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June/July 2021 • Volume 50, Number 6/7 • Abigail Shrier
Abigail Shrier is a journalist and author. She received her A.B. from Columbia College, where she was a Euretta J. Kellett Fellow; her B.Phil. from the University of Oxford; and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a Coker Fellow. A member of the Board of Advisors of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, she has written for numerous publications, including City Journal, Newsweek, RealClearPolitics, The Federalist, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 27, 2021, in Franklin, Tennessee, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar.
In 2007, America had one pediatric gender clinic; today there are hundreds. Testosterone is readily available to adolescents from places like Planned Parenthood and Kaiser, often on a first visit—without even a therapist’s note.
How did we get to this point? How is it that we are all supposed to pretend that the only way you can know I’m a woman is if I tell you my pronouns? How did we get to an America in which a 13-year-old in the State of Washington can begin “gender affirming” therapy without her parents’ consent? How did we get to an America in which a 15-year-old in Oregon can undergo “top surgery”—elective double mastectomy—without her parents’ permission? And what can we do about it?
To understand how we got to this point, it is useful to begin by considering gender dysphoria—the feeling of severe discomfort in a person’s biological sex. Gender dysphoria is certainly real. It is also exceedingly rare. It afflicts about 0.01 percent of the population, most of whom are male.
For nearly 100 years of diagnostic history, gender dysphoria typically began in early childhood, between the ages of two and four, and usually involved a boy who insisted that he was not a boy but a girl. Children afflicted are insistent, consistent, and persistent in the feeling that they are in the wrong body. It is by all accounts excruciating—I’ve talked to many transgender adults, most of them biological males, who describe the relentless chafe of a body that feels all wrong.
Historically, this has been the classic presentation of gender dysphoria. When these children were left alone—when no one intervened medically or encouraged what we today call “social transition”—over 70 percent of them naturally outgrew their gender dysphoria. Most of those who outgrew it became gay men. Those who did not outgrow it became what used to be known as transsexuals. They did not believe they were women, but they felt most comfortable presenting themselves as females.
Today, however, we don’t leave these children alone. Instead, the moment children seem not to be perfectly feminine or perfectly masculine, we label them as “trans kids.” Teachers encourage them to reintroduce themselves to their classes with new names and new pronouns. We take them to therapists or doctors, nearly all of whom practice so-called affirmative care—meaning they think it is their job to affirm the diagnosis of gender dysphoria and help the children medically transition.
The typical first step in treatment administered to these kids is puberty blockers, which shut down the part of the pituitary gland that directs the release of hormones catalyzing puberty. The most common of these drugs is Lupron, whose original purpose was the chemical castration of sex offenders. To this day, the FDA has never approved this drug for halting healthy puberty.
One has to wonder why a parent or a doctor would take measures to stop a child’s puberty, given that even a child with genuine gender dysphoria would most likely outgrow that condition if left alone. Some argue that it is traumatizing to let children go through the puberty of the sex to which they do not wish to belong. But in many cases, puberty seems to have helped children overcome gender dysphoria. The truth is that there is no satisfying answer, given that scientists have no way of predicting which children will outgrow the dysphoria on their own and which won’t.
Proponents of “affirmative care” also argue that allowing puberty to occur is dangerous, because suicide rates for trans-identified youth and trans adults are very high. Therefore, they say, we need to start treating children with gender dysphoria as soon and as dramatically as possible.
Yet there are no good long-term studies indicating that puberty blockers cure suicidality or even improve mental health. Nor are there studies that show puberty blockers are safe or reversible when used in this manner.
What we do know is that puberty blockers prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics, sexual maturation, and bone density. Indeed, because of the inhibition of bone density and other risks, doctors don’t like to keep children on puberty blockers for more than two years.
We also know that in almost every case when a child’s healthy puberty is medically arrested, placing the child out of step with his or her peers, that child proceeds to cross-sex hormones. And when puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are administered to a girl, she becomes infertile. She may also have permanent sexual dysfunction given that her sex organs never reach adult maturity.Given this, the claims made by so many doctors and gender activists today that these medical transition measures for children are safe and reversible—that they are a “pause button,” without serious downsides—are not only dishonest, but destructive. We would not accept
It’s a very difficult and sensitive subject. Children are not adults and don’t realize some feelings are permanent and some are transitory. They can’t tell if it’s true dysphasia or if they aren’t happy and are looking for a quick or easy solution. Adults should keep their noses out of it and let a child grow into who they are going to become without interference. I know several parents whose children either changed genders or became non-binary. Each came with huge medical and emotional risks. Two were males who had female surgery. It’s very drastic and extremely painful. They had no idea before what they were getting into. Another child became non binary and the mom, who is very accepting nearly went nuts herself trying to remember the child’s new name and pronouns. That child eventually became a female again but decided she was a lesbian and her mom was able to relax.
Showtalk said...It’s a very difficult and sensitive subject. Children are not adults and don’t realize some feelings are permanent and some are transitory. They can’t tell if it’s true dysphasia or if they aren’t happy and are looking for a quick or easy solution.
Yes and no... what makes it so difficult and sensitive? As the article posted... a good majority will grow out of it. Those with true dysphasia are only a small minority, but it's difficult to diagnose at a young age. As such... it should not be diagnosed at such a young age, but it is being diagnosed at a young age. There is nothing difficult or sensitive about postponing such a diagnosis until after they have gone through puberty.
Showtalk said...Adults should keep their noses out of it and let a child grow into who they are going to become without interference.
BINGO... we have a winner. Adults... including school teachers, parents and other adults... should keep their noses out of it. It's when adults in school teach kids to come out... and those kids come home and talk about it with their parents... whom also are brought into the equation... when both the teachers and parents should have stayed out of the equation from the get go.
Thus to simplify the difficult problem and make it a less sensitive subject... let kids be kids and don't push or attempt to force them from/by an adult perspective.
Showtalk said...I know several parents whose children either changed genders or became non-binary. Each came with huge medical and emotional risks. Two were males who had female surgery. It’s very drastic and extremely painful. They had no idea before what they were getting into. Another child became non binary and the mom, who is very accepting nearly went nuts herself trying to remember the child’s new name and pronouns. That child eventually became a female again but decided she was a lesbian and her mom was able to relax.
Yes, I would say a good majority who went through the process totally regretted it afterwards... which goes back to the "adults" should stay out of the equation. But how do we get adult teachers in schools to stay out of the equation? Often times, parents are only brought into the equation because of what those adult teachers taught the kids in the first place.
So stop teaching it in schools!!! Not very difficult or sensitive! Just don't do it!
It’s sensitive because teens and older children are fighting hormones and peers as they make their way into puberty. I don’t understand why teachers have been given such huge power over children’s lives. Parents are fighting back all over the country.
Showtalk said...I don’t understand why teachers have been given such huge power over children’s lives. Parents are fighting back all over the country.
Teachers want to wean kids from their parents and place them under their government control... it's called indoctrination and it's been ongoing now for close to 40 years... getting worse and worse more recently. That's why so many parents are fighting back, but it's not just this, it's Common Core, Critical Race Theory, and so many other things the the liberal education system is brainwashing kids with these days.
In the past, the majority of brainwashing took place only in colleges, but now, they're going for K1 ~ K12 as well.
They have finally pushed parents too far. We see it all the time when parents rise up to fight school board decisions. Since Covid public school enrollment is down. This could be the beginning of the end of public schooling.
It's already in motion in some places.
WARNING: What is discussed in this video is what our kids are being taught in schools. It may offend many, but please understand, these parents are just reading to the school board from material provided to the students!!! It may seem painful to listen to, but please hear it out to the end... it might just enlighten you as to how awful our education system has become!
If you find it offense... just remember... this same material is being offered to millions of kids all over the US!!!
That used to be considered child abuse and pedophilia. Now it’s alright?
Showtalk said...That used to be considered child abuse and pedophilia. Now it’s alright?
Nope... it shouldn't be alright... it should still be considered child abuse and pedophilia.
Bottom line: They're pushing child abuse and pedophilia in our schools and IT MUST STOP!!!
Otherwise, we're heading the way of Sodom and Gomorrah.