It was only a matter of time before Dr. Shaun Murphy received his first transgender patient. In the February 5 episode of ABC’s The Good Doctor titled “She,” like most of us would, the autistic surgical resident had some difficulty understanding transgenderism. The story concentrates on how the doctors at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital deal with the patient’s family.
A teenager is brought to the emergency room for internal pain by a grandmother but, unbeknownst to her, the teen is on puberty blockers. By outward appearances, the patient, Quinn (played by trans child actor Sophie Giannamore), is a girl, so imagine the doctors’ surprise when a penis is discovered. Naturally, Dr. Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is confused as to why a biological boy would claim to be a girl. "Quinn has XY chromosomes like Jared and me, not XX like you. Science says he's male," he reasonably insists.
Quinn challenges, "Other than biologically, how do you know you're supposed to be a boy?" Dr. Murphy replies, "Your question doesn't make sense. I'm not supposed to be anything. I am a boy. Biologically, that's it." Hollywood being Hollywood, though, they use the autistic doctor to teach us all understanding about transgenders while the other docs act as though this is normal and happens every day. Funny how the "party of science" rejects this basic biology.
The script tries to make the real villain in this episode the grandma, Ruth (JoBeth Williams), because she insists at first that Quinn is only going through a phase. Ruth is shocked to learn that her daughter and son-in-law have not bothered to let her know Quinn is taking puberty blockers.
The diagnosis for Quinn is testicular cancer. His left testicle has a mass that must be removed. A puberty-blocking drug is the cause of the mass and the doctors tell him he must stop taking the drugs. Since the left testicle should be removed, Quinn demands that both be taken since he wants "gender confirmation" surgery anyway.
When Quinn’s parents arrive on the scene, they are just fine with this young teen making the drastic decision to castrate himself. Ruth, however, files charges against the parents with Child Protective Services in hopes of stopping any drastic action. At this time, Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) tells the anguished parents that she will testify in court that they are not bad parents.
When mediation with Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) doesn't go too well, Quinn’s mom throws the ultimate guilt card – they insisted Quinn dress as a boy outside of the house and this brought on depression. Quinn tried to commit suicide a year ago. Poor Ruth. She explains that she wants Quinn and the parents to consider the possibility that Quinn may change his mind and want children in the future. Reasonable, right?
Quinn’s symptoms worsen and emergency surgery forces a final decision to be made – do the parents let a child make a life-changing decision about his developing body or do they finally come to their senses and be the adults in the room?
Fortunately, the parents tell Dr. Lim to only do what is necessary and not to amputate both their son’s testicles. And Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper), Chief of Surgery, at first takes credit for the surgical decision instead of the parents taking responsibility. Then, finally, the parents step up. A disappointed Quinn despairs that he is "going to turn into a boy," but is told he can take hormone treatment instead of puberty blockers until he has surgery at 18, if he chooses.
Quinn: Did you do it? Did you remove both?
Dr. Lim: No. Just the cancerous one.
Quinn: What? Why not?
Dr. Andrews: That's on me. I couldn't, in good conscience, remove a healthy organ.
Mom: Quinnie. This was our decision.
Quinn: No! You said you were on my side!
Dad: Hey, we are. Always. We haven't had enough time to talk, not with each other, with your therapist, with your doctors.
Quinn: So I'm gonna turn into a boy.
Dr. Lim: Well, not right away. Your endocrinologist will talk to you about the right timeline for starting feminizing hormones.
Dr. Andrews: You know... the thought of having your own kids someday is a big decision, but you never know what you will or will not want once you get older.
Quinn: Cis people are always so worked up about having bio kids. If I really want a kid that bad, I can just adopt. You know, I'll be back when I'm 18 for my gender confirmation surgery.
Dr. Andrews: And when you do, I'll be here to help you.
Fortunately, in this story, the child is not the final voice in the medical decision to sterilize himself.
But Quinn can't "turn into a boy," Quinn is a boy. Removing testicles, taking puberty blockers and adding feminizing hormones won't remove the Y chromosome Quinn has. Science says he's male, as Dr. Murphy said, biologically, that's it. Sorry, science trumps ideology again, liberals.