bigot and refused to give excused absences.”

Curious, I called the Kirksville High School Superintendent of schools, Pat Williams about the allegation of name-calling. When I read the account to him, he said, “That’s absolutely false. I did not use that language with any parent or in response to any inquiry.”
He told me that a couple of parents called to express disagreement with the Day of Silence and one mother met in person with him but he did not express any judgment about the mother’s views. He further explained that the matter of an excused absence would be at the discretion of the building principal.
He told the parent that the Day of Silence was student initiated and followed procedures established by the school for student-initiated activities. Mr. Williams explained,

“We don’t pass judgment on the causes as long as they follow established parameters. We have had a variety of student-initiated activities such as Bible study groups, days of prayer, and national flag pole prayer observances. This year, a parent and student also approached us about a Day of Truth as a follow up on Monday and we held them to the same standards.”

Randy Michael, principal of Kirksville High School also took strong exception to the Mission America source. He said flatly, “That’s not true” when I read the allegation to him. He said he received “two or three” complaints about the event and at least one request for an excused absence which was denied. He explained that there was no basis for an excused absence since no student was compelled to participate in the Day of Silence.
He said both the Day of Silence and Day of Truth were observed in accord with the same standards. Students were required to speak if called on by a teacher. Also, no student could force their materials on others, but could give cards or information out if asked. “Neither day disrupted education,” Mr. Michael said.
I emailed Linda Harvey at Mission America to see if I could interview the parent involved but she declined to provide more information or contact the person who made the allegation. The Kirksville administrators were not aware of any allegations surrounding the Day of Silence until I called. In my opinion, the the information provided by Mr. Williams and Mr. Michael and the fact that the school district also allowed the Day of Truth detract from the credibility of the anonymous allegation.
I also talked to the Mesa, AZ Police about this story:

Also in Phoenix, at Desert Ridge High School, Arizona Republic reported that nearly 250 students stayed home. A parent who objected to the observance hosted a pool party for students who refused to participate. His son received a death threat via text message, and police questioned a group of homosexual students who silently sat across the street from his home.

You can see a not completely accurate video report here.
I talked to Detective Steve Berry at the Mesa Police Department who said the Mesa Police received a call from a student who heard a rumor that someone was planning a shooting on the Day of Silence. No targets were identified. The text message was not a threat but rather a report of the rumored planned shooting. Essentially, Det. Berry said the threat was a rumor that was passed through the grapevine, but there was no text threat directly made toward anyone. Thus, the KPHO.com report is misleading in that no student group was ever identified as responsible. The WND report is misleading in that the boy in question did not actually receive a text message with a threat, according to Det. Berry, who read the police report to me.
And those were just the first two bulletpoints. I guess you can’t believe everything you read.