Both articles that are to be analyzed in the paper at hand are related to the topic of adolescent development dilemmas that have to be solved either with or without their consent. The first article (Risking a Relation: Sex Education and Adolescent Development) is more general and addresses sex education. The author claims that it should be made broader to go beyond prohibitions and affirmations (Gilbert, 2007).
I agree that to prepare teenagers for adult life, sex education must cover all its intimate aspects, including friendship, love, power, vulnerability, etc. However, I believe that adults should bear in mind that adolescent sexuality is distinct (although similar) to their own. It is not mature enough. To my mind, this implies that teenagers are still not ready to enter adult sexual life. Therefore, a balance must be found between too early development and the attempts to stop it by the lack of information.
The second study is more specific since it analyzes a particular case of puberty suppression. In 2004, a disabled girl, nicknamed Ashley X was forced to undergo a mastectomy, a hysterectomy, and hormonal treatment as requested by her parents with the purpose of aligning her body to her cognitive age (Pyne, 2017).
The article changed my perception of the legitimacy of such transitions. I have never tried to view such cases juxtaposing them to trans youths’ rights. It seems unfair that they cannot perform the same operations even though it is their own decision (unlike Ashley who was insane). It turns out that those who are stopped in time are equally disadvantaged as those who cannot stop time.
As far as the topic of sex education is concerned, I firmly believe that it is not enough to introduce it in educational institutions as currently, the majority of sex-related programs do not answer the requirements of the modern youth. The problem is that they are mostly abstinence-based and aimed to instill fear and disgust in young people (Gilbert, 2007).
It has been proven by research that programs promoting virginity increase the risks of pregnancy and infection and never lead to delays in first sex. Moreover, it is typical of sex educators to give false or exaggerated information about the effectiveness of contraceptives, risks of diseases, abortion, and gender stereotyping (Gilbert, 2007).
I am convinced that making adolescent afraid of sex is not the way to educate them. I completely agree with the author of the article that youths must be given an opportunity to develop in this direction, learning how relationships work in general, not in one aspect only.
As far as the topic of puberty suppression for trans teenagers is concerned, the issue seems to be more complicated to me. I believe that physical transformations would not be so urgent for the majority of them if the society was more tolerant of such individuals. However, even though the 21st century is the age of political correctness, sex and gender prejudice are still far from being eliminated. A lot of people are discriminated against for the fault of feeling uncomfortable for their birth-assigned body. Thus, plenty of youths receive rejection and misunderstanding or are treated as mentally sick if they do not successfully perform their gender roles.
This leads to psychological disorders, which are not the cause but rather the consequence of negligence, hostility, and intolerance. In the case of Ashley, it is evident that even parents are far from accepting their children the way they are.
Although it is quite understandable that parents want to protect their children from becoming grown-ups too early when they are still unprepared to meet all challenges of adult life, there is still no excuse for puberty suppression. Adolescents must be encouraged and given opportunities to develop following their normal course. Sex education would greatly assist them in this. At the same time, if some non-traditional sex behaviors reveal themselves during the teenage years, it is wrong to deprive young people of the right for self-determination.
Taking into account the fact that some operations are performed on the unconscious without their consent (as in the case with Ashley X), it is a double standard to forbid mentally healthy adolescents to do the same if they decide that this is the way for them to feel more comfortable with their body.
The question that remains unanswered to me is how to balance the risk of depriving kids of their childhood with the necessity to encourage coming-of-age and the concept of equal rights.
Gilbert, J. (2007). Risking a relation: Sex education and adolescent development. Sex Education, 7(1), 47-61.
Pyne, J. (2017). Arresting Ashley X: Trans youth, puberty blockers and the question of whether time is on your side. Somatechnics, 7(1), 95-123.