More on the Dr. Phil episode on gender identity: Reparative drive theory

I have some video clips of yesterday’s Dr. Phil Show on gender identity. In this segment, Toni, the mother of a three boys, one of whom is transgender, expresses strong disagreement with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and Mr. Glenn Stanton. Prior to this clip, Nicolosi outlined his views on response to gender identity issues. From the Dr. Phil website:

“So, what is a parent to do?” Dr. Phil asks. “You’re at home with your little child, they don’t do what other little boys do — and I’m using a little boy as an example. It happens with girls too, but statistics say it’s about five to one boys over girls who have this, but what is a parent to do at that point? Their question is, ‘Do we support his interest, or do we say, “No, no, no. You can’t play with that. You must play with this”?’”
“We see certain patterns, very typical patterns, of an over-involved mother, where the mother and son have a symbiotic relationship,” Dr. Nicolosi explains. “It’s very close, their identities are merged, and the father is out of the picture, and the work that we’re doing is to get the mother to back off, get the father more involved, get that boy to dis-identify with the mother and bond with the father, and in the bonding with the father, he develops that masculine identity.”

Most therapists have encountered families like this. However, they often come in for reasons other than a child’s gender identity. As Dr. Siegel said in a later part of the show, there is no evidence that a mom being close with a son leads to gender identity problems.
In this clip, Nicolosi and Stanton lay out their view of what happens to create a son like Toni’s. Roll the tape for the segment.

If I am following the mother’s explanation, she says she was not close to her son and her fiance became close to him after she backed off. She also notes that she was a single mom to her first son who would be expected to be closer to mom. Apparently, that child has no gender identity issues. And she says, the fiance/father-figure was less involved after the boy transitioned to a female role, but very involved prior to the transition. She further says that she wasn’t enmeshed with him. In other words, the reparative theory predicts a certain constellation but this women disconfirms it.
As noted in my first post on this episode, no middle ground views were presented. Near the end of the show, two reseachers seated in the audience were given a chance to speak. This segment was too short. I hope to post the clip of that exchange in a future post.
For now, I want to point out again the problem with confirmation bias in thinking through highly controversial topics. In this clip, the comments presented by Nicolosi and Stanton were not consistent with the experience of the mother and this son. Is it possible she was in denial? Is it possible that the reparative theorist was in denial? Sorting through this is difficult since both mom and the psychologists have powerful incentives to seek evidence favoring their commitments and views. In an area, like this one, where the science is developing, I advocate a very loose hold on theoretical commitments.
While the scientist can and should take a critical stance, it is true that parents need advice now. I tend to favor waiting until puberty to make decisions about transitioning since the existing research indicates most children do not opt for transition after puberty. However, even that finding is not as clear as Dr. Phil presented. See this interview with Ken Zucker for more on persistence of GID into adulthood.
Stay tuned…

54 thoughts on “More on the Dr. Phil episode on gender identity: Reparative drive theory”

  1. Albert levy – you’ve made some strong statements there. Ones that condemn parents as either evil or sick, and the children as irrational.
    What evidence have you to back those statements up? Or is it something you just “know” without having to look at the data, like everyone “knows” the Earth is flat?
    I do have one piece of data that immediately contradicts you. The fact that people who get Genital Reconstructive Surgery have to be cleared by not one, but two mental health professionals, including a post-doctoral specialist. They have to stake their professional reputations that the patient is not psychotic.
    You talk about people being born male. But how do you know they are? What criteria do you use for judging their masculinity or femininity? Look, I completely agree that in over 98% of cases, the question is a matter of common sense, obvious, and can be considered a “stupid question”. But we’re not dealing with that majority here, we’re dealing with cases that are anything but average.
    Sex can be determined on the basis of several biological criteria:
    1. Genitalia – primary sex characteristics
    2. Secondary sex characteristics
    3. Endocrine (Hormonal) balance
    4. Genes, either XX vs XY, or presence/absence of SrY complex
    5. Neuroanatomy, sexually dimorphic development of the brain.
    None of these are strict binaries though. They all have gradations with 2 distinct peaks, one for female, one for male, but some in the middle.
    The Gender Binary is an excellent approximation, where all 5 criteria align 59 times out of 60. The difficulties begin when we try to make an approximation into an absolute: biologically, this is senseless.
    Some common examples:
    1. Kleinfelter syndrome, with neither 46xx nor 46xy but 47xxy chromosomes. Most are sterile males, some are infertile males, a very few are infertile masculinised females, and there’s a handful of fertile females.
    2. CAIS or “Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome” where the endocrine system is male, but a mutation in cellular receptors causes insensitivity to the male sex hormones. The women concerned have got underdeveloped female genitalia, male endocrinology, but all the rest is strongly female. Having insensitivity to testosterone makes them look very female indeed, and their neurology is very female too.
    3. Transsexuality or “Harry Benjamin Syndrome”, where the neurology is strongly cross-gendered and mismatches (most of) the rest, I say “most of” because about 10% have other mismatches too.
    There are other, less common, conditions where the primary and secondary sex characteristics can naturally change, due to endocrinal and cellular receptor anomalies (5ARD and 17BHDD syndromes). Configuration at birth may not be the configuration after puberty. There’s also a handful of cases where such changes are Idiopathic – they happen, but we haven’t found the cause yet. These are only 1 in several million though.
    The subject is complex, I’m afraid. 59 times out of 60, it’s easy. The other 1 in 60 can be very difficult, and neither “male” nor “female” may be accurate 1 time in 1000.
    The majority view – though this is still disputed and certainly not proven beyond all doubt – is that most, and perhaps all, cases of transsexuality are caused by cross-gendered neuro-anatomy. Certainly there’s correlation, but causation is another matter. On the balance of probabilities, this cross-gendered neurology is caused by any of a number of genetic pre-dispositions (though only a few have been positively identified), plus anomalous endocrine levels in the womb. There’s a mountain of evidence in support of this, and none against.
    So please, what’s your evidence? Because what you’ve said is not just hurtful but harmful to some, so we should be very sure before we give it credence.

  2. To be born a male and think you are a girl or a woman is…..a delusion no matter how you slice it.No pun intended.
    It is totally abnormal to want to mutilate or amputate one’s sexual organs.
    It is,to be blunt,psychotic.
    Be a fly on a wall of these homes when the kid starts to get derailed and you will clearly see how all this craziness got started.The suicidal impulses occurred way way early on in these kids lives.It’s the self-destructiveness which causes these kids to want to amputate their organs.

  3. Well – I was talking about single parenting in general – but I suppose that’s a possibility.

  4. David,

    Regarding blaming parents…single parenting loads negatively on all sorts of factors from drug abuse to being a high school dropout to violence. Sorry, but the buck has to stop somewhere.

    That is true, but since many people who grow up having single parents do absolutely fine in life, I wonder if perhaps there is a right way and a wrong way to handle being a single parent, and if there is more we can do as a society to help them out? 🙂

    1. What if it doesn’t depend on the parent as much as it depends on what kind of child gets single parenting?
      I mean, maybe Tina was her middle son’s “GID germ”, but not the others’.

  5. We live in a culture of craving freedom while complaining of impinging forces…
    One of my clients said to me, “It is hard to take my suffering seriously in the contect of being a white american male in the first half of the 21st century.”
    The freedom to choose in the context of temperament, limited co-parenting resources and a lack of scientific certainty tempts us, perhaps at the conclusion of everything, to choose the passive voice…
    We say, “what else could I do?” or “I was powerless.”
    The small sample of behavior we see in the mother suggests “passivity,” I am only saying it is a small sample, of anecdotal behavior.

  6. I understand, David, and that’s why I have taken no position at all as to what would or would not have been the most reasoned course of action for this child as to gender reassigment nor have I uttered a word on Haggard.
    I do have a background, however, in linguistics and in the use of language and how language relates to thought. When a person uses the passive voice in the way she did, or chooses to make someone other than herself the subject of a sentence to indicate something she perceives as negative, it is illustrative of how she, the mother, views herself in this world. It gives a strong indication of how she views herself as a parent as well–not as one who acts but as one who is acted upon.
    While I haven’t kept up scrupulously on my anthropological linguistics in years, the studies of culture, language, and thought are voluminous. Our use of language reveals a great deal about how we see ourselves and the world around us and that, along with “I wasn’t close to him” struck me.
    Knowing her child is just that–

    a child still

    , not an adult who has gained enough in maturity and self-confidence to deal with the world as an adult would –I don’t think a mature, responsible parent, one whose first concern was the happiness and contentment of her now-daughter, would have chosen to go on Dr. Phil’s show.
    Yes, I can provide arguments in her favor that sound good ,and I have even argued on her behalf in playing Devil’s advocate to my position:
    1. She was doing it to share her child’s story and her family’s story with a national audience so that others going through such things might be helped .
    2. She might have been cajoled into appearing by people who made such an appearance sound as if she had a responsibility to others to do this and in a weakened state, she acquiesced.
    3. She may have been told by someone it was good therapy for her–a cathartic experience.
    I could go on and on offering reasons why it might have sounded like a good idea. While I tell myself all those may have validity, there is only one problem–her child should come first, even over the thousands of others who are out there. The child is still just that, a child. Her child. Where is the parenting in that?
    This is not about shame. This is not about hiding in the closet. This is about adults having the good sense to allow their kids and themselves to work out their challenges until it appears they both have gained insight and emotional stability and maturity until sharing their story. There is no way to gauge how her family’s appearance on this show might negatively impact this child. Why chance it? One day when the kid is an adult, emotionally mature and healthy, then and only then, with the grown-up child’s consent, would I think it a selfless parental decision for her mother to show her face on tv with those pictures and share her family’s story.
    I am not saying she’s an evil person. I am saying her appearance on the show as well as what and how she said things tells me something. What is that something? That she is a person concerned with her own issues first, and I really feel for the kid, as if he/she didn’t have enough to deal with.
    I’m not a therapist. I was a teacher. I know that all people face challenges in being a parent, and a parent with GID has monumental challenges. A parent’s emotional maturity that doesn’t discount one’s own feelings but still places the child first is what I believe was called for here, and I see evidence that this woman abrogated a basic parental responsibility.
    I can see that a counselor or therapist would see things from the perspective of both the child and the parent and that is where I am lacking here, I know.

  7. @ Carole:
    I understand your formulation and I am sure such people exist…
    But can you see how skeptical and cynical you must become in such an assessment?
    When we have much more data, such a conclusion is possible…even responsible if people are coming to us with these questions.
    But to come to such conclusions about her (and Ted Haggard) based on the very limited data we have not only does harm to the objects of our assessment…WE HAVE TO TWIST OURSELVES UP IN ASSUMPTIONS AND BIASES…I really think it is bad for all of us…somehow…”cosmically.”
    (Play the Twighlight Zone music here)
    Carole…I think your assessment is very bright and possible…but we seem to do a lot of educated guessing in the Social Sciences; I mean no disrespect in this assessment of your comments, only that so much of the harm in the conversation about SSA seems to come from anecdotal data (Mommy made me do it…Nicolosi made me suicidal) and making large logical leaps based upon dubious data (TV shows, 5 minute clips about mother).

  8. Language use is always a good indicator of lots of things, particularly a person’s willingness to see himself or herself as an agent of action or as a passive observer to whom things happen. I notice in the opening that the mother does not put herself as the subject of the following lines:
    “At the age of two my son bought a new dress and princess outfits, all my nieces clothes. Everything was painted purple. everything was anything a little girl would want.”
    Her son, at the age of two, could not have bought anything! He would have had no such capacity. Her son would have asked for someone with the ability to buy it to purchase it, or he would have told her he wanted such things, but notice she never says, “He asked for these things, and I bought them for him.” The next sentence is not much better. Although this time she doesn’t make her son the subject of the action, she again uses the passive voice: “Everything was pained purple. Everything was anything a little girl would want.” Well, the walls didn’t paint ithemselves purple and “everything” didn’t purchase all a little girl might want. Who did? She carefully avoids placing herself as the subject of any of those sentences.
    Her language suggest that either she doesn’t want to see herself as an agent or doesn’t want others to see her this way; it also squarely places her two year old son as the doer of these deeds. Does that sound like an adult? Like a loving mother who recognizes that adults are not children and children are not adults?
    I think this is a needy woman, and she likes attention. She rarely sees anything as related to her actions and if she says so, it’s only to deflect blame, and when I say this, I am not referring to blame for her son’t GID because I really don’t believe she caused it. I simply have reason to believe she isn’t a very honest person with herself or others and one can never tell how much her actions had an effect or didn’t have an effect on her son’s decision to transition. It does sound as if there was not a good parent-child relationship, that’s for sure.
    The cemetery story bothers me as well–again it puts her as victim. Such an action (true or not) speaks of histrionics . The lady enjoys attention, guys. She’s the little princess for whom life has not followed the path she had envisioned. Her son is her proof of her suffering in her mind. Pathetic.
    Okay, all that aside, I think that David has it right :

    So much energy and time and passion expended with data that is so ambiguous that it ensures an endless debate.
    That is what troubles me so much…anecdote after anecdote stacked upon each other; some used as walls and others used as missles…very few used as bridges.

    Were the airwaves to be used for something that is really edifying what a different world this would be.

  9. @Evan:
    It is true that her story is inconsistent given our limited knowledge of the situation. I have gotten some information this morning which leads me to think she might not have been completely candid. I am pursuing this.

  10. Nicolosi: How did dad deal with the boy’s wanting to be female? That he would act feminine…
    Her: We just dealt with it. I tried to say no, ‘We’re not doing this anymore.’
    Nicolosi: How did he deal with it …the father?
    Her (caught short): He dealt with it like I did. The child would admit that this is what he wanted and…

    😀 😀

  11. As for Nicolosi’s theory about the mom or society causing her son’s GID…

    A) While I was growing up my dad spent almost no time with me
    B) My sister used to dress me up like a girl, sadly a few pictures still survive
    C) Every Saturday night I watched Love Boat and Fantasy Island with my mom and sister
    D) Sometimes I even watched General Hospital during summer break (The Luke and Laura years)
    E) I am a horrible athelete and I was always the last picked for sports
    F) I throw like a girl
    G) I’m creative and into art
    H) I cry at movies: The ending of Indecent Proposal hit me paticularly hard
    I) I couldn’t get even one girlfriend in highschool (not that I didn’t try)

    Inspite of all that I’m 100%, plain vanilla straight. In fact until I was about college age I didn’t believe that people really were gay. I thought it was some kind of crazy hoax that people were putting on. I thought if Boy George would take off his makeup and stop acting effeminate he’d find girls attractive just like every other guy.

  12. ….also
    Nicolosi’s arguments are anecdotal.
    This woman’s story is highly anecdotal.
    So much energy and time and passion expended with data that is so ambiguous that it ensures an endless debate.
    That is what troubles me so much…anecdote after anecdote stacked upon each other; some used as walls and others used as missles…very few used as bridges.
    I wonder if we can “code” our responses and create a database of anecdotes and a database of facts?

  13. Many of the comments here seem to focus on assessing sincerity…and that sincerity counts for something substantial.
    I think these shows are only a few moves away from Jerry Springer…they need emotion (they carefully screen for those who convey it well) and they need conflict.
    The topic is interesting, and the facts shared on this site are more informative; but the shows themselves are highly coreographed, so I don’t think we can assess sincerity fairly in either the mom or Nicolosi.
    Regarding blaming parents…single parenting loads negatively on all sorts of factors from drug abuse to being a high school dropout to violence. Sorry, but the buck has to stop somewhere.
    Blaming genetics (or temperment) has some utility…perhaps it can build a more compassionate response for the deeply confused adolescent for example.
    Thanks Warren and others..
    Perhaps the next posting should be about how we assess correctly or incorrectly, SINCERITY.

  14. I’m with Concerned. I say she’s either a plant or someone who was at least remotely familiar with what Nicolosi was about. Just look at her saying: ‘I think your theory SUCKS.’ She waited for the moment to say that, she savors the show of Nicolosi being put on the spot and gasping for his breath. When she started talking she was half smiling and to the first question that was addressed to her in all seriousness she responded: Ah-huh.
    I’m not saying Nicolosi is right. I’m saying my radar detects something fake about her. Her boy may have done all that stuff of his own determination, but she is not a stranger to wanting to have a girl instead of another boy. She found herself alone with three boys who would grow up and overcome her. She needed someone on her side so she kept one of the boys closest. This does not mean that the boy got GID because of her. But he might become transgender because of that.

    1. Part of what seems fake about this show is the heavy editing. The taping took much longer than the footage we saw. Also, she probably did know about Nicolosi’s theories. They are well known among parents who have trans or gay kids.
      It is really hard to convey the anger parents feel when they are dismissed as characatures. One set of parents told me they went to LWO all excited to hear the truth and they went to meet Nicolosi. The report is that he said hi and then said, you are a smother mother (to mom), you are not involved (to dad) and you don’t want to be here (to son). Then he walked away. There may have been a few more things said but that was the crux. It is hard to convey the anger that is generated by that kind of response, especially since it was so far from the truth.
      I think Toni was aware of Nicolosi’s theories and said she did not expect him to be there so her reaction might be in part derived from the context and the her prior knowledge.

  15. Regardless – I got the very real feeling that she loved her child. I don’t think you can ask for more than that.

  16. Drowssap – You wish NARTH would address actual research questions. However, confirmation bias will not allow some questions and some potential answers to be entertained.

    I made bricks of my lies, stones of my rules…

    1. Wow, that one definitely fits NARTH.
      Whitehead is a genius. I can’t imagine what those guys are thinking. Uggh…

    1. Eeeeeeee. I bet you are right, she really meant it. She just shouldn’t have SAID it out loud. If I saw my mom state that we weren’t close I would run that movie through my head for the rest of my life.

      1. I’m with Concerned. I say she’s either a plant or someone who was at least remotely familiar with what Nicolosi was about. Just look at her saying: ‘I think your theory SUCKS.’ She waited for the moment to say that, she savors the show of Nicolosi being put on the spot and gasping for his breath. When she started talking she was half smiling and to the first question that was addressed to her in all seriousness she responded: Ah-huh.
        I’m not saying Nicolosi is right. I’m saying my radar detects something fake about her. Her boy may have done all that stuff of his own determination, but she is not a stranger to wanting to have a girl instead of another boy. She found herself alone with three boys who would grow up and overcome her. She needed someone on her side so she kept one of the boys closest. This does not mean that the boy got GID because of her. But he might become transgender because of that.

      2. Drowssap,
        Are you kiddin? My mother told me she wished she never had me. Do you think that came as a blow? Nope. 🙂

        1. Man, I’m a softy. I would have jumped off a bridge if my mom told me that she never wanted me. 😎

          1. Let’s see: a distant mother and involved father-figure. Toni’s son should be straight.
            Now Evan, says the reverse reparative therapist, if you are straight, it is probably because your mom was obviously hostile. You are defensively detached from her and seek to reestablish your connection to mom through your attractions to women.

  17. And if you thought it was just flies who had the male/female switch…. WRONG!
    When Minnie Turns Mickey

    “what she observed was completely astonishing,”
    “The females started to behave exactly like males.”

    I wish NARTH would address stuff like this. Why should we suspect that human transgenderism is all that different?

  18. It just struck me, Pathia. No disrespect intended–maybe you do have estrogen and progesterone in you –I hope you can laugh at my unintended faux pas

    1. *laugh* I do, yes, no worries.
      I’m not angry at anyone here, just angry at the situation I’ve been forced into and the frustratingly slow pace it looks to be changing for some others that will have to endure the same things I did.

  19. Let’s get this straight–I am on the side of that child, okay? I am also on the side of educating the public about all kinds of things so that kids like that don’t have to hide in the shadows. That is a whole other issue, totally irrelevant to what I said about the mother’s comment.
    My comments about her have nothing at all to do with the issue of GID and these children. My comments are about my take on her.
    I am going to be so bold as to tell you that being a mother and having worked for over 30 years with kids of all kinds and parents of all kinds gives me a bit of street cred on this one. I can’t ask you to trust me on this since you don’t even know me, not anything about my judgement , and I am only writing this last post on her because my intuition, my gut, my brain, all I have ever learned to observe in others tells me that a mother who would even utter the comment “I was not close to him” is either telling you the truth, in which case that tells you a heck of a lot or to accept your position she was overstating her case as a reaction to Nicolosi.
    NO. NO mother tells a national tv audience she wasn’t close to her kid in order to counter someone else’s position. Go back and look at the clip.
    She didn’t say “I didn’t smother my child.” NO. She said she wasn’t close to him and I believe her. And, if I am wrong and she did lie, what the hell kind of mother would say that. Nope. NOpe. NOpe. Maybe you have to have some estrogen and progesterone in you to understand that. Sorry, guys.

    1. NO mother tells a national tv audience she wasn’t close to her kid in order to counter someone else’s position.

      Good observation. As a dad let me agree with that point. Even if I thought something terrible like that I would never, EVER say it in public. I wouldn’t want my child to hear that because it would break his heart and he would never forget it.

      1. At least she’s trying.
        That’s more than I can say for some that I know. My family didn’t kick me out, I left of my own accord, but I met so many others that were physically kicked out, removed, severed from their families at as young as 14 or 15. You want to know why there’s this stereotype of a young transsexual prostitute? This is basically the main source of it. What do you do when you’re young, uneducated and homeless? What do you have expect your body?

  20. Nicolosi might want to bone up on the latest gender research. Scientists are closer than ever in understanding how the brain’s male/female systems work. Word to the wise, you can stop blaming your mom for how you turned out. 😎

    Flies get ‘mind-control sex swap’
    Put simply male/female wiring probably exists in every brain, it just depends which set is turned on.

  21. As I noted in the post, she is subject to confirmation bias too. She may have overstated the situation in order to avoid even coming close to the theory. This is one of the real downsides of seeing a therapist who is committed to theory first. The client becomes defensive and begins to monitor reports and screen out material.
    Having talked to many parents in a similar boat, I also believe this woman could be really angry at being pidgeonholed.

  22. I think you probably got it right Pathia – I think overstating her case is exactly what she was doing – it was simply a reaction to Nicolosi, or at least that is how it felt.

  23. And while I am at it, let me say this. We have too many people in this country who want to BE parents but don’t want TO Parent. Parenting is an activity and it involves doing not just being and I saw that tiny little clip of a woman saying she wan’t close to her child. That was a choice on her part!

    1. Did you ever think she might have been so desperate to disprove Nicolosi that she overstated her case? People do this all the time, especially under pressure. No matter what answer she gave Nicolosi, he was going to spin it around and say that was ‘smothering’ or ‘overbearing’. He gave her a question, that he could counter, no matter what. She tried to get around it by stating it the way she did. Still didn’t work, you notice. No matter what she said, she would be wrong.
      How do you answer a question like that, really? ~So, have you stopped beating your wife?~

  24. “Parent” is a noun, but most importantly it is a verb –“to parent.”
    I am always skeptical about the motives of any private person who goes on a show that reaches millions. It’s not enough for me that the child’s face is blocked out. Think all the people who know that woman are going to make life any easier on her child? Did the kid have a say in this and if so is she old enough to make such a judgement anyway?
    Yes, I am judgemental here and a huge skeptic. I have often wondered how a private individual (meaning one who is not acting in a professional capacity) goes on tv like this and reveals that which affects others, particularly those he or she purportedly loves. What’s the real motive? I don’t buy it that she went on there hoping to help others or to help her kid. Uh uh. That’s not beliveable to me. She might as well have gone on Jerry Springer as far as her child is concerned.
    Do I feel for people who have to face this? Of course. The worry and the lack of understanding from others and the lack of any sense that professionals can be of much help and the internal conflict that must exist would be overwhelming, but I am telling you that a woman who says she wasn’t close to her kid when he was a child is telling you something about herself. That poor kid had/has enough going on.

    1. I was raised in such isolation, I had no idea what a transsexual was until I was 16. There are people out there, children in particular, so sheltered, so hidden because of their parents unyielding fear that the world is sinful and evil and will corrupt their children. They keep them locked away so tightly.
      The town I ran away from has remained almost completely unchanged, except maybe there are more people there living the same lifestyle/secluded isolationist pentecostal life that I did a decade or so ago.
      Every time someone speaks up, goes on the news, or gets reported on, it’s one more chance that someone will see there are other options out there.

  25. I thought the mother was extremely rude to Nicolosi. Nicolosi is doing his best, he just happens to be completely wrong.

    I’d love to see the counterpoint to Nicolosi if it’s available. I wonder if it’s any closer to the truth.

      1. Nicolosi is completely wrong again but he could tell that he was about to be ambushed so he stormed off. He’s sort of a baby but he probably gets attacked a lot in the press. I dunno… it wasn’t a great clip for Nicolosi.

  26. My heart was actually with the child AND the mother – they have both been through so much it sounds like. Her defensiveness seemed to be born out of both a concern for herself as a mother and for her child.

  27. Sorry, I posted this on the wrong thread so I am pasting it here:
    My responseto the clip–
    Shows like this actually do more of a disservice to the general public, I think, rather than a service–edited clips, participants who realize they will only get so much time to make their points, a host who may or may not ask the right questions or allow enough time for discussion. It is especially not useful to put the two “sides” together, but it makes for entertaining tv, I suppose and which is much of the problem.
    My heart was with the child, and I found myself disliking the mother as much as I distrusted Nicolosi.
    She “wasn’t close to her son.” Any mother would ask, “Why the hell not, lady?”
    Maybe some of her child’s behavior was related to her not being close to him and maybe not, but I found her defensive and sarcastic and sense that she was concerned about herself, not about her son who was now her daughter. I have a feeling she was concerned more about herself from the get-go.

    1. I think she did pretty well. Put yourself in her shoes. You have two ‘experts’ sitting there blaming her for EVERYTHING. She smothered the kid, she didn’t have a stable relationship with a man. It was more about her than the child. Everything was her fault.
      They may not have phrased it so directly, but that’s the core piece of Nicolosi’s theories. If you’re gay, it is your parents fault. There is no other explanation, no if ands or buts. For them, transsexualism is the WORST level of homosexuality, so that means the failure of the parents is even more catastrophic.

    2. Personally I felt she was a plant to discredit what Nicholosi had to offer. She did not come across as being very sensitive to anything but what she felt was true.

      1. Yikes, concerned. She was in tears during the video lead in and then during the initial part of the episode.
        Let’s try to remember where this all took place. On national TV. She also said she felt set up because she didn’t know Nicolosi and Stanton were going to be there.
        To all, re the close to my son thing – she could have meant not close compared to how close the step-dad was.
        I am not trying to defend her; I don’t know her. However, I can see multiple ways to read this and know that contextual variables can shape behavior. In social psych we study the fundamental attribution error which means people tend to attribute cause to disposition of the person acting moreso than the unique factors of the situation. We tend to give ourselves situational breaks but attribute the bad behavior of others to bad traits. Just sayin…

        1. Warren,
          I have just seen so many of these types of shows over a number of years now that are so set up for the sensational impact and are agenda driven to draw sympathy to one side and completely discredit what the other side has to say that I find it extremely difficult to trust them. I do not watch Dr. Phil and personally do not find him entertaining in any way.

        2. Yeah, I caught that that she said she felt set up. That’s almost a cruel trick and the producers knew it. In that regard, I feel very sorry for her – well in many regards, I feel sorry for her.

  28. I tend to favor waiting until puberty to make decisions about transitioning since the existing research indicates most children do not opt for transition after puberty.

    Puberty was where I had most of my suicide attempts and most of my friends killed themselves or tried to. Not being able to express oneself as one desires is incredibly demoralizing, particularly to a teenager. I would have done anything short of murder to stop my puberty and sometimes I even pondered mutilating myself to stop it, but I knew the chance of infection/death from such an act was high.

    1. Note I said tend to favor. The mental status of the person is critical and the prior treatment you received would have influenced where you were at the time. Further, we would need to treat any co-morbid conditions.
      I would not make policy based on one case, yours or anyone elses. However, each person is treated one at a time and clinicians must use the best judgment about individual cases, thus addressing dogmatism.

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