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I Have Gender Dysphoria. But your Trans-Identified Child May Not

A recent response published in The BMJ, titled Safeguarding adolescents from premature, permanent medicalisation, argues that when treating cases of gender dysphoria, “it remains legitimate to listen, assess, explore, wait, watch development, offer skilled support, deal with co-morbidities and prior traumas, and consider use of a variety of models of care. While respecting individuals’ right to a different viewpoint, it is neither mandatory to affirm their beliefs nor automatic that transition is the goal, particularly when dealing with children, adolescents and young adults…With 85% desistance amongst referred transgender children and increasing awareness of detransitioning, unquestioning ‘affirmation’ as a pathway that leads gender dysphoric patients to irreversible interventions cannot be considered sole or best practice.”

In regard to that 85% statistic, I am someone who is in the other 15%. I am an American born Canadian by choice female-to-male transsexual man. And like the authors of the above-referenced BMJ article, I would promote the use of caution in transitioning children.

I started my transition in 1993 by changing my name and pronouns. I took a year before I began the physical part of my transition in 1994 with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) at the age of 21. I remain glad that I made the choice to transition, and that I took the time I did to ensure that it was not just a phase.

Looking back on my childhood, I can say that I always felt different. I never connected with “girly” things. I related to my male cousins much more than my female cousins and my own sister. I wasn’t interested in typical female play or toys. My parents didn’t look at this as weird. They described me as a tomboy, and accepted me, even assigning me male-sounding nicknames. One of my favorite uncles used to call me “butch,” and I loved it.

My folks were always honest with me with regard to my biology, however. I remember the birds-and-bees talk with my mom. She took the time to answer my questions about puberty and what to expect, and she was thorough. I knew to expect breasts. I knew to expect menses and hair growth. I thought I was prepared emotionally. But I wasn’t.

Once puberty set in and my shape started to change, I felt like my body was betraying me. I knew I was a girl—but I really did not like what was happening, and became depressed. My peers started to treat me differently. They didn’t see me as a tomboy anymore. Some tried to help me adjust socially by helping with makeup and hair. But it never felt right. I usually felt discouraged and alienated.

Alcohol helped—until it didn’t. By my late teens, I knew what a male-to-female transsexual was. And I eventually met someone who was transitioning from female to male. We became good friends and remain so today. He helped me get sober. Meeting him opened up a world that I didn’t know existed. It gave me a vocabulary to describe what I was feeling about who I was.

But I didn’t enter into the decision to transition lightly. I wanted to make sure before I started hormones that I was well informed. HRT was my Rubicon: Once crossed, I was committed to medical transition. So, I socially transitioned for a year before committing to HRT. I wanted to make sure that living as a man was a better fit—and it was. That year was a helpful bridge. And I recommend that other similarly situated people try social transition before medical intervention.

It was also worth taking the time to learn about the various side effects and health risks associated with hormones, as well as the various surgical options. Dr. Michael Laidlaw, a California-based endroconlogist recently co-published a letter in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) expressing concern about children and adolescents being prescribed hormone replacement therapies, noting that “the consequences of this gender-affirmative therapy (GAT) are not trivial and include potential sterility, sexual dysfunction, thromboembolic and cardiovascular disease, and malignancy.” Amid all the talk of trans rights that one now hears, there is little discussion of such risks.

Most importantly, it was necessary that I had proper mental-health support. In some cases, a therapist who specializes in gender issues may provide the support one needs to cope with such issues without the need for any medical intervention whatsoever.

In both North America and the UK, gender clinics have seen a large increase in referrals of children and adolescents seeking puberty blockers or HRT. I’ve talked to parents who tell me that their child was prescribed such therapies after only a single visit. This strikes me as ethically problematic. As Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University has noted, peer groups and social media may act as influencing factors in prompting a child to seek transition.

It isn’t helpful when the media describes gender as a sort of glorious free-for-all. There are two genders—male and female. Transitioning in either direction is a long, expensive, invasive and sometimes medically risky process. Embarking on hormone replacement therapies for the rest of one’s life—as well as surgeries, which may or may not yield the results desired—comes with many drawbacks. And no matter what anyone tells you: No amount of HRT and surgical intervention will change biological reality.

Here’s what my own life looks like. I take self-administered testosterone injections intramuscularly every two weeks. I’ve had a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy including removal of the cervix. Additionally, I’ve had a double mastectomy with chest contouring so that my chest has a more masculine appearance. I’ve been happy with the results, and I feel fortunate in that regard.

I do, however, still know that I am not a biological man. I am happy with the fact that I walk through the world being perceived as male. However, biology reminds me every day that I’m not.

I still experience dysphoria with my genitalia. However, I’ve chosen not to have any genital modification because I do not find the options available for a female-to-male transsexual aesthetically of functionally desirable. (For those interested: There are two main options in this regard: Metoidioplasty and Phalloplasty.)

I also know that, as noted above, my HRT carries significant health risks. Testosterone is hard for the liver to process, and can increase both cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also increases the risk for ovarian and cervical cancers, and is associated with some cardiovascular issues. Of course, there are risks associated with any drug, including many common over-the-counter medications. What’s important is that people understand and appreciate these risks before submitting to any course of treatment—especially one that lasts one’s whole life.

Desistance can be a dirty word to individuals who enthusiastically support the affirmation of children who seek to transition. But it does happen, as Dr. James Cantor and others have documented. Children change their minds often—even about their own emotional needs and identity. My goal is not to cast doubt on the idea of gender dysphoria, but to encourage parents and clinicians to press the pause button before the transition process starts, so that everyone involved is sure that transition is the best course of action.

Here’s something else we need to remember: None of us—cis, trans or otherwise—is totally happy with who they are. And we often seek ways to reinvent ourselves in the process of trying to achieve happiness. Right now, trans is trendy. And being comfortable in your own biological sex (and corresponding gender role) is seen as stodgy. Many kids are internalizing this message and claiming that a trans identity is their inwardly felt truth. There are numerous web resources indicating that many people regret the resulting transition. Their stories often are dismissed because they fly against a popular social trend. But they are just as important as the many media-celebrated stories of affirmed transitions leading to happy endings. An individual should not transition if they don’t need to—which is to say, if they don’t actually have gender dysphoria.

Cisgender—a word I’ve come to hate—is the term many people now use for individuals who are not trans. In some progressive forums, the term now is used as a sort of bullying code-word to shame kids and adults who are okay with their biological sex. As a trans person, this bothers me. We are all social animals who learn how to navigate society as kids. We yearn for acceptance and understanding. We all want to fit in, being encoded with evolutionarily learned thought patterns that equate ostracism with death (as indeed often was the case when one was rejected by one’s tribe in ancient times). In response to such psychological forces, kids can go through phases. But just because your little boy puts on a dress one day does not make him a girl. Once puberty starts, the body begins to change, hormones start to surge, and the child may become more comfortable with their biology—even if that wasn’t the case with me.

Maybe your kid is transgender. Maybe they aren’t. Before becoming their biggest cheerleader for transition—including an avalanche of rainbow flags and thumbs-up hospital photos on Facebook and Instagram—let nature take its course for a while and see what happens.

Gender dysphoria, formerly known as Gender Identity Disorder, is a mental-health diagnosis that “involves a difference between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, and significant distress or problems functioning.” As defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it lasts at least six months, and comes with a number of defined symptoms. The prevalence of Gender Dysphoria is not nearly as high as many activists would have you believe. Indeed, it afflicts less than 1% of the population. The determination of whether someone has this condition requires a qualified mental health professional who specializes in the field. Your kids’ teacher and your own Facebook friends don’t qualify.

I am not a parent. But I do believe that most parents want the best for their children—to protect them, support them, and stand by kids’ own decisions that help them thrive and grow. But it is also the job of parents to keep children safe from harm, including harm that arises from decisions they may not yet be ready to make.

Follow Todd Whitworth on Twitter @dharmapunk5.

Featured image: 2014 D.C. Capital Pride parade, held in Washington, D.C. The photographed marchers represented the group Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

143 Comments

  1. Ray Andrews says

    Thanks. Only you could say it with such authority.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Ray

      Thank you for taking the time to read the article, and for your kind comment.

  2. Marty says

    I believe that 20-30 years from now there will be an avalanche of lawsuits against doctors who rushed to permit, nay, encourage vulnerable children to make such life-altering decisions without care or question.

    I only hope that a few of the activists are caught up in it, too. They should be financially ruined and publicly shamed for their zealotry.

    • jakesbrain says

      I doubt you really think that lawsuits and financial ruin are the most drastic things that can happen as a result of this… I fully expect to see someone killed over this eventually.

      • Peter Schaeffer says

        JB, I will go so far as to say ‘maybe’. In live in Houston, TX. We had a bad (very, very bad) back surgeon here who left his patients in such pain, that several committed suicide. it was widely predicted that someone would kill him before taking their own life. As it turns out, that never happened.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Marty

      One of the inspirations for this article is a desire to protect children/adolescents. Generally children and teenagers are impulsive, and don’t have the cognitive development necessary to fully grasp the commitment medical transition asks. I am concerned that I am seeing transition being treated as a new way to rebel against whatever one rebels against, but this is not like dying one’s hair blue or getting a tattoo or piercing.

      • Yes, exactly this. It’s normal for preteens and teens to rebel, but adults shouldn’t be taking this path, not with this diagnosis.

    • Peter Schaeffer says

      Marty,

      I wrote the Email below some time ago. The “you” in the Email is someone I know.

      You gave a very interesting presentation on transgender issues and how the courts, schools, and the Obama administration are handling them. You mentioned, the possibility that you might act as a legal representative on behalf of minors caught up in this mess of late. More specifically, minors being given drugs to force one gender identity or another.

      I am probably not representing this (your comments) very well. However, your remarks were clear on the subject, even if my writing is not.

      I can not offer legal advice (obviously) and won’t try to offer career advice. However, I am aware of related controversies around the world.

      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.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Marty
      There may be, my hope is to prevent as much as possible, unneeded medical intervention. It’s one of the chief inspirations for the article.

  3. Farris says

    Insightful and reasonable article. I especially appreciated the following two phrases;

    “I am an American born Canadian by choice female-to-male transsexual man.”

    “It isn’t helpful when the media describes gender as a sort of glorious free-for-all. There are two genders—male and female.”

    These statements are grounded in reality. They demonstrate the author was aware of the reality of the situation. Was unhappy about the situation and made an informed decision to do something about it.

    I have posted this before but I think parents who rush their children into transitioning are exhibiting a form of munchausen by proxy.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Farris

      First thank you! Second I’ve had the same thoughts re: Munchhausen by proxy as well, and have posted the same thoughts on other social media.

  4. Alf says

    If only these lives and these decisions were based on psychological and medical research. Instead, ideology comes first. Any contradictory evidence must be politically protested and silenced, like the original Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis, Kenneth Zucker’s research, Lisa Littman’s research, and the list goes on and on.

    Both psychologists and physicians are complicit, not to mention many overly accommodating parents. It’s a huge mess that our immature culture will pay dearly for.

    Thanks to the author for citing the actual research. Having gender identity disorder does not make you an expert, though it is refreshing to see the rationality and honesty in your writing.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Hmm, so you want decisions based on psychological and medical research, while then lambasting both psychologists and physicians as complicit?

      • jakesbrain says

        They are complicit in stifling actual research that does not support their views.

        • I genuinely don’t know about that, they may simply have found the limits of what they’re capable of safely defending and defer to politics just to stay employed, which is all too common a concern lately. Nonetheless, the point stands that there’s no contradiction there. Scientists and science are not at all inextricable, although they do share a common threat to progressive dogma, apparently – it’s totally unclear which side of the aisle has a weaker grip on reality anymore. Also, gotta hand it to the car insurance companies who saw the storm coming and decided to exclude gender from their calculations altogether. At least somebody has their finger on the pulse, and one more example of acceptable misandry bites the dust.

  5. Marty ,you took my words out of my mouth. Great article

    You have to be an adult to marry, get a tattoo or even to sign a mobile phone contract, however they can decide to biologically change their body forever.

    When my daughter was very little she loved the Aristocats so much she wanted to be a cat. For a long time she loved wearing leotards with a tail pinned on the back.

    Time and reality set in and she asked for a kitten. Now she’s a happily married catlover with for kids.

    Please let children be children long enough to grow into adults.

  6. Scott says

    One thing that puzzles me is that on the one hand we are told that gender is a construct of society , but on the other hand we are told that people who are trans feel they were born into the wrong body and dont identify with the gender that would normally match their biological sex, which would imply that gender identity is something innate that you are born with and it can be wrong, or changed. My question is then, if someone is born physically female male or female, but ‘identifies’ as the other, what ,exactly, is it they are ‘identifying’ with? Are they identifying with the socially constructed gender norms of masculinity and femininity that we are being asked to believe either dont or shouldnt exist? They must be identifying with some set of conditions, ideas, behaviours etc that can be assigned to being ‘female’ or ‘male’, surely? Other than the stereotyped ideas of male and female gender roles that they see around them growing up, how does a young, pre-pubescent child ‘know’ that they are trans and what it ‘means’ to be a member of the opposite sex so confidently that they become not just a boy who plays with dolls or a girl who plays with digger trucks, but an 8 year old who feels the need to transition?

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Scott

      My question is then, if someone is born physically female male or female, but ‘identifies’ as the other, what ,exactly, is it they are ‘identifying’ with?

      I don’t know if this is socratic irony or an insightful question asked in earnest, and frankly, I don’t care, because it is exactly the right question to ask; although maybe not to this author (who obviously knows what time it is), but to anyone of the 3rd/4th wave feminists who will almost certainly be commenting with derision and invective in the near term.

    • @ Scott
      Children have a low threshold between reality and fantasy. Teenagers have a strong will to form, an often silly peer group identity.

      People who are over 25 usually laugh at the clothes they wore and the identity they felt was theirs at 14.

      The role of the parent is to let them be silly to a point, but not to indulge them into serious bodily harm.

      In many countries parents have lost this right to protect their children.

      I know you are cought up in the academic the academic arguments.

      But to bring it back to the individual, a child under the age of consent can’t get their ears pierced. But they can without parental consent engage in hormone replacement therapy?

      • david of Kirkland says

        But children know their sexuality, it’s okay to have your children sleep with “odd” super-stars for years, and it’s okay to raise them believing in religions, and it’s okay to not let them be vaccinated. Act poorly and the state will then step in to “protect” them. The parent-child relationship is fraught with peril.

    • Are says

      I think you are hitting upon the existence of TERFs here. Its easy to sweep up all these movements together, but often there is serious conflict within. Rad-fem ideology and trans ideology are totally at odds with one another for the reasons you presented. One says gender is a social construct. The other fundamentally identifies with that “social construct”.

      Basically… people aren’t walking around with this cognitive dissonance going on. They are all different groups fighting for the cultural spotlight. Look up trans exclusive radical feminism and its inclusive counterparts if you want to know more.

      • Dolly says

        “Trans excusive radical feminism” is not a thing, and “TERF” is a slur. It would be like calling a transgender person a “t—-y” — if that makes you cringe (it sure makes me cringe!) then you should cringe equally at the slur “TERF.”

        These women refer to themselves as “gender critical.” They don’t “exclude” trans people, although they advocate for some spaces and events for (natal) women only, so transmen, non-binary natal women, etc., would be welcome. That’s not “trans exclusive.”

        Nor, in everyday life — in terms of job security, access to health care, access to fair housing, basic respect and dignity — do “TERFs” want to deny transwomen or any trans people, any basic rights.

        The reason gender critical feminists call for certain spaces to be free of men (such as women’s rape crisis shelters, women’s sports teams, women’s prisons) is because women have been an oppressed group for millennia. Their goal is not to be “mean” and exclude male-bodied people, but rather, like any other oppressed group, they want, say, a rape-crisis center where the nurse is not a natal male with wandering hands (whether that’s a male-presenting male or a transwoman) or a girl’s sports team without natal males who’ve had the advantages of puberty (google pictures of Hannah Mouncey for example — it’s a problem), or a woman’s prison without male-bodied people in it (google Karen White, for example — it’s a problem).

        In certain situations and limited contexts, women want, need, and deserve to be free of male-bodied people.

        Gender-critical women want to keep _all_ male-bodied people out of these spaces, not just transwomen. So again, it’s not trans exclusionary.

        If you were making up a more accurate acronym, it would be “WWWTKAMBPOOSSSRTTHOOBMBP”: women who want to keep all male bodied people out of some spaces, sometimes, related to their history of oppression by male bodied people”… It’s better just to call them gender critical or just GC.

        They are called “gender critical” because they believe gender should be dismantled, and everyone should pursue their interests and express themselves no matter what body they have. If someone wants to express themselves a certain way, their body is not a barrier to that, and a healthy body doesn’t need to be changed. What needs to be changed is a society teaching (say) a male-bodied child that his hobbies, friend choices, interests, manner of dress, etc, are “for girls” — nothing is “for girls” or “for boys” — no wonder some kids start to believe they’re in the wrong body. Society frowns on them just being themselves — there’s nothing wrong with their bodies though.

        GC feminists want to throw gender expectations, and therefore gender itself, into the trash. They want everyone to express themselves free of any and all gender expectations, so that kids would never get the message that the things they like, or their personality, doesn’t match the type of body they have.

        By contrast, it seems like people who are leading this new transgender trend for kids (exactly the thing the author is warning about — thanks!) want to elevate gender stereotypes and expectations to such a high status that kids grow to believe that if a girl likes things “for boys” that she might be “in the wrong body” or need to “transition” in order to live a happy life. For the vast majority of people, even those who are quite gender-nonconforming (like me for instance), that’s simply not true. It’s sometimes true, as the author has indicated, but it’s not been true throughout history at the rates we are now seeing kids claiming to be trans. Increases of thousands of percent over the last decade do not indicate that this is a natural, organic process, nor that it’s a phenomenon where kids always felt this way, but are finally brave enough to say so. Unless you’re living a life of personal unremitting torment in your body, it’s simply not helpful and necessary to take hormones and have surgeries. We are confusing kids rather than just letting them be themselves and figure it out over time.

        • Willow says

          Thank you for taking the time to write this. Seriously. I feel exactly the same. And now, a little less alone.

          • Todd Whitworth says

            @Willow
            I am glad that you enjoyed the article, and you are not alone.

    • peanut gallery says

      Stop asking questions, Scott. We’ll have to send you to camp.

    • Gee, you are deep. All I could think was: Does insurance cover all this stuff?

    • My question is then, if someone is born physically female male or female, but ‘identifies’ as the other, what ,exactly, is it they are ‘identifying’ with?

      Excellent question, which as DB Cooper says is glossed over by the radicals. Here’s my take.

      1. Sex is biological not cultural. Strictly it’s a characteristic of gametes, which in all animals are strictly binary. Sperms or eggs. No third way.
      2. But when we come to organisms, we need a whole infrastructure of bits and pieces to create sex cells, find a mate, be attractive to a mate, deliver the sex cells to the right spot, and in some cases, assist progeny to survive long enough to repeat the process.
      3. In complicated animals like humans, therefore, there are all sorts of sexually dimorphic biological features beyond the gonads, the actual sex cell factories. Including genitals, gross skeletal and muscular body structure and so on. But also brains, influencing behavioral routines, instincts and preferences
      4. For all sorts of genetic and developmental reasons, the construction of these secondary sexual features is not strictly and necessarily binary, as it is with sex cells. For genitals it’s almost strictly binary, with very middle cases. For body form it’s variable but still with very little ambiguity – a forensic scientist has no difficulty in sexing a corpse or even a skeleton, without looking at the DNA.
      5. But for the brain, because human brains are so complex and – to some extent, plastic – the strict binary is a bit less strict. So there’s more room for middle cases, and contradictions between gonads, gametes, bodyform, and, say, attraction to sexual partners. Note that in some other animals, males will often leap on anything that moves, whether it’s female or not. And even if it’s just a plant that looks like a female. Evolution has not necessarily bothered to hone the mental aspects of sex precisely to the evolutionary ideal target. Good enough is good enough.
      6. So the sex-related bits in the brain may be muddier than some of the more vital body sex bits.
      7. Since actual reproduction is strictly binary (even in species with hermaphrodites) it’s perfectly reasonable to suppose that the brain may have a module or two which helps you realize (a) there are two sexes and (b) which team you are on.
      8. Part of (a) and (b) may involve helping you identify what looks, sounds, smells and behavior are, in the society in which you live, associated with each team. In non human animals most of that will be “natural” not “cultural” and even in humans, large chunks of looks, sounds, smells and behavior differences between the sexes are natural not cultural. But in humans some will be influenced by culture.
      9. So identifying your “gender” can be a real biological thing, in which you use the brain modules (a) and (b) to identify which team you’re on.
      10. And it’s perfectly plausible that your brain may have developed so that you might experience gender dysphoria – you look at your body and you look at the behaviors in the world that are typical of someone with your body and you may think – that’s not right, I don’t feel like what my body says I am. I feel like I should be on other team. I am a member of the other team, but I have the wrong body. I’m not implying insanity here. The bit in your brain saying “I’m a guy” is just as naturally created as your ovaries. And since it’s in your brain it’s hard to ignore. But from a scientific classification point of view, the sex characteristics of your brain are tertiary, never mind secondary. Saying “I’m a guy” or “I really do feel like I’m a guy” doesn’t mean that you are unaware that the primary and secondary sexual characteristics of your body say your brain is giving you the wrong answer.
      11. So to get back to the question “what are they identifying with” – they’re identifying themselves, using the brain module for telling them what team they’re on, as a member of the sex for which they have not been issued with the correct body. Particular cultural markers – long hair, skirts etc – are not biologically encoded, obviously, but they’re part of the furniture by which the members of the two teams mark their differences. As are biological markers such as upper body strength, voice pitch.
      12. No doubt there are also brain modules in animals – not just humans – that help them realize what kind of animal they are. Because animals need to distinguish between predator, prey and mate.
      13. So (genuine) gender dysphoria sufferers have got a brain module telling them that though their body looks like that of a P, they’re a Q. Even though they can see the body of a P in the shower. Hence the understandable distress.
      14. As Todd explains in the article, in the current state of technology, the best that can be hoped for, if you are biologically female, but your sex identification brain module is telling you you’re “really” a man, is to try to live as far as possible as men live, and be treated by society as you choose to be treated. You’re a biological woman who sees herself as a man and wishes, so far as possible, to be treated as men are treated.
      15. Though being “treated as men are treated” becomes a rather difficult concept in a society which seeks to treat men and women as if they were interchangeable.

        • 🙂

          Not quite. My hypothesis is that the brain has an array of switches, which combine to tell you “I’m a guy” or “I’m a gal.” What sort of crittur you’re sexually attracted to will be quite an important switch, but not decisive by itself. We can tell this from the fact that there are men who are sexually attracted to men, without having any sense that they’re really women at heart, and have been issued with the wrong body.

          Obviously for the vast “cis” majority, all or almost all the switches are pulled in the same direction, so the answer is so obvious that most “cissies” aren’t even aware that there’s a question to answer. But for some the switches are uncomfortably scrambled.

    • Christine says

      I think yours is a very interesting question which I have often wondered about myself. You can’t actually know what it is to be a man or woman without actually being one or the other. I lived and worked in NYC for many years and had countless gay men friends and colleagues. They could and often did change their behavior based on whether they were in the workplace or in a social situation. Growing up as a kind of a tomboy, always more interested in what society determines to be more male type of activities like hunting and fishing, I was never unsure of my female sexuality. I never understood why people so often liken some gay men’s behavior as girlish. I never knew girls or women that acted or spoke that way. I loved my gay friends so it’s not a criticism just a curiosity that this behavior is likened to that of women when it is really an exaggeration of something perceived.

      In the early 80s I was once introduced to a young woman who was visiting my downstairs neighbors in a loft building we lived in. She was tall, blond and strikingly beautiful. I asked my neighbor once about her. He told me she was learning to be a woman. I would never have guessed that she could ever have been a man. I only remember thinking how difficult life must have been for her and hoped that she found happiness in her new life. Turned out she was the first female transgender world class model.

      The thing that was different then is there was no open political/ideological debate about any of this. It was and still should be perceived as a viable solution for people as the author so honestly describes with a rare condition. The politicization with the aid of vulture media has done nothing but use people with a genuine problem who, I would guess, like most people, would rather be left alone to get on with their lives.

  7. D.B. Cooper says

    Todd,
    I don’t know if you’ll take this as a compliment, but I certainly mean it as one. You write and reason like a man – in fact, more so than a lot of men I know. I hate to break into esssentialists talks with such a fine accompaniment as the Quillette commentariat, but I think most would agree that, on average, there’s a discernible difference even in the prose of men and women. Of course, without supporting data, this observation could be little more than a confirmation bias.

    At any rate, I very much enjoyed the article. In today’s climate, a voice as well-reasoned as yours is needed more than ever. I wish you nothing but the best.

    • Peter Kriens says

      @DB Cooper I am quite sure it is confirmation bias. I had the same idea and started to tally how often I was wrong guessing the author’s sex. I was worse than a coin toss 🙁 My checks might have been a bit biased because I mostly checked when an article felt very feminine. However, as said, often it was a male writing it.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        PK, you confounded your own study with a selection bias by only checking articles that “felt very feminine.” I need to do some investigatory work to see if I can find some data on this. Surely, someone, somewhere, at some point has wasted taxpayer dollars answering a question as trivial as this.

        • Stephanie says

          DB, I can almost always tell the sex of the author by their prose, although I couldn’t tell you how. Men and women just speak and write differently.

          The only study I’ve heard that backs this up shows that companies viewing resumes with no names or gender identifiers will still prefer men’s resumes and will tend to call them back more often.

          • D.B. Cooper says

            @Stephanie

            I can almost always tell the sex of the author by their prose, although I couldn’t tell you how.

            You’re in luck! Just scroll down a little futher in this thread and you’ll find @D who apparently has a strong grasp on the subject… one of the best I ever seen.

          • Avid Reader says

            @Stephanie,
            Always love reading your comments. I have to mention a French thriller writer called Michel Bussi. A male professor of geography, one of his novels had a female protagonist whose emotions and thoughts matched my circumstances to a T ( I am a middle aged female). I have not read a female writer who resonated so well.

            True writing talent, like all talents is decoupled from gender.

    • Jujucat says

      I’ll wager you’re on to something due to the fact that men and women’s actual brains are different. I wonder if, say, a woman who feels she is a man has a “man brain”.

    • Db cooper, What you write – that there is a discernible difference between male and female writing – is not only lacking supporting data (as you yourself acknowledge) but is not even articulated clearly. If i were to be catty, id say youre clearly a female as the post is based on your feelings as opposed to reason . So what precisely does “female writing” consist of that differentiates it from male? Are we refering to vocab? Sentence structure? Logical rigor? I myself dont read easays with gender or race in mind; i read essays for their own individual arguments so that each essay stands on its own merits. Does that make me a male or female reader?

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @D

        If i were to be catty, id say youre clearly a female as the post is based on your feelings as opposed to reason.

        This is a curious response. I can’t help but wonder how you arrived at the conclusion that I was “clearly a female” from the fact that my post was based on feelings as opposed to reason. Whoever said women’s prose were based on feelings rather than reason? I certainly didn’t!

        To be clear, what I said was that Todd write[s] and reason[s] like a man, but I never said anything about HOW men reason. I could just as easily mean that they reason poorly as I could that they reason well.

        For example, I could just as easily mention that you write and reason like a woman, but there’s nothing about that statement that suggests HOW I believe women reason. Maybe I think women’s reasoning faculties are superior men’s, or maybe I think they’re inferior; but how would you know based on that statement?

        It’s true, I believe there’s “a discernible difference in the prose of men and women.” But once again, I never said what that distinguishing difference was, nor did I intimate as much. Which as I said, makes yours a curious response.

        Of course, this raises the question of why you would ask me, what precisely does ‘female writing’ consist of that differentiates it from male, when you quite obviously seem to know. I mean, you did conclude that I was female from the fact that my post was based on feelings as opposed to reason, didn’t you? If anything, it seems that you are the one who believes that women’s prose are based on feelings, and men’s on reason; considering that I never claimed anything even close to that. What’s even more strange is that you adjudicate my sex based on my prose, and then, you claim not to read essays with gender or race in mind. Really? Since when exactly? If anything, you seem to be the authoritative figure on the matter.

        The truth is D, whether you realized it or not at the time, you made a rash assumption based off YOUR OWN semantic intuitions, and then, you ran with it believing you knew something you didn’t. I would suggest next time, before you let your emotions get the best of you, you make damn sure the person you are about to criticize has said what you think they have said. To do otherwise runs the risk of being made a fool.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @D.B. Cooper

      Thank you for your compliment I take it as such. Also, thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment.
      Cheers

  8. George G says

    @ Todd Whitworth

    thanks for this, a very interesting article

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @georgeg Thank you for taking the time to read it.

  9. Sindra says

    Todd, thank you for sharing your carefully considered thoughts and insights!
    Scott, you’re quite right. If gender is purely a social construction, transgender can’t exist. If we all just grow into the gender behaviors expected of us, then we’ll all match our biological gender – except for the “myfatheralwayswantedason” cases, which would then always generate a trans person.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it.

  10. Princess Underlove says

    This article is trash.

    First fo all, if you truly are trans (and I have serious doubts about that) you are a traitor, plain and simple, because you are writing blatantly transphobic BS in this reactionary cesspool of a site. You might think you’re super cool and that all the right-wing trash will worship you as their messiah, but their ultimate goal is to erase your very existence, so they will repay you with treason just like you are committing treason against progressives.

    Second, you frame getting treatment for transgenderism before puberty as “irreversible interventions”, this is just another copypasted right-wing transphobic LIE. Puberty itself is irreversible, but of course you wouldn’t know that, because you are FtM (if you’re even telling the truth about that), and FtM people have a much easier time passing, no such luck for MtF though, if you’ve already gone trough puberty you’ll most likely never fully pass. So what is actually done is to give kids puberty blockers to delay puberty until they can make an informed decision on whether or not to transition, because again, PUBERTY IS IRREVERSIBLE TOO, but puberty blockers are in fact a reversible treatment, just get off the puberty blockers and you’ll go through puberty as usual.

    Third, there are NOT only two genders. Gender is a social construct and separate from sex, gender is a spectrum of social norms of what people generally understand as being “manly” or “girly”, it only serves to force people into gender roles that benefit straight white males to de detriment of everyone else. Promoting the gender binary is nothing but an attempt to erase trans identity, it’s a form of transphobic hate speech, which puts into question your entire claim to being trans.

    This article is a perfect example of why sites like this are actually worse than overt neo-nazi sites, you are far more insidious, you try to wear the skin of oppressed people to hide your lies and propaganda.

    • Power Girl says

      Dude, it’s really weird seeing one LGBTQ person trying to oppress another. Todd wrote an honest, open article about his experiences. He’s not trying to shut you down, but gave a factual, personal account about life as a trans person and why it should be taken seriously and with caution. Seems to me that *you’re* afraid to discuss true cases of desistence and need to pull out labels like “neo-Nazi” and “trash” to shut him up.

      Which is amazing, because progressives love to tout their love of “science.” Everything Todd wrote is factual, and you’re trying to stop the science. Why don’t you believe in science, Underlove? Science doesn’t care about your feelings.

      If you’re worried about Nazis and yet trying to shut down people’s free speech, consider looking for the Nazis in the mirror.

      • Princess Underlove says

        @Power Girl

        I’m not a “dude” and I’ve already exposed this garbage article for the lies and propaganda it is, it’s just trying to pander to equally garbage humans. None of this is based in “muh science”, any medical professional with a modicum of credibility won’t support the gender binary or any of the author’s lies about the treatment given to trans children. Hir misrepresentation of the topic is so insidious ze has to be aware that ze’s lying, this is blatant malicious propaganda and transphobic hate speech.

        This is what right-wingers always do, they try to appeal to emotion and try to frame progressives as a threat against children, they make blatantly false statements about medical science and try to exploit the bigotry and transphobia prevalent in society to bypass reason and promote hate.

        • Power Girl says

          “Dude” is a general term. Lighten up, Francis.

          If you have an issue with the article: rebut it, point by point, instead of applying the name-calling bully-method you’re doing here. And who are you to assume Todd’s pronouns? Stop being an ass, child. We still live in a democracy, not a progressive-fascist dictatorship.

          • Princess Underlove says

            @Power Girl

            You mean like the rebuttals I already wrote in my first comment? I don’t care about the fragility of right-wing pissboys, so call it bullying all you want, I’m punching up.

            And don’t you try to weaponize pronouns on me, gender-neutral pronouns are appropriate, the only people trying to frame pronouns as some kind of overreach are conservatives.

        • Harland says

          “Hir misrepresentation of the topic is so insidious ze has to be aware that ze’s lying”

          He uses the masculine pronoun “he”. This is literally misgendering hate speech.

    • ga gamba says

      Gender is a social construct

      Make believe is a social construct too.

      • Power Girl says

        Weird that Princess Underlove has no reply option now.

        “Punching up” is just left-wing code for “bullying.” And Todd strikes me as someone who isn’t “up.” He’s a lone individual giving, frankly, a dissenting voice compared to wokeism-fascism.

        You, Underlove, are the one “punching down.”

        And, again, I note that Todd identifies as male and there’s no indicator that he wants “zir” or whatever as a pronoun. Sorry, you don’t own grammar anymore than I do, but your declaration that it’s “appropriate” speaks volumes about you.

        Also, I’m not right-wing? I identify as centrist, if anything. I just don’t like a**holery. Todd has made a clean, calm case. You’re the one screaming and name-calling. This is typical woketevist playbook: call names, weaponized guilt, and then claim to be the one oppressed.

        Calm down, child. We don’t play your bully game here.

        • trash_muad'dib says

          Are we sure underlove isn’t deep cover satire?

          • jakesbrain says

            Poe’s Law. It is impossible to construct a parody of extremist rhetoric that can’t be mistaken for the real thing.

          • curiositas says

            I firmly believe they just regularly troll here. Doing a surprisingly good job of it, but trolling nonetheless.

          • Willow says

            I was equally conflicted. Bat-shit crazy or nicely handled satire?

        • Sydney says

          Respect @Power Girl!

          Great comments and gracefully communicated. You and the post author are breaths of fresh air on this issue.

        • Todd Whitworth says

          @Powergirl Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot.

        • @ Princess

          You do realize the call for a bit of restraint in the treatment of children, is slightly different then the genocide of Jew’s, homosexuals gypsies and others ?

          You appear to be a silly child yourself or mentally deranged, if so please seek help.

      • david of Kirkland says

        I guess if society constructs something over millennia based on the values of its people, it must be wrong because someone else knows better than all of humanity for all of time in all locations.

        • Aerth says

          I just wonder – if genre is just a construct of patriarchy, why wasn’t it deconstructed when there were charismatic women in power? UK alone has at least two (not counting current one) famous queens. Russia had at least one. Poland had at least one. Or better, forget queens of the past, why The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, didn’t destroy it once and for all?

          So many question trans activists like Princess Underlove would never be able to answer.

    • George G says

      @Princess Underlove

      shameful transphobia! On what grounds are you disputing the lived experience of Todd Whitworth an actual trans person?

    • Jujucat says

      @Princess Underlove Was that parody? I ask in all honesty because it’s very hard for me to believe those thoughts are for real.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Gee, if you don’t agree, they must be evil, eh? A grand plot against you is in play.

    • Go Nad says

      So if “gender is a social construct” then there’s no reason to transition, is there.

    • Heike says

      You’re telling me you can delay puberty until age 29 and then go through it with no problems? That sounds problematic.

      Princess Underlove is providing a pretty good example of what’s wrong with ‘the left.’ It’s becoming as cultist as the opposition. If anyone dares to part ways with even a bit of the group-think their progressive credentials are removed and they’re thrown to the curb and shamed with the rest of the ‘Nazis’ and bigots.

      • curiositas says

        “Princess Underlove” is almost certainly trolling for the lulz.

    • Peter from Oz says

      PrincessU

      I congratulate you on such fine satire. You have caught the idiocy and the nastiness of the SJW so well.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      I am a real transsexual, name calling is not an argument. I am very aware that MtF’s have a much more difficult time passing then FtM’s. I stand by my words.

      • Tina Rose says

        Maybe. It depends on the genetics, just like everything else. I don’t make any claims on being passable, but I do blend. In the end though, being authentically you goes such a long way. Really, most people don’t pay that much attention.
        Great article BTW. Sadly, too much or our community can’t or won’t see it the same way as you do.

  11. Saw file says

    Thanks for a fair and honest article.

    “Cisgender—a word I’ve come to hate—is the term many people now use for individuals who are not trans.”
    I loathe that term. ‘Normal’ doesn’t require a new definition.

    Although factually correct, “it (gender dysphoria) afflicts less than 1% of the population” is quite misleading. The actual percentage is about 0.005.
    999,999 is less than a million, but so is 1.

  12. Saw file says

    @princess under”love”

    ” there are NOT only two genders”

    OK, I’ll bite.
    You can identify as a male or a female. I have zero issues with that.
    What other genders are there, then?

    • Princess Underlove says

      @Saw file

      You don’t get it do you? “Gender” is practically NOTHING, it’s a creation of the patriarchy that serves to subjugate women and LGBTQIA2 people. How about “dyke on a bike”? BAM, there is a new gender I just thought about and it’s exactly as valid as “man” and “woman”, because it’s just as arbitrary, hell, I’ll go even further and say that this gender is actually better because it doesn’t serve as a tool of oppression.

      • Saw file says

        @prince under’love’

        Actually, I think I do “get it”.
        You make up new bizarre definitions for words and then pretend that they’re legitimate.

        • david of Kirkland says

          Isn’t a dyke on a bike female?

          • Mark Beal says

            I’m could swear there was a 1970’s skin flick called Dyke on a Bike.

        • Melvin Backstrom says

          Princess Underlove is like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland:

          “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

          ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

          ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

          And that’s exactly what this is all about: a desire for power over others. Princess Underlove and his ilk are wanna-be authoritarians.

      • Power Girl says

        But if “gender” doesn’t exist except as a construct, then why would “trans”gender exist, either? It sounds like we’re all in agreement that biology is reality, which is exactly what this author is saying.

        Stop throwing your social constructivism at us, Underlove.

  13. ga gamba says

    Canadian by choice

    The gender transition makes more sense than that.

  14. Tomboy for Life says

    I am a professional women in my late 30’s. I had a conversation with my mother recently that I think if I was a child now, I would be classified as ” gender dysphoric”. I was always the classic tomboy and still to this day identify with “male” things. I have always felt that I don’t’ fit in. I dressed and cut my hair as a boy up until high school. My nick names were all male. But this didn’t make me actually want to have male parts are change my sexual preferences. I have learned know that I think most of my feelings come from my personality type of INTJ. Not my gender.

    As a health care professional, I think the authors recommendations of letting children/adolescents go through some elements of puberty and having appropriate staged transitioning is key. HRT is not a sugar pill and should be taken only after thoughtful and careful deliberations.

  15. Alf says

    I find it deeply ironic that a bigoted, fascist member of the LGBT etc cult would claim gender was a creation of the patriarchy.

    “Sexologist John Money (a man who unethically experimented on people with gender identity disorder) introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money’s meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the concept of a distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender.”

    Feminists (and later the LGBT cult), not the patriarchy, ran with this pseudoscience to justify their radical ideas. John Money was a despicable clinician and a fraud. Anyone who bases their identity on his work should know more about him:
    https://youtu.be/6mtQ1geeD_c

    • Sydney says

      @Alf

      Good and reasonable comment. BUT please hesitate before you throw the baby out with the bathwater on feminism.

      First and second-wave feminism had rational and reasonable goals, and women needed to fight hard in order to reach them. If you’re educated and rational you understand what women’s rights and opportunities were before first- and second-wave feminism, and the massive and astonishing changes to girls’ and women’s lives once these goals were met.

      Feminism reached its goals (generally speaking) in the West. Reasonable feminists saw this and pulled back, or changed their tack. The PROBLEM emerged when this current intersectional third-wave feminism plowed forward pointlessly, gathering cult co-warriors as it went.

      The situation can probably be compared to civil rights issues in the United States. The U.S. left continues to plow forward with the claim that America is entrenched in institutional racism; while black centrists and conservatives point out that civil rights goals were met and that these lefties are simply ‘race hucksters’ waving the victim card (among other things).

      Social and political movements are critical. The problem is recognizing when goals have been met, and stopping them or knowing when only a tweak is necessary and not a continuing overhaul.

  16. Tim says

    Based on what you wrote, it seems you identify as a human being with all the delights and disappointments that comes with being part of the brotherhood of man.

  17. Nick Podmore says

    Princess Underlove….wow…just wow! Such venom, bile and hatred, you need to chill out! Authorising biological experimentation / tampering and amputation for children is just plain wrong. Its what the Nazis did…..

  18. I think we have to make a distinction between “gender discordance” versus “gender dysphoria.” Gender discordance really refers to any behavior that does not align with established gender norms and stereotypes. Gender discordant behavior is often observed in lesbian, gay, and bisexual people when they are young and often continues into adulthood; research corroborates that gender discordant behavior is a good predictor of LGB sexual orientation. The slurs “dyke” and “faggot” are designed to make gay, lesbian, and bisexual people feel shame about how they do not align with gender stereotypes and norms in their sexual orientation, their mannerisms, their mode of dress, et cetera.

    Gender dysphoria, I would argue, is something much deeper. It refers to psychological distress stemming from one’s gender identity not aligning with one’s assigned-sex-at-birth. It requires careful monitoring from a behavioral health care provider and may or may not result in a medical transition. Medical transitioning is very taxing and expensive process that requires careful consideration before moving forward.

    The problem comes when we observe gender discordance in children and/or adolescents and too quickly make the leap to thinking about medicalization. What if we observe gender discordant behavior in a child and encourage that child and their parents to think that they have “gender dysphoria” when in reality they are simply gay, lesbian, or bisexual? This is how, in my opinion, the hardline transgender ideology errs – it reinforces gender stereotypes, gender norms, and a binary conception of gender. If someone assigned-male-at-birth exhibits behaviors that are stereotypically associated with “women,” that does not automatically mean the person in question is transgender.

    None of this is to deny that transgender people face incredible disdain and often violence from others on the basis of their gender identity – although experiences depend upon the context in which one lives…transgender people in New York City are going to have different experiences and much more access to resources than someone living in rural Mississippi. Transgender people deserve to be free from harm, discrimination, and violence as with any human being under a universal human rights paradigm.

    But we do have to take a hard look at gender norms, gender stereotypes, our definitions of “biological sex” versus “gender,” and ask if the current discourse is actually reinforcing gender norms, stereotypes, and binaries rather than challenging them. We have to resist “all-or-nothing” thinking, consider each person’s experience on a case-by-case basis, and resist applying a singular framework to all gender non-conforming and transgender people. We have to resist the impulse to punish people who are supportive but do not get the language entirely right; it’s not realistic to expect everyone to automatically understand everything about one’s own experience.

    We also have to consider that the medical aspect of transitioning means that accessing a “transition” is closely linked to capitalism and economic inequality. We have a health care system in the United States particularly that approaches health care from a business perspective rather than a human rights perspective. You have to have access to considerable financial resources; and if you’re uninsured and/or underinsured, you’re going to be paying out of pocket for an incredibly expensive set of services.

    This is a physically, emotionally and psychologically taxing process that warrants careful deliberation – which is what I think this article brilliantly encapsulates.

    • BrsinFireBob says

      You forgot something very important.

      Yes, gender discordance can predict being gay or bisexual- or predict nothing at all. We also tell gender discordant children that as a pat answer- truth is, traditional definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” are very large tents.

      I took the Minnesota Type Ii when I underwent counseling for depression. One of my results was “gender confusion/confusion about gender roles”. Does this make me gay? No, I am sexually attracted to women. I took another personality assessment in my mid 20s that, based on my profile, said I was a mid 40s woman from Virginia.

      My wife is the opposite- she comes out masculine most of the time. My parents have a similar dynamic- as caregivers, for instance, my father cared about our emotional well being and comfort, and our mother had a “whaddya gonna do, cry about it? If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about” attitude.

      Neither of us is attracted to the same gender, nor do we think we’re living in the wrong gendered body. While I have a number of “feminine” personality traits, I also have a number of “masculine”. Yet today I am sure we both would have been pushed to transition, instead of really learning who we are. We both strongly dislike the bulk of our own gender, and are better off with my going to the showers and her joining the guys at a hockey game, but that is a different thing than being the opposite gender to our birth gender.

      What I hate about this current movement is that it displays vapid ignorance of the masculine/feminine spectrum. Archetypes are based on tendencies and averages. Say 80% of men like football and 10% of women do. Liking football would therefore be considered masculine because on average, you would guess any individual man you met did and any woman didn’t, with a reasonable chance of accuracy, barring no more information. That does not serve as a litmus test, that remaining 20% of men aren’t inherently less masculine nor are those 10% of women inherently less feminine.

  19. MMS says

    What a wonderfully earnest and thoughtful article. Thank you for sharing this.

  20. Will says

    “The prevalence of Gender Dysphoria is not nearly as high as many activists would have you believe. Indeed, it afflicts less than 1% of the population.”

    I believe this is true but can anyone link me to a study that proves it?

  21. Lightning Rose says

    This is the best, most lucid and well-reasoned article I’ve read anywhere on the subject.

  22. Sydney says

    ‘Cis’ and ‘cisgender’ are horrible, pejorative words. We all need to take back the language and use the preferable and neutral ‘natal’ and ‘natal-born [male/female]’ instead.

    Natal-male and natal-female, NOT horrible and pejorative ‘cis’ and ‘cisgender.’

    Good to read this honest, unvarnished, and politically neutral account by the author.

    • BrainFireBob says

      Cis is merely a prefix meaning same. No native pejorative, idiots just use it like it is. If you are cisgender, it means your junk matches your identification.

      • Sydney says

        We’re all aware of where ‘cis’ comes from. You might try and reclaim it, like gays did with ‘queer,’ but haven’t done with ‘faggot’ (for examples). Good luck; it’s now tainted.

        ‘Cis’ and ‘cisgender’ were NEVER used in daily English until they were taken to be used entirely pejoratively for political purposes, as the author correctly notices and notes in his piece (he writes that he hates the term).

        You can push back and reclaim its neutral usage, or go ‘NATAL’ and ‘NATAL-BORN’ instead.

        ‘Natal’ and ‘natal-born’ look and sound more organic and natural in terms of language, and they nicely communicate their meaning by their look and sound. ‘Natal’ implies simply, ‘I am natural.’

        ‘Cis’ is clunky and ugly in look and sound, which is why and how it works for the angry and resentful people who use it. They want to communicate their hatred toward their perceived enemies, and hissing/spitting out, ‘cis’ communicates their anger.

        All words matter!

        Haha, the irony here is that language IS FLUID and gender is NOT!

        • BrainFireBob says

          Cis is a chemistry term, they are the ones trying to claim it. Defensive of my science, yo

          • Stephanie says

            I’m not sure I like “natal” either. It seems to imply that the person in question was that sex at birth but not after. I think that term applies more appropriately to refer to people who have transitioned when referring to their birth sex. (E.g person x, a natal male…)

            Applied to people happy with their birth sex, it implies that trans people actually changed their sex, which is biologically incorrect and leads to all the silliness we’ve been reading about on Quillette.

            Gender dysphoria is a mental condition. Is a word for people that don’t have that particular condition really necessary? Unqualified “male” and “female” should suffice.

          • Todd Whitworth says

            In one of my drafts I mentioned that both cis and trans came from chemistry, and that the trans community co-opted those terms incorrectly. That part didn’t make the final edit.

        • curiositas says

          It’s the inevitable euphemism treadmill, though. Words have the meanings and connotations society attaches to them. If being “cis” or “natal” or whatever we choose to call it has a stigma attached to it, the concept carries the stigma and transfers it to the terminology, not the other way around. Think of how the terms “retarded” or “special” or “mentally challenged” all eventually became pejorative. Doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t try, but…we also have to be realistic about likely outcomes.

  23. Hmmm says

    Agree with everyone praising this article. These days, presenting common sense in a reasonable voice in a public forum can be a brave and virtuous act. I assume the author has developed a thick skin by now and is ready for the abuse to come a la Princess Underpants. Thank you to the author and to Quillette.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Hmmmm My skin is plenty thick. Words don’t hurt me unless I allow them too, so I don’t. Thank you for reading the article and taking the time to post a response.

  24. Donald Collins says

    Suicide rates are already high in this community. What will they be like when these kids that may just have been going through a phase find they are stuck?

    Some may say they will balance out as folks that want to be trans are more readily accepted, but I do not think so, I believe more is at work in the mind and biology to just assume that.

    But lets say that may be true, is the cost worth it? When I was a kid I wanted to be an alien, a Vulcan to be precise, would it have been proper for folks to encourage me to surgically, alter my body to mimic what I wanted to be? ( forget chemically cause green blood may be hard to do)

    As an adult, more power to you, but kids should be allowed to grow up then make the decisions that will affect their entire life, and I hope no matter the choices it would be a long one

  25. BrainFireBob says

    What about when these kids find out they can’t have children, even if they revert back?

  26. Mary says

    Thank you Todd! What bully trans like the unloved princess above do not understand is that having such an aggressive language and attitude is not actually helpful for their cause.

  27. Aerth says

    What is sad is that articles like this one may be written in hundreds and still author will sooner be called traitor, bot or whatever by trans activists than anything will change. Trans ideology is now similar to religion, it is not something that can be reasoned with anymore.

    Which was already proven by Princess Underlove here….

    • jakesbrain says

      I have my suspicions that Princess is a troll, deliberately mouthing the most venomous platitudes of the intersectional Left. But these people are so far gone that even a troll can only replicate the most radical of the positiions they already profess.

      • Heike says

        How do you tell the difference between satire and reality, when the real-life leftists are even uglier and nastier, and have even crazier ideas? It’s tough to say.

        • Jujucat says

          Probably wise to treat all the crazy ones as trolls. At least we can get a laugh out of it then.

        • curiositas says

          Mostly, it’s in the way it’s done. When a comment hews just a little *too* perfectly to a given stereotype, especially one that is likely to solicit strong negative reactions (which give trolls ‘the lulz’), and/or it pairs ideas or subtleties that are real variations of a given position but not variations that usually exist *together* in the same person, those are strong indicators. It’s not possible to tell perfectly, and Poe’s Law exists for a reason, but there are often clues.

  28. markbul says

    “There are two genders—male and female.”

    No, there are two sexes. Gender is La plume de ma tante. Sex is male and female. Frogs don’t have gender, and nor do spider monkeys. They have sex.

    All in all, a good take, and a refreshing one. I have no doubt that many transexuals agree, but don’t want to be crucified for saying so. It’s the half-way, trans-kiddies who are the problem.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      Fair point, thanks for taking the time to read the article. All the best.

  29. House of Shards says

    Transitioning from one sex to another is a huge undertaking that should not be taken lightly. I would highly recommend the interviews Benjamin Boyce has been doing with those who’ve de-transitioned on his youtube channel. Of particular interest might be the group of young women who now claim they transitioned due to social contagion, and now wish their parents had curbed this desire. Most took testosterone that destroyed their voices.

    I also watched a video done by a female to male describing the botched penis that creates pus and this person has to piss in a bag for the rest of their life. While this person superficially appears male, it is clear that something is amiss. That’s the other issue — read Freud’s The Uncanny. Trans persons say that they want to “pass” — yet most never will. Most viewers will — as stated by Freud — notice something unfamiliar in the familiar. In other words, passing is, for most, just not going to happen no matter what they do. Blaire White looks like a plastic female, for example. Something inauthentic is regardless the result of this deep-seated desire to “live authentically.”

    There’s a documentary on a male to female bodybuilder called “Transformer” (I believe). One could see where this was going. First of all — clearly this person is dealing with underlying issues that no amount of surgery could every rectify. Secondly, it is also clear that post-transition, this person will no longer fit into their community, regardless of their acceptance. It appears that “she” will lose the male bonds that were developed over time, and — and — in a scene where “she” is jumping on ice floes with “her” sons — honestly — I can think of no woman who would take such a risk, which “she” says herself. So what IS a woman then? Not what this male-to-female “transformer” believes it to be. It seems to be about appearances — and how others perceive you — which is not something we have much control over.

    There’s also the issue of sex. A female-to-male is going to have sex with? And with a non-functional penis? If this person is truly gay, most lesbians aren’t going to be interested. Gay men can be incredibly discerning. That might work — does the trans person identify as a gay man, then? There’s also the issue of not undergoing bottom surgery and the — shall we say — carpet not matching the drapes. It’s difficult enough these days to find a mate. Wouldn’t transitioning make it that much more difficult?

    It seems to me that there are numerous other ways to believe one’s self to be the other sex, without going through all of that.

    And last, but not least, I am being forced to put a gender caveat on my syllabus that is basically pro-trans propaganda that encourages the student to go down to the LQBT office to learn more. It sickens me to think that something written on my syllabus might result in a regretted mastectomy.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @House Of Shards,

      You bring up some interesting points. I happen to be attracted to gay men, not having lower surgery (or even if I had) was going to severely affect my prospects of finding a mate. However, I am very happily partnered. But I went into the decision to transition knowing full well that I may sacrifice finding that special someone. Choices come with sacrifice and being willing to give up having a partner was a choice I was willing to make. That is how important transition was for me personally.

  30. Hmmm says

    @House of Shards: On your syllabus?!? Is it for a gender-related course? (Even then…) World’s gone mad.

  31. Some good points/questions here in the article and in the comments. To summarize my unanswered questions:

    1 – Are we sure any specific kid in any specific scenario isn’t just gay? Sure enough to take/allow a minor to undergo body altering action?

    2 – Aren’t we now reinforcing gender stereotypes rather than blowing them up?

    3 – How do you identify with a specific gender if gender is a cultural construct that isn’t “real”? Isn’t that an obvious contradiction?

  32. Thank you, Mr. Whitworth. This is very well reasoned and important to her.

    May I ask your consideration of one thing? And that is your help in reducing the role that confusion over the term “gender” plays in encouraging people to see pathology where it isn’t?

    You say, “there are two genders–male and female,” and that’s strictly correct in the sense of the word that prevailed before the 1990s, which was synonymous with biological sex (when it wasn’t used in its original grammatical sense as term for noun classifications in languages that have grammatical gender). Unfortunately, academic postmodernist theory has since then tried to break down the meaning of words in general, and has rendered the word almost meaningless.

    It’s used by the transgender movement to refer to a state of mind that differs from perceived societal expectations, except when it isn’t–for example, when activists push young children into (actually quite bigoted) beliefs that not liking pink means a girl is really a boy. It’s used to mean a spectrum of social constructs to free us from the expectations associated with our biology, except when it isn’t–for example in the concept of “gender reassignment,” which is a biological intervention upon biological sex in order to create the appearance of an opposite biological sex, but names itself to suggest a change to the opposite gender, meaning that gender is binary, except when it claims that gender is non-binary. Etc. I wish I were making this up, but my school district comes at kids with this starting in kindergarten, and (thanks to lobbying by the industry) must by state law refer them to affirmation-only providers, without parental knowledge or consent. So there’s SO much riding on even our most trivial use of words.

    While you no doubt had every intention of speaking clearly, in some ways that makes you an even more important role model in helping people to see past the mess that was created by people’s misuse of this word and the ideas it represents.

    I would like to suggest that we use the word “gender” very, very cautiously. Maybe try to get back to using it for Latin grammar. And say “sex dysphoria” when we mean that someone is unhappy with their sex. And say “sex change” when people want to change their sex. And say “individuality” when we talk about all the perfectly acceptable interests that men and women can have regardless of their biology.

    Thank you for reading. And thanks again for your article.

  33. This is one of the few articles by a trans person that didn’t infuriate me. Well done. In the author’s case I find the transition from American to Canadian more ‘problematic’ than the female to male change…

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @benitacanova, Thank you for your kind words. I am a dual citizen of both the US and Canada and have love for both countries.

  34. Dreadhead says

    As a mtf transperson, I find this article refreshing as are many of the articles in this site. I just want to say that we’re not all brainwashed ideologues and that I hope these conversations continue. The “trans movement” has gone off the rails in pretty profound ways. I think its not just about equality, it is instead about privaleging minute trans experience over the norm. That is a terrible thing to do.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Dreadhead
      Thanks for taking the time to read the article, and for your comments. I think this conversation is important, that’s why I wrote about it.

  35. Todd, I thought your piece was well written, thought provoking and offered some much needed rational clarity in the midst of an increasingly screechy atmosphere as evidenced in some of the responses. I thank you for taking the time to put this together. It adds a dignified richness to the debate which I fear will play out for some time to come. You will have achieved something important if someone’s child is prevented from taking steps that may turn out to be disastrous. I was thinking as I read it that I too was what we all called a “tomboy” back in the day….but I always knew that I was female and so glad that I was allowed to grow up naturally, having been able to express that aspect of my personality without taking the drastic measures on offer today. Many thanks and good luck to you.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @carolinekay thank you very much, very nice of you to say.

  36. Sally says

    Thank you for this. You have stated things that need to be said. I can imagine it might not be easy to share these ideas but I really appreciate you doing so.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Jim Holms Thank you very kindly. This subject is important to me, it hits rather close to home. I find it fascinating that gender dysphoria has become fashionable, I know it intimately and it’s anything but fun.

  37. K. Woo says

    This is a well-meaning, but ultimately shallow article.

    The 85% desistance statistic is presented uncritically, which is unfortunate.

    Opponents of trans identity deliberately obfuscate the difference between desistance some time prior_to puberty, usually indicative of homosexuality, and desistance during puberty. They also dishonestly suggest that medical intervention occurs prior to puberty by raging against giving hormones therapy to a “child.”

    More recent evidence actually suggests that desistance during puberty is the exception:

    https://drfionabisshop.com/2018/05/27/the-path-of-least-desistance-dismantling-the-transgender-desistance-myth/

    “let nature take its course for a while”

    This sounds like solid advice until one considers that virilization during puberty is largely irreversible. It’s easy for a FTM trans person to take a relaxed attitude on this because successful post-pubescent virilization is far, far more successful than attempt to create female secondary-sexual characteristics after puberty (or after virilization).

    In other words, the author is only looking at the issue form his identity group’s perspective, which is exactly the sort of thinking that Quillette claims to reject. I would suggest that different patterns of gender dysphoria indicate that different standards of care are indicated for MTF and FTM adolescent patients.

    • JillL says

      No doubt the banter goes back and forth about desistance, the myth of it, and the myth of the myth. Dr. Fiona Bisshop’s article claims: “The problem with this 85% figure is that it isn’t actually based on reliable data. It is based on a small body of data involving cohorts of patients in both Canada and the Netherlands, much of it collected in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and there are a number of valid criticisms of the conclusions.” I would recommend the two of you have a look at the research compiled by Dr. James Cantor, and pay attention to the last 4 studies listed. They took place between 2008 and 2013 with patients with gender dysphoria and GID: http://www.sexologytoday.org/2016/01/do-trans-kids-stay-trans-when-they-grow_99.html
      If you read this article: https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/07/21972/ it describes the “Myth of the Desistance Myth” which could be of interest to you.

      When even Dr. Norman Spack (Gender Management Service at Boston’s Children’s Hospital) refers to the 80% desistance rate that should cause parents to watch & wait, it would seem there is credibility to the claims.

      • K. Woo says

        “with gender dysphoria and GID”

        I realize it is not an easy demarcation in many cases, but you inadvertently show precisely how the desistance rate can be inflated by including gender non-conformance.

        Trans activists also muddy the waters because they are so ideologically wound up about making body dysphoria the line, so there’s blame to go around in making the data of limited value.

        Cantor if you notice uses a vague rubric like “kids” instead of carefully demarcating puberty status. He’s also been personally invested in this debate, so is too intent on ‘owning’ the trans activists.

        Show me a study that finds majority desistance of gender dysphoria in adolescents, that is persons who have begun puberty. Bisshop cited a study by Michelle Telfer that showed overwhelming (96%) continuance in such a cohort.

        • JillL says

          Gender Identity Disorder is not the same as gender non-conforming so am unsure your point. The 4 studies I referred to were not GNC clients. Even if you look only at the Steensma research – I know it has plenty of nay-sayers, but the other article I gave details it’s accurate measure of desistance.

          As for Telfer’s study, there isn’t any information given. How many children were in the study? It would be helpful to know just how many kids the 96% represented. Were those children transitioning (socially?, blockers?, hormones?) into adolescence? That makes a considerable difference in persistance as those who watch and wait, without transition, are the ones who show desistance upon puberty. Bisshop doesn’t give much to go on with that statistic.

          Cantor – personal investment due to his line of expertise? his sexual orientation? of what do you refer?

          • K. Woo says

            Like I said the categorization is a mess. Think about it, if you don’t have body dysphoria, then logically you’re just gender non-conforming. GNC with clinical presentation was lumped into the now defunct GID label, hence the need to change it circa 2012. The replacement, “gender dysphoria,” is still opens the door to GNC inclusion because body dysphoria only makes sense with respect to sex, not gender.

            Reread Vigo’s article again. Note how she uses a vague rubric of “children” throughout, with no care for puberty status. That should raise red flags and is exactly teh tool of sophistry I noted above.

            Besides I’m aware of Vigo’s agenda, which is blanket opposition to medical transition, so I’ll only note that she ironically and inadvertently argues strongly for overwhelming persistence (in keeping with Telfer’s affidavit of 96%) when she rails against the fact that nearly ‘100%’ of patients on blockers move to hormone.

            Think it through, to be put on blockers (or hormones) one must be in puberty or with puberty deemed imminent. No one is going to be put on blockers without a claim of dysphoria, even if sudden (a legitimate concern to be sure). Subsequently, no one is going to be put on hormones without a claim of dysphoria that has persisted throughout the blocker phase. If initial misdiagnosis or desistance were material issues, one would expect some drop outs between the blocker and hormone stage. Yet by Vigo’s own admission this does not occur.

            I’ve seen the data from Telfer, but I can’t find them right now. I recall approximately n=200, counted if dysphoric at/during puberty, but I would never claim to be incapable of misremembering something. These were percentages for medical transition, so blockers and hormones. Since Cantor (my comment is based on his social media remarks) is such a good faith scientist, he would surely reach out to any colleagues that report results contrary, right?

  38. JillL says

    This is one of the best, balanced articles I’ve read on this topic, especially written subjectively. Numerous crucial points made, and I will refer to many of them in an information/equipping seminar for parents this week. So true that “media describes gender as a sort of glorious free-for-all” which is strongly promoted in our schools now. Thank you Todd, for writing and also for drawing my attention to BMJ which looks like a promising, credible site.

  39. Lori Hawk says

    Very good writing skills. You pulled me in. Thank you for this.

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @Lori Hawk Thank you, I appreciate your saying so, a lot of credit for the polish goes to my fabulous editor.

  40. Julia says

    What is the difference between the 15% and the 85% if ALL of those teens say the same things (like “I’m a boy because I don’t like makeup”) and ALL of them believe they are the 15%? And if it continues into adulthood, is it “true Scotsman” or just being stuck? Do those parents who held their kids back celebrate them as “true transgender” if they transition in college? Not really.

    Statistics illustrate probabilities and don’t imply differences between groups (there might be none). If I draw a circle on the floor and pour a bucket of balls into it, some end up inside or it, the others outside. But it’s not indicative of differences among the balls other than the “right place and time” randomness. In the same way, we should’t imply innate differences between those who desist and those who don’t.

    I believe, every adult is at liberty to modify their body for any reason or no reason at all and shouldn’t be judged for that. We used to define transsexuals as those people who already transitioned, with the transition being a simple fact, not some obscure “true identity” in somebody’s head, which may or may not result in transitioning. How much do kids and young adults get hurt by the “true transgender” narrative?

    Endlessly expanding “identities” and “gender dysphoria” to have THE TOTAL NUMBER (15%+85%=100%) growing is a problem. Conceptualization isn’t education anymore but a tool of brainwash. I keep thinking that it was beneficial for an anxious nerdy tomboy like me to be completely ignorant about any transgender until I was socialized and mature enough to overcome my body image problems. It’s one thing when a teen experiences SEVERE discomfort but DOESN’T KNOW where to place it until being carefully diagnosed and having other conditions and treatment options ruled out. But today kids are engrossed in social networks and don’t have the luxury of ignorance. They self-diagnose reading other teens saying stupid things and get fascinated with videos showing how “beautiful” it is to be trans. They know what to say to doctors to get what they want. If they get into a different social environment in college or otherwise get pulled out from their bubble into the real world, they desist or detransition. But if they stay in the same bubble after having crossed into adulthood, good luck.

  41. Avid Reader says

    Thanks to the author for writing this piece, I think it is invaluable to hear lived experiences. THis can be difficult in the age of shouty activists dominating social media. I have met only 2 transgenders in my 50 years. And whilst happy to answer questions about their transitions, they really had the same issues as the rest of us-bills to pay, exams to pass, the boss is an idiot! And quite frankly, they both found it understandably a bit insulting that people wanted to talk sex, instead of listening to their excellent technical knowledge in their respective fields of science.

    All the best Todd.

  42. Thanks for your common sense article on a very complex and controversially “hot” topic. A balanced approach is very much needed and I’m so reieved to see it emerging from all the hype out there…..

    • Todd Whitworth says

      @annj49 Thank you I truly appreciate your taking the time to read the article and for your comment.

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  45. ThinkMoor (Pls advise if my actual name is needed, because I prefer only my user name be published.) says

    Well done & much needed. I transitioned F2M as a mature adult and lived as male several years, before I decided to transition back to female. I too was a tomboy and tend to be more comfortable in the company of a group of men with their social interaction styles than I do in the company of a group of women with their rules. In many ways I identify socially with men more than women. However, for me, though I had been happy after my transition to male, the biological issues over time became more compelling. That included the genital issues and something as comparatively trivial as the realization that I really did not want to go bald. I don’t regret having transitioned to male and back. It was a journey that was helpful to me, but also costly in many ways.

    Children and adolescents almost never have had enough time or experience with themselves to make such a drastic, profound alteration in their lives. I do understand the reasoning and reality that transitioning can be more successful physically before puberty has completed its course, especially for male to female trans people. However, that is not reason enough to let immature young ones to take such a life altering step.

    A further comment on therapy on this issue. With the trendiness some therapists who specialize in this field are so positively biased that they don’t explore either alternative causes of the individual’s distress or alternative solutions to try before the all-out, irrevocable body altering of a gender transition. I was in a group that was a real fast-track to meeting the medical protocol requirements for transition. It was, incidentally, lucrative for the therapist to meet with so many people at one time who had the means and motivation to pay any price. One M2F instead had Dissociative Identity Disorder rather than Gender Identity Disorder. Better screening than that is important.

    Finally, as you note, the transition changes one’s gender presentation, but it is not a “sex change.” It is important for that to be made very clear to people seeking to transition. That difference may seem subtle, but isn’t in reality. Children and adolescents are naturally susceptible to fantasy & may believe a transition is a sex change. They need real guidance because they may not be able to grasp that difference without wise & caring support that not only respects their self-perception but also respects their developmental limitations. I do support transition for those who really have severe gender dysphoria. It may save their lives. But caution along with respectful acceptance of their self-understanding is very important. In the words of the “Serenity Prayer,” young people especially need help to find the wisdom to know the difference between having courage to change things they can change & acceptance of things they cannot change. Again, thanks for your honest revelations and wise insights.

  46. Todd Whitworth says

    @ThinkMoor I appreciate your feedback very much. Thank you for your time.

  47. dirk says

    I know a new type of record for the Guinness book: a person that went F2M, back to female, and then again back to male. The start of course for a new record, and again one, without end. Funny. And don’t ask for the costs for the docters (insured?), money should not spoil the fun.

  48. Isaias says

    Thank you so much, Todd. Most informative, science-base, and down to earth. Articles like yours should be mandatory reading for so many self-proclaimed ‘saviours.’

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