Originally posted on Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT)
My teenage daughter has decided that she is “trans”. So have all her friends. Not some of them. Not most of them. Every. Single. One.
She had never heard of trans, and had no signs of gender dysphoria, until she was moved to a new, cool trans-friendly school by her unsuspecting, politically liberal parents. There she met a group of geeky (or dare I say nerdy?), smart, slightly (but not very) gender nonconforming, artsy kids. As I understand it, they all discovered “trans” together. The old “cis” friends were swiftly discarded in favour of this exciting new peer group.
Exploring “trans stuff” online with friends is a source of great interest and excitement—a real social event. What’s not to love about 245 gender identities, complete with their own unique flags? Then there are those cool neo-pronouns. Forcing your out-of-touch old parents to refer to you as “ze” or “ey” (how do you pronounce that again??) in the name of “inclusivity” is just too delicious to resist. The manga, the cute avatars in computer games, the blue or pink hair—all part of the fun as well. Mocking the outgroup (in this case so-called “cis” people in general and the dreaded TERFs in particular) is also good for a laugh—especially if they happen to be your parents as well.
There is even a special vocabulary with lots of new terms—deadnaming, misgendering, sex assigned at birth, and much more. If these concepts need to be explained to your uncool parents (accompanied by eye rolls of course), so much the better.
Bonding with friends, searching for their identity and place in life, working out their sexuality, separating from family—these are all normal developmental tasks for teens. For many, youth subcultures can be a natural part of that. Some are harmless. Some, like drug use and extreme dieting, not so much. But in the case of the latter, sensible adults usually intervene to help steer the young people in the right direction. Not in the case of trans. Here we have adults steering kids down a dangerous path, which involves permanent, life altering drugs and surgeries for which there is no good evidence base.
For many of these kids, LGBTQ+ is a youth subculture. It really is as simple as that. Recent surveys have been identifying skyrocketing rates of “trans” or “queer” identification in young people. One found that an astonishing 39% of young adults in the US aged between 18-24 identified with the label LGBT—the figure for teens <18 may well be even higher. Of course this figure includes gay and lesbian people as well as those identifying as trans. Another poll, which looked only at gender, found that nearly 10% of US high schoolers identified as “gender diverse”. Yet another survey gives a lower figure of 1.8%. Whichever figure is correct, this is a huge explosion in numbers over a very short period of time. As endocrinologist Dr Will Malone asks; “How do we reconcile these numbers with 2013 data reporting the prevalence of adult gender dysphoria to be a rare 2-14 in 100,000?”
Social contagion and the development of a new youth subculture, that’s how.
Clinicians are speaking out in increasing numbers, sounding the alarm about the viral spread of trans identification. As far back as 2019, psychiatrists had begun to sound the alarm. Dr Lisa Littman’s much maligned study, published in 2018, documented parent reports of the phenomenon. Even gender clinicians are now beginning to become alarmed and are speaking out about the epidemic of trans identification among youth.
Canadian sexologist Debra Soh has bluntly (but accurately in my view) opined that the increase in LGB identification among youth is at least partly due to trendiness. To be fair, for kids who were previously struggling to fit in, suddenly being part of the latest trend must be intoxicating.
Recently, the National Academy of Medicine in France has explicitly acknowledged the role of social contagion in trans identities, commenting in a press release (Boldface mine);
While this condition [gender dysphoria] has been long recognized, a sharp increase in demand for medical interventions has been observed first in North America, then in Northern Europe, and, more recently, in France, particularly among children and adolescents. …………………..Whatever the mechanisms involved in adolescents – excessive engagement with social media, greater social acceptability, or influence by those in one’s social circle – this epidemic-like phenomenon manifests itself in the emergence of cases or even clusters of cases in the adolescents’ immediate surroundings. This primarily social problem is due, in part, to the questioning of an overly dichotomous view of gender identity by some young people……………………
Crucially, they point out;
.. there is no test to distinguish between persisting gender dysphoria and transient adolescent dysphoria.
Parents addressing their children’s questions about transgender identity or associated distress should remain vigilant regarding the addictive role of excessive engagement with social media, which is both harmful to the psychological development of young people and is responsible for a very significant part of the growing sense of gender incongruence.
Some may argue than many of these young people who claim “gender diverse” identities are just messing around and “exploring their gender”, that they are “transtrenders”and will never actually undergo medical interventions. Maybe so. Indeed, if all of these young people sought medical transition, health systems would be completely overwhelmed. But as soon as these kids turn 18, any one of them can go into a Planned Parenthood, declare themselves to be trans, sign a consent form and access hormone drugs with irreversible and permanent effects. These include (for females taking testosterone) voice deepening, facial hair growth, painful clitoral enlargement and male pattern baldness. These drugs also have multiple serious side effects. Investigative journalist Abigail Shrier has documented how cursory the assessment process at Planned Parenthood actually is. The Truth FairyInside Planned Parenthood’s Gender FactoryA month ago, I was sent a Tweetstorm written by a woman who had worked as a “reproductive health assistant” at Planned Parenthood for about 18 months prior to March 2020. If you assumed that the employee had abortion on her mind, then your knowledge of Planned Parenthood is outdated. Planned Parenthood is now…Read morea year ago · 76 likes · 89 comments · Abigail Shrier
This new subculture could have been quite harmless. The identity labels and flags, the playing around with names, dress, hairstyles and personal presentation—this is all normal adolescent stuff. I am old enough to remember Annie Lennox, David Bowie, and other celebrities who pushed the boundaries with their androgynous (remember that great old word?) presentations and entertained us with their excellent music.
But…these gender benders were not telling their teen fans that they might be born in the wrong body. They were not telling them they needed to alter their healthy bodies by taking powerful hormones, lopping off healthy body parts, or sterilizing themselves. They were not telling them they needed to painfully bind their breasts, or tuck their male genitals up into their bodies in shame. This is where things have gone very, very wrong. Various groups of adults (ranging from the merely unhelpful to the frankly predatory) are deeply involved with promoting the medicalization of these young people who are exploring their identities in a totally age appropriate way, and have turned this into the biggest medical scandal in living memory. These include but are not limited to:
- Activists who seem to be driven by a varying mixture of mental illness, a desperate need for validation, and a simply overwhelming need (of which they are blissfuly unaware) to get off social media and get a life.
- Media seeking to sell content
- Teachers and schools who push this ideology onto our kids and hide vital health information from parents
- Clinicians seeking to feed their messiah complexes and/or their bank accounts
- Politicians chasing votes
- Various miscellaneous busybodies who mean well but have drunk the gender KoolAid and may be encountered at any time and in any place—anyone from the lady next door, to your local church minister, to the person you buy your milk from at the local shops.
The adults are not just missing in action on this one, they are the driving force behind the damage.
Some adults are actually encouraging trans identifying youth to present the self harm of permanent bodily modifications as being “cool”. There are 21 “champions” listed on the website of the “Gender Cool Project”. All but 5 of these are still under the age of 18. The oldest is 19, the youngest just 11. Every one of them has a brain that is years away from having a mature capacity to judge risk, and make safe long term decisions. It is now well established that adolescence lasts right up to age 25. Until then, key parts of the brain such as the frontal lobes are still not fully mature.
Hence, what we have here are adults encouraging and supporting cognitively immature youth to promulgate the message that “thriving” and being “cool” necessitates inflicting permanent harm on healthy young bodies. If you read the profiles of these kids, you will find that several have been utilized by the adults around them to undertake public activism since they were under ten years old. Of course you won’t find information about medical transition on this site—it is all about being your “authentic self”— “who you truly are”. But it is clear, looking at these kids, and hearing them talk, that many have undergone these interventions.
As a mature adult in her 50s, I have been around the block a few times. I do not need these “Gender Cool” youth (bless them) to “replace misinformed opinions” and educate me as they offer to do on their website. There are multiple other examples online of adolescents thinking they know better that their elders on this topic, and many have clearly been steered by adults who ought to know better.
This video was produced in association with Minus 18, an Australian non profit organization which has received large grants from local councils and the Victorian state government, and which promotes gender ideology to adolescents. Like the “Gender Cool” adolescents, the young people in the video are also offering to educate adults (health professionals in fact), who may perhaps be misinformed about trans identities and need to understand that young people (supposedly) have the right to access medical transition on demand. They also tell us that serious mental illnesses, including psychosis (which in the acute phases actually involves the person losing touch with reality), are actually “neurodiversities” and should not impede the person from undergoing permanent “gender affirming” medical interventions, if that is their desire.
Adolescents have always thought they were smarter than the oldies. It seems to be a healthy, normal part of differentiating and developing into a mature adult. However, the adults are not supposed to throw up their hands, decline to set any boundaries, and agree with them. This approach seems very unlikely to end well.
I mean no disrespect to any young person who identifies as transgender—including the youth of the Gender Cool Project, who tell us they are “thriving”. I wish them all the best. It is simply my opinion that they are being gravely wronged by the adults encouraging their behavior, who should be guiding them to embrace their gender nonconformity, learn to love their natural bodies, and fight for acceptance in every sphere of their lives WITHOUT permanently harming their bodies.
I do worry how these “cool” young people will feel in five, ten or twenty years when perhaps they have been unable to find a life partner, regret having been rendered permanently infertile, or are suffering serious side effects from the drugs they have taken or the surgeries they have undergone.
In the meantime, the large numbers of youth who are being encouraged to buy into this ideology, and most certainly are NOT thriving, are being influenced by their message. We parents can attest to that—and no, “increased acceptance” will NOT make everything rosy for the many who are being harmed. This young woman described in the PITT substack article “Living in a War Zone: My Daughter’s Tragedy in Slow Motion”, received uncritical “acceptance” of her trans identity from everyone around her apart from her loyal family, instead of the mental health care she so desperately needed. You can read about the outcome for yourself in the followup article, “Our Daughter’s Tragedy: An Update”.
Other parents on the PITT substack have multiple similar stories to tell.
I don’t know quite how we got here—but this needs to stop. The adults need to start behaving like adults and let the kids be kids. We should let them explore their identities without pushing them towards drugs and surgeries, so they can grow up with healthy intact bodies, loving themselves as they are.
Oh, and in case you still believe the “true trans” narrative after reading this—the idea that these kids somehow possess a deep inner wisdom which causes them to just KNOW they were born in the wrong body – check out this list on PITT of reasons some of our kids give for “knowing” they are trans.