These Doctors Challenge Guidelines for Gender Confused Students

Two medical doctors at the University of Alberta question their government’s approach to Gender dysphoria and student safety and support the American College of Pediatricians.

They assert that according to human biology, gender is determined by the X and Y chromosomes. XX is female and XY is male. We won’t be putting these letters on the doors of washrooms but the researchers assert that this, and the resulting anatomy, are how to determine a student’s gender and not their personal ideas.

Here is what they would want us to know:

Questioning the Current Sentiment

Drs. Achen and Fenske question the logic that: a child can determine their gender. Some researchers assert that giving children no direction in this area is actually harmful. While severe sex role stereotyping is also damaging, helping a child to adapt to social norms is useful for their social development. (See Gender Confusion Harms Children –American Pediatric Association)

While the sexual characteristics of a boy or girl are determined by their chromosomes, their sense of gender is developed in the home and society. (Not all scientists are in agreement with this however. To see the other view, read this response from a Pediatric Endocrinologist.)

A Comparison to Anorexia

Identifying one’s gender as different from one’s biological sex is a disorder somewhat like anorexia, the doctors explain. And as with anorexics, the job of parents, doctors, and teachers is “not to uncritically approve” their disordered thinking “but to help them recognize the source of such confusion and to reaffirm and help re-align their ‘assigned’ sexual gender with their perceived identity.”

What They Suggest

In their letter they insist: … is irresponsible to counsel children, pre- teens, and young adults to accept a gender identity that does not align with their genetic makeup. Unless there is a significant medical reason, such as hormonal or chromosomal anomalies, such a practice would amount to subjecting a person to a lifelong fight against their own nature. Counselling and corrective procedures have proven-effective benefits in addressing the root of gender confusion and assisting individuals to align with their native-born gender identity, both in terms of physiologic and mental function. (download the letter)

Where Parents Come In

The government guidelines want parents on the sidelines. They suggest: “protect a student’s personal information and privacy, including, where possible, having a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to peers, parents, guardians or other adults in their lives.”

The Doctors point out that this goes contrary to the best practices suggested by the American Psychiatric Association who state in their report on the treatment of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) “that the caregivers be fully informed on all treatment options available. The Association details need for the “(1) assessment and accurate DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) diagnosis of the child referred for gender concerns, including the use of validated questionnaires and other validated assessment instruments to assess gender identity, gender role behaviour, and gender dysphoria;

Where does this Leave Us

Youth workers are committed to helping students in every area of their lives and not just their faith. If a student is confused about their gender it is essential to include the parents in the discussion.

Most of us are not clinical psychologists but most of us can recognize if a student is male or female. We want to build trust but it is probably unwise to leave a student in this state without helping them to receive proper counsel.

Considering the comparison the doctors make to the woman with anorexia, it is important that she realize that she is dying and that she is not obese. Helping students gain a correct sense of reality will be as difficult as directing a student with an eating disorder toward the right kind of care but it must be done. 

Students with gender dysphoria should also be cared for in a way that they can receive the help that they need. This may not seem politically correct but as these doctors point out, the politicians approach by letting a child decide their sex, playing along with their ideas, and keeping parents in the dark, does fit with psychologists say is best.

Pediatricians Objections

Here’s a quick outline of the American Pediatric Association Response (you can read the whole article with references here: Gender Ideology Harms Children Originally posted March 21, 2016 – a temporary statement with references. A full statement will be published in summer 2016. Updated with Clarifications on April 6, 2016.

The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.

  1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder
  2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one.
  3. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.
  4. Puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous.
  5. According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.
  6. Children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence. Cross-sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are associated with dangerous health risks including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer.(This can begin at age 16)
  7. Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBTQ – affirming countries.
  8. Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.
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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email


  1. Thank you Ron. This article is well stated and very helpful. Wayne Townsend

  2. Thank you Wayne. I appreciate your support. I know there are many who take a very different stance on this issue. All the best!

    • Alison Wilsonsays:

      Thanks much!
      I use the articles from here a lot for myself and share them with leaders and parents as subjects arise.

      • thanks for letting me know that Alison!
        Sometimes I wonder how much these blogs are helping. It means so much to me to know that they are being shared with parents and leaders!
        God Bless!!

  3. Stephanie Williamssays:

    Thanks for such an informative read Ron!

    I have a lot of respect for the way in which these doctors address an issue that is both on the rise, and very sensitive in society today. I found this post VERY useful, and if nothing else, eye opening.

    If it’s okay, I would like to use this article as a resource for an assignment I am currently working on?


    • Thanks Stephanie,
      It certainly is tricky. Too often people see only our bias but not our reasons for our view. These are complicated times!

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