Fox News “Medical A Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow assailed the parents of a transgender child whose story has gone viral on the web, suggesting that six-year-old Ryland Whittington would have been better served by “anti-psychotic medication” than by having his parents affirm his gender identity.
On May 27, Jeff and Hillary Whittington shared Ryland's story in a seven-minute YouTube video. The video, which has been viewed more than 4 million times, describes Ryland's discovery of his gender identity and the family's acceptance of his gender transition:
The Whittingtons' support for Ryland was spotlighted at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast last month, where they received the Inspiration Award for 2014.
According to a June 3 article on right-wing website LifeSiteNews.com, Fox's Ablow wasn't moved by Ryland's story of self-discovery. LifeSiteNews - which misgendered Ryland throughout its story - reported that Ablow opposes parents helping their children transition to the genders with which they identify (emphasis added):
Massachusetts psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, an author and Fox News contributor, told LifeSiteNews that the video paints a happy picture while consciously ignoring the risks of early transition - which often involves genital plastic surgery and large doses of hormones.
“I am not convinced that the best option for children who are uncomfortable with their gender is to rapidly transition them to the opposite gender,” he said. “I believe that on reflection, it will be shown that other paths may be the wiser paths.”
“I believe that it is possible that developing secondary sexual characteristics that match one's DNA may actually be part of someone becoming more comfortable with his or her God-given gender,” he said. He added that allowing a child to undergo transition at an early age may prevent them from ever becoming reconciled to their biological sex.
“From a personal, not a professional standpoint, were my daughter to assert that she were a boy, not a girl, there is no chance we would be headed to a surgeon's office without a trial of anti-psychotic medication,” Ablow said.
Ablow said that transgender activists have made it more difficult for therapists to do their jobs because they have turned gender dysphoria into a political issue instead of a medical one.
While Ablow has no expertise in gender or sexuality issues, actual experts contradict his transphobic talking points. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, gender identity is usually established by the age of four. Medical professionals note that denying medical treatment to transgender children can be harmful; Dr. Norman Spack of Children's Hospital Boston, for instance, states that many children who don't receive treatment resort to self-mutilation in an attempt to change their anatomies. According to Spack, the earlier children deemed to need treatment start receiving it, the easier of a time they'll have passing as the gender with which they identify and the less likely they'll be to require more radical treatments later in life.
The American Psychological Association has stated that it is “not helpful to force [a transgender child] to act in a more gender-conforming way.” Family rejection of transgender youth has been linked to a series of negative health consequences.
This isn't the first time Ablow - a serial misinformer on LGBT issues - has attacked transgender people as mentally ill. In 2011, he asserted that Chaz Bono was suffering a "psychotic delusion" and cautioned parents that just watching Bono on Dancing With The Stars could turn their children transgender.