Transgender orthodoxy has moved so far past the bounds of sanity that any attempt to question its effects is quickly discouraged and punished. We are expected to shut up and accept that public schools are passing policies to keep students’ gender identity transitions from parents, that medical professionals can file to remove children from their parents’ custody if parents oppose physical and chemical transition efforts, that a young man competed on a women’s swimming team and took home a women’s championship title, and that a man who claimed to identify as a woman was allowed into a women’s prison where he impregnated two of his fellow prisoners.
None of this is normal or even remotely defensible, and everyone, including many on the Left, knows it.
Few on the Left, however, are willing to say so out loud, in large part because their peers have made it impossible. Break from the transgender narrative in any way, and accusations of bigotry and violence will be thrown at you relentlessly. Just look at the abundant invectives hurled at Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, for example.
Still, there are some, such as Rowling, who are beginning to admit that transgenderism has gone too far. Rowling and other liberal feminists recognize that the concept of “gender identity” is a serious threat to women’s rights, especially the right to privacy and equal opportunity. Gay and lesbian activists realize that pushing effeminate boys or tomboyish girls toward transgenderism could create even more confusion and anxiety in youths who are struggling not with their actual gender but with their sexuality — two very different things.
And healthcare professionals who are now being encouraged by the Biden administration to alter the bodies physically and chemically of gender-confused minors are starting to raise concerns about the permanence of such drastic interventions and ask whether there is any data to back them up at all.
One of these medical experts is Erica Anderson, a transgender doctor who has been at the forefront of transgender care in the U.S. and recently spoke out against administering hormone therapy or other irreversible treatments to youths.
“I think it’s gone too far,” Anderson said. “For a while, we were all happy that society was becoming more accepting and more families than ever were embracing children that were gender variant. Now it’s got to the point where there are children presenting at clinics whose parents say, ‘This just doesn’t make sense.’ I have these private thoughts: ‘This has gone too far. It’s going to get worse. I don’t want any part of it. I worry that people will accuse me of setting the train in motion, as part of those who advocated the affirmative approach to gender in youth, even though that’s not a reasonable account of what happened.’”
Anderson is far from the only expert concerned about the radical trajectory transgenderism has taken. In much of Europe, there is rigorous debate among doctors and psychologists who believe “gender-affirming care” for young persons is a hasty response to a social phenomenon rather than an appropriate, data-backed medical treatment.
All of the evidence suggests they are correct. It is not a coincidence that the number of young adults who identify as transgender has increased more than twentyfold over the past several years as transgenderism has become more mainstream. What was once a rare mental affliction — gender dysphoria — is now being sold as a solution to any number of common emotional and social anxieties. The result has been a massive surge in transgender-identifying youths, the vast majority of whom, if given enough time, would snap out of it on their own.
Corinna Cohn, a transgender person who underwent a sex reassignment surgery at 19 years old, argued as much in a recent op-ed for the Washington Post:
The sacrifices I made seemed irrelevant to the teenager I was: someone with gender dysphoria, yes, but also anxiety and depression. The most severe cause of dread came from my own body. I was not prepared for puberty, nor for the strong sexual drive typical for my age and sex.
Surgery unshackled me from my body’s urges, but the destruction of my gonads introduced a different type of bondage. From the day of my surgery, I became a medical patient and will remain one for the rest of my life. I must choose between the risks of taking exogenous estrogen, which include venous thromboembolism and stroke, or the risks of taking nothing, which includes degeneration of bone health. In either case, my risk of dementia is higher, a side effect of eschewing testosterone.
I may well have transitioned even after waiting a few years. If I hadn’t transitioned, I likely would have suffered from the world in other ways. In other words, I’m still working out how much regret to feel, but I’m comfortable with the ambiguity.
What advice would I pass on to young people seeking transition? Learning to fit in your body is a common struggle. Fad diets, body-shaping clothing and cosmetic surgery are all signs that countless millions of people at some point have a hard time accepting their own reflection.
Again, the data confirm that Cohn is far from the only transgender person experiencing regret. An extensive study conducted in Sweden found that 10 to 15 years after sex-reassignment surgeries, the suicide rate of those who underwent the procedure rose to 20 times that of their peers. Another review of more than 100 follow-up studies of transgender individuals who underwent sex changes, undertaken by Birmingham University’s Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility, found that none of the studies provided conclusive evidence that gender reassignment benefited the patients. And just a couple of years ago, U.S. researchers were forced to issue a correction to a major 2019 study that claimed transgender individuals who underwent reassignment surgeries showed significantly improved mental health. The study now states, “The results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalizations following suicide attempts.”
Transgenderism has always been dependent on the unrealistic, but it is quickly turning into a “grave medical-political scandal,” as the New York Times’s Ross Douthat recently put it, for which there is no defense or middle ground. Women should never be forced to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams with men. Young children and adults struggling with the woes of maturation should never be encouraged to mutilate themselves chemically and physically.
These are just commonsense positions. Yet, on the Left, they are few and far between.
Hopefully, stories such as Anderson’s and Cohn’s are an indication that that’s about to change.