The 12 year-old child of basketball star Duane Wade came out this week as transgender.  Some would say she came out, however what she really did was to invite the world in.  Zion Wade was born male, and has come to identify as female.  Zion is now known as Zaya and is receiving unconditional love and family support from dad, Duane Wade and step mom, Gabrielle Union.  One of the kindest things we can do is to use Zaya’s preferred pronouns, she/her/hers.  Words matter, pronouns matter.

People don’t choose to be transgender or non-binary. More than half of transgender and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide.  My hope from this post is that we use this as a learning opportunity.  If you only take-away one thing from this post, it may astonish you.  If just one adult is supportive to a transgender or non-binary youth, the suicide rate drops by 40%!  Being kind and supportive does indeed save lives!

I have been treating gender variant and queer clients since the days of the Harry Benjamin Society, now called WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health).  I can’t recall anything as disturbing to support transgender health as a nation than what occurred this week.  Here is the WPATH position statement:

For Immediate Release

East Dundee, IL: October 23, 2018

WPATH Board Responds to Federal Effort to Redefine Gender

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Board of Directors expresses its strongest disagreement with the intention of the Trump administration to define human gender as the sex recorded at birth based on visible genital formation and to restrict changes, all via regulation. It has been known for decades that sex and gender cannot be determined solely by birth anatomy or chromosomes. More recently, the durable biological underpinnings for gender identity have become better understood within the mainstream medical and scientific communities. Further, the targeting of individuals or groups to deny medically-indicated care represents a violation of the professional oaths taken by us in the medical provider community.

The Trump administration’s past efforts to erase transgender people from American society indicate that its officials believe that XX or XY chromosomal testing to be definitive and definitional. However, this testing is insufficient to measure the known factors that affect the actual sex or gender of a sentient human being.

To acknowledge the diversity of sex and/or gender present in all human beings gives life and potential to those millions of people whose characteristics are not simply defined by sex chromosomes. Over the past 30 years, litigation throughout all levels of the US judicial system has proven time and again that human beings who are not reducible to chromosomes do deserve full equality, including access to employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and health care, along with all rights conferred by the US Constitution.

WPATH member physicians and researchers stand ready to testify before Congress to protect and defend the health and well-being of all transgender and gender-nonconforming people.