This article is reposted with permission.
I’m the mother of a “trans” identified teenage daughter. My daughter has been confused in this way since she was twelve-and-a-half, after an epiphany from an internet search at a friend’s house. She informed me of this when she was just thirteen. She’s now 16. It has been a real roller-coaster ride, filled with arguments and heartache, and years of research on my part. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to put out my first Sub-stack article on the topic of Gender and Transition.
I am so frustrated, saddened by, and angry about Gender Ideology, or the idea that some people are born in the wrong body, and must chemically and/or surgically alter their bodies to appear as the opposite sex, and be referred to and treated by others as the opposite sex, in order to ever have any semblance of a happy life. In my view, this idea is destructive (causing so many young people to harm and mutilate their bodies for no reason and attempt to live a lie, suffer depression, alienate themselves from loving families, etc.). I also see it as regressive as, at least with respect to young children, it often relies on stereotypes to “prove” they are “trans,” and often ends up essentially converting those who would turn out gay into “trans” kids. It appears illogical to claim that one cannot be one’s “true self” without altering one’s body and pretending one is the opposite sex.
And don’t get me started on all the contradictions within the tenets of Gender Ideology. There is a belief that you don’t have to suffer from “gender dysphoria,” or a feeling of great discomfort with one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics, in order to be “trans.” You just have to want to be referred to and seen by others as the opposite sex, and maybe you want to dress differently, but no medical changes are necessary. There is also a belief that you aren’t “trans” unless you have a strong urge to chemically and/or surgically alter your body to appear as the opposite sex. There is a belief that“gender dysphoria” is a mental disorder, and a belief that it is not. There is a belief that your so-called “Gender Identity,” the feeling of being male, female, or something else, can change over time, or even from day to day. There is also a belief that Gender Identity is cemented from day one. There is a belief that a biological male can actually become a woman through self-declaration of such, and then he is “really” a woman (or vice versa). There are all sorts of theories, and huge debate within Gender Ideology. However, the core tenent of Gender Ideology is that a declared desire to be treated as either the opposite biological sex, or neither or both sexes (the whole “non-binary” idea can be the subject of another article) is sacred, cannot be questioned, and is the only way to express one’s “true self.”
My old understanding of transsexuals was that many of them were very gender non-conforming, at least internally (some masked this by being extra-masculine males or extra-feminine females). They could not figure out how to express their femininity or masculinity in society in the bodies they were born with, and chose as adults, after therapy, to begin living as if they were the opposite sex. They knew they were not actually the opposite sex. After a year or more of living as the opposite sex and with further therapy, they began to have surgeries and/or hormonal treatments to appear as the opposite sex. I felt nothing but sympathy for their plight, and always hoped society would evolve in a way that did not make people feel so desperate to express their feminine or masculine traits that they had to mutilate their bodies and expend energy trying to pass as the opposite sex. At least, however, they were mature adults, and knew what they were doing. Even so, some of them realized this wasn’t the answer for them, and later regretted their medical transition. Again, my thought was that they deserved society’s sympathy and respect.
Things, however, have changed. Now young people are exalted for “being trans.” There is supposedly such a thing as a “trans child,” who knows deep down inside that they are “really” the opposite sex. There is, essentially, a big rush to social and medical transition, with “gate-keeping” considered harmful because it slows down this wholly necessary transformation. I won’t go on and on because I’m pretty sure the readers here already know what’s happening. My only point in saying all this is to introduce my Sub-stack, which is meant to explore issues of Gender Ideology, particularly as it pertains to young people (children, teens and vulnerable young adults), to break down these issues into small bites, consider what’s happening, and hopefully start some discussions that will make people think.
I haven’t published anything yet because I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said already a million times, something that will matter to people, something that could change hearts and minds (even though the hearts and minds that I would like to change belong to people who aren’t likely to read this), and something that will resonate with those whose hearts and minds are already in line with mine. I also want it to explain my personal situation - because, as my husband once said, the more personal something is, the more universal it becomes. And I want it to encompass everything that I believe is wrong with Gender Ideology. That’s a tall order.
If I keep trying to come up with that perfect first article, I’ll never put anything out there because it’s just too overwhelming. So here goes. I’ll start with one little idea, and just keep throwing more ideas out there, and see what happens.
My idea for today is about consent. I know the analogy of medical transition to foot-binding in China and genital mutilation in Africa is often met with the argument that those things are totally distinguishable, both because of the notion of a Gender Identity (a topic for another article), and because the teens and young adults getting medically unnecessary radical mastectomies, castrations, genital surgeries, and pumping themselves full of synthetic cross-sex hormones that cause all sorts of medical changes, many of which are dangerous, prevent full functionality, and cause sterility, all CONSENTED to these treatments. In fact, they ASKED FOR, or even DEMANDED these treatments. Thus, the argument goes, this has nothing to do with foot-binding or genital mutilation, because those practices were/are forced on unwilling victims.
However, knowing that not all women in the U.S. (where I reside) in the early 1900s wanted the vote, and knowing that many women in orthodox religions will happily embrace what may appear to others as demeaning practices, I am not so sure that, in a culture where foot-binding was regularly practiced, you would not have found young girls who would have volunteered for, and even been enthusiastic about, foot-binding. Similarly, in a culture where so-called “genital mutilation” is looked upon as a right of passage that is admirable, I strongly suspect many young girls, not really knowing what it entailed, would have happily volunteered for this practice. It’s all in the way it’s framed in society. Sure, if it was peddled as a punishment to hurt evil girls, or a way to repress women, nobody would want it. However, if it’s seen as a way to revere the body, and is considered attractive, who is to say that many girls would not seek it out?
In today’s culture, being “trans” is considered by many a very liberating, cool, edgy thing. We know people are (I hate these terms, but they are becoming part of the lexicon) “love-bombed” when they come out as “trans,” and are seen as brave, strong individuals. Further, many young girls fear what being a woman means - how they may be sexualized, how they won’t be successful if they aren’t gorgeous, etc., and some boys fear what expressing their natural sexual desires will turn them into (monsters is what they may think, thanks to an overly enthusiastic “me too” movement that went way beyond exposing corrupt, vile practices of men like Harvey Weinstein, making many young men feel embarrassed simply for feeling strong attractions for women). Many effeminate gay males and butch lesbians still don’t feel very accepted in society. By instead being “trans,” they resolve their gender non-conformity by claiming to be the opposite sex, and have the bonus of getting oppression points (very useful for upper-middle class white kids!).
They are fed the notions that the medical changes associated with transition are safe, relatively painless, and necessary in order to prevent them from committing suicide and, as noted above, for them to be their “true selves.” They are told they will be truly happy only once they medically transition.
To question these notions is to be a bigot, so everyone who does bring up questions about the medical treatments is sloughed off as a transphobic moron, assuming they are allowed to speak at all. Parents like me are considered bigots (my daughter has used this word), transphobic (she has also used this word), and just plain ignorant. (My daughter has used much worse terms, but why get ugly?)
With all these messages about being “trans,” and so many more that I’m not mentioning, it is no wonder so many young people are flocking to it. And are these young people - many of whom are on the autism spectrum, havs suffered abuse, are overly sensitive, are gay/lesbian or very gender non-conforming, have anxiety and depression or other mental illnesses, or are just plain vulnerable - really able to consent to these medical treatments when they are fed so much mis-information, and when they are not mature enough to understand the real, permanent consequences of these treatments?
Frankly, I see the medical transition of teens and vulnerable young adults as not only analogous to foot-binding and genital mutilation, but actually worse in many ways. At least the foot-bound and/or genitally mutilated girls did not have to pretend to be something they are not. Further, foot-binding and genital mutilation do not cause sterility, and only cause lack of function in the specific area in question (the feet or the genitals, respectively), rather than total dysfunction of the genitals combined with a host of other medical issues, on top of the mental gymnastics of pretending to be the opposite sex and putting energy toward “passing” as such.
True informed consent can only be given by a mature, mentally stable person who is provided with accurate information about the procedures to be done. This includes the medical necessity of the procedures, the potential side effects, and alternative, less invasive treatments (or non-treatments as the case may be) that may adequately alleviate their perceived suffering.
I don’t think any young person today can possibly consent to the medical treatments associated with transition because, even if they were mature enough to understand all the ramifications of transition - which they are not - they are being fed so much misinformation, by their schools and universities, by the Government, by large corporations, by the medical community and therapists, by both social media and mainstream media, and by their friends and neighbors, such that they cannot possibly have the information necessary to give truly informed consent. Therefore, we as a society should be ashamed for pushing these medical treatments onto young people. I’m open to comments.