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Lament, C. (2014). Transgender Children: Conundrums and Controversies—An Introduction to the Section. Psychoanal. St. Child, 68:13-27.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 68:13-27

Transgender Children

Transgender Children: Conundrums and Controversies—An Introduction to the Section

Claudia Lament, Ph.D.

This paper introduces the readership of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child to the topic of transgender children, which will be investigated in the papers that follow. A flashpoint in the recent discourse that escorts children who self-describe as gender nonconforming is whether or not to support the practice of the medical suspension of puberty of these children by the administration of hormonal treatment. Relevant up-to-date research findings on this subject will be reviewed here. Despite those advocates and opponents who swarm around both poles, any reliable conclusions as to the long-term safety and psychological effects of puberty suppressants will remain provisional until future studies proffer more definitive answers. While we await further study, the journal sees the necessity to press for dialogue concerning this conundrum.

Anchoring this section is a clinical paper by Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., which documents the psychotherapeutic treatment of a transgender child who was prescribed puberty suppressants. The commentaries that follow and that are briefly summarized in this introduction will accent the psychoanalytic developmental point of view. This will provide the principal framework for the study of this controversy, which underscores the complementary dimensions of linear and nonlinear progressive hierarchical growth. In this context, features such as the developmentally normative fluidity of self-structures, including gender role identity, and the evolution of concrete thinking toward metaphoricity and figurative meaning-making in middle childhood and adolescence will be examined and applied to the clinical data. In addition, the argument that the use of puberty suppressants exacts a premature foreclosure on the reorganizing potential of developmental growth, and the proposed effects of the crosscurrents of the sociocultural body politic on these children and on the decision to opt for the suspension of pubertal growth will be explored.

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