Tattoos are child abuse, but gender affirming surgery is not

Tattoos are child abuse, but gender affirming surgery is not
(AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

We live in a society run by clowns. Totally, completely, thoughtlessly unserious people. The have replaced religion, tradition, and human reason with vague “feels” that are about as consistent as a 2 year-old’s identity preferences.


I am a cow! Mooo! Superman! Fireman! A non-binary ghost-pronouned polycule Barbadian crypto-fraud! Children have the most amazing flexibility.

New York, home of some of the most radical gender politics in the country, also has some of the strictest laws against child mutilation. Because children are not old enough to make decisions such as getting a tattoo, even if they have their parents’ permission.

Last month, a 10-year-old boy walked into the nurse’s office of his elementary school in Highland, N.Y., and asked for some Vaseline. He wanted to rub it onto his new tattoo — a crude rendering of his name in large block letters on the inside of his forearm.

The nurse called the police.

The boy had gotten the tattoo with his mother’s permission from a neighbor, according to local authorities. While some states have no minimum age for receiving a tattoo if a parent allows it, New York State forbids anyone younger than 18 from getting tattooed with or without parental consent. Last month, both the tattoo artist, Austin Smith, 20, who was unlicensed, and the boy’s mother, Crystal Thomas, 33, were arrested, as pictures of the boy’s arm stirred outrage across local and international news sites and social media.


I will freely admit to being a crotchety old man and have never been a fan of tattoos, so my judgment on this issue is clouded. But I certainly can understand why a state would put an age limit on tattoos and ear piercings, especially without parental permission.

The rationale for the law is clear and explicit. Even if parents consent, children shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about permanent body modifications because they are not developed enough to give actual informed consent. You can argue about the parents’ rights here–whether it is child abuse to permanently mark up a kid’s body for life, or a reasonable accommodation to varied cultural practices and not the states’ business–but allowing kids to decide on their own is off the table. Personally I am not in the “arrest parents” camp on this one.

Ironically, a representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics–an organization that fights vigorously for children to be permanently sterilized and mutilated in “gender affirming care,” is 100% against child tattoos and the loosening of laws happening in various states:

Yet as societal mores around tattooing shift — nearly half of all millennials have tattoos, compared with only 13 percent of the boomer generation, according to a 2015 survey by the Harris Poll — there is a wide spectrum of responses to tattoos on young people. There is no federal minimum age for tattoos, and state laws vary widely. Some mirror New York’s strict over-18 rules. Some permit tattooing with parental consent for people as young as 14 years old. About a dozen, including Ohio, West Virginia and Vermont, allow it with parental blessing and do not specify any minimum age.

It is a situation that Dr. Cora Bruener, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Washington Medical Center’s Seattle Children’s Hospital, and author of guidance on tattoos for pediatricians, issued by the American Academy of Pediatric Medicine, finds troubling.

“It is a permanent mark or a symbol you are putting on your body, and I don’t think kids under 18 have that kind of agency to make a decision,” Dr. Bruener said. “We need to look at these laws again.”

So let’s get this straight: pre-kindergarteners can begin to “socially transition” their gender, and pre-pubescent children can choose to start taking hormones to prevent puberty, teens as young as 12-14 can and should get “top surgery” to remove healthy breast tissue, and older minors should be allowed to have their genitals removed.

Because they just “know” their gender and desperately need the surgeon’s knife to affirm it. That is the current position of the American Association of Pediatrics. Jazz wrote about it here, and I have elsewhere. The AAP is all in on mutilating children.

But kids under 18 don’t have the agency to get Mickey Mouse tattooed on their arm.

Uh, OK.

The problem with having a rational discussion about any of these issues is that we are dealing with people without an ounce of rationality. Some of them are extremely clever. They are great at presenting sophistical arguments for their positions, but they have no capacity for reason. They begin with a conclusion and work their way back to arrive at a convincing argument.

You cannot persuade such people, because persuasion assumes that your interlocutor is somehow connected to reason, logic, and facts. These people are not. Even some on the Left are starting to get nervous about how far things have gone.

That leaves force majeure. We simply must win as many elections as possible and outlaw gender affirming care for minors–at least to the extent that we can.

I am open to listening to smart rational people armed with reams of evidence who will argue that some tiny percentage of the population has something called “gender dysphoria” that requires medical and psychological treatment. Clearly there are many other types of body dysmorphia, such as anorexia. So this seems plausible to me. I have been having a conversation with one such person on Twitter and am in no position to dispute her contentions about her condition. How could I? And as she is an adult, why is it my business? It isn’t.

If our medical establishment could be trusted to investigate and develop treatments for gender dysphoria wholly centered on the well-being of the patient I would be disinclined to interfere. We all should be

But we are dealing with people who have the intelligence and integrity of witch doctors. So I say ban the witch doctor-type treatments.

I used to trust these people. But that trust has been broken. Right now the best we can do is put a stop to the worst of the abuses and try to figure out how to move forward.


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