Hanna Rosin ci racconta sul numero di novembre di The Atlantic la storia di Brandon, un bambino di una piccola città del sud degli Stati Uniti che fin da quando ha cominciato ad esprimersi sostiene di sentirsi una femmina e non un maschio («A Boy’s Life»).
Assieme alle ovvie difficoltà della vita di Brandon (che alla fine del racconto ritroviamo col nome di Bridget), veniamo a conoscere le ultime tendenze nel trattamento dei disturbi dell’identità di genere:
A recent medical innovation holds out the promise that this might be the first generation of transsexuals who can live inconspicuously. About three years ago, physicians in the U.S. started treating transgender children with puberty blockers, drugs originally intended to halt precocious puberty. The blockers put teens in a state of suspended development. They prevent boys from growing facial and body hair and an Adam’s apple, or developing a deep voice or any of the other physical characteristics that a male-to-female transsexual would later spend tens of thousands of dollars to reverse. They allow girls to grow taller, and prevent them from getting breasts or a period.Ma per quanto promettenti, questi trattamenti non sono privi di problemi, e comportano dei dilemmi di difficile soluzione:
Even some supporters of hormone blockers worry that the availability of the drugs will encourage parents to make definitive decisions about younger and younger kids. This is one reason why doctors at the clinic in the Netherlands ask parents not to let young children live as the other gender until they are about to go on blockers. “We discourage it because the chances are very high that your child will not be a transsexual,” says Cohen-Kettenis. The Dutch studies of their own patients show that among young children who have gender-identity disorder, only 20 to 25 percent still want to switch gender at adolescence; other studies show similar or even lower rates of persistence.Un’osservazione penetrante getta un po’ di luce sul perché il transessualismo sembra godere di una relativa tolleranza anche in parti del mondo dove non ci si aspetterebbe di trovarne alcuna, e può forse farci capire meglio la fortuna dei trattamenti farmacologici:
The most extensive study on transgender boys was published in 1987 as The “Sissy Boy Syndrome” and the Development of Homosexuality. For 15 years, Dr. Richard Green followed 44 boys who exhibited extreme feminine behaviors, and a control group of boys who did not. The boys in the feminine group all played with dolls, preferred the company of girls to boys, and avoided “rough-and-tumble play.” Reports from their parents sound very much like the testimonies one reads on the listservs today. “He started... cross-dressing when he was about 3,” reported one mother. “[He stood] in front of the mirror and he took his penis and he folded it under, and he said, ‘Look, Mommy, I’m a girl,’” said another.
Green expected most of the boys in the study to end up as transsexuals, but nothing like that happened. Three-fourths of the 44 boys turned out to be gay or bisexual (Green says a few more have since contacted him and told him they too were gay). Only one became a transsexual. “We can’t tell a pre-gay from a pre-transsexual at 8,” says Green, who recently retired from running the adult gender-identity clinic in England. “Are you helping or hurting a kid by allowing them to live as the other gender? If everyone is caught up in facilitating the thing, then there may be a hell of a lot of pressure to remain that way, regardless of how strongly the kid still feels gender-dysphoric. Who knows? That’s a study that hasn’t found its investigator yet.”
Catherine Tuerk, who runs the support group for parents in Washington, D.C., started out as an advocate for gay rights after her son came out, in his 20s. She has a theory about why some parents have become so comfortable with the transgender label: “Parents have told me it’s almost easier to tell others, ‘My kid was born in the wrong body,’ rather than explaining that he might be gay, which is in the back of everyone’s mind. When people think about being gay, they think about sex – and thinking about sex and kids is taboo.”
Tuerk believes lingering homophobia is partly responsible for this, and in some cases, she may be right. When Bill [il padre adottivo di Brandon] saw two men kissing at the conference, he said, “That just don’t sit right with me.” In one of Zucker’s case studies, a 17-year-old girl requesting cross-sex hormones tells him, “Doc, to be honest, lesbians make me sick... I want to be normal.” In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death, but sex-change operations are legal – a way of normalizing aberrant attractions.