HomeHaddonfield Letters & OpinionsLetter to the Editor: Elizabeth Bass

Letter to the Editor: Elizabeth Bass

Resident writes on the book "Melissa" (previously titled George), a children's novel about a young transgender girl.

Dear Editor,

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The BOE election is in the books. Speaking of books, the children’s novel Melissa/George (by Alex Gino) became a Rorschach test of our values. Do you support LGBTQ+ families or do you think parental authority is being undermined by schools? After reading Melissa/George, I see problems.

The main red flag is that this book explains medical interventions of gender care without context of risks. Melissa has found on TV and the internet that “a boy can become a girl” by taking hormones, androgen blockers, and surgeries (p. 47). Melissa laments that parental permission is needed. Good friend Kelly thinks that Mellissa’s mom will consent because “she’s pretty cool” (p. 105). As mom tells Melissa that they will seek therapy, Melissa knows it is the first step for “girls like her” (p. 171).

In America we are using the model of “Affirmative Care” meaning that an asserted gender identity is unquestioned, and psychological support is geared towards transition. Pediatric gender medicine started in the US in 2007 based on a Dutch study that used puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery on a select cohort of children. Affirmative care practices have generalized that medical protocol to thousands of children in the world that would not have met the Dutch standards.

Recently, France, Sweden, Finland, and the UK have stopped using the affirmative model and restricted puberty blocker use given evidence that risks outweigh benefits. Puberty blockers have been associated with multiple serious side effects. Use of cross sex hormones after puberty blockers results in sterility.

Melissa is a sympathetic character who deserves proper psychological evaluation and a healthy life. Melissa/George is suggesting serious medical interventions to kids, some of whom might be harmed if it is applied to them. Exploration of feelings and kind support should be the first line of treatment for all children.

Elizabeth Bass



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