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Colorado School Official Wants Trans Kids Castrated

Colorado School Official Wants Trans Kids Castrated

When a school official advocates for trans kids being castrated before they’re allowed to use the gender facilities that align with their identity, you know something has gone terribly wrong. Sadly, that’s a reality in one Colorado school.

Delta County School Board member Katherine Svenson has made international headlines for transphobic comments she reportedly made during an October school board meeting.

With the school for the first time facing the issue of trans kids having access to gender segregated facilities, Svenson reportedly embarked on a crusade to make sure the Colorado school doesn’t adopt any policy similar to that which was adopted as law in California.

“I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country,” she is quoted as saying. “Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is, and I want to emphasize, and they’re actually talking about joining girls sports teams going in the girls locker rooms and bathrooms, and I just want to emphasize not in this district. Not until the plumbing’s changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here.”

Not all trans people require genital change surgery. To suggest that they are not properly one gender or another unless they undergo said surgeries profoundly misunderstands gender and, indeed, child welfare.

In particular, Svenson appears ignorant of the choices and difficult decisions young trans people face. Some will know they desire so-called full gender change surgery very early on, while for others treatment may center around beginning hormone therapy and living as the gender they align with for a number of years prior to making any decisions about particular surgeries.

Furthermore, the subject of castration is one that for trans people is particularly offensive. Many countries have in the past and still today require trans people to undergo medical castration and sterilization before they can be classed as the sex they are transitioning to, a mandate that has been widely condemned by major human rights bodies as unlawful and against basic human dignities and freedoms.

Nevertheless, Svenson stands by her comments. In follow up remarks to NewsChannel 5, Svenson said:

“I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls, I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in girls locker-room.”

Fortunately, Delta County assistant superintendent Kurt Clay has rejected Svenson’s comments. He also highlighted that the school adopted a blanket nondiscrimination policy in June. The school’s nondiscrimination policy specifically outlines sexual orientation and sex but not gender identity.

Interestingly, it has since emerged that Svenson founded an anti-gay ministry known as TellASIA and that the material Svenson cited during her tirade came from the Education Reporter, a newsletter given to members of the Eagle Forum, an anti-LGBT organization founded by the notorious Phyllis Schlafly.

In this light, it becomes apparent that the media has done a great disservice in treating this as an isolated incident of transphobia and not putting it into the context of a national push back against trans rights in our schools.

Regular readers will remember that just last month a self-styled Christian ethos legal firm took it upon itself to launch a smear campaign against a trans teenager from Colorado after they discovered she was being allowed to use the facilities that comport with her gender. The legal group alleged that she had been harassing female students. It then clarified that it believed her merely using the facilities constituted harassment. So distraught was the teenager in this case that she had to be put on suicide watch.

This also comes at a time when signatures are being counted to put on the 2014 ballot a repeal of California’s landmark trans student rights law. The repeal has even been backed by the nation’s most high profile anti-gay marriage group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), signalling that with anti-LGBT groups losing their fight against gay marriage they are turning their attention toward opposing other rights measures like trans rights.

Unfortunately, this new battle seems to put trans kids on the front lines — something that Svenson and other so-called “concerned” citizens don’t appear to care about.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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141 comments

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6:41PM PST on Dec 12, 2013

PS.

I would like to invite Katherine Svenson (and anyone who agrees with her), to accompany me in my practice and work with these children, learn more than she apparently thinks she knows and then tell me how many should be castrated ......

6:35PM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Contd:

Just as the body is affected by hormone levels in-utero in terms of how it will develop , so is the brain. Imagine a foetus whose brain has formed under the influence of androgens and is mapped to identify the individual as male but the body does not respond (virilise), so at delivery the child looks female with no evidence of ambiguity. The child is therefore raised as female, but by the age of two or three ‘she’ begins to express a male gender identity (this also occurs the other way around in that the brain is mapped as female and the body develops as male). The parents are horrified, rush to the family doctor who has never been confronted with this situation before and suggests that nurture and psychological counselling will probably overcome this ‘gender confusion’.

Who or what tells us that we are male or female? Not a pink or blue nursery, nor the toys a child is given. The answer is the the brain. Gender identity forms irrespective of phenotype, as body and brain have not developed in harmony. The child’s sex may be male, but the gender identity is female (or vice versa). What do we do, castrate that child, lock them up, use electro convulsive therapy (ECT).? No, we investigate and talk with the child to work out what will offer the best chance for s/he to grow up happy, healthy and well-adjusted to who they really are.

6:33PM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Terri Lynn M. “When we are conceived, whether the sperm that fertilizes the egg is X (girl) or Y (boy) determines our sex”

With respect, you are mistaken on several fronts. I am a paediatric specialist in child mental health and have treated many trans children, so I am aware of the medical facts and what these children go through because they are born ‘different’.

Firstly, Female is the default for our species. Most humans have 46 chromosomes including two sex chromosomes written as 46,XX or 46,XY (although there are many other variations). This pattern is defined by a ‘karyotype test’. A foetus with 46,XY will, in most cases, develop into male anatomically. It is therefore the Y chromosome that determines whether the child will be physically male i.e. the SEX of the child. In the absence of a Y chromosome the child will develop into a phenotypical female whether she has two or just one X chromosome. In some cases however, in a foetus whose karyotype is 46,XY the Y chromosome malfunctions and the child may be born looking externally female. In other instances, the Y chromosome will function as intended, but the foetus does not respond to androgens triggered by the Y chromosome as their body cell receptors are faulty. This lack of response means that yet again a XY foetus will not gestate into a physically male child. These children are usually defined as ‘intersex’.

3:13AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Karen, how right you are...

11:16PM PST on Dec 8, 2013

This person..(and I use that word for her loosely) obviously has emotional problems.....should not be working around vulnerable children. This is a dangerous person.

7:58AM PST on Dec 5, 2013

She is a an utter lunatic and should not be allowed near children.

6:13AM PST on Dec 4, 2013

Is this really the kind of person you want around children?! Thank you for sharing.

9:39PM PST on Dec 3, 2013

The school board member advocating castration for gender confused children should be ashamed and removed from her position of authority. I certainly would not want her making decisions for my son or daughter. She doesn't deserve to be in her position making such insane suggestions for a life altering decision like castration for children. She scares me!

6:53PM PST on Dec 3, 2013

Clearly this woman is ignorant, misinformed and displays outright prejudice. She should have no place on a school board, which should respect all students and look out for their welfare.
Causing harm by speaking offensively does not fulfil that duty of care.

5:20AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

This person is just plain ignorant if they think the only thing that proves a person is trans is genital surgery. And genital surgery can't be performed on kids! The trans kids are in more danger in the bathrooms of their biological sex than any kids are from them in a same gender bathroom. This is ridiculous.

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