Thursday, 13 August 2015

Letter to editors of Rutters

Dear Editors,

We the undersigned transgender and non-transgender academics wish to raise the issue of your inclusion in the new edition of Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychology of a section written by Kenneth Zucker regarding "treatment" of transgender children.

Kenneth Zucker's approach to transgender children is one we believe to be fundamentally flawed and extremely dangerous and that his approach amounts to a version of "conversion therapy" which has for many years been discredited as a "treatment" for homosexuality. One of the most recent studies (De Vries et al 2013) demonstrates that the most beneficial outcome for trans children and adolescents comes from allowing trans children to transition as they wish and to express their gender identities rather than suppressing them.

We would also like to draw your attention to the case of 17-year-old transgender girl Leelah Alcorn who committed suicide in December last year after being subjected to conversion therapy. Leelah, left behind a suicide note on Tumblr, which has been reproduced here; Please read it, it is very well known amongst the transgender community and beyond. Survivors of conversion therapy overwhelmingly report that it has left them feeling traumatised and suicidal but has not altered their gender identity or sexual orientation. The possibility of suing those who carried out this "treatment" for malpractice is still being explored.

We understand why you may have selected Kenneth Zucker to contribute to this text book but we suggest that you first read Ansara and Hegarty (2012) whose research exposes what they characterise as an "invisible college" of psychologists who cite and peer review each other's work regarding transgender issues, and in particular transgender children.

In addition not only may the inclusion of this section breach the APA's nondiscrimination policy, but it also runs counter to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's (WPATH 2012) explicit guidelines on treatment of transgender children and young people. Our opinion is that maintaining the inclusion of this section without reference to current accepted practice may significantly harm the reputation of this publication

We feel sure that, once you have found out a bit more about the misuse of conversion therapy you will agree that inclusion of this element was a mistake and would wish to distance yourselves from it and we suggest that you do so publicly,and request that the publisher withdraws and reprints this version.

We respectfully suggest that you consider having Zucker's section taken out of your publication because we believe that his approach is profoundly harmful to transgender children and young people and has the potential to cause death by suicide as in the case of Leelah Alcorn and others. Including this section in your publication legitimises such approaches.

Finally it should be noted that Kenneth Zucker is no longer able to practice these "therapies" since the province of Ontario banned them. An increasing number of jurisdictions have banned conversion therapy or are withdrawing public funding for it;


Ansara, G and Hegarty, P (2012) Cisgenderism in psychology: pathologising and misgendering children from 1999 to 2008 Psychology & SexualityVolume 3, Issue 2, 2012, pages 137- 160

De Vries et al (2013) Young Adult Psychological Outcome After Puberty Suppression and Gender Reassignment Pediatrics .2013-2958

WPATH (2012) Standards of care for the health of transsexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming people WPATH,%20V7%20Full%20Book.pdf


Natacha Kennedy (Goldsmiths College and University College, University of London)

I will organise these into alphabetical order once people have signed

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