Abigail Shrier has a must-read piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal–it begins with a mother whose daughter, formerly a "girly girl," went away to college and began a course in testosterone treatments to help her embrace what she regarded as her real, masculine identity.
The phenomenon is called “rapid onset gender dysphoria.” It is generally handled this way by society at large, according to Shrier's article:
Like other social contagions, such as cutting and bulimia, ROGD overwhelmingly afflicts girls. But unlike other conditions, this one—though not necessarily its sufferers—gets full support from the medical community.
The standard for dealing with teens who assert they are transgender is “affirmative care”—immediately granting the patient’s stated identity. There are, to be sure, a few dissenters.
“This idea that what we’re supposed to do as therapists is to ‘affirm’? That’s not my job,” said psychotherapist Lisa Marchiano. “If I work with someone who’s really suicidal because his wife left him, I don’t call his wife up and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to come back.’ . . . We don’t treat suicide by giving people exactly what they want.”
But giving in to patients’ demands is exactly what most medical professionals do when faced with ROGD. Like fashionable and tragic misdiagnoses of the past, this one comes with irreversible physical trauma. “Top surgery,” a euphemism for double mastectomies. Infertility. Permanent rounding of facial features or squaring of the jawline. Bodily and facial hair that never goes away.
Planned Parenthood furnishes testosterone to young women on an “informed consent” basis, without requiring any psychological evaluation. Student health plans at 86 colleges—including those of nearly every Ivy League school—cover not only cross-sex hormones but surgery as well.
Shrier interviewed mothers of young women who have embarked on such courses. They were for the most part "terrified" that their daughters would find out about their discomfort with their current paths. And they felt very alone:
Nearly every force in society is aligned against these parents: Churches scramble to rewrite their liturgies for greater “inclusiveness.” Therapists and psychiatrists undermine parental authority with immediate affirmation of teens’ self-diagnoses. Campus counselors happily refer students to clinics that dispense hormones on the first visit.
Laws against “conversion therapy,” which purports to cure homosexuality, are on the books in 14 states and the District of Columbia. These statutes also prohibit “efforts to change a patient’s . . . gender identity,” in the words of the New Jersey law—effectively threatening counselors who might otherwise dissuade teens from proceeding with hormone treatment or surgery.
Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube host an endless supply of mentors, who cheerfully document their own physical transitions, omitting mention of dangerous side effects and offering tips on how to pass as a man and how to break away from unsupportive parents. For anxious teens who tend toward obsession, these videos can be mesmerizing.
A more prudent society would exercise a higher degree of caution in dealing with rapid onset gender dysphoria, given that some of the "remedies" are irreversible.