Features, Hypothesis, Politics, Sex, Social Science

The Unspoken Homophobia Propelling the Transgender Movement in Children

When I was a Ph.D. student in sexology, I had a conversation with a colleague that forever cemented, in my mind, why I needed to speak out against the transitioning of children with gender dysphoria. Nowadays, every left-leaning parent and educator seems content to take a child’s word at face value if they say they were born in the wrong body, not realizing that by doing so, an important conversation is being brushed aside.

On the day in question, our research lab had just finished our weekly meeting, and I chatted with my colleague as I packed up my things to head back to my office. He had told me previously about his son, who from the moment he was born, announced that a mistake had been made—“I’m a girl,” he would say.

As a little boy, his son loved playing with dolls. He would wear his mother’s dresses and high heels, and wanted to grow his hair long like Princess Jasmine from the movie, “Aladdin.” At school, he preferred the company of girls to that of boys, who were rambunctious and mean. After many years of therapy and fighting constantly about the course of action they would take, his son had come out as gay.

I grew up as a straight woman in the gay community, at a time when homophobia was rampant in North American society. I witnessed the harassment and ignorance that my friends faced on a daily basis. Most, as a result, hid their sexual orientation from anyone outside of the community, and few were openly out to their families.

Although things have definitely improved since then, discrimination against gay people still exists. And as I’ve watched as glowing stories about transgender children have flooded every progressive news outlet over the last few years, every one of them appalls and saddens me. Because the underlying story that the public isn’t privy to is that many of these children would have grown up to be gay, but are instead undergoing a new form of conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation. No mental health professional in their right mind conducts this type of therapeutic intervention anymore, because it is understood that sexual orientation is immutable from a very young age. Gender identity, however—whether someone feels masculine or feminine—is flexible in prepubescent children and grows more stable into adulthood.

Therapy that seeks to help gender dysphoric children grow comfortable in their birth sex (known in the research literature as the “therapeutic approach”) has been conflated with conversion therapy, but this is inaccurate. All of the available research following gender dysphoric children longitudinally shows that the majority desist; they outgrow their feelings of dysphoria by puberty and grow up to be gay in adulthood, not transgender.

Children will say they “are” the opposite sex because that’s the only language they have to express to adults that they want to do things the opposite sex does. Cross-sex behavior has also been shown to be a strong predictor of homosexuality in men. Previous research tells us that even children who are severe in their feelings of dysphoria will desist.

Another phenomenon that points to homophobia as a possible motivation for transitioning is that of rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD), wherein adolescent and college-aged girls suddenly declare to their parents that they want to transition, without any previous signs of being distressed about their birth sex. This desire to transition usually manifests during or after puberty, yet these girls don’t meet any of the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria.

A study published last month on ROGD—one that gained widespread media attention for infuriating transgender activists—found that a large proportion of these girls had come out as lesbian or bisexual prior to coming out as transgender.

Why would this be the case? Along with the physical and emotional discomfort that is typical of undergoing puberty, it has become more socially acceptable to be a transgender man than a gay woman. The study’s findings also showed that transitioning increased students’ popularity among their peers and offered greater protection from harassment, because teachers were more concerned about anti-trans bullying than bullying that was anti-gay.

As children grow up, parents will undoubtedly notice if their son is effeminate. For those who are troubled at the thought of having a girly son, transitioning offers a promising solution—by allowing a child to transition, a feminine boy now presents as a feminine girl. A little boy who enjoys indulging in make-up and other female-typical activities will bring about much less attention and criticism if he were a girl.

This same logic extends to a child’s future sexual orientation. On some level, these parents likely know that there is a chance their feminine son will grow up to be sexually attracted to men. Instead of allowing this to happen, they may be more than happy to go along with facilitating their child’s requests to transition to the opposite sex, so that to the outside world, that child will appear heterosexual—an adolescent boy who is attracted to other boys will appear to be straight if he transitions to female. What’s most disturbing is that these parents will be lauded as open-minded and “on the right side of history,” when in actuality, they are homophobic. In some cases, a child may internalize their families’ anti-gay sentiments, which adds to their desire to transition.

Saying any of these things aloud will get a person branded as transphobic, and I understand why some transgender activists and their allies find this information so threatening; it could potentially be used as evidence that transgender people don’t really exist, or they should be forced to not feel the way that they do. One meta-analysis of 28 studies showed that transitioning can indeed be beneficial for some adults, but in the event that a child can grow to be comfortable in the body they were given, it shouldn’t be controversial to contend that this would be a better outcome than a lifetime of hormones and possible surgery and sterility.

Since I began writing about this issue several years ago, many of my friends have told me how relieved they were to not have grown up in today’s political climate. As children, they similarly voiced unhappiness about their bodies and felt that they identified with the opposite sex, but eventually grew up to feel comfortable living as gay men. They fear they would have decided to transition, because transitioning is now considered a viable, and almost commonplace, way to resolve this.

Transgender activism has successfully piggybacked onto the hard-won victories of the gay rights movement. The public understands that attitudes towards gay people were once abhorrent, and they also understand that many interventions aimed at “changing” gay people were unethical. Most empathic people have consequently been persuaded that being transgender is the same, in this regard, as being gay—that it is something that shouldn’t be questioned and should always be affirmed.

Yet of children who exhibit signs of gender dysphoria, we aren’t yet able to tell who will fall into the category of those who will desist (which is the majority) as opposed to the minority who persist and who would actually benefit from transitioning. In determining the answer, we must be resolute in following the scientific evidence, and not forget that gay people deserve love and acceptance, too.

 

Debra W. Soh holds a Ph.D. in sexual neuroscience research from York University and writes about the science and politics of sex. Follow her at @DrDebraSoh.

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191 Comments

  1. Daniel says

    This is a scathing critique of transgender activism, but is the gentlest possible, and insufficiently critical as a result.
    Camille Paglia described the transitioning of children as child abuse. I predict lawsuits and criminal prosecutions when these kids grow up and realize that their parents have sacrificed them on the altar of competitive wokeness. Horrifying.

    • Peter from Oz says

      ”Competitive wokeness” is a great way of describing it

    • Kelly Murphy says

      I agree. I get that appealing to liberals’ sense of outrage about homophobia is an “in” to get them to look critically at the trans trend. But it’s disingenuous, because the vast majority of child transitions have absolutely nothing to do with parents’ preferences for a straight kid. And a lot have to do with parents’ desire for an opposite sex kid (see the trans “sister” youngest of four brothers phenomenon) or a “special” kid that gets them attention and accolades.

      • Actually, a trans “sister” who is the youngest of four brothers would go well with Debra Soh’s theory, since Ray Blanchard (Soh’s mentor) has presented evidence that feminine gay men are more likely to have multiple older brothers. This is called the Fraternal Birth Order and Maternal Immune Hypothesis.

        • Joseph says

          Re: the trans “sister” who is the youngest of four brothers…a precise example of that is Jazz Jennings, the youngest of 5 boys, who displayed “femme” behavior as a toddler; if left alone, he would have grown up to be gay (on his program, he even talked about having a dream in which he was a gay boy being rejected by his family). I wouldn’t be surprised if the mother so wanted a daughter that she latched on to the trans ideology to get just that.

          • I mean, it’s kind of impossible to know an individual’s motivations. I think Dr. Soh is correct that in most cases, the parents have an easier time accepting a feminine child as a “heterosexual” girl than a homosexual boy. I’m reminded of a Good Housekeeping article about a conservative Christian woman in Texas and the transition of her young, feminine son to a trans girl. In that case, I think the mother’s Christian upbringing made it easier to accept her child as a girl than as a gay man. This could also explain why there are so many transsexuals in Latin-American countries, where homosexuality is denigrated.

    • FightingToGetHerBack says

      I agree with you, Daniel.

      The most important point that is glossed over is the medical harm done to these kids. In the US, there is no oversight. Kids are quickly put on puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones. Testosterone is offered as young as 12 years old. Over 5% of my daughter’s entire school identified as transgender. One student who had a mastectomy at age 16. They took hormones with the same casual attitude that they took their antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. Here is an example of what is happening on our “elite” college campuses: https://4thwavenow.com/2018/10/02/theres-a-sudden-surge-of-trans-students-coming-out-at-my-college-and-im-scared-to-talk-about-it/#comments

      The public does not know how prevalent and how quickly kids are medicalized. If they did, I think we might see some outrage. The medical harms are serious and irreversible. Paglia is correct. This is child abuse masquerading as life-saving affirmative care. What happened to “First Do No Harm”?

      Second point: from my observations of high schools and colleges, and conversations with scores of parents whose kids are caught up in this, many of the older kids are not same-sex attracted, but are simply young people who are vulnerable and trying to fit in. For some reason, identifying as trans provides them an identity, gives them status, protects them from the vulnerabilities of being a woman, etc. I don’t think it is accurate to describe most of these trans-identifying kids as gay. Perhaps this generalization applies to the younger kids, like Jazz Jennings, but not as much to the older ones. Rather, I would describe them as vulnerable and confused. Interestingly, all that I have observed are intellectually gifted.

      Quillette, would you consider a follow-up piece to this that focused on the medical harms. I agree with Daniel that there will be lawsuits in the future. But in the meantime, it is imperative that the public be informed about the unregulated abusive practices of these MDs taking advantage of vulnerable kids while threatening their parents to comply with the “Dead daughter/live son” suicide tactic.

      • Sydney says

        @FightingToGetHerBack,

        My comment to you is lightly off-topic and yet germane (no pun intended: Germaine Greer gave a warning call on trans overreach at least 15 years ago).

        You asked, “What about ‘First do no harm’?” and it’s important that we recognize that this ship sailed when MDs began handing out psychiatric ‘meds’ [that you mentioned] to children like candy.

        Psychiatric drugs were never meant for children, nor ever tested on them, and certainly not ever meant for children to consume long-term. They cure nothing, don’t address the check-list complaints (which are not diseases by any definition), are addictive, and create serious short- and long-term effects on the body.

        My point is that when parents began accepting these powerful and debilitating drugs for their minor children (without genuine informed consent), then it opened the door to the misuse of children’s psychiatry, which helped lead us to the medicalized/psychiatrized ‘gender’ issues we’re facing now. I realize I’m making a somewhat circuitous argument, but it’s worth a thought.

        [Every school shooter was on psychiatric drugs. They didn’t act because of ‘underlying mental illness,’ as the psychiatric industry likes to say, but because psychiatric drugs cause suicide ideation and homicide ideation (this is well-researched and appears on black-box warnings and in the literature).]

        So, as I said, I veered off the topic, but I wonder what percentage of children with gender issues are also on some combination of toxic, debilitating, and deadly psychiatric drugs, and I wonder what effects those drugs are having on their still-developing minds and bodies. They cannot possibly be helping a complex situation; that’s for sure.

        • FightingToGetHerBack says

          I agree, Sydney. What I have observed among this generation is a strange pride in labels (ADHD, anxiety disorder, depression…etc.) and along with that, is a cavalier attitude about the meds that they are taking. My oldest daughter tells me that nearly all of her friends in high school took some kind of prescription drug — many were anti-psychotics prescribed for off-label use. It seems this generation has grown up with the sense that every ache, pain, or negative feeling must be medically treated.

          I view this so-called “gender dysphoria” the same way. We all experienced some kind of discomfort during our teen years — from body issues, unwanted sexual attention, general confusion, identity crises, not fitting in, etc. But now, clinicians pathologize these feelings, call it gender dysphoria, and medically treat kids so they can “explore their gender, or worse, affirm their belief they are actually the opposite sex.

          This is an extension of the psychiatric medicalization of turning uncomfortable feelings into psychiatric conditions that need to be medically treated. But now, we are in the more dangerous territory of blocking puberty, administering cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. It astounds me that this madness is happening in broad daylight, is endorsed by all of the major medical associations in the US…yet there is very little media attention paid to this growing industry.

          • Sydney says

            @FightingToGetHerBack,

            “It astounds me that this madness is happening in broad daylight, is endorsed by all of the major medical associations in the US…yet there is very little media attention paid to this growing industry.”

            MSM editors and reporters are the foot soldiers of both the pharma industry (which for all intents and purposes owns the med associations) AND po-mo intersectional theory (taught from K-12 and continued in the Arts faculties), which bows at the alter of gender theory. What an unholy alliance.

            I hope you’ll write a piece for Quillette.

          • FightingToGetHerBack says

            Thanks, Sydney. If I could write anonymously, I would love to.

            This is very personal to me. I have experienced first-hand the dead daughter/live son suicide card that gender clinicians use to get parents to agree to affirm. I have witnessed how school indoctrination leads vulnerable children to believe they are actually the opposite sex. I have seen how the transgender/non-binary craze is promoted by college campuses across the US while providing quick and easy access to hormones and surgeries on the college health plan. I know countless parents like me whose lives have been ruined by this. And yet we all must remain anonymous to protect the privacy of our children.

            How I would love to help give parents a voice….while also helping to expose and shut down the scandalous medical practices that are causing irreversible and serious harms.

          • Agreed. We really need to develop an understanding of what is happening in the lives of people who have transitioned. There has been almost no research in this area. The anecdotal evidence to date suggests that transistioning is a disaster for many.

          • Sydney says

            @FightingToGetHerBack,

            I hope to see your (anonymous) piece on this subject. It’s hugely important to us all.

          • Paul Ellis says

            Teenage solipsism is nothing new. A label makes you special. Most of us wanted to be special when we were teenagers; probably most of us grew out of it. It’s a bit late to grow out of it when you’ve had your bits off.

      • “identifying as trans provides them an identity, gives them status”

        In my personal experience, this rings true. My niece announced that she was gay when she was 12. Everybody accepted it. A lot of the other girls in her school also “came out”. My niece always seemed to be trying to find a niche to fill, something that made her special. She had ADHD and was a poor student. She would never be class valedictorian like her older brother. She had no musical talent, so would never be the star of recitals and school musicals like her older sister. She liked to dress up as anime characters and my sister-in-law happily took her around to local conventions. The family encouraged her costume-making and character development. Then one day, my niece announced she was bored with all that because “every one does it”. Now she wants to be called they/them, has had her breasts removed, has taken a masculine name and dresses like a man. No one else in her neighborhood, her school social circle, her family has ever come out as Trans. My niece is now unique and special. But at what price?

        • Biological Determinist says

          At the price of never being able to grow out of it. She grew out of cosplay; she’s not going to be able to grow out of this one if she decides she wants to. Bodily mutilation is permanent.

    • peterschaeffer says

      D, “I predict lawsuits and criminal prosecutions when these kids grow up and realize that their parents have sacrificed them on the altar of competitive wokeness”. Lawsuits yes, criminal prosecutions probably not. A lot of deep pockets insurance companies will lose money over this (a risk they don’t appear to know they face).

      After the Berlin Wall fell, lots of folks were eager to put the entire GDR leadership on trial. That wasn’t going to happen. The need for national (German) unity and reconciliation took precedence over prosecuting the guilty. There was one very significant exception. A significant number of GDR officials were prosecuted for their role in doping scandals. The doping scandals had/have certain overtones definitely along the lines of current gender controversies. See

      “East Germany’s forgotten Olympic doping victims tell of illness, infertility and changing sex”

      “DRUG TESTING; East German Steroids’ Toll: ‘They Killed Heidi’”

      Faust’s Gold (updated edition)

      My other observation, is that if these issues ever reach an American court, the defendants will be quite eager to settle. The last thing, doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies want is to have these topics exposed to the (potentially) harsh light of public opinion.

  2. BrannigansLaw says

    I disagree with the author here. I believe that the main reason homosexuals are becoming obsessed with “transgenderism” is because in modern leftist politics the “victim” is the most sacred person.

    Recently transgender persons have overtaken homosexuals on the victim totem pole and are currently celebrated and protected more by leftist activism.

    And the higher up on this victim totem pole one is, a higher level of narcissistic behavior is tolerated from such an individual.

    • Bubblecar says

      I think you’ll find that most homosexual people are not at all “obsessed with transgenderism”. Like many gay men, I don’t find transgenderism personally relevant at all, except for the fact that trans activists are increasingly taking control of the “alphabet soup” movement that supposedly once represented gay and lesbian issues.

      The more the transgenders take over, the more gays and lesbians will disassociate themselves from the “LGBTQIWTF” spokespeople – many cracks are already appearing and many of us believe it’s high time to stop lumping decent respectable homosexuals with the transgender movement and its increasingly bizarre demands.

      • BrannigansLaw says

        @Bubblecar

        I never said most homosexuals, though I admit I should of clarified that I mean’t a minority of younger generation homosexuals who are still unsure of their sexualities.

        “many of us believe it’s high time to stop lumping decent respectable homosexuals with the transgender movement and its increasingly bizarre demands.”

        I agree and I’m not surprised that homosexuals are getting sick of this but be aware that you’ll soon discover that leftists will abandon and slander you as a result.

        • Bubblecar says

          Depends on what you mean by “left” – the most forceful anti-trans opposition actually comes from within the left, in the form of the radical feminist/lesbians who have never regarded the transgender spiel as credible.

          I would say the lesbian anti-trans protest at the recent London Pride represents the left wing of the gay/lesbian political spectrum and I think this will become clearer as the split widens.

          • Because men pretending to be women is the same as being a women, I suppose.
            Jenner is a classic example: strongest male Olympic athlete, fathers children, but now is “brave” for being a woman after all?

      • Ray Andrews says

        Another intersectional fracture. The Victims have not even succeeded in smashing the Patriarchy yet, and already they are attacking each other. The Utopia will be short lived.

        Question: as a decent respectable homosexual, would you be less interested in buggering a guy who had transitioned to a pseudo female than a guy who had not? I really have no idea, but it does seem that cross-dressing is part of gay culture so it might seem that ‘transitioning’ would/could/might be seen as a sort of cross-dressing taken to the next level, no?

        • Joseph says

          Ray, regarding your questions. No, most gay men are not interested in having sex with a pseudo female; consider: most men who are turned on by trans women tend to be straight-leaning-bisexual; most gay men have an aversion to feminine behavior in other men, thus the common usage of “no femmes” in dating/hook-up profiles and the popularity of extreme butch appearances; cross-dressing is limited to a small segment of the gay community, 99% of whom are drag performers — men who cross-dress for a sexual thrill are actually straight (known as autogynephiles).

          • Peter from Oz says

            Joseph
            At least half of the gay men I know are far from butch, though not particularly femme. Camp is probably the best descriptor. They also tend to have high voices

        • Bubblecar says

          I’ve never “cross-dressed” and I think you’ll find that practice is no more common amongst gay men than it is amongst straight football players and college kids etc.

          But tell me, as a heterosexual man, would you be less interested in buggering a woman who had transitioned to a pseudo-male than a woman who had not?

          • Paul Ellis says

            Call me old-fashioned, but I’m interested in the bits people were born with. They tend to work properly, for a start.

        • Gay men, as a group, want what women want, but are often feminine themselves, their sexual market is mostly other gay men who are relatively feminine, and the objects of their desire are men who want women, not feminine men. Hence frustration and the often neurotic and, sadly, violent nature of many homosexual hook-ups and relationships.

          • Bubblecar says

            Rubbish, I’m gay and the idea of having sex with straight men turns me right off. And as far as I’m concerned “masculine” and “feminine” are primitive categories for primitive people, not terms I would use to describe the sort of mature, intelligent and urbane people I find attractive.

          • Yaseen says

            @roccocannoli

            I’m curious to how you came up with your idea that gay men desire straight or masculine men, and are uncapable of having healthy relationships because they’re dating other “feminine” men.
            I am a gay man. I am what would most people call an effeminate man, and I’m attracted to men, not to a stereotype. Also, a healthy relationship for me, as a gay man, does not depend on how well my partner conforms to stereotypes. That’s such an insulting claim. Are you even a gay man?

      • D-Rex says

        Thank you Bubblecar, I think that was a very relevant and important comment.

    • I really don’t think concern about the erasure of homosexuals is jealousy of trans’ victim status.
      They’re welcome to it.
      People are genuinely appalled at this rush to label children as trans.

    • As a gay man, my opposition to trans activism is entirely due to its attacks on gay & gender-non-conforming children, on gay and lesbian adults’ freedom to choose their sex partners based on sex rather than gender (thus an attack on our very right to live as homosexuals), and its attacks on the sex-based rights of females.

      It’s telling that you haven’t offered a drop of evidence — not so much as an anecdote — to support your contrary belief.

      • As a lesbian I agree completely with the added anger of dealing with heterosexual cross dressing men claiming they are lesbians and that lesbians who do not want to date transwomen are bigots and sexual fetishists. The cotton ceiling issue is another example if the disgusting homophobia of trans activism.

    • A from Cali says

      I agree. I describe it as everyone trying to get their piece of victim pie. There is status in having a trans child that is not the case with having a child that’s simply gay.

    • Kay Barbara says

      The white right wing ‘shooters’ in the united states as well as the man charged with sending pipe bombs to Trump critics very much see themselves as ‘victims’. It may be a ‘male’ thing not a ‘left’ thing. Let us not forget that trans identified males believe they are the most oppressed people of all and victims supreme.

  3. BrannigansLaw says

    That said, I believe that in Iran being transgender and “straight” is more socially acceptable than being gay so in fairness the author’s arguments apply there.

    • ga gamba says

      The Iranian theocrats give gay men these choices: cease, use aversion therapy, transition, or get the noose. Women’s choices differ in that they get lashings.

      The law defines transgender persons as mentally ill. Homosexuality is defined as an evil perversion; the acts they commit are unnatural and against religion. Trans people are expected to apply to become diagnosed as “certified transsexuals” and undergo sex reassignment to include surgeries. Once an individual is certified as a transsexual, s/he may dress in public as the “opposite” sex. Without these permits, however, individuals caught crossdressing (remember, Iran has dress codes) will be considered transvestites and in violation of the law. Not only does one’s sex determine law regulations and dress, it determines which courses one can take in universities, where one can sit on a public transport, how far one can travel, where one may sit to eat at a restaurant, and even which door one can use to enter buildings. It’s every Muslims duty to know what sex other people are so they know how to behave; morality depends heavily on intricate rules governing relations between the sexes.

      Upon the transition they will have their IDs changed. Failure to undergo surgery creates the perception of homosexuality, in violation of the penal code. They will be at real risk of being targeted for discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment. In encounters with authorities, gays are pressured to apply for a transsexual diagnosis and begin treatments as the only way to cease gov’t harassment and threats. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29832690

      Reportedly, Iran now performs more sex change operations than any other country besides Thailand, but unlike Iran, Thailand attracts trans people from overseas for surgical procedures.

      As for treatment of trans people, the general public still harasses and abuses them, and families often shun them. Discrimination in the workplace has forced some into prostitution and others to kill themselves. So, though they are both legally and religiously accepted, trans people are social ostracised. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/society/2018/5/21/transgender-people-in-iran-face-discrimination-despite-fatwa

  4. If a child claims they are Spider-Man, even dressing up in costumes and hanging around others who do likewise, does that mean the child actually is Spider-Man? Does this result change if you drop the word ‘spider’ from this empirical question?

    • Andrew says

      The amusing aspect of your query is the perversion of self-identity with sex. The LGBTQ community has not adopted the ‘transabled’ community, those that believe they were meant to be disfigured or disabled in some way, for the very reason that their identity does not involve sex. Advocates of current transgender theory will find your question ‘idiotic’ on its face, but will fail to have a sufficient rejoinder besides ad hominem attacks. Why does identity have to be limited to sexuality in the LGBTQ community? This is very silly and is perhaps designed that way to protect the transgender movement from falling into the umbrella term of assumption disorders or dissociative identity disorder. It is interesting isn’t it that gender dysphoria is considered a DSM disorder only until you are relabeled as transgendered and then you are no longer afflicted but liberated via a nuance of nomenclature.

    • Maxine Webb says

      Yes. Because you can be born with the brain structure of a man, while you can’t be born with the brain structure of Spider Man. Gender Identity is understood by the brain at around age 3.

      • Asenath Waite says

        Neuroscience does not show any clear distinction between the brain structures of men and women, only general structural trends at the population level. Therefore, an individual brain cannot be said to have a male or female structure. Even so, the brain structures of individuals identifying as transgender have a general tendency to resemble those of homosexual people of the same sex rather than heterosexual people of the opposite sex, in studies where any significant difference at all has been measurable.

      • Identophobe says

        “…you can’t be born with the brain structure of Spider Man.”

        YES! Finally! I’ve been arguing this for years. Spider Man is not really Spider Man, since he does not have Spider Man’s brain. No one can have Spider Man’s brain.

        Spider Man has Aqua Man’s brain, so he’s really Aqua Man.

      • @Maxine Webb – So we can do a physical review and determine homosexuality and transgenderism? If you don’t have these physical proof markers, you are a liar or con or mentally ill?

        • Maxine Webb says

          @David Science isn’t that advanced yet. Right now, we simply rely on self-reporting, which has proven suitably effective.

  5. Peter from Oz says

    I’m intrigued by the idea that homosexuals have been subject to a great deal of bullying or harrassment in America in the last 30 years. Maybe Sydney is more laid back about such things, but it would seem that most people are quite used to homosexuals. If they were bullied it would be for other reasons rather than their sexuality. Or maybe it’s just that the some people think that anything that makes them uncomfortable is bullying.

    • The United States is a big country. I’m thirty. I certainly faced bullying about my homosexuality in rural North Carolina while I was growing up. My husband, who attended a private Christian school in rural Alabama, had it worse than I did. Our white gay and lesbian peers who grew up in Seattle and San Francisco say they faced almost no bullying. Our African-American gay peers faced more of it in their families and communities because African Americans tend to be more socially conservative about LGBT issues. This is why I’m suspicious of anyone who claims to speak for “the gay community.” Our experiences are too diverse to paint with a broad brush.

      • African-Americans are not a monolith and the idea that they are more predisposed to homophobia than white people is misguided – education, economic status, and religion are far more impactful than racial categorization in thinking about why people exhibit homophobic or transphobic attitudes.

        My black classmate’s parents in middle and high school were definitely more progressive and forward thinking than mine were when it came to being gay – his mother was a prominent judge. We were both bullied at Catholic School in South Carolina, but he went home to a much more educated, progressive set of parents. I went home to a very religious and less educated set of white parents – father flat out told me that he thought “homosexuality was a perversion” and both parents told me that they “didn’t agree with alternative lifestyles” before I went off to college.

        That being said, I have a co-worker who has a penchant for speculating that certain gay and lesbian people in our community are secretly transgender simply because their gender presentations do not properly align with established norms. He speculates that because a lesbian woman dresses a certain way (in so-called “masculine” clothing) that somehow means she is secretly a transgender man. Why is not permissible for her to simply be a gender non-conforming lesbian woman?

        This sort of thinking seems to be animating what Dr. Debra Soh and Dr. Julian Vigo are arguing in their pieces here at Quillette. To question orthodox narratives within transgender discourses is not to deny the existence of transgender people or to argue for them to be discriminated against and treated with cruelty. What Soh and Vigo are arguing has to do with how orthodox messaging about transgender people might inflict damage on gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (and maybe even heterosexual people who simply refuse to comply with gender norms).

        You can be a gender non-conforming gay man who likes to perform as a drag queen or a gender non-conforming lesbian woman who likes wearing plaid shirts and baggy jeans without desiring to undergo a social, legal and medical transition that transgender people undergo. In some ways, this idea that some LGB people are “secretly transgender” reinforces existing binary thinking around gender and gender stereotypes – i.e. “boys cannot play with dolls,” “women who dress in so-called ‘masculine’ clothing want to be men.” It encapsulates how gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are intricately linked but also quite distinct.

        • Just to be clear, I did not say that African Americans were predisposed to homophobia. Based on polling, African Americans have historically been less supportive of same-sex marriage than their white counterparts, although attitudes are definitely changing. You’re right that education and religion are major factors. The African-American peers I had in mind came from religious homes in the South.

          http://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/

      • Amen. Finally someone in this comment thread that isn’t speaking completely theoretically about an underresearched article referencing an uncited study. To suggest that kids might ask for gender reassignment because it will make their lives easier amongst their peer group in school is ludicrous. Suggesting that parents might actually have socially-driven motives beyond their child’s well being is even more fantastical, and shows a deep misunderstanding of parental urges. There’s little in this article of value. I will say this though, in support of the discussion- I find it deeply problematic that any child is subjected to what is ostensibly elective therapy or surgery. It defies our current collective (and legal) understandings of consent.

  6. Wentworth Horton says

    These rifts within the Identity Politics Movement have been long predicted as just the natural endgame of a dubious Ideology. Last week it was trans vs 3rd wave feminists. Grab some popcorn and get comfortable, this is going to be fun.

    • Ray Andrews says

      Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole show just exploded in an intersectional meltdown? I have be opening line to a good joke: A homosexual, a trans-woman and a radical feminist walk into the one-size-fits-all bathroom …

    • Bubblecar says

      The alphabetical umbrella grouping that grew up around gay rights has always been subject to criticism for being too disparate and increasingly meaningless, it’s not some new development. It should be expected that it will eventually be abandoned as more lesbians and gays realise that trans activism is essentially a heterosexualist movement.

      But tell me, how’s the “unity” going on your side of the fence? Relationships between straight men and straight women are doing just fine, aren’t they? All this #MeToo stuff, the MRAs, the never-ending war between conservatives and women’s rights advocates, it’s all just a bit of internet bickering, right? Hehehe…

      • Paul Ellis says

        I hope you’re not surprised to learn that the heterosexual nuclear family is still doing fine, thanks. The trick, as I’m sure you’d agree, is to find what suits you.

  7. This is a great article, and it pairs well with Debbie Hayton’s article on transgenderism from March. I’m glad Quillette is publishing these moderate voices.

    The other day, an older transgender woman with whom I am acquainted on Facebook posted an image of a can of carrots that had been mislabeled as a can of peas. She said it was a good metaphor for transgenderism. A transgender man in his twenties told her that the image was “transphobic” and that it “erased nonbinary people.” “My body is a man’s on the outside, too,” he said. “Genitalia doesn’t have a gender.” After a lengthy debate, in which the transgender woman explained her belief in the traditional “born in the wrong body” etiology, the transgender man called her “truscum” and blocked her.

    “Truscum,” I came to learn, are old-school transsexuals who believe that to be a transgender person, you must have a professional diagnosis of gender dysphoria and undergo a meaningful medical transition. It is becoming a derogatory term among the younger generations of transgender people. They believe that transgenderism is simply a feeling that requires no further action. They don’t just wish to divorce biological sex from gender identity; they wish to completely break down the concepts of sex and gender altogether. It’s no wonder that transsexuals like Debbie Hayton and Miranda Yardley are starting to speak out against this postmodern movement.

    If people are interested in learning more about this topic, I would highly recommend reading J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen, Alice Dreger’s Galileo’s Middle Finger, Anne A. Lawrence’s Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies, and Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally.

    • Harland says

      Isn’t it telling, the wide vocabulary that SJWs have to hurl slurs? It’s the world they live in. It’s like how it’s said Eskimos have thirty different words for snow. You know how racists have a rich vocabulary of how to slur every ethnicity on the planet? They all know how a moolie is different from a shvatsa is different from a pisshead. Same thing.

      • Damian O'Connor says

        Where I come from a ‘pisshead’ is someone who drinks a lot. I have no idea what the other two terms mean.

    • Somewhere else, Jon Kay asks, more or less: why is it male transgender persons are attacking women all the time not attacking het men?

      #AUTOGYNEPHILIA – (women) are a necessary part of their sexual arousal whether you like it or not. Ask Blanchard. In fact Quillette, why DON’T you ask Blanchard, and ask Zucker, right here?

      https://twitter.com/asknic/status/854347458868019202?lang=en

      It’s a sexual fetish.

  8. Algernon says

    I’m a gay man and it terrifies me to think what I might have been subjected to if I’d been born twenty years later. I was a very effeminate child but it never occurred to me, nor was it ever suggested, that I was actually a girl. I adored everything feminine but I never questioned my sex. I really pity gay children growing up today, being pressured into changing their gender and all the accompanying surgery.

    • Harland says

      OK I’m confused. I was repeatedly assured that feminine men had nothing to do with homosexuality. Gay men are just like everyone else, no different, etc. And yet all up and down this thread are people saying that lack of masculinity is associated with homosexuality. What gives?

      • peabut gallery says

        @Harland It just varies. I gay men’s brains resemble hetero-women’s brains more. So the “brain-stuff” in lay terms, can obviously come out weird compared to the norm. Same for the physical stuff when it comes to hermaphrodites. So there can obviously be overlap to varying degrees regardless of the dimorphic nature of the sexes. At least that’s my take on the whole thing.

      • I think Quillette‘s readers are more likely to embrace the politically incorrect but scientifically valid idea that male homosexuality and femininity are intertwined. Postmodernists and others who believe human beings are blank slates will dismiss these claims. Good resources about this topic would be J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen and Simon LeVay’s Queer Science. Of course, it should be no surprise that many LGBT activists attacked those books and their authors for the crime of “biological essentialism.”

      • Almost how ‘man’ can refer to the most milquetoast of quiet intellectual dudes, and also the biggest flag wavin, monster truck drivin, axe throwin neandertal on the planet. It’s almost like there’s a spectrum or something.

  9. “Genitalia doesn’t have a gender.”

    I don’t even know where to start with this….. This has to be someone Trolling…..

    • Oh, no. I checked his profile. I’m using male pronouns out of courtesy, but this person hasn’t actually done much to present as male. He looks like a normal butch lesbian, and his Facebook page is filled with this kind of stuff.

      This is actually one area where I disagree with Dr. Soh. The brave new world of transgender activism isn’t just medically transitioning children; it’s also adults refusing to medically transition yet still demanding the legal benefits that come with being recognized as the opposite sex. As transsexuals like Miranda Yardley and Debbie Hayton have said, this is especially dangerous for biological women. It’s also dangerous for the transsexuals who have “paid their dues” to be accepted as the other gender.

      • Bubblecar says

        A growing proportion of “trans women” these days are just heterosexual men who decide to present as “lesbians”, claiming that they have a “female penis” and calling real lesbians nasty names for refusing to have sex with them.

        It’s beyond satire but unfortunately not just a joke. Many women understandably feel threatened by these men, who demand the right to barge into women’s toilets and are often generally aggressive.

        • Well, to be clear, the person I was referring to in my anecdote was a natal female, not a heterosexual male.

          As for autogynephilic trans women, which is what you’re referring to, I have no issue at all if they transition, nor do I mind socially treating them like women. This is the case with autogynephilic transsexuals like Miranda Yardley and Anne Lawrence (whose book, Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies, is a good resource on the subject). The problem arises when, as you say, these trans women refuse to undergo sex-reassignment surgery or even attempt to “pass” as women. That’s not the case for women like Yardley, Hayton, and Lawrence, but it is the case for many of the more aggressive trans activists you see on Twitter. Alice Dreger describes a lot of this behavior in Galileo’s Middle Finger, an indispensable book about the state of modern academia.

          • Miranda Yardley goes by male pronouns and uses men’s faculties. I met him at a feminist meeting. He supports us in our campaign against proposed changes in the law here in the UK which would allow people to change their legal sex by simple declaration. I’ve come across other transsexuals who agree with us because they identify *with* women rather than trying to bully us as the activists do.

        • marywilbur says

          I saw a YouTube video of trans-so-called-lesbian who just could not understand why lesbians refused to have sex with wanna-be-her. They were perfectly happy to be friends, even good friends, but absolutely not lovers. I really found it so bizarre that it was impossible for him to get it into his skull that male genitalia totally turn off lesbians. His complete lack of insight into himself and the lesbians of his desire was repugnant. It looked to me like he was a straight man masquerading as a lesbian because he wanted to stick it to them good and hard.

  10. Kelly Murphy says

    I don’t buy this argument. It’s a classic confusing of correlation and causation, especially with the ROGD girls. They are more likely to “identify” as non-heterosexual prior to transition not because they are more likely to actually BE non-heterosexual. Rather, the trauma, premature sexualization, higher than average inborn levels of suggestibility (there is natural variation in this trait among people), and teen herd mentality that drive the sudden trans identification can also just as easily lead to them experimenting with a bi or lesbian identification. What would be more telling is not what they “identify” as at age 12 or 15, but if, left alone by trans medicalization, they are partnered with another woman or with a man at age 35. I bet most of them would not only desist their trans identification but settle into boring old heterosexual marriages with children, if given the space and time to do so.

    • augustine says

      Giving them the space and time to work these things out in this way would deny them their autonomy and specialized social status. It would be a wasted opportunity for victimhood status. It would also be the quintessence of tolerance and understanding.

  11. Farris says

    “…but are instead undergoing a new form of conversion therapy.”
    This is a very astute observation.

    This is politically correct child abuse. As the author points out it is more about the comfort of the parents than the diagnosis of the child. If a child with parental blessing wanted to amputate and appendage, a physician would have a duty to notify DHS. These children are pawns being used by the Trans Movement as evidence transgender is immutable. The law recognizes a number of categories for which children are not mature enough to engage or consent. Gender conversion should be added to the list.

    • Farris says

      Ironically enough 18 USC 116 makes female genital mutilation a crime. If parents and children can not consent to this procedure, why should they be allowed to consent to gender reassignment?

      • Daniel says

        Farris,
        You raise a good point. (And there are so very many other good points.) You posed a rhetorical question, asking why they should be allowed to consent to gender reassignment if female genital mutilation is a crime. I will take the liberty of answering your rhetorical question: Madness. Howling madness. That’s why.
        My own question is therefore: why is there so much insanity?

        • It’s important to point out that no one is performing genital surgeries on minors. At this point, the debate is about puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. Those aren’t small things, but there’s a reason that the FGM comparisons don’t work in this situation.

          • Doctors in the USA are performing double mastectomies on healthy girls as young as 13. http://thefederalist.com/2018/09/12/u-s-doctors-performing-double-mastectomies-healthy-13-year-old-girls/

            I’m glad this is not happening in the UK, where the NHS deals with gender dysphoric children far more cautiously, partly because of the way it’s structured. Doctors here are enjoined to act in the best interests of patients rather than follow the orders of whoever pays the bills. The idea that the customer is king, which is a feature of private medicine, is alien to our culture.

          • Innocent Bystander says

            Not sure about genital surgeries but girls are now getting double mastectomies as young as 13-14 years old in the US with parental consent. At age 18 girls can get testocerone off label. (Note: it has never even been TESTED on females and is known to be dangerous for MALES) and double mastectomies.

            These kids need to be supported in their challenging of gender roles / stereotypes as well as in being homosexual or bisexual, not pushed onto an extreme path of social/medical “transition”. The “wrong body” narrative propels the normal discomforts of puberty into full fledged body “dysphoria”. If kids are suicidal, self harming , depressed or have clinical levels of anxiety , they need psychotherapy CBT/DBT and maybe even medications- not amputations and hormones.

            Transitioning children socially and medically doesn’t address UNDERLYING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES or give them any distress tolerance or coping skills. It doesn’t address the sexism and homophobia that they have likely internalized and which is likely causing anxiety about their gender. There is no exploration of trauma, no consideration of social difficulties (same sex peer group exclusion, bullying etc), examination of family disfunction, recognition of obsessive thinking/ rumination, vulnerability to group think, etc…

            We are literally FAILING these children with out quick fix, what can I do for you NOW capitalistic, pharmaceutical culture.

        • Circuses and Bread says

          @Daniel

          Oh, that’s an easy question. It would seem that people need God or a God-substitute in their lives. Now that we’re in a post-Christianity, post-God world, we’ve gotten substitutes that aren’t working out so well. The various political cults, each with their own strange rituals, catechisms, and articles of faith, have been particularly popular God-substitutes. An article of faith of one of the more popular cults is the Transgender Infallibility Doctrine®️. The other political cults have equally odd ideas, such as the All Evil Was Planned by Hungarian Billionaires Doctrine®️that seems to be all the rage.

          So to summarize, the insanity started when our society decided we didn’t need God, but in quick order decided to latch onto the political cults as an alternative.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Well said C&B
            The Green faith is another example of the new religion

    • Where exactly is the evidence that parents are projecting their gender/sex stereotypes onto children to lead them into conversion therapy? I don’t see any of that referenced in the article, only some vague handwaving in the direction of ‘studies’.

  12. Peter from Oz says

    I find this topic intriguing.
    From what I understand a lot of the young women with ROGD are women who do not to fit in with their peers. They want to be something else because ”girlie” things don’t interest them.
    This is confusing sex with gender. Sex is immutable. Gender is about how the sexes behave in society. It is affected by sex, but not entirely. Surely, it is common sense that women present in all different ways, from those who are totally ”feminine” to those who relate more to traditionally ”masculine” habits. But being a less ”feminine”’.
    I would have thought that they real argument here isn’t about trying to change your gender, but about society adapting to the fact that some women are more blokey than others and some men are more girlie than other men.
    In addition I’m intrigued about who it is that is supposed to be the sexual partner of a trans person. Gay people want someone of their own sex and heteros want people of the oppoiste sex. Maybe it’s the good old bisexuals who take the prize here, because with a trans they can love both sides at once.

    • Daniel says

      Peter from Oz,
      I like how you put it, “This is confusing sex with gender. Sex is immutable. Gender is about how the sexes behave in society. It is affected by sex, but not entirely.”

      Adding on to that, our understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman is shaped to a large degree by culture. But that understanding has to be compatible with the biological realities of having XX or XY chromosomes. When it is not, society bends people into such convoluted positions they either break or are permanently hurt. There’s some ways people don’t bend. We can debate what that is, but we’re seeing the biological reality in this issue right now.

    • Heike says

      “Bi” sexual? Implying there are only two genders?

      Transactivists themselves are more distinctly aligned with the right, in their attempt to define women, invade their spaces, forbid them from discussing their biology, and (though they’re more covert about this now) in their essentialist ideas about how women and men ‘should’ dress and behave.

      • Bubblecar says

        Yes, many of them basically come across as MRAs in bad wigs.

    • RationalSTEMWoman says

      I’m a bisexual woman. I’m attracted to feminine women and masculine men. I’ve never been attracted to a transsexual. This may be different for other bisexuals. But I think transsexuals generally have a harder time finding a partner.

    • Joseph says

      Re: “I’m intrigued about who it is that is supposed to be the sexual partner of a trans person.”

      Lesbians have been harassed for years by trans activists for their refusal to date or have sex with trans women (i.e., men); there’s even a term for it: the cotton ceiling. Within the past year, this has seeped into the wider gay culture and now gay men are being told “you must be willing to have sex with a ‘man’ with a vagina or else you’re a bigot.” I am not kidding you.

    • Asenath Waite says

      “Gender” is actually traditionally synonymous with “sex”, but has very recently come to be used in this extremely poorly-defined way, referring vaguely to cultural behaviors stereotypically associated with the sexes. In this sense, every person in existence is “non-binary” and “gender nonconforming” in that no one adheres strictly to every single masculine or feminine stereotype. One of the problems I have with the transgender concept is that in order to accept this as a valid idea, one must also accept that a man must behave/dress/etc. a certain way in order to be defined as a man, and that the reciprocal holds true for women. We seem to be throwing away the progress that had previously been made in breaking down sex stereotypes, in which the aim was being able to accept and respect traditionally feminine behavior in men and traditionally masculine behavior in women. Now the concept is taking hold that engaging in behavior typical of the opposite sex must be an indication that you actually ARE the opposite sex. I think this philosophy probably has a lot to do with the dramatically increased rate of teenaged girls “coming out” as transgender men in recent years, when in fact most of them are probably just girls who don’t want to conform to traditionally feminine stereotypes. My preference would be that we acknowledge biological science and objective reality, but teach children that it is OK for them to behave in whatever ways make them happy regardless of their sex. For people afflicted with the mental illness of true body dysphoria, transitioning may be the best treatment option, but I suspect this is not the case for the majority of children currently identifying as transgender, a hypothesis that would seem to be supported by desistance stats.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Asenath Waite
        I think that is a very well written and cogent comment.
        It seems that the urge for an ”identity” and ”victimhood” status has overcome common sense.

  13. Will Crusher says

    “Sexual neuroscience..” “Politics of sex.” “Sexology.” Quillette, I have a PhD in Star Wars Force Studies. Can I write for you too?

    • Picard, J.L. (Cpt, SF-Comm) (@MakeItSoNumberOne) says

      Knock it off, Wesley! And don’t think you can hide on here by jiggering your first name. I know everything that goes on aboard this starship. Everything.

      And you have no such credentials. You have a degree in warp drive engines and nothing else. Stick to hyper-physics and saying balmy social justice bollocks on Twitter. In Star Fleet, we have social justice in every episode, not space opera nonsense. Skywalker force Jedi indeed…

      You can drag on about trannies all you like and skirt the issue, but I’m going to give the good ol’ hetero gentleman sausage to your mother. Count on it. All I need is time, and perhaps some alien technology. Dr Crusher is mine. She is my real number one, and I will make it so.

  14. The key fact is that most children who identify as being the ‘wrong’ sex grow out of it in puberty andbe happy and content in identifying a stheir biological sex. A proportion of those will be homoseual but by no means all.

    Any medical intervention before adulthood is absolutely wrong in this conetxt because it has significant irreservible impact not least sterility and the statistics show that almost no children subject to this detransition. What shoudl be done is support the child and wait until they are an adult, they vast majority will become comfortable with their sex whether they are straight or homosexual. A small proportion will not. They can then make a decision as an adult if they wish to transition.

    Child transition given the facts that most will grow out of the wish to transition, and the significant irreversible medical consequences is child abuse. The power of the trans lobby

  15. Mark-Sydney says

    I’m a 45-year-old man who deeply wanted to be a girl when I was around 4-5 years of age, and have strong memories of desperately praying to God that he would change my sex. I grew out of it and matured to be a happy gay man who has no sense of gender dysphoria.
    I am deeply grateful that I was not born in a place and time where my feelings may have resulted in me entering a medical process where my body was altered or where I was exposed to life changing chemical or hormonal treatments.
    I acknowledge that some other people say they benefit from transgender procedures and treatments. I accept their word. But it certainly wasn’t the right path for me and I have gratitude for who I am today.

    • Maxine Webb says

      @mark-Sydney
      Let’s apply some critical thinking, ok?

      If you told your parents today, as a 5 year old, those wishes, do you know what would actually happen? First, your parents would likely tell you to get over it, or eventually kick you out.
      If they were accepting, then you would be taken to a gender therapist. If you aren’t actually trans, it is extremely unlikely he would prescribe anything.

      Only after the Gender therapist, and with parental approval, would you start transition. Well, I say “transition”, but all it would mean at 5 is a new name and new clothes. That’s it. No medications.

      If and ONLY if you preceded to be happy being perceived as a girl, which a cis guy certainly wouldn’t, at 12 or so, they would prescribe REVERSIBLE hormone blockers. Your puberty would have been delayed. THAT IS IT. At 16, and after a YEAR of hormone blockers, you would receive estrogen, which doesn’t have permanent effects for months.

      Let’s keep in mind that ALL of this is reversible until YEARS into the process, and many of your trans peers not receiving this already killed themselves.

      Don’t be such an ass.

      • Except for all the parts you left out, like cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, permanently undersized child-like genitals, sterility, and a very real risk of never being able to achieve orgasm.

        I find it interesting that you also didn’t mention that Lupron is being used off-label in these cases and no medication of any kind has been approved for “gender identity related cosmetic puberty avoidance”.

        • Maxine Webb says

          @korg all of those are potential, and in all total less side effects for what they currently give a kid acting out on class.

          Meanwhile, the side effects of puberty are – depression, anxiety, suicide, requiring serious surgery…. It’s an easy choice to make.

          An parent who prevents a child from getting the medical assistance they need, the one recommended by medical organizations everywhere, is abusing that child.

          • So I take it you understand fully that those are the physical risks your treatments pose to vulnerable children. But yet you don’t seem to care?

            I don’t get it. Why not just say “You’ll grow out of it. You’ll always be a female no matter what you do. You need to learn to accept yourself the way you are.”

            That’s what any parent would have done less than ten years ago. What event or crisis has changed the entire way we approach gender non-conforming young people?

          • Maxine says

            @Korg
            Because those kids commuted suicide, or grew up and transitioned. We have lowered the average age of transition, which is a good thing.

          • Paul Ellis says

            Side effects of puberty? Puberty is not a drug. It’s a phase of life, which leads on to other phases.

            That’s the point. It only lasts a few years, and leads on to greater development, understanding, sophistication and nuance.

          • KP in BC says

            Why would going through puberty require “serious surgery”? We already know that the vast majority of children experiencing gender dyphoria eventually grow out of it., without “transitioning” in any way. Gender dysphoric children are not committing suicide in massive numbers because their parents don’t allow them to take puberty blockers; most teens who kill themselves are heterosexual “cis” boys. Anyway if a child is threatening suicide unless they get their own way a responsible parent has that child hospitalized and watched 24-7, rather than giving in to such immature emotional blackmail. Most children who threaten suicide have no intention of doing so anyway. They are however openly encouraged to use the threat with their parents by many online “trans-teen” support sites. And whenever a child claiming to be trans does commit suicide, their parents are immediately vilified as murderers. Have you not considered that identifying as trans is in many cases a symptom of extreme cases of many other underlying issues common in adolescents to some degree – eg. depression, social anxiety, self-consciousness, struggles with self-image due to such thngs as weight gain or acne, bullying, academic pressure, anger or anxiety due to unresolved childhood traumas, OCD, eating disorders, addictions, conflict with parents or siblings, sexual frustration, confusion, worry about the future, friendlessness, loneliness… I suffered from severe depression on and off through my teenage years as well as many of these other issues, and contemplated suicide more than once, and occasionally indulged in extreme behaviours that I knew weren’t really who I was as a way to get attentiion, to get somebody to notice the fact that I was so unhappy. I often fantasized about changing my name, my appearance, and my whole identity and that would magically solve all my problems, although I never contemplated changing my gender identity, but it was probably because when I was growing up that wasn’t presented as something worth contemplating. I firmly believe that most so-called transgender kids are just ordinary unhappy self-hating “square peg” kids like I was, kids who have never “fit in”, who are convinced that changing who they are is their ticket to happiness. It’ s not.

      • Mark-Sydney says

        The problem with your absolutist and heavily ideological perspective on transgenderism is that a significant number of people who transition eventually decide it was a mistake. Whatever the proportion of trans people these individuals comprise, clearly professional diagnosis (and self-diagnosis) are very far from fool proof.
        Your untrue statements about there being absolutely no problems with puberty blockers and other meds used on kids have already been addressed by another poster.
        Anecdotally, among my gay friends, I’ve heard many stories similar to mine, where boys who grew up to be gay also had periods of childhood gender confusion.
        I at no time said that transition was wrong for everyone, or even wrong, period. I clearly said I accept the word of those trans people who insist it was good for them.
        I see nuance and shades of grey in this situation where you clearly cannot.
        Finishing your tirade with personal abuse is sadly typical of certain trans activists who can be hyper emotional and very abusive. I don’t like you as a result of your final sentence and have no desire to continue this conversation.

        • Maxine Webb says

          Where the fuck do you find that a significant amount desist? The most I have heard is 10%. Usually numbers are much less. And again, most desist before permanent changes.

          Maybe you would enjoy the conversation more if you knew what the fuck you were talking about.

  16. c young says

    Dr Soh’s position was entirely unremarkable and the consensus position until c.2010.

    Homophobia was the conventional explanation for the far large numbers of transsexuals in Latin America, compared to the US or Europe. Transitioning was more socially acceptable than homosexuality in conservative societies.

    This appears to be yet another case where a tiny minority of political activists have succeeded in rendering the majority view officially beyond the pale, as a staging post on the road to the creation legal penalties for expressing that view.

  17. “When I was a PH.D. student in Sexology”……..

    And there ladies and gentlemen, lies the problem. Of all the issues on planet earth it astonishes me that actual financial and time resources are squandered on such nonsense as the opening line of this article.

    I identify with animals and feel more at ease and relaxed in nature, it doesn’t mean I can pluck a chicken and glue the feathers to my arms and state I’m poultry. There’s an absolute tried and tested, genetic and evolutionary method we can all use to determine our correct gender and it goes something like this:

    When you escape from the womb and poke your head into the light, the midwife/doctor will utter the following words, “congratulations, it’s a (insert one of TWO options here). Whichever word you hear next as a parent, please act accordingly.

    Any deviation from raising your child as nature decided will more than likely be due to many of the issues highlighted in the comments above such as, homosexuality, hormone distribution making some females more masculine than most other females and vice-versa with males being more feminine.

    Humans and especially children try to fit in and by and large not to be an outlier or isolated. I suspect that the pressure placed on children who are confused about their sexuality can easily be manipulated by those who have a vested interest in convincing a homosexual/bi-sexual kid that they are ‘trapped in the wrong body’.

    It’s frightening to think that in the USA you have to be 21 to consume a can of lager (I’m from the UK) but people think it’s ok to dole out hormone altering drugs and surgically remove the genitals of a child who isn’t deemed RESPONSIBLE enough to drink beer. Ludicrous!

    • There’s nothing absurd about sexology, the study of human sexuality. Dr. Soh’s quite a remarkable woman and a scientist. You should follow her on Twitter and read her other articles in Quillette. The difference between her and the postmodernists is the methodology she uses. She’s an empiricist who believes in objective reality. The postmodernists don’t.

      There’s nothing wrong with studying sex, race, gender, and culture. In fact, rigorously studying those subjects can lead to interesting and enlightening conclusions about us and our society. The problem is that those areas of study have been overtaken by people who feel like their subjective feelings are all the “study” that’s required.

      • Grant says

        It’s overtaken by social activists who can’t be bothered with facts. Truth is often not the objective in many social sciences.

  18. Rashid Haddad says

    There is no such thing as transgender. Sex and gender are one and the same. There are rare cases of intersex persons and they deserve and all treatment. But people who claim to be the opposite sex or even non-binary are just seeking attention. There is no such thing as transgender.

    • Joseph says

      No, sex and gender are different concepts: sex refers to the biological reality of male and female, which cannot be changed; gender refers to the social behaviors traditionally associated with male and female, which can change across cultures and time. It is only in the past decade or two that they have become conflated and that should stop.

      We should be acknowledging the facts of biology, that there is male and female (and the rare intersex), while also telling little boys and girls that it’s ok for Johnny to play with dolls & make-up and that doesn’t make him a girl, or for Julie to play with trucks & mud and that doesn’t make her a boy.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Joseph

        Actually it’s only recently that “sex” and “gender” have come to mean different things. Throughout the 20th century they were synonyms. People began using “gender” in place of “sex” as “sex” began to be increasingly used to refer to sexual intercourse. In the sense that “gender” is being currently used, as in the definition you cited, it is indeed a spectrum of infinite degrees, and as such no individual can be said to have “a gender” in this sense. This is why the new pronoun concept doesn’t really make sense, as an infinite number of pronouns would actually be needed to label all the individual gender variants. I think it probably makes more sense just to apply pronouns based on biological sex, which would only require two of them, and accept that people can dress and behave as they wish regardless of which of the two pronouns applies to them.

  19. Grant says

    Sadly, this fad of guiding or convincing adolescents to change genders is going to leave in its wake, a great deal of pain.
    The variables are many, individualized and not well understood.
    What happened to all the talk about learning to accept and understand ourselves as a basis of contentment?
    It’s astounding to me the supposed professionals would administer hormones and drugs to adolescents who are still, psychologically and physically not adults.

  20. Joseph says

    Thank you for this fine, measured article. As a gay man who pretended to be the Bionic Woman as a little boy in the 70s (no Six Million Dollar Man for me, thank you very much) and devoured romance novels and soap operas as a teen in the 80s (Falcon Crest instead of Miami Vice, please), I am appalled by what is happening today with gay and lesbian youth — it is, as you indicate, a new form of conversion therapy, a far more insidious form of conversion therapy.

    That gay/lesbian organizations such as HRC and GLAAD endorse this is even more horrifying; they’ve sold out our history (promoting the false narrative that trans people were responsible for the Stonewall riots), now they’re selling out gay kids.

  21. peterschaeffer says

    “No mental health professional in their right mind conducts this type of therapeutic intervention anymore, because it is understood that sexual orientation is immutable from a very young age.”

    is that true? Mostly, I would be inclined to agree. However, temporary homosexuality does appear to be a real phenomena. For men, prisons and the Navy show up in this context. For women, the term LUGs (Lesbian Until Graduation) exists. Typing ‘seven sisters colleges lugs’ does bring up a few hits.

    • Walker says

      Many studies have shown that it’s not true that sexual orientation is immutable from a very young age. Many active homosexuals point out that they have a choice who they have sex with, be that the same or a different sex. Sexual preferences often change over a lifetime depending on experience and opportunity. To make the claim that sexual orientation is immutable is a nonsense.

  22. “No mental health professional in their right mind conducts this type of therapeutic intervention anymore, because it is understood that sexual orientation is immutable from a very young age.”

    Maybe that shouldn’t be 100% understood. Its not 100% provable by any science I have ever seen that anyone is born homosexual. If that was the case there would probaby be some kind of genetic marker found for same sex attraction and all identical twins would both be homosexual and homosexuality would probably be something that ran in family lines genetically. I feel like its probably immutable from a very early age but not biological or mainly biological but a reaction to certain environmental factors at a very early age of development that causes same sex attraction. The fact of the matter is there are so many taboo topics in this realm we’ll never get close to the bottom of any of this. I don’t know why so many people get agitated at the idea that somebody could ever be cured of same sex attraction possibly throught some form of therapy. Pretty much all the evidence points to just flat out happier lives for straight people in general and to attribute all of that as reaction to rampant homophobia only is dubious. Anyway the idea that anti homosexual sentiment can ever be totally gotten rid of is just as ludicrous at the idea that racsim will be ever be totally eradicated.

    • peterschaeffer says

      KH, To best of my knowledge, most (but not all) gay people (of both sexes) appear to be ‘born that way’. The main theory is some combination of a genetic influence (but not genetic determinism) and the prenatal hormone theory (PHT) of sexual orientation. Since both apply before birth, I would say that ‘born that way’ is generally correct.

      • Kelly Murphy says

        Peter, in that case, how do you explain the rampant “sexual fluidity” among females who have at any point identified as non-heterosexual?

        • peterschaeffer says

          KM, Check my first comment. Quoting from myself

          ““No mental health professional in their right mind conducts this type of therapeutic intervention anymore, because it is understood that sexual orientation is immutable from a very young age.”

          Is that true? Mostly, I would be inclined to agree. However, temporary homosexuality does appear to be a real phenomena. For men, prisons and the Navy show up in this context. For women, the term LUGs (Lesbian Until Graduation) exists. Typing ‘seven sisters colleges lugs’ does bring up a few hits.”

          My (partially informed) guess is that most gay people (male and female) were ‘born that way’. However, some are influenced by fashion and circumstances. Of course, some combination of genes, PHT, fashion, and circumstances may apply to a particular person.

  23. Maxine says

    How dare you pretend to know so much about a topic. This article is harmful and just plain incorrect. I can’t believe you took the time to earn a PhD but you couldn’t take 5 minutes to research your own article.

    ROGD is an anti-transgender myth. Please look into it before you spread such misinformation. The guess that 80% of trans kids desist IS A MYTH. Look into that research and you’ll find that it was run by a conversion clinic, and they took ANY kid that could be counted as showing cross-sex tendencies (NOT ones that persistently insisted they were the opposite binary gender but ones that simply played with dolls or dress like a boy), keep in mind they were CLEARLY in unnaccepting families, and asked at 15 ( AT FIFTEEN) if they were still trans. Of course 80% would say no.

    If you turned this in during your PhD program, I wonder if you would even pass that course. Please stop spreading bullshit. The LGBT community needs to stay together, not just the LGB community.

    • Andrew says

      When will the transgender community support the transabled?

    • Bubblecar says

      “The LGBT community needs to stay together, not just the LGB community.”

      There’s actually no such thing as “the LGBT community”. A few Ts hang around the fringes of the gay scene but nobody really knows why – it’s irrelevant to their concerns.

      As for activism, the issues and concerns of the Ts (“gender identity”) are very different from those of the gay/lesbian rights movement (sexual orientation), and often in conflict. And by being lumped together with Ts, gays/lesbians are being “re-pathologised” in the minds of many observers, when most of us don’t feel any affinity whatsoever with the transgender condition.

      I support the brave lesbian protesters at the recent London Pride, and I hope that a lot more homosexual people will be actively disassociating ourselves from the increasingly absurd trans activist agenda.

      • Maxine Webb says

        @bubblecar The LGBT community doesn’t need you or those bigots. They aren’t heroes. They’re just hipocritical assholes.

        • Bubblecar says

          You mean T people don’t need the LGB – ah, if only that were true. But you’ve attached yourself to the gay & lesbian rights movement in order to lend your own agenda a credibility that it doesn’t deserve.

          • Maxine Webb says

            Go to any LGBT space and spout your shitty nonsense. You’ll get kicked out real fast.

    • David Turnbull says

      “Look into that research and you’ll find that it was run by a conversion clinic” No, it was only labelled a conversion clinic by trans activists who didn’t like the truth.

      • Maxine Webb says

        How the hell else do you define a clinic that attempts to convert a supposedly trans child to a cis one? Don’t be dumb.

        • Bubblecar says

          The term “cis” merely means: someone who has no problem with their sex, as defined by their physical characteristics. In other words, just a normal person not suffering from “gender dysphoria”.

          To “convert a trans person to cis” would presumably mean: to cure them of their gender dysphoria. If there was an effective way of doing that, it would surely be a worthwhile goal, since many trans people themselves insist that they need all kinds of psychiatric, medical and surgical intervention in order to avoid an early suicide etc.

          • Maxine Webb says

            They attempted to cure being trans by telling them to accept how they were born. By conversion. It doesn’t take a trans activist to know that that’s what they are doing.

          • Bubblecar says

            “Go to any LGBT space”

            There’s no such thing as an “LGBT” space. There are gay clubs etc that tolerate the presence of T people, because we’re very tolerant people. But talk to many gays and lesbians and you’ll find a growing resentment that we’re being grouped in the public mind with problematic “gender identity” people and their issues, when we have nothing in common to justify such a grouping.

  24. andrew says

    The amusing aspect of your query is the perversion of self-identity with sex. The LGBTQ community has not adopted the ‘transabled’ community, those that believe they were meant to be disfigured or disabled in some way, for the very reason that their identity does not involve sex. Advocates of current transgender theory will find your question ‘idiotic’ on its face, but will fail to have a sufficient rejoinder besides ad hominem attacks. Why does identity have to be limited to sexuality in the LGBTQ community? This is very silly and is perhaps designed that way to protect the transgender movement from falling into the umbrella term of assumption disorders or dissociative identity disorder. It is interesting isn’t it that gender dysphoria is considered a DSM disorder only until you are relabeled as transgendered and then you are no longer afflicted but liberated via a nuance of nomenclature.

  25. Monica says

    The problem with “letting your kid transition” is that it implies you would be treating a boy differently than a girl in the first place–something Soh clearly endorses. The most trans-affirming clinical guidelines (WPATH) don’t advocate medical treatment until the onset of puberty, when dysphoria tends to be persistent. So the only thing left is the social aspects of transition like the language you use and the clothes you allow your kid to wear. But ALL kids, not just trans or gay ones, are harmed by being boxed in to a set of social norms and expectations of either male or female.

    • Fluffy Buffalo says

      “But ALL kids are harmed by being boxed in to a set of social norms and expectations of either male or female.”

      That is a huge assumption that you put out there with no supporting evidence. On the contrary, the distinction between boys and girls is one that children themselves make very early, and enforce all by themselves. And you know why? Because on average, boys and girls are not the same in their interests and the way they interact with each other. So it makes perfect sense to have a set of guidelines, “as a boy, behave, dress, and talk this way, and you are on the safe side. As a girl, behave, dress, and talk that way, and no one will think you’re strange. Deviate from these rules at your own risk.”
      These norms of behavior make life easier for the vast majority of people, especially those a bit lacking in social skills, and save everyone a lot of embarrassing situations. If we also teach our kids, “not everyone is the same, and not everyone feels comfortable with all of the standard rules of behavior, so be tolerant of people who are different from you”, we’re generally doing good as a society.
      On the other hand, attempting all kinds of social engineering and propaganda to dismantle gender stereotypes (since they are supposedly the root of all evil) is, IMO, bound to cause all kinds of confusion and suffering. We’ve had decades of this propaganda already, and what do we see? Record numbers of kids who are deeply unhappy with their gender identity. Coincidence?

      • Monica says

        “That is a huge assumption that you put out there with no supporting evidence. ”
        Well, it’s a short online comment. I certainly concede there may be some differences on average, but there is also enormous overlap. Just like there are some differences on average if we separate by race or ethnicity or age at which the child started reading. That doesn’t mean these should be re-enforced by adults.

        Your claim that children do this on their own, is only true if they have been messaged by others that there is an important male/female distinction. But even if it is true on average, it is by definition not the case in this situation. So why not just let the child opt in to behaviors they feel comfortable with, and if that happens to align with traditional gender stereotypes, then no harm done.

        Tons of children have been unhappy with their gender identity for at least decades (we don’t know how the ones who are now dead felt) but couldn’t express it and ended up depressed without ever going public. We know because there are now older adults to talk about their childhood experience.

        I really don’t see what kind “confusion” this would cause if adults only stopped making kids identify so strongly with one gender or the other for things as routine as using the bathroom.

        • Fluffy Buffalo says

          “Your claim that children do this on their own, is only true if they have been messaged by others that there is an important male/female distinction.”
          That’s another big claim, and I don’t think that experiment has been done, ever. Because every society acknowledges that there is an important male/ female distinction, BECAUSE THERE IS. Leaving aside all psychological differences between males and females, you need a biological male and a biological female to have children. That’s kind of a big deal, even if our modern society has become partially blind to it. Finding a partner to have children with is a central life aspect of the vast majority of people in history, and it usually involved a long-term relationship with someone of the opposite sex.

          “So why not just let the child opt in to behaviors they feel comfortable with, and if that happens to align with traditional gender stereotypes, then no harm done.” Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that simple. Fact is, most people are irritated if you display non-standard behavior; and seriously, a certain degree of conformity has advantages: you know what to expect from other people even before you interact with them. Western cultures have developed a high tolerance for non-conformity, which is good for people who don’t fit the mold. Taking it too far – by eradication gender roles – would hurt the people who actually like to have a mold that they fit into. That was the part I took issue with in your comment.

          “I really don’t see what kind “confusion” this would cause if adults only stopped making kids identify so strongly with one gender or the other for things as routine as using the bathroom.”
          Going to the bathroom often involves exposing your genitals to other people in that bathroom – at least for men at the urinal. That’s not something everyone should be expected to be comfortable with in the presence of the opposite sex. And the message I’d like to see conveyed to children is, “just because you like some things commonly associated with the other sex, or some of the stereotypes associated with your sex strike you as weird and awkward, doesn’t mean you’re trans, or need to worry about which of the 781 supposed genders you belong to. With overwhelming likelihood you’re just a regular boy or girl who doesn’t conform to all stereotypes. Keep an eye out how other people react to you, don’t be an asshole, and find your way.”

    • And then you start more problems for that child u know nothing at all no help for that child result in depretion mentle helf problems suicide and many more if u wanna start that you go ahead
      You clearly don’t tack the child’s feeling in to consideration only your own
      I would just like to know what in God’s name is this to do with you

      If it isunt your child it’s nothing to do with any of you is it but you just have to get involved and course more stress on children and there family but then people like you don’t think about the consequences of your actions

  26. So if we find a biological marker for pedophilia, will we agree that it’s just part of the human spectrum? How about bestiality? How about desire to rape, murder or hurt others? How about all people we currently claim are insane? How about the morbidly obese or drug addicts or…? Most of these are “natural” and can “be found in all cultures.”
    I agree that there’s no need for the law to protect or harm transgendered people unless they harm others, but clearly nature has male and female (and that’s how humans work and reproduce to this day), and feelings/beliefs that are contrary are delusions of sorts. We don’t have to punish them for it, but we also don’t have to elevate them to “bravery” status or consider their aberrations no differently than others without this confusion.

  27. Qualia says

    Dear Social Constructivists,

    While I understand that swinging a sledgehammer at the great edifice of society humanity has erected over the millennia is a central ideological imperative to your belief system, please understand that some of these walls are load bearing. I feel like maybe the fundamental manner in which humans relate to one another in order to propagate our species may be one of them.

    Love,

    A Fellow Citizen Who Wishes for a Peaceful and Harmonious Society

  28. I managed to read about half the comments here and it seems to me most are missing the key point of the article: we are talking about children.

    We have a responsibility (parents and society at large) to keep children safe. I know that in most things, we let parents decide what is right for their child; which church to attend (if any), whether to join the Scouts, and whether the child can go “out’ on Saturday night. But society has clear lines: you can’t beat your child, kill your child, have sex with your child, and many other things that society sees as dangerous to children. Would you be allowed to remove your child’s right hand, even for deeply held religious reasons? No. So why might you be allowed to have her vagina or his penis removed? Or to take estrogen or testosterone without a compelling health reason? We need to see “transitioning” for what it is: child abuse. As soon as that child turns 18, I’m OK with whatever they want to do dressing or surgery-wise.

    • Monica says

      The idea that doctors are performing surgery to kids under 18 or giving puberty blockers to kids before they start puberty is a myth (maybe it’s happened before, but it goes against WPATH guidelines with most trans-friendly organizations and the medical community endorse). By the time they reach puberty, these feelings start to persist and puberty blockers are reversable and have no more side effects than some treatments approved to treat depression. This article is mostly about letting your pre-pubescent kid socially transition, which has nothing to do with medical treatment.

    • So you wanna tack a child’s rights to express him or her selfs away that’s mentle child abuse you Defo did not think about this did you

      It is the children’s own rights to where what they want and do what they want and that child has to have extensive theripy for years be for under going any ops to mack dam sore it is the right thing for them and just so u know no child under 18 is aloud that kind of op

      • Fluffy Buffalo says

        Ella: what world do you live in, where children have the *right* “to do what they want”? Hell no they don’t. No one has a right to do whatever they want. We’re all constrained by the norms of society to a larger or smaller degree, and that’s a good thing too, because otherwise life would be hell for everyone. For children,parents act as a proxy for society, to instill in children the sort of behavior that allows them to get along in society, and to protect them from their own cluelessness until they’re hopefully old enough to make their own decisions. That’s their duty. It’s a fine line to walk, but not setting any boundaries on a child’s behavior is almost as much child abuse as setting too strict boundaries.

        BTW, I would appreciate if you used a spellchecker and punctuation. Or is expressing your thoughts such that others can easily read them just another form of tyranny to you?

  29. Reposting from earlier reply to another comment…

    I have a co-worker who has a penchant for speculating that certain gay and lesbian people in our community are secretly transgender simply because their gender presentations do not properly align with established norms. He speculates that because a lesbian woman dresses a certain way (in so-called “masculine” clothing) that somehow means she is secretly a transgender man. Why is it not permissible for her to simply be a gender non-conforming lesbian woman?

    This sort of thinking seems to be animating what Dr. Debra Soh and Dr. Julian Vigo are critiquing in their pieces here at Quillette. To question orthodox narratives within transgender discourses is not to deny the existence of transgender people nor is it to argue for them to be discriminated against and treated with cruelty. What Soh and Vigo are arguing has to do with how orthodox messaging about transgender people might inflict damage on gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (and maybe even heterosexual people who simply refuse to comply with gender norms).

    You can be a gender non-conforming gay man who likes to perform as a drag queen or a gender non-conforming lesbian woman who likes wearing plaid shirts and baggy jeans without desiring to undergo a social, legal and medical transition that transgender people undergo. In some ways, this idea that some LGB people are “secretly transgender” reinforces existing binary thinking around gender and gender stereotypes – i.e. “boys cannot play with dolls,” “women who dress in so-called ‘masculine’ clothing want to be men.” It encapsulates how gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are intricately linked but also quite distinct.

  30. “…the minority who persist and who would actually benefit from transitioning.”

    It seems the best outcome is life as a “pseudo-female” (the general consensus here).
    I’ve always wanted to be female – always. I am mid-30s.

    I feel within me so much distress, discomfort being biologically male.
    Transition is a pathetic compromise. I don’t want to be a “pretend woman.” (I commenced HRT a couple of years ago – low dosage. Quite a dramatic lift in mood; more effective than anti depressants. But what’s the point?)

    I guess I agree with the article’s thesis, specifically the sections regarding kids.

    Yes – gay conversion therapy kind of messed me up. The fear–I don’t want to end up in hell.

    Life is lonely. Pray for me, please.

    • Maxine says

      @Tom,

      You are a female. Please realize websites like this are a minority. Every major medical organization in the world knows that you are truly a female, there are just some holdouts online where they can be anonymous and not have to deal with the consequences of their ignorance.

      Please consider seeing a therapist who specializes in LGBT. Consider how much happier you could be on the proper hormones that your brain is designed to work with – it gets better than how you feel on a low dose.

      And please don’t let these assholes ruin your life.

      If you want to contact me directly, please email me at MaxineSWebb@gmail.com – I want to help.

      • This is not science based advise, Maxine. The Dutch gender clinics do not support your statements here.

        • Maxine Webb says

          Find me one major medical institution that doesn’t recommend transition for trans people. Get the hell out of your fantasy bubble and accept some people are different.

      • Absent says

        There are nearly 6,500 genetic differences between males and females. You could accept that you are a male and embark on a journey to embrace and love your maleness, accepting that what you’ve “always wanted” doesn’t matter. Or you can try to erase all 6,500 of those genetic differences by scarfing synthetic hormones and paying an eager and highly-paid surgeon to chop off your penis. Choose carefully, all the best, really.

        • I accept my maleness. The problem is the distress. Desire is secondary.
          I have tried everything – everything – to find relief (for 30+ years) and live as male.
          HRT feels like a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
          It’s a nightmare. A waking nightmare.

          Also, I said I mostly agree with Dr Soh’s article.

          Sorry for the confusion.

          • Maxine Webb says

            Full transition is the only solution. Look into it, please. The outcomes of trans people who transition are very positive – a 90% decrease in depression, a suicide rate equal to their cisgender peers.

            Yes, a lot of people don’t understand. They’ll call you crazy. But those people lack empathy, and scientific understanding.

            I implore you to research this yourself. I could give you some sources, but you may think those are tainted and a small bubble. If you just google for yourself, look up what any medical institution says, you’ll find comment sections like this are thankfully in the very small minority.

        • Ok you know nothing about disthorriea isunt just ur genitals it’s mind and body if u did resuch then you would know that but you don’t do you .
          You just think you know about us wen you don’t

        • At this point, you’re recommending something that not even Dr. Soh, the author of the article, would recommend. She’s primarily concerned about transitioning children, but she realizes that many adults with gender dysphoria do benefit from medically transitioning. Read the work of J. Michael Bailey, Ray Blanchard, and Anne Lawrence. Read more of Debra Soh’s work. If Tom is an adult who has fully consented to transitioning, then he should do it with the help and guidance of a supportive therapist. He should not worry about going to hell. Telling someone to “embark on a journey to embrace and love your maleness” sounds remarkably similar to the kind of toxic conversion therapy nonsense that gay men such as myself are often exposed to. It’s also arrogant to assume that he hadn’t thought of such a simplistic answer before.

      • Biological Determinist says

        Show me your chromosomes and I’ll tell you what you are.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @tom

      I’m curious to know what it is about being male that you hate and what you feel would be different if you were female. Is it that you hate the appearance of your physical body? Is it that you want to engage in stereotypically feminine behaviors that you don’t feel would be acceptable for you to engage in as a male?

      I’m a male who would also prefer to be female because I find the female body to be much more aesthetically pleasing (I’m straight but autogynephilic), and also because my personality (shy, passive) mostly fits in much better with the traditional social role of women than that of men, so that I think I’d have had a much more fulfilling social life as a woman that I have had as a man. However, this feeling is not so strong that I would characterize it as dysphoria, and regardless I understand, as you seem to, that there is currently nothing that can actually be done to change my situation. I also have no interest in being a pseudo-female. Therefore, I accept being male and try to be the best man I can be and make the best of my situation. I wish you were able to do the same.

      As for Hell, don’t worry about that as it doesn’t exist. There is no afterlife at all, in fact, so please try to make the most of the time you have here on Earth.

      • Thanks everyone for your replies.
        @Asenath
        To answer your questions.

        “Is it that you hate the appearance of your physical body?”
        No, I don’t hate the appearance of my physical body. But my appearance serves as a reminder of what I am not: female. (That said, I am naturally very feminine; many describe me as petite; just over 5ft tall. Soft facial features.)

        “Is it that you want to engage in stereotypically feminine behaviors that you don’t feel would be acceptable for you to engage in as a male?”
        Yes to the first part; no to the second. I’ve always engaged in stereotypical feminine behaviors. It’s not really a motivation. (It is *a* motivation but it goes much deeper than that.)
        Also, it’s not a sexual fetish (autogynephilia).

        I’ve always wanted to be female, since 3 or 4 yrs. Unshakable. Early intervention to help me accept being me: male. Fruitless.
        I saw/see myself as female – deep within. But that’s just my perception.

        Puberty was so bad. I wanted to castrate myself to make it stop. (So embarrassing.) It was a lonely time.

        I’ve been prescribed maybe 10 psychiatric medications to help with anxiety and depression; natural therapies; also prayer groups and other support services through my church. If I could live as a gay man I would.

        I can’t articulate this– so frustrating. I can’t explain why things are the way they are. And I can’t explain why transition is not an option.
        (The impression I get is most people think trans women are fake women. Phonies. If that’s the best outcome… count me out. I don’t see trans women that way. I’m just not strong enough. I think I waited too long.)

        It’s not worse than other situations. Just weird. (And – yes – I am frightened of potential spiritual consequence e.g. hell. I am going through a bit of a religious crisis atm.)

        The weight of it – the anxiety. It’s torture. I hate it.

        I hope and pray tomorrow is better.

        Anyway, thanks for the replies.

        “I am weary with my crying out;
        my throat is parched.
        My eyes grow dim
        with waiting for my God.”
        Psalm 69:3

        • Asenath Waite says

          @Tom

          Thanks for your answers. Even though it doesn’t really make sense to me, it does provide some insight into gender dysphoria. I’m sorry you’re in such a difficult situation. If you think you would be happier medically transitioning, maybe that is the best option for you? If you could see yourself as a woman, maybe it wouldn’t matter what some other people thought. There are many people nowadays who would see you as a woman, it seems. Even without medically transitioning.

        • Katherine says

          Hi Tom
          You have a tough road.
          I’m reading Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option at the moment. In it he has a quote from historian Peter Brown, saying that the early Christians saw the body as ’embedded in a cosmic matrix in ways that made its perception of itself quite unlike our own. Ultimately, sex was not the expression of inner needs, lodged in the isolated body. Instead, it was seen as the pulsing, through the body, of the same energies as kept the stars alive.’
          I think what he means is that all topics which connect in any way to sex need to be considered in the context of its most fundamental purpose; perhaps helping us as individuals to feel comfortable with one identity or another is not actually the purpose of sex.
          I hope that the people around you, particularly your church, are truly helpful. Please, please do not give up.
          I will pray for you.

  31. Transitioning is pure fantasy, you can no more transition from a male to a female than you can to a cat. Changing your outward appearance does nothing more than mask the real issues and mutilate a healthy body. The DNA doesn’t lie. Society needs to stop enabling a delusion.

    • Agen transphbic comment come and say that to my face but u won’t coz ur not brave enough ur a small minded very sad probably lonely person
      I hope god is proud of you and all your hate I hope you live a long lonely miserable life coz you haven’t got a clou of life out side of your little mind

      • I’m sorry if I offended you but reality has no concern for anyone’s feelings. You are doing yourself no favours by pursing this path. Get some real help so that you can accept the beautiful person that you truly are.

  32. Absent says

    “When I was a Ph.D. student in sexology…”

    I was tempted to give up reading right there. Nevertheless, I persisted.

    “It has become more socially acceptable to be a transgender man than a gay woman…”

    Well, it was bound to happen. Transgenders are the newest, edgiest, attention-gettingest thing. It isn’t you anymore. In twenty years, it’ll be all about the robo-trisexual furries.

    And twenty years after that, it won’t matter because we’ll all have died in the Dildo Wars.

    • Transphobi is a crime and ur all being transphobik here let me see you go and tell a child they can’t express them selfs that is emotionle abuse good luke

    • Maxine Webb says

      Transgender people have been around since civilization has been, don’t ignore that just to support your shitty point.

      • Absent says

        Mental illnesses and social disorders have always existed. Who’s ignoring that? What’s new is popularizing them out of a constant need for more subversive trends among a generation desperate to be noticed and pitied because their working single moms didn’t provide them with enough love and emotional security.

  33. What a load of crap this is. I am transgender m2f I have been sints I was very little child oh and I’m NOT IN TO MEN or women. It’s coz of storys like this one we can’t get help and to start on jazz Jennings or mention her yes her not he Joseph is a dig.

    I have 5 sisters and 4 brothers and gess wot I’m not the youngest so that macks no ground for ur comment instead of going on what uther people say which are sis men and women come and talk to a transe person but you won’t coz you know we will put you in your place.

    Is it such a crime to be who we are and why can’t you all just leave us alone and get on with ur own lives and leave trans kids well alone it’s there lives nothing to do with anyone els

    All you know is wot you read studdys whiten by cis people you haven’t got a clou what life is like for us but yet you proceed on macking it wors

  34. Marc Breedlove says

    Great article–reasoned, reasonable, respectful. I hope the responses you get follow suit.

  35. DontTakeMeSeriously says

    You can’t spell “intransigent” without “trans”.

  36. Cincinnatus says

    Why is gender seen as fluid but sexuality is deemed fixed? Conversion therapy acceptable for the former but not the later?

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Cincinnatus
      Because gender as separate from sex is a made-up and undefined concept. No one has a “gender” if the contemporary definition is applied. Whereas sexuality is an innate aspect of human personality.

      • Walker says

        Sexuality may be an innate aspect of human personality, but sexual orientation is far from immutable. It is very common for it to change based on experience and opportunity.

  37. Innocent Bystander says

    These kids need to be supported in their challenging of gender roles / stereotypes as well as in being homosexual or bisexual, not pushed onto an extreme path of social/medical “transition”. The “wrong body” narrative propels the normal discomforts of puberty into full fledged body “dysphoria”. If kids are suicidal, self harming , depressed or have clinical levels of anxiety , they need psychotherapy CBT/DBT and maybe even medications- not amputations and hormones.

    Transitioning children socially/medically doesn’t address what may ROOT ISSUES. For example:

    MENTAL HEALTH – what are their distress tolerance or coping skills? Do they have obsessive thinking/rumination? Any history of trauma? Family disfunction? Bullying at school? A history of being excluded by same sex peers? Are they autistic, do they have ADHD? Depression or anxiety?

    SOCIAL CONTAGION- vulnerable due to not fitting in socially, rigid thinking, being unhappy, etc. The main stream media and social media promote transgender rights ad nauseam. So do the schools. You become cool and oppressed if you are trans.

    BROADER CULTURAL PROBLEMS- internalized sexism and homophobia are very likely causing them anxiety about their sex and sexuality …. this not “cured” by changing “genders”.

    We are literally FAILING these children with our quick fix, capitalistic, pharmaceutical culture.

    • This is the biggest loud of shit I’ve herd so far you defo haven’t got a clou don’t give your apinyon with out knowing that facks or how thing work wen you are transitioning you have no idea what what a transitioning child has to do or put up with

      It is clear that non of you tack a child’s feelings into consideration only your own it has nothing to do with any of you biggeted people what any child dose or who that child wunts to be if you stop a child from expressing his or her self that is mentle child abuse at it’s best.

      In think its time for all of you to grow up and stop putting your own feeling be for a child’s being a good mum or dad means you put a child be for your self and help them in wot ever path they may choose to tack
      Whether you like it or not

      • Paul Ellis says

        Obviously none of the parents posting here give a toss about our childrens’ feelings, or what might be best for them – them, not us – in the long term. Clearly we all need to grow up. What a bunch of conventional, parochial, bigoted, self-centred, cis, right-wing bastards we are.

        We’re clearly unfit to be parents, as our parents certainly were in our opinion, until we, er, grew up a bit, stopped constantly gazing at our navels, noticed that there was a world outside our own heads, learned something useful, and realised that perhaps our parents had a point.

  38. Nicolas says

    “all of the research”? but I can only see a small handful of articles linked to and one PhD thesis. where is “all” the research?

  39. “Jazz Jennings” actually has one sister and two brothers.

  40. Larry Siegel says

    Geez. I’m *really* glad I didn’t have my penis cut off when, in one of my fits of adolescent angst, I announced to my parents that I was gay or bisexual or bi-curious or whatever I was at the time. (I turned out to be a straight married man who is still bi-curious but has never done anything about it.) It never occurred to me to become a girl because I knew it was physically impossible, but in today’s environment I might have thought about it. What a disaster.

  41. You seem to think that sexual preference is linked to genda identity and biological sex well for ur info you are very rong for a bi man I’m surprised at that.
    How can you judge us or say anything when you don’t know your own sexuality what give you the right

    I say this agen do ur research or speak to a transe person but you won’t becoz you are not brave enough or
    Strong enuth to listen to what we have to put up with on a daily basses

    That is biggetry at it’s best

  42. Biological Determinist says

    Gosh, Ella: clearly no-one has had it as hard as you in the whole history of the world. Not the gladiators; not the Christians thrown to the lions; not the slaves; not those who fought and died in wars. And no-one else knows anything worth knowing, either.

    Clearly.

    What a crap world this is. There aren’t even spell-checkers.

    • Bigot Biological Determinist Trans Christians would have CERTAINLY had to put up with more than your regular garden variety Christians. Since that was Ella’s point I wonder if you could even make a point to save your life as per the usual M.O. of the bully bigot right.

  43. Sorry author of this highly substance free article but not wanting to have breasts because they fucking gross me out has nothing to do with me being asexual. Sex and gender: learn the difference (although it’s highly laughable that I even have to ask you to do this since it’s the bigoted right that thinks it’s okay to switch the genders of children with intersex conditions… according to their OWN ‘logic’. Btw, using that same sort of ‘logic’, isn’t that considered a kind of conversion therapy? If not, hypocrisy). Kaythxbainow.

    • Biological Determinist says

      Indifference to the body parts of those you’re not sexually interested in is normal. Revulsion by those body parts is neurotic. It might even be called phobic. You may become happier, less vitriolic, and less toxically narcissistic if you seek treatment for this.

      You may also grow out of it. Many physical conditions eventually right themselves, as countless medical studies have confirmed. A cold does: there is no treatment for its cause, yet eventually it passes. Mental conditions can also be temporary and right themselves, even those which for a time feel to be (and are) acute. Private physicians who make a handsome income from ‘treating’ questionable conditions might dispute this, though. As always, follow the money.

      The rest of the world will not bend to your wishes. It can’t; it’s too big, and ironically, too diverse to be able to. Your long term happiness and life success depends upon you eventually coming to an accommodation with that.

      That said, the world can be surprisingly tolerant, but don’t forget that the true definition of tolerance is to put up with something you dislike or disagree with. No-one can be forced to like something. Tolerance is based upon civility and compassion. It’s a finite resource which rapidly evaporates when abused. Parents can have an almost limitless amount; wider society less so. Try to be nice to people even though you disagree with them; they’ll probably be nicer to you.

  44. Steersman says

    Interesting article, and many equally interesting comments. Although a salient element of both seems to be some problematic ambiguity and confusion about the terms in question – primarily “sex” and “gender” – along with a surprising reluctance to actually define them in clear and consistent terms. All of which tends to muddy the waters and preclude much in the way of progress.

    However, it also seems clear that many of the traits being discussed and that are subsumed by those terms generally fall into, or are placed into – accurately or not, two more or less distinct categories, i.e., the physiological and the psychological. But while there is some latitude in how we define words, it is not entirely arbitrary – as Alice said to Humpty Dumpty, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    So while “gender” is periodically construed as synonymous or conflated with “sex”, that problematically tends to obscure or sweep under the carpet the rather profound and far-reaching differences between those two categories. Hence there seems a great deal of justification to emphasize and stand pat on some more or less standard standard definitions for both:

    sex (OED): Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

    And the reproductive functions in question are the production of gametes (sperm & ova), for example:

    female (OED): Of or denoting the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes (ova) which can be fertilized by male gametes.

    All of which is in notable contradistinction to:

    gender (Merriam-Webster): the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

    By which token one might reasonably argue that, since “gender” seems largely synonymous with “personality”, gender is generally quite “fluid” and comprises a broad and well-populated spectrum; and that no one EVER changes their sex – except maybe from “male” or “female” to “none” – and that sex is a binary even though there are many people who simply don’t have a sex.

    Elaborations on the above themes can be found in my articles at Post Millennial and on Medium:

    https://www.thepostmillennial.com/discussion-transgender-issue/
    https://medium.com/@steersmann/the-imperative-of-categories-874154213e42

  45. At 20 years old I walked into a doctor’s surgery and requested a hysterectomy. I was refused. As a woman, I was told I didn’t know my own mind, was too young, and hadn’t had any children yet, so absolutely no doctor would do it. It still won’t happen for any pre-menopausal aged cis woman without a medical need, to be woman and barren isn’t allowed.
    Declaring myself male wasn’t an option then, but if it were, I would really seriously have considered it. I could have my hysterectomy, as long as i have a double mastectomy too.

    But I wasn’t male, nor did I have body dysmorphia – I was actually suffering from a major social disconnect. As un undiagnosed feminist, I understood that my life choices were not my own and I was reacting to that by literally trying to cut out of me the part that others claimed possession of. I wanted equality, it had nothing to do with sex or gender.

    There’s more than one unspoken conversation we need to be having with our kids before resorting to major surgery.

  46. Pingback: Debra Soh is really bad at trans science (part 1) | Gender Analysis

  47. Pingback: Debra Soh is really bad at trans science (part 2) | Gender Analysis

  48. Pingback: Debra Soh is really bad at trans science (part 3) | Gender Analysis

  49. Gregory Bogosian says

    That rapid onset gender dysphoria study surveyed the kids parents. Not the kids themselves. It really isn’t a good measure of anything except the attitudes of trans kids parents.

  50. Nicholas says

    The problem with Lisa Littmans parental survey is that there seem to be so many “feminist” mothers of gay daughters that have jumped on the ROGD bandwagon, and pretend everything was all very sudden. While ROGD is a real issue, like anorexia becoming more common after knowledge of it became public, all these “gay transmen”, are just young women with autism or other conditions, and sex change regret is very high. But if we accept that homosexuality is caused by hormonal effects on the brain, there is no reason why a same-sex oriented transgender person wouldn’t be “valid” if they felt that way, whatever their parents say. I also don’t think homophobia is that widespread among parents of these children, not even in the US. From what I can see the really intolerant parents won’t even let children transitition in the first place, I don’t think the middle ground is that large.

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