It seems unthinkable to us today, but for centuries parents allowed their young sons to be sexually mutilated before puberty if they seemed to have great promise as singers. That’s because there was enormous social reward for the castrati. Mutilating an eight- or nine-year-old boy was also a kind of hormonal therapy which had a range of physiological effects on everything from his bones, to his gait, to his vocal cords.
And it was that change to the vocal cords which was so desirable. Crowds swooned to hear “the voice of angels” — though they were just as often maligned as beasts. When Pope Benedict XIV tried to ban the barbaric practice in the 1700s he was powerfully resisted due to the great cultural demand for them. It was only in the late 19th century that the Italian government decided they could no longer “stay out of the matter.” The barbaric practice was rightly banned by the Italian state in 1868 and then soon after in the Church by Pope Leo XIII. Justice was served, cultural tastes moved on, young boys with good voices got to have normal lives again, and today we can look back upon it with a sense of cultural superiority. Except, we can’t.
Enter seven-year-old James Younger of Texas. As Madeleine Kearns reports in a powerful and shocking piece of investigative journalism at National Review, James is one of hundreds of children victimised by a culturally powerful progressivism, an ideology of gender which has tragic and destructive effects on kids and families.
James Younger, and his twin brother Jude, are children of divorce. His mother Anne believed James was a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and her son believed her because he did like girl things. His father believed his mother was projecting transgenderism onto the boy. A Texas court decided that James and Jude would live with their mother, but their father would have custody and access on weekends. That meant James would be called “Luna” and referred to as “she” during the week, and on weekends he would get to be James again, with his brother Jude. That’s enough to make you weep, right there, but the story that Kearns tells gets worse.
Anne Georgulas, James’s mother, decided that James would begin the process of “social transition”, having him treated for “gender dysphoria”. The hormonal suppression therapy would begin when he was nine or 10 years old. This is for a boy who only showed late signs of interest in Disney princess dolls as his parents’ marriage was falling apart. As Kearns reports, “80 percent of gender-confused children psychologically realign with their biological sex” after puberty. Yet James’s mother has refused to wait as she plans for her son’s surgical transition. It gets worse: James’s mother is a pediatrician.
But perhaps this is unsurprising. As Kearns shows, the medical profession has been radicalised. Major gatekeeping bodies, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Health’s Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office, increasingly support vaginoplasty in “transgender minors”. Several steps beyond castration, the vaginoplasty entails the “inversion of the penis, and dilation of a cavity to form a pseudo-vaginal canal”.
In her investigation, Kearns did find one surgeon who was critical of the fast advance of gender transition surgeries on children, describing “the new clinical landscape as a ‘new Wild West’ where a bunch of solo practitioners, basically cowboys or cowgirls who kind of build their little house, advertise and suck people in.’”
While the “watchful waiting” approach, which for many years has been the medical consensus view of how signs of gender confusion should be treated by psychologists and physicians – largely because it is effective, resolving the vast majority of cases – the American Academy of Pediatrics has rejected the older consensus in favour of the kind of early “gender affirmation” approach that James’s mother has pursued for her son.
Kearns makes it clear how few checks there are on the gender ideology driving these decisions. James was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by his pediatrician who was chosen by his pediatrician mother and then confirmed by a “‘solution-focused therapist’ serving the LGBT community at Rainbow Counseling, in Texas, and by the GENECIS gender clinic, which specializes in medical interventions for gender-confused youth.”
How James was diagnosed, in my view, reveals the depth of the problem. And when it reached the courts, the problem was compounded further because they saw no “compelling state interest” and were satisfied to let the parents deal with the conflict on their own – but it was a conflict that no one can win on their own.
“Judge Cooks ultimately decided that both parents were fit to parent and they should work out James’s medical care between them. But the deeper issue is that it’s impossible to sensibly adjudicate such cases when misinformation is being enshrined systematically in the medical and legal establishments and the mainstream media are failing so dismally to report on it accurately.”
Everyone needs to read Madeleine Kearns’ story. Our culture has a fever. The fever overtakes even well-meaning parents. It causes them to do heartbreakingly tragic things to their own children. Sometimes the family can check these kinds of cultural fevers, sometimes social institutions, courts, or medical experts can — but sometimes not.
As with the castrati, sometimes only the state or the Church can put to right what everyone else with a fever is getting wrong. In a republic, the people have a duty, through their representatives, to protect the dignity of every human being, and to safeguard the common good of the family, which in turn safeguards the common good of the political community. This barbarism needs to be put to an end before it spreads. If legislators will not do it, who will?