Features, Sex, Social Science

Misunderstanding a New Kind of Gender Dysphoria

A year ago, as a result of a blog post I wrote, I began offering consultations to parents of teens who had announced “out of the blue” that they were transgender. Each week, several new families made contact with me, and their stories are remarkably similar to one another. Most have 14 or 15-year-old daughters who are smart, quirky, and struggling socially. Many of these kids are on the autism spectrum. And they are often asking for medical interventions – hormones and surgery – that may render them sterile, affect their liver, or lead to high blood pressure, among other possible side effects.

The parents are bewildered and terrified, careful to let me know that they love their child and would support any interventions that were truly necessary. They speak to me of dealing with their fear for their child in terrible isolation, as friends and family blithely celebrate their child’s “bravery.”

I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of parents who call me. I find it difficult to listen to their stories – each one so like the others. The desperation in their voices is palpable. They ask if they can fly to see me and bring their daughter. When I tell them I don’t do that, they ask if I can direct them to any therapist who won’t just affirm and greenlight their child for medical transition. Their voices are tremulous with relief at speaking with someone who doesn’t dismiss their concerns about unnecessary medical interventions. Each consultation lasts longer than the time I have allotted for it.

At times, I am able to offer advice that helps a family steer their child clear of drastic medical intervention of dubious benefit or necessity. But sometimes all I can do is stand helpless and witness the wreckage. Claire’s story was one of the latter.

Like many of the young people I hear about, Claire’s daughter Molly had had a series of complex medical and psychological challenges as an adolescent. Though profoundly gifted, the teenager struggled with autism, dyspraxia, and anxiety, all of which made school challenging. At 13, Molly developed anorexia, for which she was hospitalized twice. “There were years in there where I felt like my job was just to keep her alive,” Claire explained. Thanks in part to intensive psychotherapy, Molly had mostly recovered from the eating disorder by age 16, only to face new medical problems – she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Managing this condition required doctor visits and medications, some of which came with worrying side effects. It also added to Molly’s isolation and social struggles.

Despite her multiple challenges, Molly finished high school on time, and was accepted at her first-choice college. Claire and her husband Jeff felt relieved. But after graduation came a new diagnosis. On her 18th birthday, after spending much of the summer online, Molly told her parents that she was transgender.

This news came as a shock. According to Claire, Molly had never before expressed any concerns about gender. She had been a fairly typical little girl in terms of interests and play choices, and had dated several boys in high school. Nevertheless, Jeff and Claire didn’t object when Molly traded her long hair for a buzz cut. They even purchased a binder for her that would flatten her chest and make her look more male. Hoping that a therapist could help Molly clarify her feelings about gender, Claire and Jeff accompanied her to an intake appointment at a gender clinic. Claire was shocked by what happened there.

After a 30-minute consultation with a physician’s assistant, Molly was given an appointment for the following week to begin testosterone injections. There was no exploration of her other physical and mental health issues, and whether these may have influenced her belief that she was trans. There was also no caution expressed about how hormone treatment might affect Crohn’s disease. Molly simply had to sign a consent form stating that she identified as male and understood the risks associated with testosterone.

The PA (physician assistant) also suggested that Molly schedule top surgery – a double mastectomy – within a few months. When Claire stated that she and Jeff wanted time to do research and consider alternatives before allowing Molly to begin taking testosterone or have surgery, the PA told her that their job as parents now was to support and affirm their ‘son.’ In front of Molly, he told Claire she ought to get her own therapist to deal with her issues so that she could be a better support person to ‘Max.’ When Claire and Jeff expressed concerns about Molly’s anxiety and isolation, the PA stated that these were likely a result of Molly being transgender, and would resolve once she began to transition.

Up until about ten years ago, gender dysphoria presenting for the first time in adolescence was virtually unknown in natal females. (There is a well-known type of gender dysphoria found in males that sometimes begins in adolescence.) In the prototypical form of female gender dysphoria, signs first appear in early childhood, usually between the ages of two and four. Such girls hate stereotypic femininity – such as Barbies and dresses – and embrace stereotypic masculinity–such as short hair, pants, and toy guns. For most young children whose gender dysphoria began well before puberty, feelings of discomfort with their natal sex resolve on their own, usually before adolescence. The exact proportion of childhood-onset cases whose gender dysphoria persists into adolescence and young adulthood has been estimated to be approximately 20%.

In the past decade, however, a new presentation of gender dysphoria has suddenly become widespread, in which teens or tweens come to identify as transgender “out of the blue,” without any childhood history of feeling uncomfortable with their sex. Experts have dubbed this presentation rapid onset gender dysphoria, and are beginning to study it.

“We think this is an entirely distinct phenomenon from childhood-onset gender dysphoria,” says Michael Bailey, PhD a leading researcher on sexuality and gender, and a psychology professor at Northwestern University. “Indeed, we think it didn’t exist until recently. It is a socially contagious phenomenon, reminiscent of the multiple personality disorder epidemic of the 1990s.”

Although not much is known at this time about ROGD, it appears likely that it may be a kind of social contagion in which young people – often teen girls – come to believe that they are transgender. Preliminary research indicates that young people who identify as trans “out of the blue” may have been influenced by social media sites that valorize being trans. In addition, researchers have observed a pattern of clusters of friends coming out together.

While transgender advocates have derided the notion that the sudden surge in trans identified teens – and natal female teens in particular – could be influenced by social contagion, the idea is not so far-fetched. Bulimia was virtually unknown until the 1970s, when British psychologist Gerald Russell first described the condition in a medical journal. Author Lee Daniel Kravetz interviewed Russell for his recent book Strange Contagion. According to Russell, “once it was described, and I take full responsibility for that with my paper, there was a common language for it. And knowledge spreads very quickly.” Scientists have been able to track bulimia’s transmission even into culturally remote enclaves following the introduction of Western media sources. It is estimated that bulimia has since affected 30 million people.

Others have noted that rapid onset gender dysphoria may share much in common with another social contagion that spread symptoms of mental distress which were iatrogenic – that is, created or reinforced by the process of receiving medical or mental health treatment. In the 1990s, some therapists unwittingly encouraged their patients to construct false narratives of having been sexually abused. These patients often became identified with their role as a victim, found themselves dependent on their therapist, and saw a decline in their functioning and overall mental well-being.

While many in the research community are gaining a growing awareness of rapid onset gender dysphoria and its contagious nature, clinical practice guidelines have not caught up with this newer understanding. Moreover, in recent years, advocacy on behalf of the transgender community has seen medical gatekeeping reduced so that, in many places in the US, young people like Molly can access medical transition without any diagnostic or assessment process.

This is concerning, because there is reason to suspect that those with rapid onset gender dysphoria are unlikely to benefit from medical transition, and may even be harmed by it. Studies indicate that teen girls with this type of dysphoria have much higher rates of serious mental health issues than those with the more common gender dysphoria that is first noticed in early childhood. The growing community of detransitioners – mostly young women in their 20s – suggests that loosening the standards for accessing medical transition hasn’t served everyone well.

In Molly’s case, Claire and her husband wanted to be tolerant and accepting of Molly’s exploration of gender, but were alarmed by the rush to medical intervention. As a medical professional with a research background, Claire was worried about the side effects of testosterone. Research quickly confirmed what she suspected – there are no studies on the long-term safety of testosterone in female bodied people, and little is known about how testosterone might affect Molly’s medical and mental health conditions. Furthermore, some of testosterone’s effects – such as a deepened voice and growth of facial hair – are permanent. Claire and Jeff were concerned enough by the lack of science supporting medical transition for someone in Molly’s situation that they asked their daughter to move slowly so that they could all do more research. At first, Molly agreed.

However, shortly after Molly started college, Claire could tell that all was not well. Molly communicated with her parents infrequently. When Claire managed to reach her, Molly was withdrawn and sullen. By October, Molly stopped responding to phone calls, and would only communicate by text. A week before Molly was due to come home for Thanksgiving, Claire and Jeff received a call that Molly had been admitted to a psychiatric ward after becoming erratic and violent in her dorm.

When Jeff and Claire arrived the next morning after driving through the night, they were distraught by what they found. Molly seemed like a different person than the kid they had dropped off just a few months before. When she saw her parents, she became agitated. “She kept repeating that she didn’t want to see us, that we were the reason she had been hospitalized because we didn’t support her transition,” explained Claire. Eventually, hospital staff asked Jeff and Claire to leave.

Claire believes that Molly’s aggression and volatility were a reaction to beginning testosterone injections, which had commenced two weeks prior to the hospitalization. Molly had also changed her name and gender designation at school. A gender-affirming therapist at her college counseling center had referred her to an informed consent clinic for the testosterone prescription.

The rest of Molly’s story is not a happy one. At the end of her freshman year, she had top surgery, paid for by student health insurance. She moved back home over the summer so that her parents could help during her recovery. By this time, Molly’s voice had deepened, facial hair had grown in, and she passed as male full-time. Molly had become Max.

In spite of having transitioned, Max did not blossom into his “authentic self.” In fact, his mental health worsened. He was more anxious and isolated than ever and rarely left the house, spending most of his time online. He told his mother that he feared people would know he was trans and try to harm him were he to go out in public. When Claire tried to reassure him by offering to accompany him, Max often refused, expressing a lack of trust for Claire and her motives because, in Max’s words, Claire was a “transphobe.” “I feel as though my child has been taught to be paranoid about me,” Claire told me.

By the end of that summer, Max had yet another diagnosis to contend with. He began experiencing symptoms of interstitial cystitis, a painful and often debilitating condition that affects the bladder. Claire was not able to find any discussion in the medical literature about testosterone use and interstitial cystitis, but she did find online accounts of trans men suffering from worsening IC symptoms after going on testosterone. Claire pointed out that we just don’t know enough about how these medications affect people long-term. “I would say these gender doctors are experimenting on people,” Claire told me, “but when you experiment, you keep data and track outcomes.”

When Claire and I last spoke, Max was still living at home. Between his anxiety and his symptoms of IC, he had been unable to return to college. The only times he left the house were to see his therapist or attend a trans support group.

Claire agrees. “Molly’s belief that she was trans was a maladaptive coping mechanism she used to deal with her anxiety and other issues,” she said. “That belief was reinforced by her peers online and at college, by the therapist at school, and the providers at the gender clinic. These people not only encouraged her to believe that she was trans, but also that she needed to transition medically or risk being unhappy and suicidal. And once she had transitioned, there was an online community encouraging her to believe that the world would hate her because she is trans. They have sealed her in a cave, and I fear there may be no way back.”

Claire’s story is not unique. The spiking numbers of teens seeking gender reassignment throughout the developed world have some experts concerned that we are seeing another widespread contagion. In the UK, Australia, and US, the number of teens seeking treatment has soared. The website 4thwavenow, which describes itself as “a community of parents and friends skeptical of the transgender child/teen trend,” gets around 60,000 views per month, and the comments section is filled with hundreds of stories every bit as harrowing as Claire’s.

What will it take for this contagion to be seen for what it is, so that its most damaging effects can be prevented? Recently, one mom told me that I was her only hope. She surely deserves better than that.

Claire’s story has been used with permission. Names and all identifying details have been changed to protect privacy.

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  1. Panacea Liquidgrace says

    Women and girls on the autism spectrum in particular can feel and seem atypical in their gender presentation, identifying more in their patterns of thought with male rather than female persons. Now that too many in our society seem to be identifying gender in accordance with secondary sex characteristics and cultural stereotypes, it’s easy to see how a young woman who has no interest or patience for make up and complicated hairdos, who hates frilly clothes (too uncomfortable for those who are “sensory”), and who has a blunt communication style can come to wonder if she is “really” female or “actually” male instead, especially as adolescence brings on an increase in gender differences. Boys can seem a lot simpler to “grok” than girls for a female teen Aspie.

    It’s particularly ironic for a 70s kid like myself who constantly heard girls encouraged to play with trucks, wear pants, have short hair, and climb trees, with nary a suggestion that it meant one was anything other than a liberated, modern girl. While there have been and always will be those who are genuinely transgender or intersex, it often seems like modern American culture has re-narrowed our definitions of what it means to be male and female to such a ridiculous extreme that we now need a host of new labels for those who don’t conform to today’s inflexible gender stereotypes. More often than not, I suspect, “tomboy” remains a more accurate label for many non-girly girls than trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid.

    • tony says

      It is quite funny. Gender is a social construct and does not exit, gender roles are not real and must be destroyed, and if a girl or a boy does not follow the standard gender roles they are trans and must be shot full of hormones and their body must be mutilated. But remember, there is no difference between male and female brain, and no difference in the bodies either.

      • gender is not a social construct. it is determined by chromosomes. sorry. and there are differences, somewhat caused by hormones and general development. the myth of equality is just that, male and female, and even males of the same or differing races will always be randomly unequal, with some better than others in different ways along different spectrums even intra-group.

        I’m not making a racist claim here, though that Is what It can be misconstrued as. just saying there are general differences that have a variety of causes including culture, behavior, choices, and genetics.

        if there were no differences, feminism wouldn’t exist because men and women would think the same and it would cease being a competition for high social status and power — women would think pragmatically and not try and benefit themselves in terms of mate electability and social ladder development — they would instead prefer to work their way to the top.

        if there were no differences, everyone would net the same results in school, but they don’t — and while I would agree with the liberal side on how unfair this is, and that there are multiple reasons why someone who otherwise is superior might not do well because of society and opportunity cost and lack of second chances the rich have — nobody would *need* second chances, and things would be cut and dry along paths of social status, which isn’t exactly true either.

        independent differences 100% do exist. I will paint with a broad brush and say that everyone with differing beliefs, regardless of what ‘science’ they were taught in school, is brainwashed and beyond delusional. Perhaps inside they feel threatened because they know they were not as smart, strong, or fast as their peers and don’t have a special talent they know of they were able to capitalize on in the world.

        but it doesn’t make those talents any less real. eliminate those individuals ability to succeed because YOU find it unfair, and all you do is destroy the market, not open it up to your competition. because you wouldn’t be able to compete.

        transgenderism is 1000000000% a mental disorder being politicized for dangerous ends and profits — reduction of target populations and essentially a form or eugenics where the subject is made willing.

        being trans is no different than being a eunuch with the other genders hormones given to you artificially. its no great wonder and surprise these people have an extremely high suicide rate — they are pliable and don’t even know or understand what they want.

        people in general don’t know what they want — and that’s the first red pill lesson in life. they say one thing, and mean another without even consciously recognizing this fact…

        people have their conscious beliefs and thoughts, and then they have the part that buries — the subconscious — the reason why those conscious thoughts even exist in the first place — which can often be more painful to an individual than their conscious scapegoats.

        they make the wrong choice, thinking it will make them ‘better’ but instead only makes them worse. It is a form of social Darwinism in that these people are morons, but now that its being extended to children its fucking dangerous — and a form of indoctrination and/or torture. allowing people to make such decisions for a child who hasn’t even reached puberty is fucking ridiculous.

        • George says


          You write that “gender is not a social construct” but by definition it is. Sex and gender are two different – albeit related – things. Before jumping to all sorts of conclusions about my politico-cultural values, please bear with me. Here’s how the World Health Organisation defines ‘gender’:

          “Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.”

          In other words, to say that gender is a social construct is not merely true, it is actually a tautology. It’s like saying that a triangle has three sides, because that’s the definition of the word.

          It is sex that is determined by chromosomes. Sex is about ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’. Gender is about social expectations of masculinity and femininity, ‘manliness’ and ‘womanliness’. Sex is about hardware. Gender is about software. (Hormone injections and the like might fall into the ‘firmware’ category….)

          And that is the real tragedy here. If I find myself with a software issue, I don’t take out a damned screwdriver.

  2. Mrs Beardsley says

    I am at a loss. Thank you for writing this article.

  3. sabretruthtiger says

    The fact that these girls are smart means they have a significantly male part of the brain, which is why they choose to be boys.

    • Adam Smith says

      There are some differences in intelligence between the sexes, but these are specific. Could you elaborate and explain how you reached the conclusion you did?

    • R Irischild says

      smart = male brain? You actually wrote that?

      That’s a pretty neat summary of the lie that is ‘gender identity’
      There are virtually no innate cognitive differences between the brains of the two sexes. You can drive a coach and horses through studies which claim to find differences and falsely conclude that these are innate rather than conditioned.

      I recommend Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender, for a comprehensive review of the neuroscientifc studies on so called brain sex.

      • Fish says

        While I disagree with what sabretruthtiger wrote, no, he or she didn’t write that – you only have to scroll up to see that.

        You have obviously taken Fine’s style of argument to heart: take a single incorrect statement and extrapolate it to dismiss a whole field of investigation!

        • Long story short, Google hates me. I tried looking up “Fine’s style of argument” and got a lot of “fine tuning arguments ” which seem to have nothing to do with what you said. Can you please give me more information? Thank you in advance.

          • It was a reference to the types of arguments Cordelia Fine makes in her books and goes roughly like this:

            The consensus in a particular field is X

            Find a single weak paper that concludes X

            Demonstrate (fairly) that the paper should not have concluded X

            Ignore every other paper that also concluded X

            Conclude that, not only is X not true, but that the opposite of X is true.

    • Lcdm says

      She is not very smart…. Look at what she did to her life.

      • Downstream01 says

        Plenty of smart people have destroyed themselves.

    • The fact you actually wrote this sentence means you have a significant brain injury. Exactly as much proof supports the foregoing sentence as your comment.

  4. Liz E. says

    Such an important piece! Thanks to the writer and Quillette for publishing this!!!

  5. Autistics are more systematising than empathic which is why autistic girls might come across as more ‘masculine’ than neurotypicals.

    I’d suggest getting a job in IT rather than gender reassignment surgery but unfortunately IT companies deny that career preferences might have anything to do with the brain.

  6. Chris says

    The need of teenagers to classify themselves in odd ways, and to distinguish themselves within their groups and subcultures, is one thing. The facilitation of this by adults is something else – a kind of sadism. Imagine an unhappy Goth being offered bleeding to confirm their anaemia. There’s something very perverse in a therapist suggesting that the real you is somebody else, a different body. I thought it was all about integration and acceptance.

    How did the categories ‘woman’ and ‘man’ get to be so emptied out that children feel they don’t offer any scope for identity? It’s not that they’re unappealing because they’re narrow and restrictive, it’s that they’ve been evaporated.

    • John says

      >How did the categories ‘woman’ and ‘man’ get to be so emptied out that children feel they don’t offer any scope for identity? It’s not that they’re unappealing because they’re narrow and restrictive, it’s that they’ve been evaporated.

      I think Chris’ post and especially this paragaph are excellent.
      In my opinion, feminism in it’s current state and the social justice movement are the root of all evil in this case.

      Gender-specific behavior, according to them, is a social construct that serves sexism and the oppression of women. But males acting male and females acting female ist what makes us men and women.
      When people, especially at colleges where this teaching is prevalent, are taught that typical male behavior and typical female behavior are undesired and oppressive, what makes them men and women? What defines their sexuality?
      If it must not be behavior, it is looks. What defines success as a man and as a woman when traditional male and female values are demolished, being called antiquated and oppressive? It is sex; men who have much sex are seen as winners and women who have much sex are seen as progressive. This is why there are so many sites and forums about seduction on the internet, people are forgetting how to act like men and women and are wondering why they can’t find partners.
      (Young) People who don’t have the looks or the social skills to be men and women are thereby hindered from expressing their sexuality. Frustrated, they either try to fit in and get the looks, or they simply deny their gender(-roles), which is especially encouraged by the social justice movement (some may even suddenly come out as trans!). They’ll get acceptance that way, but because they are still unable to express their sexuality, they’ll become even unhappier and develop mental problems.

      • Mom in Eugene says

        Having a female body or a male body is what makes you a woman or man. That behavior and preferences even have a gender is a social construct, as girls do like trucks and boys can like babies (etc). Yes, many girls like similar stuff as other girls, but many don’t. Not behaving a certain way doesn’t negate your biological sex.

        • Michiel says

          Some girls do like trucks and some boys can like babies/dolls etc yes. That does not mean that gendered behavioral and preferences are a social construct. It means that there is a range of behaviours and preferences within male and female populations, a range that overlaps significantly for sure, and allows for some women to be more interested in trucks than some men (and vice versa), but also allows for boys/men, on average, to be more interested in trucks and girls/women, on average, to be more interested in babies/dolls. On average is the key phrase here. So your previous to last sentence could be better worded as “Most girls like similar stuff as other girls, but many don’t”. Of course it is true that not behaving a certain way doesn’t negate your biological sex.

      • warriorhun says

        John, your comment is very insightful, too.

        Feminism and Gender Ideology is aiming at destroying the core identity, the sexual identity of the future generation. It is evil and must be stopped, period.

      • Brett says

        Some very apt points John. Lets create, disperse gender dysphoria as a means to divide and get those who feel downtrodden to socially engineer society, so we can conquer and not hate ourselves as much.

    • missingdaughter says

      Exactly. We have lost a beautiful and brilliant daughter to this transient mental health/social contagion disaster.

  7. They still call their child 'Molly' says

    “[She] had dated several boys in high school”
    …are you aware of a thing called ‘homosexuality’? How is ‘dating boys’ proof that someone is female?

    This article touches on an important topic, but the arguments presented and the language used are simply terrible (and, frankly, transphobic). This is just one example out of the many.

    • Lcdm says

      If you have a penis and you like vagina you are straight and vice versa. You may identify as a space station, you are still straight.

    • Fish says

      How is “She had dated several boys in high school” – presumably a factually accurate statement – transphobic?

      Could you list other examples of ‘simply terribly’ arguments or language? The only argument I can find is “this phenomenon needs to be better understood”, which I doubt anyone would criticise. The rest of the article is anecdote.

      Since you found many examples of such, I hope it won’t be too onerous of you to share them.

    • Cynthia says

      As a parent of a trans-boy; I have to say that referring to the pre-transition child by the post-transition name feels like a forced lie. Picture watching a Home movie where everyone sings “ happy birthday dear Sarah (in her party dress). and you say look at Owen .. he was 3 that day…. many parents agree with their child that the name and gender references stay true to the time they were used.

      • Yeah, I’m not trans but I changed my first name and my parents do this too. It seems natural since at the time your name was one way.

    • Kellogmom says

      How can you say that? Lisa is a professional therapist and is relating one case out of what I am sure is now numbering the hundreds. As a parent who is knee deep in the sewage that the ‘transtrendy’s’ have left in their wake you have no idea what we see on our side of the story. You don’t see the bloody tissues from her cutting, you don’t hear the sound of her purging after a meal or a movie, you don’t see her running for hours straight. The simple truth is that you don’t know my child and you have no say in her life. All those examples btw are of past trends that came through the last 30 years or so. Thank you Lisa for your measured take on this highly politicized issue.

    • Nicholas says

      It’s simple.

      If you are a boy and the testosterone surges fail to masculinize your brain in utero you are left effeminate and homosexual, vice versa for a girl with too much testosterone in her uterine environment.

      There is no such thing as a “lesbian transwoman” or a “gay transman”, it’s actually more like heterosexual man with autogynephilia or heterosexual woman with issues such as autism and gender fixation or other issues (it’s a long list).

    • Aloccin Scott says

      Pretty sure the point was to illustrate that she was succeeding in forming romantic relationships like a normal girl her age should.They refer to Molly as Molly because they do not believe Max exists.

  8. you made the decision to write this article about a girl because you want to whip people into a frenzy and it’s impossible to do that with males unless they’re very young children

    A- for cunning

    • Fish says

      Or maybe it’s because, as she says in the first paragraph, most parents who contact her have teenage daughters (and I think it’s safe to assume that wasn’t an incidental fact) so most of her anecdotes concern girls.

      As to trying to whip people up into a frenzy – this was written by a social worker and psychiatrist, two professions typically attracting empathetic, caring people who enter these professions in order to help others.

      It’s true that she may be an outlier and that she wrote the article for the reasons you claim, but there is no evidence of that and what evidence there is, circumstantial as it may be, points the other way.

      • lol if any social worker or psychologist wants to help society, its time they turned to the ‘banned’ books that aren’t taught in college, resisted society, big pharma, insurance companies and the government, and sought sometimes illegal, controversial and unsupported types of therapy.

        the goal of ‘making people productive’ is the problem — society itself is the problem — and trying to solve societies problem is inherently separate and different from solving the individual’s problem.

        unfortunately, this means going after advertising and manipulation in high places, and probably losing your license or even going to prison for reading up on old studies and implementing illegal treatment strategies the FDA claims to not work and the DEA might schedule all the way up at 1.

        • You seem like you genuinely want to help those with gender dysphoria, so I’m hoping you’ll elaborate on what kind of “sometimes illegal, controversial and unsupported types of therapy”–ones that would likely cause a practitioner to end up in prison–should be forced upon the “pliable…morons” you view as both mentally ill AND choosing to weed themselves out through “social Darwinism.”

  9. There is no evidence of “new” form of gender dysphoria. All we have is an attempt by anti-trans groups to find a “new” reason to oppose transitions of transgender people. Trans people such as myself, who didn’t transition until middle age, despite DECADES of dysphoria, can testify that family and friends are utterly oblivious. I was SURE some of them would have noticed. Nope: “I had no idea” is the universal response. Even when they were diectly TOLD years before (often to negative reactions), parents dismiss it: “I never saw any evidence.”

    Last year a survey on this was promoted on a number of very anti-trans websites to parents _already opposed_ to their children’s identies. The idea of “selection bias” apparently never occured to the doctor running it.

    Denial isn’t just a river on the Nile.

    • Kendra M says

      Always refreshing watching religious zealots denying simple observations not fitting their world views. “Transphob” is in this sense just another version of “blasphemy”.

    • Bill says

      Did you even read the article? You speak of your decades of dysphoria, but this article is about the rapid onset variety and discusses it as a distinctly different phenomenon. The rapid onset variety, resulting in poor outcomes, may be a result of a misbelieve that they are trans because publicly (? how would you consider online/academic circles) identifying in the current P.C. environment gains them sympathy and inclusion with a group where they may have felt as outsiders and alone before. Does this mean the dysphoria is all bunk? Absolutely not. It is no different than when being “bi” or “lesbian” was a fad and suddenly everybody in Hollywood was coming out and then all the kids started coming out to be like their idols — only to have many revert back to truth (that they were not bi or lesbian).

      The article points out that the medical practicioners aren’t considering conservative care but instead going straight to permanent disfigurement without any attention to the individual case. In yours, where you tell a practicioner about decades or even a year of the dysphoria then the medical transition is likely to be more successful in longterm outcome than one where they say “i felt like this for 2 weeks, get me on the transition right now!” which is, while a bit exagerated, the case of Max. Unfortunately, Max sounds like part of that future post-transition-trans-suicide statistic.

      Oh, and to clarify my position, I feel the same way about the epidemic of plastic surgery. We have a good percentage of people who made conscious and deliberate use of this medical disfigurement. But we also have a percentage of people with a dysphoria seeking endless surgeries to the point of ill-health rather than seeking the mental health assistance they really need. Everybody was getting “boob-jobs” with silicone like it was as common as caps on teeth — only to find out later that there were serious health issues later on when implants leaked.

      • Ettina says

        ‘Rapid onset’ according to the *parents*. No one has asked Max how long he’s had gender dysphoria. A trans person describing decades of dysphoria while all around them were oblivious is absolutely relevant. For all we know, Max, too, had years of dysphoria with his parents oblivious to it. (The bouts of eating disorder would fit with this – a lot of trans guys have eating disorders because a starving AFAB body looks more androgynous.)

  10. TheRealThunderchild says

    Dear god .
    Someone actually DID say “smart = significantly male part of the brain.”
    This is not a conflation or misrepresentation.
    It. Was. Said .

    So, I have a top two percentile IQ . I’m also female and know I’m a woman .
    Male brain ?
    If your genitals and chromosomes do not demarcate your sex , then how can any other part of your body ? The logic fail is strong here .
    Thought processes may have a gendered pattern , but to assert this is innate to a person’s sex , genetic and fixed , is ludicrous .
    The infant brain is highly plastic and we are all socialised -from birth – in the heirachy that is gender . We cannot escape it .

    However , to suggest this is innate , fixed and immutable doesn’t explain how the genders are expressed differently , from society to society , even if the heirachy remains intact .
    And how is that hierarchy maintained ? It relies on biological SEX . It is easy to keep a smaller person subordinate , especially when you can keep them pregnant , lactating , and with young at foot.

    Were this not the case , then whence rape as a tool of war and genocide , or as a tool for securing a bride ?
    If this were not the case , then why – still – are women worldwide fighting for the right to refuse motherhood ?

    So , gender . Gender is nothing but the reification of the physical subordination of one sex under another , it is a dress code .

    Yes . Back to logic . Male and female are biological SEXes , and this is not centred – physically – in the brain .
    One could argue gender is , as it is a notion formulated and enforced by one group of peope , to maintain a heirachy over another .
    Just as with class and race .
    But if one were to entertain the possibility of gender as a construct .one would have to admit that as such , it is not immutable and that the heirarches it creates are neither homogenous or innate .

    Male brain ? Maybe , but not in the way methinks you think , sir .

    • Fish says

      Someone implied that and it is wrong.

      It does not mean that there are no innate population-level differences in the brains of men and women.

      Please explain why you believe this to be ludicrous – it is seen throughout the animal kingdom (even in species with matriarchal societies) where these differences cannot be socialized.

      Infants brains cannot comprehend gender until they are about 9 months old, yet behavioural differences exist before then.

      Gender is not a hierarchy, it is a grammatical construct for grouping nouns. In English this is done on perceived biological sex.

    • andrewilliamson says

      I’m shocked Saber earned so many troll points. Well played, Saber.

    • tony says

      If you were actually intelligent you would not fall for ab obvious bait, and you would write like a literate person. All you did was make a bunch of clumsy assertions and we are supposed to take you seriously because you claim to be super intelligent.

  11. Pingback: Mis-dis-gendered – FTN Blog

  12. Fish says

    Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to write this article.

    I found that she had psychological challenges prior to her parents making contact, as well as the involvement in online communities and support groups particularly pertinent.

    While, due to social media being a very new phenomenon, the research is necessarily scant, there are indications that psychological challenges in children and teenagers can cause them to “latch on” to certain online groups.

    In the mildest sense, it allows them to associate with people they perceive to be similar to them with little change to themselves, but in stronger cases – which may be linked to the degree of the challenges they have faced – it can lead them to change their behaviour or beliefs in order to gain membership, and with it approval from, a particular group.

    Veganism is perhaps the paradigm of this behaviour (in some cases – this is by no means the case for all vegans.) Here you have a very vocal group, with a significant online presence, who offer unconditional praise to their own tribe. It’s easy to see how someone who’s experienced a challenging upbringing (overly critical or harsh parenting, negligent parenting with no praise) can find solace as a member of such a group.

    It’s may be possible (and I’m not saying that it is – there is not enough evidence therein) that this article is describing an extreme version of that. Severe psychological challenges, plus involvement (however that occurred) with an online community causing something akin to a fuge.

  13. There are no innate differences between the brains of men and women; all masculinity and femininity is conditioned. Of course a body is easier to “fix” than society.

    • Nicholas says

      Sam: So we are just gonna ignore the mountain of evidence that you are wrong?

      And how is your position even logical to begin with, I guess nature went, okay, let’s have two different sexes, but let’s not make them psychologically different in any way.

      And why the hormone differentiation of brains in utero? I guess that process is like the appendix? Just there for show?

    • Andrew Cran says

      Sam – study after study has shown that there are significant differences between the female and male brain. Could you please give us some evidence to support your view?

  14. Kendra M says

    Another very serious issue is that trans people have severe problems finding dating partners
    willing to accept their invidual version of genitalia, with or without medically induced transition. A slurry of trans writers have recently started to attack people for their transphobia, simply because e.g. cis heteronormative people do not feel attracted to them.
    Those writers – usually on the intersectional, leftist team – demand cis people to “unlearn” their transphobia and finally date trans people. However, in reality. for most people it is extremely difficult to accept surgically acquired genitalia (or even with “wrong” genitalia, i am not sure, if the concept of trans inclusion only encompass people after physical transition).
    Even within the left, serious conflicts have emerged between trans-exclusionary feminists (TERFs) and queer activists; simply for the reason that the former do no believe that trans-women should enter female spaces.
    The so-called progressive left has a very serious theoretical issue here. On the one hand, they (correctly) state that sexuality cannot be unlearned but it is genetically inherited. On the other they face the problem that even the wokest cis-people have huge problems accepting trans-people.
    To the same end, one of the centra dogma of gender-centered sociology is the belief that biology has very weak (if not no) impact on our behaviour. Contrary to that dogma, trans people have to artificially override their biology (by hormones or surgery) to “feel right”.

    The reality is:

    There is NO medical intervention or treatment that can revert our gonosomally inherited biology. The simpliest way is to finally just accept non-conform behaviour of individuals, e.g. let tomboys be tomboys. Just don’t call them “tomboy” but “girl”. After all, behaviour is normally distributed.

  15. Theres a general problem with Identiy Politics of all sorts, that it pushes us into seperation & encourages new divisions to spring up.
    Gender Identity is just part of a whole cpmplex of Identities, covering Nationality, Politics, Class, Region, Age, Education, Style etc.
    My Country (UK/England/Britain) is going through a sort of breakdown at the moment over National/Regional Identity with spillovers into ideas of Class, Culture & Generation. Lots of people compare it to a sort of Mental Illness, thers an atmosphere of desperation.
    I have a very complex sense of Identity & the biggest thing holding me together is my sense of Liberalism – that everyone has equal value & that everything is fluid. Boundaries can be useful as long as they dont become imaginary walls.

  16. Michael R. Jefferis says

    For the several transsexuals I have known, the decision to transition was made as an adult and was pursued over a considerable period of time. In most cases they went through a period of mental health counseling before beginning hormone injections and then on to surgery, if that was elected.

    Children and adolescents are NOT ready to make decisions of this magnitude. Counseling yes; hormones and surgery, no. One has to consider the possibility of ‘social contagion’, as well as erroneous thinking. “Oh, my 10 year old child thinks he or she is the opposite sex. Well, obviously that must be the case! Let’s get right on that.”

    Any advocacy group can get carried away with it’s own logic, come to believe its own bullshit. Hey, I’ve been part of advocacy groups that were mistaken. Have we not all done that at one time or another? It seemed so true at the time.

    I don’t think gender dysphoria is always bogus. Where real, it probably will manifest in children. But let’s not rush into possibly irrevocable and harmful procedures here.

  17. This is a very important article which echoes my experience of the effects of sudden onset gender dysphoria in my son. I imagine that if I had not seen this in my own family I might have felt the narrative to be alarmist, or melodramatic. It seems almost impossible that well-meaning clinicians could proceed in this way. In the UK where I am based the medical process is not as swift but it is equally unwilling to challenge a sudden self-diagnosis as transgender. In the case of my son, raised in a socially liberal LGBT supportive environment, hormones prescribed for sudden onset gender dysphoria have led to sharply worsening mental health, to social isolation, and to a life on benefits. Ironically my son is entirely dependent on the parents he sees as unsupportive. We are his only and best friends. Thank you Lisa Marchiano for telling a story that needs more coverage and that demands proper investigation. There are far too many of us struggling with this.

    • Puzzled says

      My kid as well. Girls aged 14 and 15 seem particularly susceptible for seizing this narrative as an explanation for why they feel they are not proper females (if they find themselves uncomfortable performing conventional femininity) and why they are uncomfortable with their rapidly morphing bodies. Internet binges can quickly lead to self-diagnosis (even though some trans advocates maintain that this “never happens). In the US there is little support for anything but rapid affirmation and medical transition, with little or no counseling required. The fact that a lot of these kids have pre-existing mental health conditions or childhood trauma of various sorts is waved off as irrelevant. As a parent, it is maddening to see this situation unfolding with a dearly loved, confused, anxious kid — not to mention being summarily labeled a transphobic bigot if reservations are expressed. Most of us are pretty “live and let live” with regard to adult trans people, and are advocates of basic civil rights for ALL people. We’re just fighting to be heard amid all the yelling and virtue signalling out there. In short: We’re fighting for time for our kids. Thanks to Lisa Marchiano and Quillette for the coverage.

    • This article echoes my experience as well. Daughter at 15 who suddenly comes out as trans despite 15 previous years of normal girlhood. But at the age when boys started groping her and expecting blowjobs on the first date, she suddenly decides life would be better if she were not a girl. She always preferred video games to gossiping, preferred science over shopping, and hated makeup and hairstyling. This, combined with not wanting wear revealing clothing or be sexually available to males (at age 15!) must mean she’s really a boy, right?

      Yet parents who point out possible explanations for kids who suddenly claim to be trans, parents who see other issues at play and don’t want to quickly dive into “accepting their new son” by putting their daughter on testosterone, parents who know their child better than anyone else, are considered transphobic.

      It’s normal for teens to try on different identities. Historically, it hasn’t been much of an issue because the identities were seen as harmless phases (Goth, prep, skater, cowboy, princess, vegetarian, intellectual, future rock star, drama queen, etc.). Yet preventing natural puberty and/or putting kids on opposite-sex hormones is neither harmless nor a phase. Both leave a child with permanent body changes as well as unknown medical risks to future health.

      In First World countries, teens are claiming to be transgender at alarming rates. Rather than recognize the social contagion aspect of the huge increase, rather looking at WHY this phenomenon might be happening, the world tells parents they are transphobic for asking questions. Parents who question the wisdom of signing kids up to become dependent on opposite-sex hormones for life, putting kids’ health at risk, are considered transphobic. “Accept your son” — this is what parents hear, starting with the very first therapy visit.

      The world has gone mad.

  18. MattW says

    Some of these commenters getting upset over an obvious joke/troll comment ( the “I’m top 2%…” one is full lulz, button up missy your insecurity is showing).
    Also the predictable accusations of trans phobia, yawn.

    Teenage mental issues are obviously rising, and the social justice religion offers praise and positive reinforcement if you can just find a category to jump into while at the same time stoking anger and hatred at everything outside of the movement creating this feedback loop pulling the poor kids in and messing with them during some very tender years. It’s very sad.

  19. Dorothy says

    Thank you, Lisa Marchiano, for this article. As a parent of a daughter who has been swept up in this frenzy, I am hopeful that this will be seen for what it is and the medical community will soon start to put the brakes on this experimentation.

    I am 100% certain that if the Internet didn’t exist, this would not be happening. I know many parents that are in the same situation and they all agree. This is a social contagion that allows their daughters to be part of a group when they were previously outsiders socially. Many of these girls are on the Autism Spectrum, but it is difficult to spot them since they present differently than boys do. This trend has become so prevalent in schools now that in cafeterias there are now “trans” tables.

    Adolescence is a time of self discovery and often we feel we don’t belong. There is no reason to medicalize this important phase that most of us go through.

  20. Dorothy says

    I forgot to mention that Canada has also been swept up into this along with the UK, Australia, and the US.

  21. Mark says

    Yea this is stupid for the less than a percent of the population that actually is transexual. This article isnt the most articulate about it, but there are places requiring a 2 year persistent diagnosis thank god.

  22. Brenda says

    This brought up memories and resonance for me of being an anorexic teen girl in the early nineties. While emotional factors and power struggles with paternal authority certainly contributed to it, looking back I clearly see that nothing gave me an eating disorder so much as reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth at age 16 and catching like a virus the idea that if I wanted to be interesting, I needed something wrong with me, and so with it’s own symbology, glamour and mythos laid out, I plugged into the anorexic meme. I can see where the rapid-onset trans-disorder might easily catch suggestible, susceptible girls with low psychic immunity and lacking a clear sense of self and purpose and given an internet full of validation for their thorn-strewn path toward un-selfhood.

  23. There are no innate differences between the brains of men and women; all masculinity and femininity is conditioned. Of course a body is easier to “fix” than society.

    If masculinity and femininity are down to conditioning how does this explain transgender people?

    The socialisation model only works if people have the gender expression they are socialised into.

    Who the hell is bringing up boys as girls and visversa?

      • Socially Constructed Name Which Does NOT Realy Exist says

        And one of those boys eventually killed himself when he could not adjust to living opposite to his genetic makeup.

        • Nicholas says

          I was being sarcastic =P

          And a lot of those boys killed themselves (It became kind of policy after Money lied about his results with Reimer).

  24. An excellent and much needed article, but it would have been great to see a couple of additions about the gender clinic’s intake evaluation shortcomings. I think it would have been to useful to include how people with autism literally may not understand sex stereotypes. I say this because we live in a world where if you’re male and feminine these gender clinics turn you into a female. And if you’re female and masculine, they turn you into a male and claim you are one. People with autism also may not be able to separate or unscrew feelings of masculinity or femininity in regards to their sexual orientation. Another useful tie-in would have been sexual orientation and the effects thereof in American society. As someone who studies trans people through the lens of tens of thousands of news articles, I frequently see young lesbians or gay males that are shamed and bullied by both their families, society, religion, or by their own government at the state and federal level. It’s not uncommon for these people to believe that transition solves their problem. I too was fooled into believing I had to transition or be forever miserable. It just added new problems.

  25. Fred says

    Read 4thwavenow.com for more info and case studies of rapid onset gender dysphoria.

  26. Lauren says

    Gender role expectations for women are exceptionally hard on autistic females, and do not get easier in adulthood. Autistic girls (and women) need support with that. Supporting autistic girls (and women) in coping with impossible gender role expectations is essential to our mental health. As an autistic female, that’s what I need help with—not pressure to retain a particular gender identity, but help dealing with the way the world forces gendered expectations for social performance on me that I am literally unable to meet due to the way my neurology works.

    Please focus on the impossible expectations that make the role of “woman” uninhabitable for many autistic females. We need help with the social trauma being forced on us far more than we need pressure to stay in gender roles that we will only ever be able to fail at and be punished for. Pressure to retain a female gender role is not going to make us more able to meet gender role expectations, and it’s not going to make other people stop abusing us for not acting sufficiently like non-autistic women.

    • Nicholas says


      Well, gender roles are not social constructions, I think most of the differences in men and women and especially in how children play can come down to evolutionary behaviour. I don’t think it’s a social construction that girls tend to pick up the doll shaped like a baby and play with it like a baby. I think women are evolutionary programmed to try to make themselves as attractive as possible for men, men do the same thing, but in a different way, it’s a behaviour very common in mammals.

      Women tend to be much more social animals in men, autists struggle with social interaction, many of the interests that women have such as fashion change all the time, and autists prefer routine.

      I think differences like that and other identity problems are much more likely to be the culprit rather than “impossible gender role expectations”. Which in reality even if you want to claim so, are not that impossible since apparently most people live up to them? Otherwise they wouldn’t exist.

  27. Mason says

    I find it interesting that only parents seem to be surveyed and not the children who are experiencing “rapid onset” gender dysphoria. Maybe ask the kids how long they have been experiencing this? I think this is an important topic to study, but collecting data from parents and their knowledge of what they think their child is or has experienced is a bit lacking, no?

    • LisaM says

      Yeh, according to this so called ‘logic’ there are heaps of ‘rapid onset’ gay and lesbian youth around as well….

  28. rdinsf says

    Interesting – but this article would be better with footnotes to support the varios assertions.

  29. Mason, I suspect the children themselves would tell quite a different story. In some cases perhaps that story would be a fabrication or delusion of an individual affected with the “rapid onset gender dysphoria” described here, but I just don’t believe that’s true in all cases. I’ve seen firsthand that parents don’t always know or tell the full truth when it comes to their children, and they may do so with the best intentions.

    I came out as trans and transitioned in my late 20s (I had to wait for a number of reasons) after having experienced significant gender dysphoria since puberty and having exhibited “gender nonconformity” throughout my life. My parents acted shocked, made a plethora of untrue assumptions about me, including that my gender dysphoria had been “rapid onset” because I’d only recently told them about it–again, for a number of reasons. They insisted my own memories and experiences were false, told me I’d been brainwashed by a cult, etc.

    They presented a narrative extraordinarily similar to the one presented here to explain what they believe is “wrong with me.” It’s one that conveniently absolves them and casts blame all over the place, misconstruing and and leaving out countless key factors and pieces of information. They did all this out of love and a desire to protect me but also a belief that they know better not just than me but than all of the medical and mental health professionals who have worked with me. I in no way hate them for it, but it’s made our relationship difficult, to say the least.

    So yes, I have to wonder, why should the parents, especially of non-minor children, get to write the entire narrative about “rapid onset gender dysphoria”? Are “sufferers” just automatically assumed to be lying, confused, or brainwashed if they contradict their parents? I will be pleasantly surprised if this comment is posted, but who knows.

    • Nicholas says

      Your story sounds more like autogynephilia rather than rapid onset, which is most likely also why your parents never saw any gender atypical behaviour, because it didn’t exist.

      • I’m not sure what led you to glean “autogynephilia” from my post, but I’m quite used to these absurd assumptions by now. No, imagining myself as a woman is the opposite of arousing to me. It grows so tiresome being told how my transition must have been motivated by fetishism by people who take truthful if sometimes frustrated denial on my part as confirmation of their assumptions.

        My parents, other family members, teachers, friends, doctors, etc. DID see the significant “gender atypical behavior” that, as I said, I displayed from a young age. I could lie about my past to attempt to cover for what’s actually a fetish (I’m not, but think what you want), but I couldn’t fabricate the extensive photo albums and home videos my family kept throughout my childhood. My parents loved and promoted the idea of me being a “gender nonconforming” girl/woman and would have had no problem whatsoever with me being a lesbian, had that been the case (it wasn’t).

        It was only when I came out as trans that the denial on their part set in that there had ever been any hints of gender nonconformity and/or dysphoria. They seemed to view being trans as an irrational, dangerous choice I’d only recently decided to make, latching onto a “fad” as an explanation for all the problems in my life (it isn’t–only for the gender dysphoria). When they found information online about much younger people experiencing this “rapid onset gender dysphoria” after spending extensive time on the internet, since I also spent a lot of time on the internet (for work, not on Tumblr or watching YouTube videos about trans people), they decided this must have been the case for me.

        No one talked to me about any of these issues as a child or teen. I didn’t know what being trans was, let alone know any trans people or people who would have encouraged me to “become” trans or cheer me for doing so. I didn’t think I was “dressing like a boy” or “dressing like a girl” or “doing boy things” or “doing girl things.” I just was being myself, which was fine until my body started changing at puberty, bringing with it the gender dysphoria (discomfort with my physical body, not societal gender roles) that would not abate until I took steps to medically transition some 15 years later. In the interim, the only way I was able to manage the discomfort was by maintaining such a low weight and body fat percentage that I had a fairly masculinized, if dying, body, and that was hardly healthy or sustainable.

        I love my parents and understand why they’ve acted the way they have. My intent here is not to trash them or anyone else, nor to get anyone here to care about my personal story, nor to fight, but merely to say that even parents with the best intentions are not objective sources when it comes to their children. Obviously the children are not objective sources of information about themselves, either, but I do believe that any sort of actual study conducted on parents who have diagnosed their children with “rapid onset gender dysphoria” should involve at least some input should come from those children, as untrustworthy as their perspectives may be considered, especially when said children are now adults themselves. If not, you run the risk of getting one side of a story that represents a very skewed picture of what’s going on.

        • Nicholas says

          It was several things in your narrative, one example being that you wrote that it really started in puberty.

          Anyhow, it’s easily decoded, who you are attracted to is determined by hormones in utero, there is no such thing as a “gay transman” or a “lesbian transwoman”. If someone claims being trans and isn’t attracted to their birth sex it’s autogynephilia/autoandrophilia or some other kind of issue, such as autism and gender fixation.

          • Ah, “several things.” Well, I can only address the one you mentioned. Prior to puberty, I was a child with an almost completely androgynous body and was often taken as a boy. I was confused why I couldn’t pee standing up and unhappy about this inability, but as I hadn’t developed (or not developed) the secondary sexual characteristics that I came to experience intense dysphoria over, I was not yet uncomfortable with them (or the lack thereof).

            In-utero androgen exposure has been pretty clearly shown to correlate positively with a longer ring finger in comparison to the index finger. I remember discussing this in a high school class, then having peers examine my hands and laugh at me about how my much-longer ring fingers, along with my apparently too-large “Adam’s apple,” deep voice, and other traits revealed me as actually “being a guy,” which they meant as an insult, although I didn’t consider it one. I don’t have a scientific explanation for why I’m primarily attracted to men (I didn’t and don’t call myself a “gay transman,” by the way) instead of exclusively to women like I “should” be, apparently. I don’t think it’s fair that those who don’t fit the your narrow view of what trans people must be like should have to put up with our sexual orientations being considered either false or pathological, though.

            I also haven’t seen evidence to suggest the science behind gender identity is as simple, settled, and “easily decoded” as you believe. I only spoke of my own experiences because they’re what led me to see the problems inherent in conducting research on “rapid onset gender dysphoria” that consists only of parents’ perspectives about their children, even if said parents have the best intentions. Feel free to believe whatever you wish about me; I won’t continue to debate it. It’s not as though I can provide any sort of concrete proof to you of my internal experiences (e.g., gender dysphoria, sexual orientation, memories).

        • My name is socially constructed and does not exist says

          Thank you so much for your story. I will think about it while I process what this all means in this disturbed and ever more pathological world we live in. I’ll post my story about my friend separately.

  30. Pingback: The Transgender Peer Pressure Time-Bomb: Lessons From the Life and Experiences of a Transgender Elder. – Jenn Smith

  31. L, I have a very similar story to yours but it led to my family and I no longer talking. Additionally I tried to buy into the model stated above and enrolled myself in years of intensive dialectical behavioral therapy, saw psychiatrists, and became convinced that if I searched through every event in my life, work through any moment that may have caused me pain, this dysphoria would go away. And when I got down that road 6 years into therapy, attempting to solve my dysphoria, not transition, be a lesbian, find some magical root cause of my dysphoria, some magical mental illness factor that could be helped through psychotherapy, possible medication, supportive friends, the right loving relationship, I was more dysphoric and miserable than when I had started. In my late teens I used to secretly go out to lgbt youth drop in centers and put my binder on and feel completely free and ask to go by the name I wanted and male pronouns and then spent all those years searching for a way to solve it without transitioning. I came out officially a few years ago and started T a few months ago. I have been able to lower my anti-depressant due to how life affirming this has been for me and I believe in the future I will be off of it entirely. I know I learned some stuff about myself in therapy and it wasn’t entirely a waste but I also know that I wasted many years in romantic relationships that I was miserable in ,because I wasn’t out, I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t in love. It was the equiv of a gay man marrying a straight woman. I mean I am almost 30 and I could be married now if I had been in a more supportive family and transitioned earlier…. because I wouldn’t have spent so long hating myself. I am not ashamed to be trans, I am not afraid of the public. I am a well educated man, who has a job, is accepted at work and is doing well. I am posting here because I want parents who are afraid for their kids to know that yes some of your kids may going through something else, but some of them may actually be trans and find out. And if they are, don’t let them waste their entire 20s hating themselves trying to pursue their own conversion therapy because of articles like lisa’s. People like her is why I spent all that time searching. I really wish I had stopped after about a year or two. I could have let people love me a lot sooner, because it feels really great. I really wish I had let me love me a lot sooner.

    • Puzzled says

      C, I think once a kid is financially independent, and reaches some point of executive-function development (which for most is mid-20s) — the parent has to let go. You cannot try to control your kids forever. If my kid was open to the kind of therapeutic exploration that you did — in fact, to ANY exploration of that sort — I’d be a lot less wary about my kid’s path. Instead, she would prefer quick access to T with zero discussion. And this is a kid with a prior history of other types of mental health issues, and childhood trauma that occurred before she came into our family. As a parent, I can’t facilitate or sign off on a transition plan that feels like reaching out for a quick fix to all the kid’s underlying issues, with almost no discussion and with the attitude “don’t even discuss physical risks with me.”

      You’re obviously an adult, you get to live your life the way an adult does. I am glad you are doing well and I wish you nothing but the best. I hope your relationship with your parents also improves eventually.

      • Well first let’s try and even define what transition even is. Many trans people choose many different ways of transitioning and there is not one right way to transition. How much medical transition a person chooses varies from each individual and no trans person needs to do x-y and z medical procedures to prove anything to anyone. I am on T and plan to pursue top surgery. I have no interest in bottom surgery. I have friends who have pursued bottom surgery. I have friends who have had top surgery but do not want T. I have friends who have been on T and had top surgery and then went off of T for various personal and or medical reasons. I have found that in general when we believe in life that there are only a few choices, we shut down our imagination for what is possible, and we trap ourselves into a life of anxiety, depression, and fear. I would suggest that if you want to take your kid to therapy, take them to someone who can allow them to explore their issues without an agenda. Take your agenda off the table, take the therapists agenda off the table, and just allow them to explore. Find a therapist who does not have a bias like the woman who wrote this article. Just someone who can allow your kid to talk through their the trauma they have experience, the feelings they have about their gender, what their goals are in life, how they want to express their needs etc. And instead of saying to your kid, I’m taking you to this therapist so you can figure out your underlying issues that caused this (aka fix you) perhaps say, I want to help you figure out if this is what you really want before we start this and help you with all the stuff that happened to you before in your life, so this is a special person you can go talk to. See if your kid agrees. In terms of ‘don’t discuss the physical risks with me’ attitude, take your kid to a doctor who will, put it in front of your kid, print them out info, get them the studies. You have a unique child but a great one. If you look into the trans community outside of what movies portray we are a community filled with doctors, researchers, artists, photographers, writers, pastors, preachers, neuroscientists. We are survivors, thrivers. We have unique brains. If this is who your kid is, they will be ok as long as they have your love. What scares me about this article I’ve read is that I have seen all the responses on twitter, I have seen parents making comments that they plan to kick out their teens at 18, I have seen parents saying their plan is to remove college funding as a form of trying to stop their kid from transitioning. How is this helping anyone? It seems to me the parents have as much underlying issues as the kids do and as much trauma of their own to figure out. It seems like some family therapy is in line. Sometimes the trans kid in the family becomes patient zero when the whole family has been in trouble for a long time.

        • Puzzled says

          C, this mythical “no agenda” therapist no longer exists in the US, if they ever did. At least in my state, folks seem to be so spooked by recently passed conversion therapy law that has lumped in gender identity in a somewhat vague manner — there is only one officially countenanced path. I’m not looking for “fix you.” That’d be stupid. But right now kid does not want ANY kind of talk — just “Damn the Torpedos, get me T stat.” We do agree on one point: I have a great kid. I am trying to take care of my great kid.

          As for my own possible “underlying issues” as a parent. Sure, there are no issue-free humans. But I don’t think that trying to get an impulsive teen who has a past history of mental health issues (and some physical issues as well, so the endocrine implications here are worrisome) to slow down on seeking irreversible medical changes makes me a transphobic bigot who willfully mischaracterizes and misunderstands my own child. Though some out there obviously disagree.

          • Hey you were the one who went and called yourself a transphobic bigot. I don’t think that at all. I’m just calling into question why all of these parents are saying their kids have such unfettered access to the internet, out of control emotions and mental health problems, unstable home lives, and want to drag them to the alter of therapy as a patience when to me it sounds like it has nothing to do with their kid coming out as trans and everything to do with family issues at home. It sounds like before any of these kids came out as trans everyone needed therapy to begin with. Where were boundaries, rules, and the healthy home life to begin with? What does transness have to do with it at all then? It sounds like if all these kids went and got mental health help everything would still be bad because no one else in the family would go get themselves some help. I’ve seen this over and over again as a teacher. There’s a problem kid, who is gay, trans, on drugs, acting up in class, failing a class, acting out at home, has a boyfriend who is bad for them, has a troubled relationship with their sibling etc etc etc and it’s let me take my kid to therapy b/c they have mental health issues, and that kid goes, that kid sees everything they need to work on in themselves and tries to, they even agree to get put on medication of some kind and then everyone at home sabatoges them or doesn’t change with them because it’s a family problem. Hey lets go with your theory that your kid isn’t even trans, they’re acting out, then what?
            All I know is that the kids I teach, they end up on the internet in all kinds of communities whether its tumblr, reddit, 4chan, internet video games, fantasy sci fi, because they want to disappear from reality. It begs to question what part of reality these kids are having such a hard time dealing with, and we all as adults need to help them figure out how to deal with it.
            I mean even as an adult myself, I have a hard time. I mean look at the world today, it’s immense what happens on a daily basis. We need to help these kids adjust and not dissociate, and not punish them for the inclination to do so, because if we really admit it, we do it ourselves, with our phones, our tablets, our conversations, our own personal time. We have to set an example.
            So in the end this is not about being trans, this is about technology, about how it’s shaping kids, how hard it is to live in the world today, and how these kids are trying to figure out who they are and ground themselves. Think about it, even 10 years ago it was easier to ground yourself. Now if you aren’t careful you float.
            I’m not saying you’re a bad parent for being fearful. It’s correct, but I resent this is all being put on the trans community. We aren’t damn looking to recruit anyone’s kids. That’s a sick fantasy twisted up by the media. We are just people, who go to work, have families, and are trying to get by like anyone else. In fact my break just ended. Wishing you the best.

  32. A likely autist says

    Autistic people have trouble understanding social norms and conforming. It is no coincidence that there is higher incidence (or at least, report) of transgenderism among those with autism. When presented with “Gender Studies” that act as if gender as nothing but an arbitrary set of stereotypic likes and dislikes, totally unrelated to ones feelings about their own body, what do you think is going to happen? Add this on top of the modern community constantly attacking questions they found annoying (ex.: Are you sure you aren’t just gay?) that could have helped some of these people figure out what was really going on with them, and so many other artificial roadblocks constructed by this incredibly bitter and paranoid excuse for a community, it’s a recipe for disaster for any aspie on the internet. Now add that females on the spectrum mask themselves with mimicry (the same skill that causes most cases to not be detected until teens or even later) it’s not a wonder that so many more of these cases are in females.

  33. I have always called myself a “tomboy”. I’m not sure how I would have acted if ‘transgender’ was an idea when I was 15. There are two experiences that stand out in my mind. As a child I often thought “I should have been a boy”. When my cousin told me about recalling a conversation that took place between her mother and father, that her mother insists took place while she was pregnant, it gave me pause. My mother told me that her doctor told her I would be a boy. This was before sonograms confirmed sexual identity. After I was born the doctor said “Oh shit! it’s a girl”. Putting the two pieces of information together I realized that my thoughts of “I should have been a boy” could very easily have been conversations between my mother and father before I was born.

    Nonetheless, I have always enjoyed sports, wearing pants (and not makeup), and occupations that are dominated by men. I own my own business and regularly operate heavy equipment. But there are two other experiences that also stand out in my mind. My first kiss, which blew my mind and told me that I very much liked being kissed by a boy. And the enjoyment I had becoming a mother. I loved being pregnant, especiallly feeling the baby kick (well at least until the 9th month). I enjoyed breast feeding. I enjoyed taking care of this small person, reading books to them, pushing them in the stroller, watching them grow into young men. Always wanted a daughter but never was so blessed.

    So, had I been influenced by social media, and professionals as this story suggests, would I have decided at 15 that I was a transgender? Quite possibly. And I would have missed the best part of life. I’m not your typical woman, that is true. But I love being who I am, and who I am is lucky that pants and men’s shirts are OK for women’s apparel without having to claim I’m transgender. Do I occasionally get addressed as sir? Yes. But so what. I happen to think that I’m exactly the kind of woman I was meant to be. I’m physically strong, emotionally confident, and mentally intelligent. I don’t hold up a version of man and think “this is what I’m supposed to be”. I think I’m exactly the type of women I was meant to be. Maybe it doesn’t conform to society’s idea of womanhood, but that’s OK too I rarely pay attention to what others believe.

    • LisaM says

      “So, had I been influenced by social media, and professionals as this story suggests, would I have decided at 15 that I was a transgender? Quite possibly.”

      Nope you wouldn’t have. You cannot ‘make’ someone who is cis become transgender (or vice versa) anymore than you can ‘make’ a straight person become gay (or vice versa).

      Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and hardwired and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a bit ‘girly’ or ‘tomboyish’.

      Why is it so hard fo cis people to actually listen to what we transgender people actually say…and believe it .. instead of endlessly pushing:
      ‘I am cis so you must be too’..

      • Nicholas says

        “Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and hardwired and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a bit ‘girly’ or ‘tomboyish’.”

        What does that even mean? Obviously pre-pubertal gender atypical behaviour is an indicator? What does “innate” and “hardwired” mean?

      • Why? says

        “Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and hardwired”. I have heard this more than once…but if that is true, where were all the transgender people when my parents, when I, were growing up? I mean, there are a lot of trans teens now. Closeted? I’m sure that was the case for a few of them, but not this many.

        I saw this happen to my son (who now has transitioned to daughter). He went to summer camp, met a girl, fell in love. 13 months later, she broke up with him and simultaneously declared that she was a boy. One week later, he started to wonder if he was a girl, and things snowballed from there. She too is on the autism spectrum, she too had a gender-typical childhood until that point, in terms of his interests (baseball, legos, cars) and clothing choices. This was at a time when the amount of time she spent on the internet and social media was extreme ( more than 8 hours a day).

        Why do I continue to think my child is not really a young woman? Because despite more than a year of female hormones, she still defaults, when tired or stressed, to dressing and behaving in a typically male way (no shirt, for example). I think that autism explains the difficulty with learning social presentation and the lack of a strong sense of identity.

      • Socially Constructed Name Which Does NOT Realy Exist says

        LisaM: why do people like you have such confirmation bias-shaped and shallow understandings of Reality? Instead of telling *us* to listen, how about *you* listen to Science which differs from the Pop-sociology mythology you are being fed?

        Can you not hear the logical inconsistencies on your Side? Feminists claim that society conditions women to want all sorts of things, and conditions men to want all sorts of things, and they claim that gender roles are simply constructed socially. Men and women would NOT think the way that they do if it were not for social pressures. That is one of the ten commandments of the Social Justice Warrior movement.

        So, how the heck can *you* claim that you cannot make somebody gay or straight or bi? Of course you can! All you need to do is provide the correct environmental reinforcements and pressures.

        It is so ridiculous to claim that Gender differences cannot possibly be hard-wired and then turn around and claim that sexual preferences and identity *ARE* hard wired and cannot be modified.

        It’s not that hard to condition people to only feel arousal under certain circumstances, and with certain partners. Never heard of a Size Queen? Never heard of Jungle Fever?

        OMG, have you not heard the Trans people berating “normal” people for not being sexually attracted to them? LOL….so, obviously Trans people expect normal people to be able to change what turns *them* on sexually…Folks like you never want to see the inconsistencies in your propaganda.

        Now, here is what I *will* admit to: once somebody has acquired certain types of conditioning, it can be very difficult to change it.

        So, certain Phobias are very hard to extinguish, same goes for certain sexual fetishes.

        I have to admit that it is very hard for Pedophiles to stop being aroused by children.

        Conversely, I believe it is easier to condition men to be aroused by children, than it is to reverse the process.

        But, are you sure that you want to claim that being aroused by children is hard-wired into the brains of Pedophiles?

        If it *is*, then don’t *you* need to be more accepting of their innate differences from the rest of us? After all, they can’t help what they are attracted to any more than a Gay person or a Trans person.

        The Human Mind is *still* the Final Frontier – full of nuances and Mysteries…so please stop your SJW mythology that everything is as Black and white as you want it to be for the sake of your agenda.

      • LisaM,
        I apologize if my comment made you feel that I was saying “I am cis so you must be too.” That is not what I was trying to say. I was trying to say that I’m glad the way my life has turned out. I’ve known many homosexual friends and acquaintances, both male and female. I’ve know men who only wanted to dress as women, but were straight otherwise. I know a few young people who have decided they are transgender. I don’t know if they are receiving hormone treatment or surgery. What seems confusing is how to categorize all the different labels for gender and sexuality?

        There is the biological gender we were born with (I was born female but would have preferred being male). There is the accepted social behavior we prefer (I prefer behavior more typical of men). There is the gender we are sexually attracted to ( I prefer men). I could also add that I preferred being a wife and raising a family. So what label best fits me? Does transgender simply mean that we want to be the opposite biological sex from the one we were born? Does transgender specify what gender we want as sexual partners? How would you label a person born female that wanted to be male and was attracted to men? What that person be a homosexual transgender?

        I think teenage years are made very confusing because of our hormones, just as pregnancy does. But confusion is made worse by a dysfunctional family or extreme social pressure. I think social media is causing some extreme social pressure. I think this decision to undergo sexual reassignment should be made when a person is mentally and emotionally prepared for the changes.

      • A likely autist says

        “Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and hardwired”
        Probably because a huge and growing number of people in the community insist otherwise

  34. Jerilyn Franz says

    “rapid onset variety”

    As determined how? By asking parents who are already opposed to their children’s identities if _the parent_ was surprised by it!

    I’ve read the damned original survey. It didn’t ask _the children_ any questions at all. It was ENTIRELY about how _the parents_ were surprised by it. And marketed on sites _opposed_ to transgender people across the board.

    Guess what? Parents are _usually_ surprised when their kids tell them they are LGBT+. And always have been! Cishet obliviousness is so well known in the LGBT community as to be a MEME.

    “I didn’t notice ANYTHING suggesting you might be transgender!”

    “Telling you directly when I was 8 wasn’t a hint? Refusing to/demanding to wear dresses wan’t a hint?”


    As I said: Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

  35. LisaM says

    This article is beyond disingenuous and is just a rehash of a standard homophobic ‘argument’ against young gay and lesbian people, reworded for transgender youth.

    By this so called ‘logic’ we have an epidemic of ‘rapid onset homosexuality’ as well, where adolescents, ‘out of the blue’ say they are gay.

    The reality is parents are more often the very last to know about their child’s sexuality or gender identity, especially if they have expressed or supported anti LGBTI comments through their life.

    I personally know LGB people who even as adults have never told their parents…does that make them ‘pseudo homosexual’ then? That they are really straight?

    Just the other day the Daily Mail outed a young gay man…and he has been rejected by some of his family….was he not really gay until then?It is even harder for trans teenagers, because while you can (and very many do) hide your sexuality from your parents, rather difficult to do if you are transgender.

    What happens is the person has been agonising over it, suffering badly from gender dysphoria, discussed with trusted friends, talked to people over the internet, researched it…and then finally (because puberty hitting is making things real bad) they tell their parents. And if they are lucky they are supported by them, if they are unlucky, as in far too many cases, they get kicked out of the home.

    It is not an coincidence that this ‘rapid onset’, ‘social contagion’, ‘trauma’, (etc) nonsense is also pushed by anti LGBTI conservative and religious extremist organisations against young LGB people.
    In fact this has long been the case and was the justification for differential ages of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex.
    It is all based on the idea that if if they are discouraged/punished/etc from having gay sex as a teenager (or their ‘trauma’ fixed or other piffle like that) and not sucked into the ‘gay lifestyle’ then they will become straight in adulthood.

    So we get now the exact same thing being argued for transgender youth, just keep discouraging/punishing/etc them (rough conversion therapy basically) then they will grow up cis.

    Ignoring all the evidence that if you have gender dysphoria at the start of puberty you will almost certainly have it all your life. Even Kenneth Zucker, the champion of gay/trans conversion therapy for pre pubescent kids, states that fact and he also stated that for the vast majority then puberty blockers and HRT are the correct pathway to follow.

    • Nicholas says

      This isn’t about kids that have shown gender atypical behaviour, this is about kids that have been gender typical and have certain issues such as autism suddenly declaring they are transgender.

      (And Zucker is one of many pointing this out)

      (Sex change regret are most common in autists that lose their fixation and autogynephiles that realize the reality isn’t as fun as the fantasy).

      • LisaM says

        As usual Zucker’s public statements contradict his own published research, in his paper on this he stated that (despite a very dodgy and non clinical definition and diagnosis of autism) that there was no evidence linking them.

        “suddenly declaring they are transgender” Piffle.
        This is only about parents knowing, the kid knows, their social circle knows, others know…parents usually are the last to find out, most especially if they have shown LGBTI hostility in the past.

        How many parents even know when their kid first has sex? Like very few.

        Oh wait a moment I have just discovered ‘rapid onset heterosexuality’, that moment when a parent finds out…with no prior warning or indications… that their child has had heterosexual sex…

        Sex change regret? What 1% to 3% as has been proven in multiple studies…and where is your proof that it is more common for those with AD…given we have no proof that there is any link between gender dysphoria and ASD.

        This is piling unproven piffle on unproven piffle.

        Oh and just between me and you ‘autogynephiilia’ as is claimed and used these days .doesn’t exist….I and many others have proven that.
        If it is exists at all under the original definition and tests as were first used, it actually probably only reflects an aspect of female sexuality…..
        And just another thing there is no link between that and sexual orientation…poor old Blanchard prove nothing whatsoever about that…. Like Zucker his public claims are contradicted by his own published research.

        • Nicholas says

          “in his paper on this” <—what paper?

          "Oh wait a moment I have just discovered ‘rapid onset heterosexuality’, that moment when a parent finds out" <—gender atypical behaivour is very common in homosexuals, and people are not so intolerant as you claim, at least not here in Europe.

          "Sex change regret? What 1% to 3% as has been proven in multiple studies…and where is your proof that it is more common for those with AD…given we have no proof that there is any link between gender dysphoria and ASD." <—The fact that there is no serious biological explanation for there being "gay transmen" and "lesbian" transwomen is proof enough, autoandrophilia is also uncommon in women, which tells ut it's most likely some other kind of issue, oh, and sooner or later when you read the constant sex change regret stories you see patterns, generally it's young ftms with body issues and other problems, been a lot of these lately.

          "Oh and just between me and you ‘autogynephiilia’ as is claimed and used these days .doesn’t exist….I and many others have proven that." <–I think the fact that self-admitted autogynephiles exist is proof enough autogynephilia exists no? It has been reproduced many times and case studies exist, oh and recent neuroimaging studies showed "gynephilic" transwomen to have male brains, unlike the "androphilic" ones. Feel free to post your studies disproving autogynephilia though, but please not Charles Moser again, he has been debunked so many times. I'm always open to learn new things.

  36. Lisa M,
    Thank you that is exactly my point. I wasted my entire 20s trying to fix trauma that wasn’t there, was the equiv of a gay man in a religious gay conversion therapy program but mine was self inflicted in an AIM to please family and society. It was also brought on by articles like these. When I finally went to a clinic for T and found out I didn’t have to jump through a million hurdles (10 appointments, 2 included appointments with a social worker, 1 with a health advocate to go over the risks, another included one with someone who had transitioned where I could hear about his experience even tho I have many friends who have transitioned), I was SO RELIEVED doctors, social workers, therapists, and other clinicians were there to support my experience. And despite everything I had done before all this my family still abandoned me. All of this is straight up transphobia, otherwise language like “mutilated bodies” wouldn’t be being used. I don’t feel mutilated at all.

  37. Pingback: Misunderstanding a New Kind of Gender Dysphoria – neoEnlightenment

  38. Starla Anderson says

    I’m old, a grandparent. How did we get to the place where our prejudices make us think that girls should be a certain way and boys should be a certain way and if our birth identity doesn’t fit with that template that we need to take hormones and have surgery to make us conform to the way of the stereotype? It saddens me that gender identity has become such an obsession with adolescents because it absorbs so much energy and so many resources but mostly because it focuses attention on the self rather than others and this is definitely not good for mental health. Each of us needs to feel that we belong and we find this feeling by being involved in community and doing for others. Gender identity may be socially constructed but the truth is that all of us have interests and abilities and sense of self that flexibly move along a spectrum of attributes that might be considered male or female qualities. It has always been so and that has been accepted until now in our society.

  39. I am a parent of a 14 y.o daughter who is in the throes of this. It is a nightmare. Her announcement was straight on the heels of her friend’s same announcement. When she speaks her ‘truths’ about why this must be – – her words are ‘canned’ and sound like they came right off the pages of any trans reddit or tumblr site. But she’s told herself this same story over and over and over and her community of online friends tells her never to doubt herself. It’s as if she is brainwashed and it is incredibly scary. This is an adolescent in the midst of an identity crisis, that has latched onto “gender” so tightly. She believes this is the answer and why she felt at odds with herself. It’s very sad. Thank you so much for shining a light on this scary trend. The sheer fact that adolescents and adults are desisting or detransitioning provides evidence that this, in fact, is a dangerous phenomenon. Here’s hoping that more individuals caught up in this trans trend will get the help that they need to untangle their very normal adolescent identity issues from this dangerous transgender trend.

  40. Pingback: “Rapid Onset” Gender dysphoria | Clare Flourish

  41. Socially Constructed Name Which Does NOT Realy Exist says

    I had a close friend who was six foot 6, three hundred and fifty pounds, and convinced he should have been a woman by the time he was 18. He was far more homely and incongruent as a woman than he ever was as a man.

    On the surface, I believe he was suffering from the same delusions as Anorexic females who are convinced they are *fat* even when they look at pictures of themselves which clearly show their below average weights and fat deposits. I have worked with people with irrational phobias, and it is next to impossible to convince them that a bridge will not collapse if they drive over it, for example.

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder *also* does not make much sense to the observer. When you deprive somebody with OCD from completing their rituals, they suffer from intense anxiety, the same with a phobic person who is forced to do what they are afraid of. It is simple conditioning that once you allow them to engage in their anxiety-avoidance behavior that they will feel better and more relaxed and content with their situation.

    So, I am skeptical of folks who report that they felt so much better and all of their adjustment problems disappeared once they were able to impersonate the opposite gender.

    To me this is not that much different from the people who were convinced that Satanists were in every daycare, and that witches existed in Salem, and that in order to feel safe they had to burn everybody who could not prove they were NOT a witch.

    The Mayor of New York’s wife left her family and announced publicly that she was unquestionably a Lesbian, and had no interest in men. Later, she married the Mayor and has no difficulty reconciling her current interest in men and being a wife and mother.

    Racists are convinced that Black people or other POC are the worst people in the world and that they should not be forced to interact with them.

    Many of them subsequently recant their racism, and recognize that they were laboring under delusions that future experiences helped to expose as being Mental Aberrations.

    I have lived with people who could not envision a life without Heroin, and people who could not sleep with jamming Knives into the Door Frames to prevent anybody from breaking in at night.

    There are all sorts of abnormal thoughts and feelings and emotions which humans have which sometimes can be changed, and sometimes not.

    We have people who are convinced that their spouses are not really their spouses, and have been replaced by aliens.

    We have people who are convinced that they see or have seen Ghosts.

    There are people who believe God speaks to them.

    There are people who believe God wants them to drown their Children, and they do.

    I am sure there are people who would say we should not question *their* version of Reality, and that they have every right to their own feelings and thoughts, and if they believe God speaks to them, well – then who are we to question it.

    “If it walks like a Duck, and talks like a Duck, then it must be a Duck” might make sense in some contexts, but not when it comes to gender.

    I’ve worked with men who did NOT want to be attracted to older men with Gray hair (“Dads”). What is a valid therapeutic goal? Convincing the client that they should just accept their abnormal (in their own eyes) attraction, so that they can simply be happy being themselves and lusting after Father Figures?

    I am disgusted by the self-righteous Politically Correct factions who have decided that *they* are better informed about the idiosyncrasies of the Human Condition than scientists are, and who accuse people of bigotry when they themselves are the real bigots and fascists who refuse to allow any discussion of competing viewpoints.

    And shame on the surgeons who sold artificial boobs to teenage girls, and who are selling artificial balls and penises to them now that there is a demand.

  42. Mary r says

    Another parent here in the midst of this rapid onset. No one wants to involve the parents unless it is to affirm. No consideration of other factors at play which increases their vulnerability and risk of coercion or influence to suggestion –
    Anxiety/depression/’ocd/ Autism etc. No thoughts to social isolation and immersion on websites. The family in your report show how their caution for further understanding and real concerns were blatantly ignored and as a result their daughter is now living in limbo. As the family pointed out Molly has not found her authentic self.

    How can we trust professionals when they can’t trust themselves to ‘do no harm’. This is why parents need to tell their side. This is why we need more people like this author to speak out on this growing trend that creates havoc, chaos and despair for all of the family. Rational, logical and a questioning discourse has been usurped by a narrative that asks us to suspend disbelief as we are to buy into the 50 odd gender pronouns and an ever growing gender identity type. Any wonder teens are confused. The absurdness and the ridiculousness of this is damning for the transsexual community and will cause a backlash as long as this comedy of errors is currently centre stage.

  43. I find a lot of the comments on here pretty disappointing with a lot of confirmation bias coming from both ‘sides’.

    This subject (transsexuality generally, not just the type described in this article) has only relatively recently started to be investigated seriously and is, so far, poorly understood.

    This article has already touched on some aspects that aren’t understood: effects of transitioning on people with psychological challenges, most notably.

    Transsexual people have a pretty hard time of it – I don’t think that’s a controversial statement. Many are unhappy with their lot and the suicide attempt-rate is many times higher than the population generally (even for those who have transitioned).

    I think we can all agree that this is a problem.

    How best can we help with this? By seeking to understand the phenomenon.

    It is not helpful to dismiss transsexuality as a purely socially driven fad, but it is even less helpful (harmful, even) to seek to suppress any discussion of it by labelling those with genuine questions or insights as ‘transphobic’.

  44. Awakened says

    I think what a lot of people don’t understand or are aware of is that this seems to happen in clusters of girls. This is exactly the case for my child and so it makes me seriously doubt that it is an authentic identity that came from introspect and self love. I can agree that for some trans people transitioning is beneficial. We as a society should be able to listen to and thoughtfully consider that transitioning is a very big step and needs to be carefully weighed and considered. This however is not happening in the US and I fear a lot of young lives are going to be the collateral damage because only one side of this story is usually considered. The gender therapist we went to told me she is perfectly aware that groups of girls are doing this. She said “these girls are redefining gender and sexuality”. This would be absolutely fine if we weren’t medicating a movement. My concerns have consistently been dismissed by professionals and I feel I have no voice. So I very much appreciate an article that finally adresses these concerns and acknowledges that yes indeed this is happening. There is no point to the war between transactivists and mothers who would like to see a more nuanced and careful approach. We as mothers are taking nothing from trans people. Most of us agree that trans people deserve safety, fair employment and housing. We do get angry. When no one hears our concerns though. There is a growing number of detransitioners and we also need to listen to their stories and concerns. Unfortunately their voices have also been silenced by media and activists. If we are not able to carefully and thoughtfully consider all voices in regards to medically transitioning then there will probably be a backlash of some sorts.

  45. Maeve says

    This article is riddled with problems

    Putting aside the fact that the main point is made entirely on the basis of a single case, and then only from the perspective of the mother with no (or omitted) consultation with her son. The author claims there are “hundreds of stories every bit as harrowing” from concerned parents. Sorry, that isn’t evidence, I can find thousands of “harrowing stories” from the anti vaccination movement but that doesn’t give them legitimacy. The author puts forward no evidence for their argument that has any scientific validity whatsoever. But this is appropriate for the author as a “Jungian analyst” a profoundly non evidence based therapy, only slightly less archaic than Freudian psychoanalysis.

    If the author bothered consulting a single actual trans person before writing this article she would know that actually, if there are doctors eager to railroad teens down the path of medical transition, they must be exceedingly rare. Finding a psychologist who has even a neutral view of being transgender is very difficult, and then it can take months to years for some people to get their letter recommending hormone therapy, and then you have to pass the doctors own hurdles and waiting periods, assuming you can find a doctor who will even agree to administer it, since very few have any experience with trans health, often referral onward to endocrinology specialists with their own hoops to jump through is required.

    And once HRT is started it takes 6 months for the first real changes to even become noticeable, by which point the doctor and psych can get a pretty good indication of how the person reacting to the therapy, if they found that it was doing more harm than good they would be obligated to discontinue prescribing hormones.

    If you take even the slightest effort to look at legitimate psychological studies of transgender people the picture which rapidly emerges is that for the vast, I mean upwards of 98%, majority of trans people find that their lives improved after transition. In fact, trans children who have supportive families and communities show no significant difference in negative affect than comparable cis children.

    This atrocious article is not only peddling misinformation, it is actively harmful to young trans people who struggle daily with accepting themselves let alone getting acceptance from those around them.

    I have a more detailed response that addresses the articles points, but that will take more work and effort, and I doubt it will even be read. But as we know, it takes way more energy to refute misinformation than it does to peddle it.

    • Desirae Gallagher says

      I read your response and I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you’re still grouping all transgender people together. The purpose of this article is to explore another type of gender dysphoria (ROGD) that is new, so there isn’t a ton research or statistics on it. So, there are people who are born in the wrong body, and there are people who are using their gender (or another gender) to cope with some other struggle in their life. For people who are born in the wrong body, a transition is the cure. But people are using the transition to cope, would probably benefit more from addressing the root issue, such anxiety or depression. Does that make sense?

  46. Maeve says

    Oh and don’t think I didn’t catch your attempt to leave people with he impression that Max detransitioned in the end by switching but to his dead name and feminine pronouns, even though that wasn’t the case. You didn’t outright lie, but you still gave the impression, very sneaky and deceptive, but that is par for this whole sorry article.

  47. Desirae Gallagher says

    I was in tears by the end of this article. I am going through this with my 16 year old as well. We are very close. I am also open minded and tried to be supportive until I did the research. I fear that this trend is dangerous and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to talk to either because most people shoot me down immediately without even letting me explain myself. ‘I am a horrible mother for not allowing my teen to diagnose herself with a medical condition, such as gender dysphoria, to which the only cure is medical and surgical intervention.’ She has been in counseling for a year and struggles with severe anxiety. I homeschool her because her anxiety was so debilitating that she couldn’t attend public school and get anything out of it. I relate SO much to this article and I THANK YOU for writing to us struggling parents/guardians of teens, whom we love and support dearly. I know we can’t stop social media, but what can we do? What is the solution here?

    • Hmm maybe the solution is to first stop calling him your daughter. He’s been in counseling for a year over the issue of a trans identity. How much more do you want? That doesn’t sound like a rapid onset situation, that sounds like some real digging and searching has been going on. By the time he hits 18 years old he can start making medical decisions for himself, perhaps even sooner given whatever state your SON lives in. I was being nicer in my other comments but at this point you all need to come to terms with what is going on. Have you ever realized that all this anxiety and existential angst your kids may be feeling is that they are getting out right rejected from their parents? That their parents are spending more time looking up conspiracy theories, groups, and craziness online than spending time listening to their kids, attending support groups on how to better handle their kids transitions, and therapy to how to support their kids and are downright being unhelpful? I mean listen to the way you are talking, it’s all about you, your feelings, about your you are being a “horrible mother” etc. How narcissistic can you get? Your kid is going through something major. If you can’t sign off on them transitioning at 16 then fine, you’ll have no choice when they turn 18, and let me tell you life comes at you fast. Do you want to lose your kid? Because that’s what’s gonna happen the moment their birthday hits. They’ll be gone. At least take them to the male section of Target so they can get some button up shirts and call them their chosen name and get off of conspiracy trans people are coming to get your websites and start acting right.
      That goes for the lot of you on here. This didn’t come out of no where. Your kids have real feelings. Especially the ones in their late teens. They’re almost in college. They are capable of thinking, processing thought. If your kids are taking advanced math courses, they’re capable of thinking their trans. Come on everyone, if you’re scared, imagine how they feel with how much rejection you’re putting them through.

      • Desirae says

        Actually, this did come out of nowhere. The counseling is for her because she is a teenager. I will not call her “him” because she is my daughter. I tried, but it wasn’t real. I felt like i was lying and I’m open and honest with her about everything, as she is with me. She and I are very close, as I said. She is not rejected. She is fully supported and loved at home. She is a child of divorce, lost both grandfathers, and she’s a teenager! There are so many other things going in on her life and I refuse to turn a blind eye to those, as these issues are all a part of her.

        This article really gave me a sense of relief. I now have a plan. I’m not going to blindly follow everyone who tells me that I’m an unsupportive mother or that I’m wrong. I know my child better than anyone. If she were trans, I would be 100% supportive. The counselors, her father, and all of us, believe it is a phase and experimentation. I do not want her doing anything dangerous to herself.

        And I did take her to the “male” section of Target (our favorite store), but she didn’t like anything. She actually calls herself a transman who dresses as a woman.

        PLEASE don’t say things to me that you have no idea about. I’m trying the best I can to be the best mother I can. My daughter and I are closer to each other than to anyone else in the world. We have been through a lot together and will always be there for each other. She will not medically or surgically transition when she’s 18 because she doesn’t want to. Please stop with the threats.

        • I’m not the same person, but if your child truly “doesn’t want to” transition, still wants to dress “as a woman,” and everyone, including a counselor, is convinced they’re merely going through a “phase and experimentation,” what danger do you fear? Your child cannot diagnose themselves with any medical condition, including gender dysphoria, any more than they could write their own prescriptions for hormones or letters of recommendations to surgeons if that was desired, but apparently it’s not…?

          I don’t know your child and won’t speak to your situation. I will, however, say that my own mother said many of the exact same things you have and acted as though she’d be “100% supportive” of me if I was “really” trans–but in her eyes, since she knew me better than “anyone else in the world” (even myself), no matter what, I couldn’t possibly “really” be trans, because I was her daughter. It just wasn’t possible. I’m almost twice as old as your daughter now and have long since medically and legally transitioned, but my mother still seems to expect me to admit she was right all along and “detransition.” I wish I could have a relationship with her, but she hasn’t been able to move past this. She feels I’ve “rejected” her, not the other way around.

          • Desirae says

            My replies and comments may seem choppy, lack cohesion, or convoluted because I have many small children who need my attention most of the day.

            I’m truly sorry for your situation with your mother. I can relate. My teenager and I are very close and I will never abandon her the way my mother did me.

            Thank you for your reply. You are 100% correct that I have nothing to worry about. We have excellent communication and respect one another. I doubt myself as a mother often. This isn’t narcissism, as another poster commented, but a concern for doing the best thing, and providing the most opportunity for my children. They are my whole world.

      • As a parent of a trans child, I understand the parents who struggle to accept that their child is actually trans. My son came out as trans when he was 14. I did everything you are supposed to; I was supportive, bought him a new wardrobe and binders, found a good psychologist, joined groups for trans people and their families, etc… But I never wanted to believe it. Part of me still wants him to suddenly realize it was a phase. But that is my problem, not his. It is my job as a parent to help him and protect him. I don’t understand what he feels, because I have never felt it, but that doesn’t make it any less real. My son is mildly autistic and suffers from anxiety, so I also latched onto this information at proof that my suspicions were correct, and he wasn’t really trans. My son and I discussed hormones, and I asked him to wait until he turned 18 because I was worried about medical problems. I was as supportive as possible, but my husband was not. He is very accepting of trans people, but he was convinced that our child was not trans, so he was not supportive of his transition. I didn’t think he was bad about it; he primarily wanted therapy and worried about body image issues, but my son didn’t feel the same way. So a year ago, he carved words into his arm like “boy” and “failure” before attempting suicide. Yes, I know that this is going to lead to remarks about our parenting or his mental health issues, but they would be incorrect. We ended up having to take him out of school because he was too afraid to leave the house. So I finally realized that I had to make some drastic changes. I filed for divorce (he told the doctors he attempted suicide because of his father), and we are going through the process of starting hornones and changing his name legally. What I see is that our hang ups almost cost us our child. We probably should have started him on hormones 3-4 years ago. A year later, the cutting has finally stopped. He is back in school and has over a 4.3 GPA. He is involved in clubs and activities again. His biggest stressors are still using the bathroom in public and hiding his hips, but this is a process. At this point in our journey, and also taking away what we have learned from the many trans teens we know, I believe that giving a “confused” child hormone therapy is much, much better than not giving your child hormones because you don’t believe they are “really” trans.

  48. Desirae says

    The world is not black and white. Not every single person who calls themself trans is actually trans. Sometimes we need to fig a little deeper and accept those parents who care enough to do so.

    Also, it is perfectly fine for parents to wonder if they are doing the right thing or not. We are all learning. Not one of us knows the perfect solution across the board.

  49. Maeve says

    I understood the points the article was trying to make, and all of the points I make regarding it still stand. There has actually been substantial research on the range of ages at which transgender people come out, if you look at figure one, in the following document
    You will see that there is not a substantially larger number of people who identify as transgender in younger age brackets than older age brackets. That is to say, the idea that there is a sudden explosion in the number of teenagers suddenly out of the blue identifying as trans is a myth spurred by increasing social awareness in the media, which creates the illusion that something has become more prominent than it actually is.

    If there is an increase is easily attributable to a familiar phenomenon seen in the gay community,
    “A poll for Stonewall of 1,500 people who were already out found that among the over-60s the average age they had come out was 37. But those in their 30s had come out at an average age of 21, and in the group aged 18 to 24 it was 17.”

    This discrepancy in ages of coming out is mostly attributable to increased awareness at younger ages that being gay is even a thing. If you don’t have a word for something, if you don’t have a concept for it, or if you do but that concept is stigmatised, then you’re going to have a very hard time processing your feelings and understanding what they mean. There are endless accounts of people who went along with what the culture expected of them, they were often deeply unhappy and uncomfortable, until finding out that being gay was even an option, light bulb moment.

    My point is that the authors assertion that people coming out as trans in their teens, as opposed to early childhood, is a new phenomenon does not stand up to scrutiny when one consults the evidence, something the author has failed to do.

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