Converting American Youth for Profit: Boiling the Frog in 5 Simple Steps
There were 50 good years of profits from tobacco, and 15 years from opiates. Juul was kind of a bust. But, no worries, we’ve got the next revenue stream well underway—and this time we’ve got the formula all figured out. It took about 15 years of careful planning, but this one should last a good long time and lead to tons of future line extensions and new markets: tails, ears, custom coloration, otherkins (be a unicorn if you want!), maybe even full body replacement! The sky’s the limit once you de-stigmatize body modification and customization.
Here’s how we did it.
1. Come up with the concept and then put the idea in the cultural ether.
To convince people the impossible is possible, it was easiest to start with something that people generally knew about, that already involved body mod. We went with transsexualism. There was already a very rare condition, where men thought they were women, lived and acted like stereotypes of women, and got “sex change” operations to make it official. That was a great springboard, although some adjustments had to be made to the platform, including genericizing the name (first to transgender, to start separating the idea from the old narrower concept, then to trans, which in newspeak-like fashion had the dual purpose of a. breaking from the real meaning, and b. being easily extendable to other forms of body mod).
Then, to get the maximum cultural reach, we got Hollywood and corporate sponsors on board. Celebrities were desperate for attention of any sort and were easily used for headlines, to showcase the lifestyle with their kids. We made it seem on trend, harmless and fun - kids bending outdated gender norms! Media outlets desperate to bolster waning revenue streams were glad to print the sensational headlines.
Next, we introduced characters in TV and movies to further acclimatize people. People thought it was weird at first, but they had seen the influencers living the lifestyle and felt socially uncomfortable stating it out loud, because generally people are nice and don’t want to be controversial.
2. Get people to treat trans as a protected class, change the positioning.
Once people were used to the idea, we got media (using carefully placed donations) to talk about how hard it is to be trans in society. We told a bunch of sob stories by cherry picking individual stories and extrapolating them. Since there are very few people with the actual condition, it was easy to do this.
Then the strategy really came into play. We had already picked an obscure orphan condition as a first target for normalizing body mod. It was awkward that trans was a mental condition—that wasn’t going to work for us. Since gender dysphoria disorder was so rare, the organization working on had just a few members influencing or writing policy (WPATH). It was surprisingly easy to take over the policy and guideline writing organization and re-define the condition and treatment protocols. We used this to change the condition from a pathology to an inherent trait, so more like gay than anorexia.
3. Demonstrate the need. Teach kids and adults about trans and how it applies to them. Note: This is the most important future revenue stream and cultural impact point.
It was easy to make the case that people should be taught to be nice and not discriminate against anyone that’s different. From there, we lumped “trans” in with other groups that have been considered “different” in the past, like the LBG community and people with disabilities to ride on their coattails. Since the condition was now more optimally positioned, we could reference this to emphasis your point.
Now the reality bending bit, which was tricky. If you can’t convince ’em, confuse ‘em! We had to explain that the objective idea people thought they had of sex/gender was wrong. Instead, we asserted that sex was on a spectrum, and that this might apply to them. We had to get people questioning themselves, and to do this, we used gender stereotypes to confused non-gender conforming individuals and get them to mix up biology and culture. This was a tricky pitch, but not hard to make it you can get a captive audience that thinks you are talking about civil rights. Scientists pushed back, but they weren’t good at pithy talking points, so we could just call them bigots.
For adults, the in was through their jobs. Corporations were shockingly eager to appear benevolent and jumped at the chance to talk about their diversity and inclusion efforts. They even required their employees to attend!
For kids, we used the schools. School boards are easy to confuse if you keep the initial messaging focused on anti-discrimination and civil rights. Once in, the training and reposition of sex, and sowing of identity confusion was really simply. Kids are training culturally to trust what they hear at school—it’s instant authority. Also, kids don’t have a well-formed sense of self yet and only have a nascent sense of their sexuality, so they are likely to be more open to influence than adults.
Turns out our pitch worked best with the kids that already felt different from their peers—an unanticipated but not unwelcome outcome.
4. Create a distribution system for the product and its new customers.
Once we had defined the problem, started advertising it, and convinced people of the need, through some initial positioning with kids and parents, it was time to set up the distribution and delivery system for monetizing it. Since transsexual had been an orphan condition, no one knew what to do with this new crop of confused kids that came home and told their parents they were “trans” (yay -repeating the words)! So, we had clinics specializing in this ready to go, and easily searchable on the internet. No regular doctors wanted to touch this with a 10-foot pole so they sent these kids straight to us, where we told them that we were the only ones that understood this new condition (trans—which we invented! :-) ) and how to treat it.
There was also some really great ready-made aging/obsolescing infrastructure in place that was easy to co-opt to supplement the clinics, including LGB lobby groups, who, most of their aims having been achieved, were looking for new causes to support, AIDS clinics with a declining customer base, and Planned Parenthood, who was seeing its abortion business dry up as cultural norms changed. Turns out we could quickly go national with our distribution system by using what was already there!
5. Implement the multilevel marketing system wide.
It was smooth sailing from there!
The newly transitioned/medicalized kids and hoodwinked parents were perfect advocates/sales people for the next crop of recruits. They were fully bought in by nature of having participated in round 1. Once you opt in, you are reinforced in your beliefs and likely to maintain support and feel the need to recruit others.
We encouraged them to find jobs advocating. As true believers they did a great job helping get more customers and acceptance fast. They branched out into lobbying in politics, healthcare, and media. We paid some through advocacy groups that we took over, but they actually mostly took the ball and ran with it for free, tacking community organizing on to their daily lives or convincing their companies they needed more training groups. They used the same techniques that we used for the first wave to get in the door at schools, religious institutions, newspapers, and corporations. It was easy to work into laws once we owned the culture and had claimed the moral high ground.
Before long we had magazine covers, hundreds of clinics, and lifelong streams of revenue from hormones and surgeries. It’s easy to keep raising the bar when people are convinced that they need to change, but they’re not sure of the end state. We can just keep changing the standards of beauty and perfection, using our emplaced media. Later, we’ll tack on other pharmaceuticals to counter the problems created by the drugs and surgeries.
It took a while to get to critical mass, but no one really noticed until we were solidly in and it’s taken on a life of its own. Now, parents and other losers in the system (kids that changed their minds, feminists, the LGB community, black men) tried to push back, but now we control the narrative and can easily keep them in check. Customers are even adding their own tack on products, like non-binary medicalization, to the mix. We can still make money on all of these line extensions, and other parties can too. We’re not overly concerned with this -in a growing market, there’s plenty of opportunity to go around. We got it right this time—it’s going to take a long time, if ever, to undo the business we’ve built!