First, some background – I met Renee Clare-Kovacs at several Forsyth County School Board meetings, and we had maybe two extended conversations after the meetings were over, politely disagreeing on any number of topics. At some point, she decided to gift me the book “Blood at the Root”, and attached this letter:
I was thankful that even though what she wrote was arrogant and condescending, it was at least an attempt to further the conversation, without excess vitriol. I went ahead and planned to return the favor, by gifting her the book “Irreversible Damage”, as well as the letter at the bottom of this post.
But before I could hand her the book, I was approached by a young man who has also been speaking at school board meetings, with this curt, terse letter:
So, okay – I’ve got a grown woman here, who has taken the time and effort to not only buy me a book, but type out two letters to me – even though I didn’t speak to her at any time between letter number one and letter number two. And on top of that, she had to enlist some poor young man to deliver her note to me, instead of actually saying anything to my face.
Odd to say the least.
So, instead of handing her this following note and the book “Irreversible Damage”, I respected her wishes, and asked the same officer she decided to “make aware” to pass on the materials without me actually speaking to her. She flatly refused the book, and note, so I can only assume she meant “don’t speak to me” to include any sort of communication. Which is fine – the officer gave me my book and note back, and I’ve got no need or compulsion to speak to someone who seems desperate to get my attention, but unwilling to hear any contradiction to her very closely held beliefs.
I honestly don’t know what to make of it. It seems like a scene out of a high school drama, which is more than 30 years in the rear-view mirror for me. I mean, I’m still grateful that she reached out, and maybe she’s just having her own life drama that is spilling over, but wow.
I’m going to assume that she won’t escalate any further, but I figure I’d memorialize this very odd behavior on her part, just in case it does.
Here’s the note she refused:
Thank you so much for your kind gift and thoughtful letter! I appreciate the time you took to express yourself, and I have great respect for your compassionate instincts. Please accept this book and letter in the same spirit that inspired you to share with me.
First off, let me share with you something that you won’t have any reason to disagree with – I have one grown child in Reno, Nevada, and I have two daughters currently enrolled in Forsyth County schools, one at East Forsyth, the other at Silver City Elementary. I hope this makes it more understandable why I participate in these Board meetings, and why I have concerns about the transgender issue in our schools.
Second, let me offer my sincere congratulations that your friend Arthur was able to find happiness through surgical and hormonal treatment as an adult – hopefully, they are able to cope with the health problems created by those interventions, and do not come to regret their choice. While I think it is dangerous to always assume everyone is 100% accurate in their self-diagnosis, I do believe gender dysphoria is a real and rare mental illness, and some very, very, very small percentage of those people can benefit from surgical and hormonal treatments.
Lastly, I’ll comment a bit on some of the information you cited and claims you made – I understand you presented it in good faith, and I hope to reply in kind. Forgive me ahead of time for anything that seems offensive or charged or patronizing – it’s not my intention at all.
1) 56 genital surgeries and 776 mastectomies on 13-17 year olds over 3 years is a horrific number. This is a rate higher than murders with AR-15s (roughly 15 per year from 2007-2018). I think you intended to comfort me by showing me how incredibly rare this kind of surgery is, but in my book, the acceptable number of both murders and permanent sexual surgeries on children is zero.
2) The PlasticSurgery.org statistic, sadly, lacks a full breakdown of 13-17 year olds, versus 18-19 year olds. I looked for more detailed information online, but nobody seems to be willing to publish it. That said, I think breast augmentation is horrible. I understand reconstructive surgery, but even the FDA doesn’t approve of breast augmentation for children under 18 – it can only be done “off-label”. It’s unclear if you thought I would approve of breast augmentation for children, or maybe disapprove of it and be shocked at how much more often it happens, or if you just wanted to share the patient guidelines to reassure me that doctors and parents together, in general, should be trusted.
3) Which brings up the very guidelines you cite, “Plastic surgery is not recommended for teens who are prone to mood swings or erratic behavior, who are abusing drugs and/or alcohol, or who are being treated for clinical depression or other mental illness.” I agree with this 100%, and by definition, children identifying as transgender are suffering from both mental illness, and clinical depression. I cannot fathom what kind of logical pretzel plastic surgeons have to go through in order to justify breaking their own guidelines when it comes to “affirming” care for children.
4) You state that hormone therapy “is reversible”, but you’re missing very important caveats. First, there are two “therapies” we can talk about – chemical castration with Lupron, and cross-sex hormones. For puberty blockers, it’s now fairly clear (even to the NHS in the UK) that they are not reversible (see: https://wng.org/roundups/study-effects-of-puberty-blockers-can-last-a-lifetime-1617220389 and https://www.transgendertrend.com/nhs-no-longer-puberty-blockers-reversible/). As for cross-sex hormones, the window during which they seem reversible is very small – three months generally before there are permanent biological changes, probably less for people who either have not gone through puberty, or are in the middle of puberty (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0004563215587763). Sadly, much of what we are discovering today about hormone blockers, and cross-sex hormone therapy (especially for children), is happening to people who were not given an option of informed consent – our trans youth of today are unwitting participants in a large scale experiment that is not being properly studied or tracked.
5) You compare the rate of trans suicides to the rate of trans regret, without noting that trans suicide rates are abnormally high before, and after hormonal and surgical intervention. I firmly agree with you that people with gender dysphoria have alarmingly high suicide rates – but I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. Even if someone presents as the opposite sex, and gets every surgery and hormonal treatment available, they can never, ever actually be the opposite sex. And deep down, they know it. Perhaps in some very rare cases they can get close enough to fool themselves, but turning part of your colon into a permanent wound that needs daily dilation does not make you a woman, and building a fake phallus from the flesh carved from your arm does not make you a man – and that constant physical truth, for a sadly large number of gender dysphorics, is undeniable. Even the famous Jazz Jennings, after all the accolades, attention, fame, and surgeries, clearly suffers and feels that they aren’t “themselves”. And every additional hormone shot, and surgical maintenance, reminds them that they are not real women. My heart breaks for these people, and I often wonder how much better their lives would be if their mental illness was treated, rather than affirmed. Puberty is difficult, especially for women, but perhaps the greatest gift anyone can receive is the ability to accept themselves for who they are, rather than always being unsatisfied that they aren’t someone else. It used to be that feelings of alienation, being different, not belonging, not fitting in, were things that we overcame as a natural part of puberty and adolescence. Today, in a world filled with fake images and fake people in social media, our children are tricked into believing such existential crises can be fixed with pills, shots, and surgeries.
So, in closing, as you kindly wished for me, I kindly wish for you – learn about the issues you speak of. Please read the book I’m offering with an open mind, as well as a compassionate heart. You’re a wonderful, strong woman, with a great sense of humor, intense passion, and I believe you truly want to do good in this world. I know it can be difficult face challenges to strongly held convictions, and I applaud you for overcoming your prejudice against me and my views enough to open a dialogue. I was pleasantly surprised and honored by your gift and your letter.
I truly believe that at heart, you and I have the same values, and that we actually agree much much more than we disagree – but we only learn that by interacting with each other, and I look forward to a healthy friendship with you.
Your future friend,
Jere Krischel – email@example.com
P.S.: I would love to have lunch with you sometime, my treat, and learn more about your point of view, and where you think I get things wrong. Ping me sometime, and we’ll make it happen. Aloha!