A new American Academy of Pediatrics guide created to educate kids about puberty contains language intended to normalize the idea of children identifying as the opposite gender, including a suggestion that some girls can get erections.
The 150-page guide published by the AAP on April 19 is targeted at children ages 9 to 13. Titled "You-ology: A Puberty Guide for Every Body," the book was authored by three physicians, Dr. Kathryn Lowe, Dr. Trish Hutchison and Dr. Melisa Holmes. According to AAP Books, it “embraces an inclusive approach that normalizes puberty for all kids.”
“With this book, we’re trying to change that language to be more inclusive,” Lowe said in an April 23 interview with National Public Radio.
As a pediatrician, Lowe’s work includes instructing AAP on gender and sexual identity-related issues. In her interview with NPR, the pediatrician noted how schools and books that follow a traditional model for puberty education often teach people that girls menstruate while boys experience erections.
“But some girls — for example, transgender girls — might not get their periods,” she asserted. “They need to understand about erections and those changes in their bodies. So we wanted to fill this void in puberty education so that kids, regardless of their gender, can see themselves in a book and learn about their bodies.”
The book uses phrases like “for most girls, this happens; for most boys, this happens,” an approach Lowe praised as more “inclusive.” The authors also talked about puberty through fictional “cisgender,” “transgender” and “non-binary” characters, using phrases like “most boys and kids like this character” to be more “gender diverse.”
“And then a lot of the time we also simply talked about body parts and what happens with ovaries and penises, because that’s all completely accurate and is inclusive language also,” Lowe said. “You don’t have to use gendered words.”
The book’s other authors, Holmes and Hutchison, teach classes on puberty. The former is an OB/GYN, while the latter is a pediatrician. The pair are also the co-founders of Girlology, an online community that began in 2003 to provide girls with medically accurate information about their changing bodies.
“When we started [teaching puberty classes in 2003], we separated [kids] by gender,” Hutchison told NPR. “But that was long before there was a better understanding of gender, and the language for it. I think within the last three to five years, it’s really become [clear that] we need to be more inclusive of everybody.”
Hutchison revealed that when the book was in its planning stages a few years ago, the goal was for it to be “in every school in the country, so that any kid could pick it up and see themselves and their peers.” But she maintained that recent “anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ legislation” has restricted what types of books are allowed in schools.
“There are certain states out there where you can’t even say [some] of these words,” she stated.
It is possible that Florida House Bill 1557, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month, is one of the bills that Hutchison was referring to. The Florida law prohibits classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through third grade and requires schools to inform parents about changes in services that could impact their child’s well-being.
Critics of the law have called it the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” and derided it as a vehicle for discrimination against LGBT students and staff.
"Regardless of what’s going on in state capitals, our jobs are to be pediatricians, and to teach kids about their bodies and how to take care of themselves,” Lowe added.
The AAP did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment.
A 2017 document published by the Christian organization Focus on the Family points to previous research suggesting that most children suffering from gender dysphoria grow out of their gender confusion by the time they reach puberty. The organization cites a 2010 study titled: “Desisting and persisting gender dysphoria after childhood: a qualitative follow-up study.”
The study was led by Dr. Thomas D. Steensma, a health psychologist with experience in counseling individuals with gender incongruence and supporting them in their medical transition.
However, proponents of allowing children to socially transition at younger ages argue that such findings on desistance trends in children with gender dysphoria are overblown.
But Focus on the Family, a group founded by Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson, warns that a potential consequence of encouraging children to live as the opposite gender is that those kids may later have increased difficulty being assertive about switching back and explaining to others why they want to live as their biological gender.
The conservative American College of Pediatricians also has warned about the consequences of placing trans-identified children on puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones.
"Currently, there is a vigorous debate among physicians, therapists, and academics regarding what is fast becoming the new treatment standard for [gender dysphoria] in children," the group states on its website. "This new paradigm is rooted in the assumption that GD is innate, but a review of the current literature suggests that this claim is founded upon an unscientific gender ideology and lacks an evidence base."
Focus on the Family believes Christians should "seek to live in grace and truth" and that treatment for children suffering from gender dysphoria "should focus on helping children embrace their God-given biological reality."