Gender: You’re Not So Special
Once upon a time, there was a special child. For purposes of picking a pronoun, this child will be a boy, but it could just as easily be a girl. This child was very loud, very whiny and very demanding. This child indicated that he really did not like any of the school’s rules, because they made him feel uncomfortable. He was upset and demanded change. His parents backed him up. His doctor backed him up. The media was on the boy’s side when he complained about the school’s rules and how they made him feel. Both the boy and his parents told the school that he would drop out of school altogether if the rules were not changed to meet his desires. Notably, this child did not have any observable or measurable disabilities. He wasn’t dyslexic, he wasn’t blind or deaf, he didn’t have any neurological problems at all. In fact, his body was perfectly healthy. He just really didn’t like the school’s rules, and seemed more bothered by those rules than other children were.
The school became convinced by the boy, his parents, his doctor, and the media that, if they didn’t change the rules immediately, he would drop out and they would never see him again. The school didn’t want the poor boy to go without an education, so the school made all new rules just for him. For instance, he was allowed to enter school at any time he chose, even though all of the other children were told it was important to be on time so they would not miss out on their learning, and so they would not disrupt the other children. He did not have to sit still during lessons, but could simply run around, play with toys or make lots of noise, even though the other children were reprimanded for such disruptive behavior. He could eat lunch any time, could speak out of turn, and didn’t have to share the equipment on the playground at recess.
For a few years after the rules were changed, he had lots of fun. He thought it was awesome that he could do whatever he wanted, and he seemed pretty happy when he came home from school. His parents were glad the school had listened to his demands and all was well. However, a few years down the line, this special child was no happier than when he first entered the school. Actually, he was more agitated and depressed than ever. He hadn’t learned much, so he was behind academically, and he had not learned how to focus, so it was difficult for him to learn new things even when he decided he wanted to do that. The school began to re-consider its rule changes. Ultimately, it changed back to the original rules and required the boy to be on-time, sit quietly during lessons and follow all the rules the other children had been following. However, this boy was no longer able to focus, having missed the window period to learn this skill. He tried hard, and got much better, but, for the rest of his life, he had difficulties focusing because of his experience of having special rules during his formative years. In the end, the boy realized he was not so special after all.
Our treatment of the concept of gender is a lot like how the school treated this boy. Gender is treated differently than any other concept, and is given its own rules. This is all done in the name of helping supposedly desperate young people to get exactly what they want, while ignoring what they may need. Consideration of the long-term future of these young people is outweighed by complaints of discomfort NOW. Dangerous medical interventions are performed without question, to treat the psychological symptoms of discomfort with the sexual aspects of the body—under the guise of preventing suicide and misery.
However, there are no reliable studies proving that these serious medical treatments actually decrease the suicide rate or mental health problems of those suffering from gender dysphoria. No other mental illness is treated by medically altering the body. For example, Anorexia is not treated by enabling further weight loss and body dysmorphia is not treated with plastic surgery to alter body parts at the patient’s whim. In the case of gender, it is treated with serious medical interventions even though the condition is not even considered an ailment! Further, no other mental illnesses are treated based on self-diagnosis.
We would always be concerned about a huge increase in the number of young people declaring a particular source of mental distress, such as if there were a sudden explosion in depression among young people, or anorexia, or anxiety. Yet we show no curiosity as a society with the fact that the rate of those claiming “gender dysphoria” has increased by something like fifty times the prior rate, and the ratio has switched from more males to more females, with teenage girls being the most likely to declare gender dysphoria and demand medical intervention.
We celebrate the natural body and we make clear that narrow beauty standards are harmful. We say there is no one hair-type, skin-type or body-shape that is beautiful, and we encourage people to be comfortable in the skin they are born in, and appreciate their natural bodies in all respects. Yet, when it comes to the sexual characteristics of the body, as soon as someone says they don’t want to have them, we encourage people to cut off the parts they don’t like and chemically alter various bodily characteristics. We do this in the name of “gender expression.” However, while clothing choice and hairstyle are ways to express gender, lopping off body parts and chemically altering the delicate balance of the body’s hormones is not expression. It’s rejection.
We protect children and teenagers from the potential consequences of their own immature decisions. We have threshold ages for cigarette-smoking, alcohol consumption and tattoos ranging from age 18 to 21. Yet we allow thirteen-year-olds to begin a course of puberty blockers that inevitably leads on to synthetic cross-sex hormones (we know that at least 96% of all children that take puberty blockers go on to cross-sex hormones, which makes sense since they are never given the opportunity to become comfortable with their natal sex). We allow them to make permanent physical changes to the body (sterilization, facial hair, deepened voice, facial structure changes in girls, breast growth in boys, a greatly increased risk of heart attack or stroke, vaginal atrophy and the need for hysterectomy after about five years, among other effects). Puberty blockers themselves are not well studied, and are being used off label, with drugs such as Lupron known to be associated with bone density problems. Rather than protect children and teenagers, we are actively harming them.
We would never allow a young child— age four or five— to decide whether to go to school or the doctor or even what to eat for dinner! Yet we are supposed to change a child’s name, and outwardly refer to the child as the opposite sex, and tell everyone around the child to adopt this new reality—based entirely on a young child’s sense of their “gender identity”, which is actually a meaningless term based on a feeling that cannot be tested for or confirmed in any way.
How are we to know that these young children are not confusing stereotypical preference (e.g. a boy who likes Barbie dolls and princess dresses) with gender? We are forcing these very young children into a narrowed view of themselves in which they believe they are in the “wrong body,” which will likely prevent these children from ever realizing that their natal body is perfectly fine. This is done in the face of the reliable statistic that at least 80% of children with gender dysphoria outgrow the problem by the time they reach adulthood without any intervention at all.
Why are we treating young people so differently when it comes to “gender” than we do with respect to any other concept? Why are we basing radical treatments on nebulous feelings, under the false guise of preventing suicide and misery without any factual basis?
We are ignoring biology, or actively disregarding it, and disregarding the principals of evidence-based medicine. We are disregarding the psychological limitations of children and teenagers and letting their declarations guide our medical decisions. We are ignoring the value society places on a healthy human body. Logic and reason are being ignored in favor of a pseudo-religious notion of “gender identity.” And detransitioners and desisters are living proof that we are failing to consider the long-term effects of body mutilating chemical treatments and surgeries when rushing to appease the rash desire of pubescent individuals to live as the opposite sex.
Like the child in the story, we are changing the rules for how we treat young people with respect to gender issues, and we are doing this based on their desires while completely ignoring their needs. Like the child in the story, gender is not so special.