Many of my patients are soft in the head. And understandably so: a good chunk of them are infants, the bony plates of their skulls as yet unfused.
Adults don’t have that anatomic excuse; yet soft-headed grown-ups are everywhere.
Consider, for instance, this headline in last Wednesday’s Daily Mail: “Britain's first pregnant man, 21, who stopped transitioning to start a family, reveals emotional trauma of giving birth in the wrong gender.”
Hayden Cross, born Paige, sounded off to the Mail on “the realities of being pregnant as a transgender man, saying giving birth brought up 'a lot of emotions and a lot of feelings' and he didn't feel well supported.”
No sh--, Sherlock. It’s tough to be supportive of blithering idiocy.
A better example of fake news would be difficult to find. Cross is not the first man to be pregnant, because she’s not a man - she’s a woman pretending to be a man. And she didn’t give birth in the “wrong gender”: she gave birth as a woman, using the uterus and ovaries she was born with to carry and maintain her pregnancy to fruition.
She’s not even the first woman to straddle the gender divide by passing herself off as a man while employing her womanhood to have babies. That fertile ground was broken in 2008 by trans-man Thomas Beatie (born Tracy Lagondino), denizen of the land of the free and (increasingly) the home of the daft.
Women cannot become men, of course, nor can men become women; and to declare otherwise is simply to give voice to magical thinking.
Hayden Cross had her breasts lopped off her breasts eleven months after giving birth; her uterus and ovaries are next on the chopping block, apparently, whenever she’s “ready”. In the meantime, she’s resumed her daily allotment of testosterone to maintain her masculine appearance. But no amount of surgical and hormonal renovation can change the undeniable biological reality that every single one of Cross' cells has its hard-wired sex. Each of her 37 trillion cells are endowed with XX chromosomes; none have Y chromosomes. Genes on the Y chromosome are expressed only in males, and many have no counterpart on the X chromosome - expression of those genes is limited to males.
You can saw off your parts and attach others until the earth ceases its spinning, but that doesn’t change the clean calculus that all of your cells retain the DNA with which you were born. The science on this isn’t squishy - it’s as hard as a rock: DNA is fixed.
Cross can live as she wishes, of course. She's an adult, free to live as a parsnip if that's what she wants: it makes no difference to me. I can only guess at the level of mental distress that led to her drastic attempt to "transition" to the opposite sex. I have the greatest sympathy for her struggles: I certainly don't think less of her because of her disorder, any more than I think less of a patient of my own who is beset by hepatitis or diabetes or anorexia. Pathology isn't bigotry. But to expect our laws and our institutions and our doctors to accommodate her disorder as "normal" is rather a stretch. And to reproduce as a female and pronounce that your offspring was birthed by a man makes as much sense as to say your baby erupted from a parsnip.
It’s easy to forgive the media, perhaps, for peddling this nonsense. It’s reliable click-bait, after all, luring millions of eyeballs to content as surely as flies are drawn by manure. These are jubilant times for the Fourth Estate, I think: between transgender nuttiness and the ceaseless tempest called Trump the stories are practically writing themselves - no actual journalism required. Media barons are chortling all the way to the bank.
One can even understand - to a degree – that many politicians are marching in lockstep with trans-activist loony tunes. Modern politicking has descended into little more than perpetual pandering for votes, wherever they might be found, principles be damned. The idea that our leaders might actually stand up for what is right and moral and correct is as quaint as the notion that the world is flat.
It is very much harder – impossible, really - to forgive our medical leaders, those men and women who should know better, who should understand, like no-one else, that science is science. At the head of this unsavory class of medical enablers, unimaginably, stands the venerable American Academy of Pediatricians, presumably the voice for 67,000 pediatrician members; the AAP recommended last fall that children who feel locked “in the wrong body” should be heartily "affirmed" and ushered post-haste down the injurious road to sex reassignment.
According to the Daily Mail, Hayden Cross proclaimed that “he was not going to hide his gender reassignment from his child and added: 'I will sit [the child] down and explain - I'm not going to hide it and I'm hoping the kid will be open-minded.' “
That’s right: if you call this sort of thing out for the dangerous bunk that it is, you are not “open-minded”. Let me say this: if being “open-minded” means allowing every last shred of common sense to drop out of one's head then count me against it.
I’m a pediatrician; but one doesn’t need to be a pediatrician, or a parent, to appreciate that the baby girl born into Hayden Cross’ distorted transgender reality might grow up to be a tad confused, no matter how eloquently Cross “explains” to her that she was birthed by a man.
Little Trinity-Leigh is already 18 months old; her skull no longer has a “soft spot”. But it’s hard not to have a soft spot in one’s heart for this kid: you don’t get to pick your parents, after all.
And the reality of her life will almost certainly bite - and hard.