A transgender psychologist has joined a lawsuit against a Maryland school district over its policy to socially transition students without parental consent.
Dr. Erica E. Anderson, a clinical psychologist of 40 years who identifies as transgender, has been outspoken about a concern for the surge in cases of adolescent gender dysphoria. Now, Anderson has joined a legal effort to counter the disturbing trend of school policies designed to conceal a student’s chosen trans-identity from their parents.
“As an ally and licensed psychologist with over 40 years of experience, I have seen hundreds of children and adolescents for gender-identity-related issues — many of whom transition, with my guidance and support,” said Anderson. “But a transition is a major event in a youth’s life, and parents must be involved.”
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an amicus brief on Anderson’s behalf last week that urges the federal court of appeals to reverse a District Court decision that excludes parents from “significant decisions affecting their children.”
The August decision, by Judge Paul W. Grimm, dismissed a complaint against the Montgomery County school board by parents who alleged that the district’s “gender identity” guidelines violated their state and constitutional rights. According to the guidelines, teachers are permitted to socially transition students to a “gender identity” different from their biological sex at school, without their parents’ consent or knowledge.
The parents, who filed the lawsuit anonymously in 2020 against the Montgomery County Board of Education (MCBE), argued that the guidelines violated their right under the 14th Amendment “to direct the care, custody, education, and control of their minor children.”
MCBE issued their “2020-2021 Guidelines for Student Gender Identity,” which advised schools in their district to develop a “gender-support plan” with students using an intake form that, according to the filing, would be kept confidential if the family was not supportive of their child’s desire to adopt a new “gender identity.”
The plaintiffs argued that the new guidelines interfered with their parental rights “in a pivotal decision” in their children’s lives, which enabled school personnel to allow children “to transition socially to a different gender identity at school” without their consent.
Anderson told Fox News Digital that families should never be excluded from important decisions regarding their child’s health. “It’s well established that one of the most important factors in helping gender-questioning children is family support,” said Anderson. “So to deliberately deprive a child of support at a time potentially when they most need it is, I think, a serious error in judgment.”
Anderson is the former President of the U.S. Professional Association for Transgender Health (USPATH) and former board member for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), but resigned in 2021 after no longer being able to support the direction they were headed. The leading transgender health authorities had issued a joint statement in 2021 denouncing any form of discussion on medical transition for trans-identifying youth that wasn’t conducted by “experts and stakeholders.”
Anderson submitted an op-ed that was rejected by The New York Times, but published in The Washington Post, critical of the widely adopted “gender-affirming” model of care for adolescents. “Gender-affirming” care discourages medical professionals from questioning a minor’s self-reported transgender identity or exploring possible underlying factors that may be causing their dysphoria.
In a Quillette interview, Anderson noted reading Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” and shared the author’s concerns about the explosion of adolescent girls identifying as transgender and seeking to medically transition.
“The main criticism of me is that many in the trans community regard Abigail Shrier as anathema, as a critic of appropriate trans care,” Anderson told Quillette. “I think that’s an inaccurate reading of what she’s written. And I think that it’s a distortion.”
“In some cases, [transgender people] believe that our job as a community is to protect the children from their parents,” Anderson told Fox News Digital. “I think that’s very misguided. I think our job is to support kids to be supported by their families. Deceiving your parents is not a way to get their support.”
Schools transitioning children, often without their parents’ knowledge, is becoming increasingly common. Many schools now provide students with individualized “gender support plans” that ask the student to indicate if they would like their parents to be kept in the dark. Some schools even provide “transition closets” so that students can change into clothes that match their “gender identity” at school, and change back before heading home.
But while social transition is often portrayed as a benign way to allow children to express their “true selves,” there are good reasons to doubt this narrative. All available research suggests that this seemingly innocuous act of support is an active psychosocial intervention that can actually make matters worse.
Evidence shows that such a “social transition” may greatly increase the likelihood of a child persisting in the rejection of their bodies, which will also make them more likely to pursue permanent surgical changes in their teenage years.
Psychologist and sexologist Ken Zucker compared studies of children with gender dysphoria who were socially transitioned to similar studies where gender dysphoric children were not socially transitioned. Zucker found that socially transitioning children appeared to dramatically increase the rate of gender dysphoria persistence and frequently led to drastic medical treatments like puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries.
The best data currently indicate that roughly 60–90% of children who identify as transgender, but do not socially or medically transition, will no longer identify as transgender in adulthood.
After conducting a systematic review of evidence, England’s National Health Service has proposed new guidelines for treating trans-identifying youth, and warns that adolescents identifying as transgender may be experiencing a “transient phase” and that doctors should not encourage them to change their names and pronouns. “Social transition,” the NHS said, is not a “neutral act” and could have “significant effects” in terms of “psychological functioning.”