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The tragedy of becoming a woman GIDS told girls they needed a cure for femaleness

Did I have dysphoria? (Diogo Baptista/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Did I have dysphoria? (Diogo Baptista/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


February 14, 2023   8 mins

I’m nine. I’m small for my age, but I’m strong. I climb trees. I make dens. I play out all day in the summer, and in the evening I sit in the bath and marvel at the way the scabs knit together on my knees and my bruises bloom and fade. I can’t describe my relationship with my body at this age, because for there to have been a relationship at all would suggest there were two of us, me and it, and there weren’t: there was just one happily animal thing.

I wasn’t a tomboy. I liked dresses, my long red hair, my collection of Sylvanians who lived soap-opera lives in neat plastic houses carefully arranged by me and my sister. But I knew there was something contemptible about the girlish things I enjoyed from the way the boys at school talked about them. Little by little, I learned to be ashamed of being the kind of person these things belonged to.

Then there were the unmistakable signs that me and my body would not, after all, enjoy our peaceful union forever: the adult women I overheard sociably griping about their own deficiencies (too fat, too big-bummed), the girls my age whose bodies were erupting into curves. The boys leered; the girls yet to start puberty judged. We whispered that the ones wearing bras were stuffing their cups with tissue paper, and said they rustled when they walked. I dreaded becoming one of them, and I feared what it would mean if it didn’t happen to me. One day — I suppose I was 10 — I stood at the corner of the playing field (which was, as usual, taken up by boys playing football) and thought I will not be a girl.

I got no say in the matter, though. My compact, reliable body sprouted embarrassing hair, turned to gooseflesh when boys (not even boys I liked!) looked at me, and exceeded its former bounds so rapidly I was striped with stretch marks all over my hips. We were two things now.

One day, I was dozing in the back of the car as my parents drove the family home and I heard a short story on the radio — I was almost 12 — about a man who wishes to be free of his body, so first cuts off his head, then has his brain removed from his skull. I would like to do that, I thought. To be pure self, no flesh at all. I was in the wrong body. It announced my femaleness, it invited certain ways of being looked at, sometimes touched. It betrayed me. I couldn’t dispose of it, so I hated it instead.

The metamorphosis of puberty is hard for almost everyone. For girls, though, there is a specific trauma. You don’t simply become an adult: you become a product on the sexual marketplace, regardless of your own will. This divides you: you learn to see yourself from the outside, as an object, through the imagined eyes of men. You lose your space in the world, and any part of you that goes beyond the strictly minimal can start to feel like grotesque excess.

Did I have dysphoria? There was no one to diagnose me; I only have my own memories to guide me. What I can say is that I don’t know of another word that describes my desire to discipline and punish myself into something safely un-sexed. When I read accounts from other female people describing their own dysphoria, I feel a painful recognition.

Trans man Lewis Hancox’s graphic novel Welcome to St Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure has a diagram of Hancox’s teenage body, with the breasts marked “fatty lumps that need to be gone” and an arrow pointing to “hips from hell”. These are things I thought about myself. Not so severely as Hancox (I didn’t have an eating disorder), but I thought them.

If I had been offered a way out — a medical “pause button”, as hormone blockers are casually called — would I have taken it? I can’t think, actually, of anything I would have received more gratefully at this time in my life. Nor can I think of a more carelessly poisonous response than adults affirming what I felt about my body. It’s strange, then, that for 31 years, a specialist unit existed within the NHS which effectively took girls like me and told them: “yes, you’re right, your body is wrong, but we can fix that for you.” The unit was the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), contained within the Tavistock and Portman Trust in London. What happened there, and how it went so appallingly wrong, is now the subject of a remarkable book by the journalist Hannah Barnes called Time to Think.

GIDS didn’t only treat girls, but it’s the girls who particularly interest me. That’s partly because, as Barnes outlines, GIDS itself was remarkably uninterested in them. The service was founded by child and adolescent psychiatrist Domenico Di Ceglie in 1989, and initially, the patients had a clear profile: mostly boys, and usually referred in pre-pubescent childhood. Girls with dysphoria weren’t unheard of (the initial case that got Di Ceglie interested in gender identity was female), but they were not typical.

That changed dramatically. In 2011, GIDS saw for the first time an equal number of male and female patients. In 2020-21, 68% of the patients for whom GIDS recorded sex were female. (A repeated theme of the GIDS scandal is poor record keeping: shockingly, no birth sex was recorded for 22% of patients referred in 2021-22.) And these girls were arriving at the clinic older than the boys: pubescent adolescents who, like me, had no previous history of dysphoria.

But while they were strikingly unlike GIDS’s previous patients, these girls were astonishingly similar to each other. Barnes relates the description given by Anna Hutchinson, a senior clinical psychologist formerly employed at GIDS, and one of the many whistleblowers to have gone on the record about the service’s failings:

“Self-diagnosed adolescent trans boys — natal females — started to fill up GIDS’s waiting room with similar stories, haircuts, even names – ‘one after another after another’. They’d talk about their favourite trans YouTubers, many having adopted the same name, and how they aspired to be like them in the future.”

One thing that all GIDS patients had in common, regardless of sex, was that they had far more going on than just gender trouble. A 2012 study found that associated difficulties included “non-suicidal self-harm, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, autism spectrum conditions (ASCs), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), symptoms of anxiety, psychosis, eating difficulties, bullying and abuse”.

Also, a lot of the girls presenting at GIDS were bisexual or lesbian — over 90%. Or rather, they would have been lesbian, if they’d identified as female. One clinician Barnes speaks to recalls female patients saying things like, “When I hear the word lesbian, I cringe. I want to die”, and “I’m gonna vomit if I hear the word lesbian another time”. Gay and lesbian clinicians who asked whether such internalised homophobia should complicate a dysphoria diagnosis were told that they were “too close” to the subject to be objective. That this dismissal of same-sex attracted people’s experiences and insights was itself a signal instance of homophobia seemed not to occur to GIDS as an institution.

GIDS, it seems, was no longer interested in asking questions. When the service was founded, one of its principles had been an explorative approach: “Di Ceglie could see that, in some cases, by addressing other difficulties experienced by the child — things like depression, abuse or trauma — it might ‘secondarily affect the gender identity development’. In other words, sometimes the gender identity difficulties might resolve if other difficulties being faced were dealt with as well.” But by the time the majority of GIDS’s caseload had become female adolescents, the culture of the service had decisively changed. In 2009, Polly Carmichael took over from Di Ceglie as head of the clinic. Her tenure saw the clinic adopt a high public profile — participating in a string of documentaries that boosted GIDS’s image and promoted its work — while internally adopting an “us against the world” attitude. Clinicians were encouraged to see themselves as a “family”: disagreement became a personal betrayal. One GIDS staff member recalls that anyone raising criticisms of the service was likely to be told “this has made Polly cry”.

Perhaps as important as the clinic’s leadership, though, were the external pressures: as the concept of “gender identity” took hold more widely, the idea that one’s “subconscious sex” ought to supersede the physical body began to direct treatment. Trans support groups like Mermaids and GIRES promoted an “affirmative model”, which insisted that any child who said they were trans should be treated as trans. This influenced both the expectations of patients and their families, and the practice of GIDS doctors. Hormone treatment became the default. Patients came, not because they wanted to explore their gender issues, but because they wanted puberty blockers. If doctors were unwilling to prescribe them, Barnes reports, patients would simply be referred to a different doctor. There was usually little opportunity for reflection: GIDS staff were expected to manage caseloads of up to 100 patients each, as referrals increased from 97 in 2009-10 to 2,748 in 2019-20 (a 2,800% increase overall, and an even more shocking 4,200% increase in girls). Once patients were on puberty blockers, nearly 100% would go on to take cross-sex hormones.

A service that had once prided itself on treating its patients as individuals had become something more like an assembly line. Whatever issues a child had, the only answer the clinic had was blockers. What’s terrible about this isn’t just that many children will have been put on a path to transition that could have been avoided; it’s that they were not receiving specialised support for their other, more pressing problems. Barnes tells the story of one boy who, as well as identifying as a girl, had such severe OCD that he couldn’t leave the house. His family got no support for the OCD, but GIDS sent a psychiatrist who offered to make an endocrinology referral.

With its one-size-fits-all plan, GIDS was failing every one of its patients: one of the reasons why, in 2022, an independent review commissioned by the NHS into gender identity services for children and young people made an interim recommendation that GIDS be shut down and replaced with regional specialist centres. (This spring, that advice will be enacted.) But — without diminishing the harm done to boys, which was plentiful — girls were particularly damaged by GIDS, because girls were being put on a pathway that was the definition of male default. GIDS had developed its approach to serve the traditional paediatric sufferer of dysphoria: a pre-pubertal boy. Because the clinic’s culture militated against self-reflection, the treatment stayed the same even though the patients had drastically changed.

It’s not uncommon for women to be badly served by medicine in this way, given that women are neglected as research subjects. Historically, femaleness has been treated as an abnormality, to be ignored if it cannot be remedied. What’s exceptional about the GIDS case, though, is that the underlying philosophy of trans identity effectively made these girls doubly invisible. They were invisible, firstly, to a model that had never taken them into account. But secondly, and more profoundly, they were invisible because gender identity doctrine held that even to think of them as female was to “misgender” them. You couldn’t say how they were different to boys without conceding that they were not, in strict fact, boys.

But to hate your body as a teenage girl is one of the most categorically female experiences possible. I didn’t hate my body because I wasn’t a girl; I hated it precisely because I was, and because of everything I feared or knew that being a woman might mean.

Trans activists tend to dismiss stories like mine: if I had truly been dysphoric, they say, I would never have grown up to be the basic bitch I am today. I would have found a way to transition. But if I’d had YouTube, Mermaids and a compliant medical service, the way would have been signposted for me in neon lights. I learned to live with my body, in time, because no one gave me an alternative.

One of the many reasons that the “pause button” claim about blockers is a lie is that going through puberty is one of the ways you become reconciled to puberty. Discovering your sexuality might help you discover that your body exists for your pleasure, not just external judgement. Gradually, the alien flesh can become familiar again. The girls who went through GIDS were denied this. Taking puberty blockers means you never reach adult sexual function. Tentative research suggests that girls who went on blockers actually felt worse about their bodies after several years. Blockers didn’t treat their dysphoria: they exacerbated it.

For some few, transition will have been the right outcome. Others are left forever learning to live with bodies that have been made strange and vulnerable — weakened bones, dropped voices, vaginal atrophy, scarred and breastless chests if they went on to have mastectomies. There is a small, but growing, community of female detransitioners. Barnes quotes one, who has undergone a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy: “I regret all of it… I wish someone would have been there to tell me not to get castrated at 21.”

The things these women did in an effort to become not-girls remind me so keenly of the girl I used to be, with her vague longing for a bodiless life. A perverse sisterhood of doomed escapologists, looking for a get-out from what biology had planned for us. The way I once felt about myself was terrible, but it was also normal: the terribly normal fact of feminine self-loathing. The tragedy of a misogynistic world is that it makes girls believe they need a cure for femaleness. The scandal of GIDS is that it pretended it could supply one.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

This is a very moving article, and as a parent of a young girl, a frightening one. “…to hate your body as a teenage girl is one of the most categorically female experiences possible“, and not one any male can replicate through a change of wardrobe and hairstyle. I might add that being a teenage boy isn’t always a bed of roses either. But now supporting your child, without necessarily affirming their confused or panicked responses to the changes they are experiencing, could be quite literally illegal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Doing what you instinctively feel to be right is all you can do. Easy to say, i know, but forget about legalities; the law can’t change your love and care for your child during this vital time in their lives.

The world is far more complex for teenagers to negotiate than ever before, and their biggest influence will always be their peer group, exacerbated now by being ever-present via mobiles. When my son & daughter entered their teens in the 2000s mobile technology was still developing so the generation of parents you represent are having to find a way through something entirely unprecedented in human history.

All i can add is, let no-one tell you what is best for your child. So-called ‘experts’ are nothing of the kind – how can they be, at such an unprecedented juncture? Above all, go easy on yourself, if possible. Just staying true to your own principles is the only way forward, and whatever storms hit, as so vividly described in this much-needed article, keep believing your daughter will come through towards fully-fledged womanhood. The overwhelming odds are, she will, despite how overwhelming the changes taking place might seem both within and around her.

And good luck!

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Good sense, as always.

maria lelekis
maria lelekis
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The horrific case of Dr. Money and David Reimer should be talked about more. It’s the perfect example of a twisted so called specialist

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I completely agree with you. My heart goes out to youngsters whose parents are not wise.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Good sense, as always.

maria lelekis
maria lelekis
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The horrific case of Dr. Money and David Reimer should be talked about more. It’s the perfect example of a twisted so called specialist

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I completely agree with you. My heart goes out to youngsters whose parents are not wise.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Try not to worry, be natural and responsive, encourage discussion and love her. You cannot do more, and it will be enough.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The parental rights issue is huge ! Not to mention that if your co-parent isn’t on the same page, there can literally be civil war in a household and make things even more confusing and dangerous for the teenager. It makes me think that the only safe place to raise childrin these days is in the middle of nowhere.

Ruari McCallion
Ruari McCallion
1 year ago

“if your co-parent isnt on the same page there can be civil war in a household”.

It has been alleged that this is what happened in former Mermaids head Susie Green’s household.

Ruari McCallion
Ruari McCallion
1 year ago

“if your co-parent isnt on the same page there can be civil war in a household”.

It has been alleged that this is what happened in former Mermaids head Susie Green’s household.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Parenting in a world at war with reality and limits is tough. Adolescence is coming to terms with the realities of life, its unchosen obligations, and its constraints; but also its opportunities, and the many possible ways of making one’s way in the wide world with what one has. A culture which, through the media of screens, digitised fantasies, and biomedical technology, elevates the self to the position of a god, seemingly able to choose for itself what and how it wants to be without limit sells a horrible lie to vulnerable teenagers, that is that they can be whatever they think they want to be without hard work or sacrifice or sustained effort over a long period of time – and even then it might not work out.

This is not coming to terms with the natural world and one’s place in it, it is a fantastical attempt to literally screen it all out of existence. That’s a horribly cruel thing to do to a young individual; doing it to a whole generation of young people is a recipe for civilisational collapse. Paul Kingsnorth has, I believe, hit the nail on the head: we are watching the great fall paulkingsnorth.substack.com/p/watch-the-great-fall

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Doing what you instinctively feel to be right is all you can do. Easy to say, i know, but forget about legalities; the law can’t change your love and care for your child during this vital time in their lives.

The world is far more complex for teenagers to negotiate than ever before, and their biggest influence will always be their peer group, exacerbated now by being ever-present via mobiles. When my son & daughter entered their teens in the 2000s mobile technology was still developing so the generation of parents you represent are having to find a way through something entirely unprecedented in human history.

All i can add is, let no-one tell you what is best for your child. So-called ‘experts’ are nothing of the kind – how can they be, at such an unprecedented juncture? Above all, go easy on yourself, if possible. Just staying true to your own principles is the only way forward, and whatever storms hit, as so vividly described in this much-needed article, keep believing your daughter will come through towards fully-fledged womanhood. The overwhelming odds are, she will, despite how overwhelming the changes taking place might seem both within and around her.

And good luck!

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Try not to worry, be natural and responsive, encourage discussion and love her. You cannot do more, and it will be enough.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The parental rights issue is huge ! Not to mention that if your co-parent isn’t on the same page, there can literally be civil war in a household and make things even more confusing and dangerous for the teenager. It makes me think that the only safe place to raise childrin these days is in the middle of nowhere.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Parenting in a world at war with reality and limits is tough. Adolescence is coming to terms with the realities of life, its unchosen obligations, and its constraints; but also its opportunities, and the many possible ways of making one’s way in the wide world with what one has. A culture which, through the media of screens, digitised fantasies, and biomedical technology, elevates the self to the position of a god, seemingly able to choose for itself what and how it wants to be without limit sells a horrible lie to vulnerable teenagers, that is that they can be whatever they think they want to be without hard work or sacrifice or sustained effort over a long period of time – and even then it might not work out.

This is not coming to terms with the natural world and one’s place in it, it is a fantastical attempt to literally screen it all out of existence. That’s a horribly cruel thing to do to a young individual; doing it to a whole generation of young people is a recipe for civilisational collapse. Paul Kingsnorth has, I believe, hit the nail on the head: we are watching the great fall paulkingsnorth.substack.com/p/watch-the-great-fall

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

This is a very moving article, and as a parent of a young girl, a frightening one. “…to hate your body as a teenage girl is one of the most categorically female experiences possible“, and not one any male can replicate through a change of wardrobe and hairstyle. I might add that being a teenage boy isn’t always a bed of roses either. But now supporting your child, without necessarily affirming their confused or panicked responses to the changes they are experiencing, could be quite literally illegal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Clara B
Clara B
1 year ago

Thank you, Sarah, for an enlightening article. One of my daughters experienced the feelings you describe when she was about 9. She felt ‘like a boy’ and wasn’t really a girl etc etc. Mega tomboy, always active, refuses to wear dresses. I suspected she was simply gay, given the way she showed off around girls and had ‘crushes’ on them. Thank God she wasn’t exposed to trans ideology; I dread to think she might have asked for the mutilation you describe. I made a point of being positive about her sexuality (whatever form it took) and being pro-female in all other respects (she often decried her own sex). A few years on, she seems happier in her own body and seems to have accepted her natal sex.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Clara B

Upvoted for instinctively putting your daughter’s well-being before an ideology.
I am just a man and don’t even have children (an army of neices though)
It was always held to be a commonplace that girls had crushes on older girls or women teachers, but that didn’t mean that they were gay or required transitioning. They were/are children and not to be treated as adults. Children have parents for a reason – to stop them from mutilating themselves, falling out of trees or being eaten by lions. You know your daughter better than I do, but I was a young boy and I suggest that pre-puescents have, by definition, no libido and therefore no real awareness of sexuality except that which is planted there by adults. My mother took a position of benign neglect where my mental/sexual development was concerned – Thank goodness. “He’ll be okay” was her mantra. I am pleased to hear that your daughter is just fine – They invariably are if we leave them alone, but we seem to live in a society where adults visit their own obsessions upon children, to the detriment of all.
See Philip Larkin on the subject.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

“we seem to live in a society where adults visit their own obsessions upon children”
Bingo.

Chris Emmett
Chris Emmett
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I love your comment “children have parents for a reason”. Well said! I will repeat it often as so many public bodies seem to think they know better – they don’t! (And anyone who thinks differently should look at how the state brings up its looked after children). Thank you.

maria lelekis
maria lelekis
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Well said. Thank you. Yes my son at around 4 years of age wanted a tea set(this was the early 90s) so I got him a Flintstones tea set. We were very close and would press flowers and make cards for the family and do craft projects that perhaps some little boys may not have enjoyed as much. His dad, my ex wasn’t too happy about the tea set but I didn’t care. I said he’s fine. Fyi: not all guys are like that. His stepdad didn’t care.

He used to love to wear my dress shoes when he was 2-3. But he also loved sports. He played T-ball and soccer when he was little eventually moving on to hockey and football and taking his high school girlfriend to prom. He was also pretty good at art too but has slacked off on that.

As a 32 yr old he’s a 6 ft 3 very masculine male but one who is extremely gentle and sensitive. He enjoys the company of women and can talk about anything. He loves the mall and will help me choose clothes. He always wants his mama to buy very proper Ralph Lauren clothes and I have to tell him it’s out of my budget. He has impeccable taste and always has. But he loves football and fishing too. Growing up I always just let him like what he wanted so if he wanted to have a tea party with me that didn’t mean that he wanted to be a girl. I didn’t make a big production out of it. I just wanted him to be him and to have fun. Whatever happened in the future would happen. I didn’t feel like I needed to steer him in any direction. I didn’t need to push being typical male on him or being effeminate or a girl/trans in him either. I just let him be him and he’s just fine.

Last edited 1 year ago by maria lelekis
Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

“we seem to live in a society where adults visit their own obsessions upon children”
Bingo.

Chris Emmett
Chris Emmett
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I love your comment “children have parents for a reason”. Well said! I will repeat it often as so many public bodies seem to think they know better – they don’t! (And anyone who thinks differently should look at how the state brings up its looked after children). Thank you.

maria lelekis
maria lelekis
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Well said. Thank you. Yes my son at around 4 years of age wanted a tea set(this was the early 90s) so I got him a Flintstones tea set. We were very close and would press flowers and make cards for the family and do craft projects that perhaps some little boys may not have enjoyed as much. His dad, my ex wasn’t too happy about the tea set but I didn’t care. I said he’s fine. Fyi: not all guys are like that. His stepdad didn’t care.

He used to love to wear my dress shoes when he was 2-3. But he also loved sports. He played T-ball and soccer when he was little eventually moving on to hockey and football and taking his high school girlfriend to prom. He was also pretty good at art too but has slacked off on that.

As a 32 yr old he’s a 6 ft 3 very masculine male but one who is extremely gentle and sensitive. He enjoys the company of women and can talk about anything. He loves the mall and will help me choose clothes. He always wants his mama to buy very proper Ralph Lauren clothes and I have to tell him it’s out of my budget. He has impeccable taste and always has. But he loves football and fishing too. Growing up I always just let him like what he wanted so if he wanted to have a tea party with me that didn’t mean that he wanted to be a girl. I didn’t make a big production out of it. I just wanted him to be him and to have fun. Whatever happened in the future would happen. I didn’t feel like I needed to steer him in any direction. I didn’t need to push being typical male on him or being effeminate or a girl/trans in him either. I just let him be him and he’s just fine.

Last edited 1 year ago by maria lelekis
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Clara B

Nicely done. I think that society will, at some point down the road, come to the conclusion that these horrific experiments done on children during the 2000’s was a huge mistake. Future generations will wonder what on earth possessed so many professional and licensed adults to adhere to a barbaric practice for so many years. Sort of like how slavery is thought of today.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Clara B

Upvoted for instinctively putting your daughter’s well-being before an ideology.
I am just a man and don’t even have children (an army of neices though)
It was always held to be a commonplace that girls had crushes on older girls or women teachers, but that didn’t mean that they were gay or required transitioning. They were/are children and not to be treated as adults. Children have parents for a reason – to stop them from mutilating themselves, falling out of trees or being eaten by lions. You know your daughter better than I do, but I was a young boy and I suggest that pre-puescents have, by definition, no libido and therefore no real awareness of sexuality except that which is planted there by adults. My mother took a position of benign neglect where my mental/sexual development was concerned – Thank goodness. “He’ll be okay” was her mantra. I am pleased to hear that your daughter is just fine – They invariably are if we leave them alone, but we seem to live in a society where adults visit their own obsessions upon children, to the detriment of all.
See Philip Larkin on the subject.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Clara B

Nicely done. I think that society will, at some point down the road, come to the conclusion that these horrific experiments done on children during the 2000’s was a huge mistake. Future generations will wonder what on earth possessed so many professional and licensed adults to adhere to a barbaric practice for so many years. Sort of like how slavery is thought of today.

Clara B
Clara B
1 year ago

Thank you, Sarah, for an enlightening article. One of my daughters experienced the feelings you describe when she was about 9. She felt ‘like a boy’ and wasn’t really a girl etc etc. Mega tomboy, always active, refuses to wear dresses. I suspected she was simply gay, given the way she showed off around girls and had ‘crushes’ on them. Thank God she wasn’t exposed to trans ideology; I dread to think she might have asked for the mutilation you describe. I made a point of being positive about her sexuality (whatever form it took) and being pro-female in all other respects (she often decried her own sex). A few years on, she seems happier in her own body and seems to have accepted her natal sex.

Daniel P
Daniel P
1 year ago

I just went through something like this with my fiance’s daughter.

When she hit 13 (she is now 16) two of her friends announced they were trans and all of a sudden she was too. She did everything she could to dress in a manner that hid her body. Then she asked her parents for a chest binder. Her parents, both medical professionals, agreed that that was just not going to happen.

Now this young girl has a very curvy but attractive figure and is actually very pretty, but you could see that as her curves took off she was less and less comfortable with herself and uncomfortable with the implications of those curves. When she found out that her older sister had had sex she practically went into shock, cried and then wanted her sister to tell her why she would do that.

Well, three years later, all of her friends that had been “trans” are no longer trans. She now dresses in a manner that does not hide but rather accentuates her body. She shops for dresses with excitement and spends her money on makeup. Her mother thinks this happened as a result of her discovering she was very attracted to a boy in her class. Maybe. Who knows for sure?

Now I grew up on a horse farm with 3 sisters and a lot of their friends. I was the oldest and I got to watch all of them enter and go through puberty. Without being a woman I suppose it is hard to say, but after reading this article and thinking back, I think that each of my sisters and their friends went through similar things.

Puberty is awkward and unpleasant and frightening for all kids, but, I think that our modern culture, its sexualization of teen girls in particular, combined with unfettered social media usage, is particularly toxic to the mental well being of young pre-teen girls.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel P

LOL. There were times that I wished I had been born a female with curves and a pretty face. Life for many of those with that profile seemed much easier than mine. They were kept very well for a time at least. Until the youthful appearance started to fade and the wrinkles and spare tire appeared.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel P

LOL. There were times that I wished I had been born a female with curves and a pretty face. Life for many of those with that profile seemed much easier than mine. They were kept very well for a time at least. Until the youthful appearance started to fade and the wrinkles and spare tire appeared.

Daniel P
Daniel P
1 year ago

I just went through something like this with my fiance’s daughter.

When she hit 13 (she is now 16) two of her friends announced they were trans and all of a sudden she was too. She did everything she could to dress in a manner that hid her body. Then she asked her parents for a chest binder. Her parents, both medical professionals, agreed that that was just not going to happen.

Now this young girl has a very curvy but attractive figure and is actually very pretty, but you could see that as her curves took off she was less and less comfortable with herself and uncomfortable with the implications of those curves. When she found out that her older sister had had sex she practically went into shock, cried and then wanted her sister to tell her why she would do that.

Well, three years later, all of her friends that had been “trans” are no longer trans. She now dresses in a manner that does not hide but rather accentuates her body. She shops for dresses with excitement and spends her money on makeup. Her mother thinks this happened as a result of her discovering she was very attracted to a boy in her class. Maybe. Who knows for sure?

Now I grew up on a horse farm with 3 sisters and a lot of their friends. I was the oldest and I got to watch all of them enter and go through puberty. Without being a woman I suppose it is hard to say, but after reading this article and thinking back, I think that each of my sisters and their friends went through similar things.

Puberty is awkward and unpleasant and frightening for all kids, but, I think that our modern culture, its sexualization of teen girls in particular, combined with unfettered social media usage, is particularly toxic to the mental well being of young pre-teen girls.

Marzia Briel
Marzia Briel
1 year ago

The one thing that got my daughter to love her body when she started hunching, covering her face with her hair and wearing baggy clothes was Zumba. She hid in the corner and shuffled for the first couple of times but now she loves it. Seeing the joy of women of every age and shape being confident in their bodies in person really helped her understand that what she see’s and aspires to on the internet is not real life. I highly recommend that mother’s stop allowing their daughters to go through the phase of shame and body hate and take some action – it even helped me and my confidence too – I have zero rhythm!

Marzia Briel
Marzia Briel
1 year ago

The one thing that got my daughter to love her body when she started hunching, covering her face with her hair and wearing baggy clothes was Zumba. She hid in the corner and shuffled for the first couple of times but now she loves it. Seeing the joy of women of every age and shape being confident in their bodies in person really helped her understand that what she see’s and aspires to on the internet is not real life. I highly recommend that mother’s stop allowing their daughters to go through the phase of shame and body hate and take some action – it even helped me and my confidence too – I have zero rhythm!

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago

It sounds as if this place became just another factory that saw its job not as counseling and helping young girls but as meeting a demand for a commodity with sufficient supply.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago

It sounds as if this place became just another factory that saw its job not as counseling and helping young girls but as meeting a demand for a commodity with sufficient supply.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

just call Tavastock what they are – pedophile groomers. Sick F***s

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Correct. Transmengeles in fact. Sadistic paedophile groomers, fronting a child genital mutilation cult.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Correct. Transmengeles in fact. Sadistic paedophile groomers, fronting a child genital mutilation cult.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

just call Tavastock what they are – pedophile groomers. Sick F***s

Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
1 year ago

“I can’t describe my relationship with my body at this age, because for there to have been a relationship at all would suggest there were two of us, me and it, and there weren’t: there was just one happily animal thing.”

This is a terrific sentence. The whole paragraph is brilliant. It really captures what it means to be a child and it illustrates as clearly as possible, in very simple way, why the idea of ‘transitioning’ children between genders is so insidious. And, to use the lingo of the ‘progressives’, it also happens to be gender neutral!

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
1 year ago

“I can’t describe my relationship with my body at this age, because for there to have been a relationship at all would suggest there were two of us, me and it, and there weren’t: there was just one happily animal thing.”

This is a terrific sentence. The whole paragraph is brilliant. It really captures what it means to be a child and it illustrates as clearly as possible, in very simple way, why the idea of ‘transitioning’ children between genders is so insidious. And, to use the lingo of the ‘progressives’, it also happens to be gender neutral!

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert Hochbaum
Jane Watson
Jane Watson
1 year ago

I’m beginning to wonder about the validity of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. How can a condition increase by 4000% in such a short time frame?

It’s very reminiscent of the Multiple Personality Disorder farce in the US 50 yrs ago. Joan Acocella’s book ‘Creating Hysteria’ tells how an entire industry sprang up overnight, driven by therapists and medics who genuinely believed in what they were doing.

Almost all of those diagnosed were women but families were destroyed and blameless men imprisoned. Fictional books and a particular film dramatised the ‘condition’ (and potentially created the blueprint).

The MPD craze didn’t take off in the UK, perhaps because the NHS’s ‘not for profit’ model militated against it, but this was also before the advent of social media and ‘influencers’.

The trans women I have known had no gender issues as children, were and are heterosexual, and pursue sexual relationships with women. This can be a very lonely road, in my experience.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Absolutely! Social contagion amongst girls is particularly marked and it tends to go in phases of diferent types of malady or suffering at different points in time. Anorexia and other eating disorders; cutting and other forms of self harm. In Victorian times young women would suffer from fainting episodes, and there was a condition that became very ‘popular’ that involved the legs no longer working and the young woman having to take to her bed.
You will find that many young women presenting with ‘gender dysphoria’ have a back catalogue of previous conditions, such as some of those mentioned above.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Anorexia and other eating disorders are caused by starvation. Binging is actually a far more common symptom. Young girls are especially prone to starve themselves to get thin. When they take it too far, it becomes life threatening.

Glenda Pogorelsky
Glenda Pogorelsky
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

You don’t know an awful lot about eating disorders. Anorexia goes far deeper than starving to get thin, and binge disorder as well as obesity go much deeper than overeating from laziness, or emotional satisfaction. The most likely problem for anorexics – more than obesity sufferers – is not dysphoria, but dysmorphia. Their are incapable of seeing themselves in a mirror without thinking that every crease or fold is fat, hence the need to starve themselves even more.
More often than not, anorexia may be the result of childhood or sexual trauma. An adult body is for them a threat and starving stops menstruation and prevents normal sexual function. That’s a desirable outcome for someone who may have been sexually abused previously.
There are exceptions, such as gymnasts or ballet dancers obsessed with keeping weight down and then being sucked into a pattern of food deprivation for the sake of a successful career. Even so, it’s more about fear of rejection than just a little weight gain.

Glenda Pogorelsky
Glenda Pogorelsky
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

You don’t know an awful lot about eating disorders. Anorexia goes far deeper than starving to get thin, and binge disorder as well as obesity go much deeper than overeating from laziness, or emotional satisfaction. The most likely problem for anorexics – more than obesity sufferers – is not dysphoria, but dysmorphia. Their are incapable of seeing themselves in a mirror without thinking that every crease or fold is fat, hence the need to starve themselves even more.
More often than not, anorexia may be the result of childhood or sexual trauma. An adult body is for them a threat and starving stops menstruation and prevents normal sexual function. That’s a desirable outcome for someone who may have been sexually abused previously.
There are exceptions, such as gymnasts or ballet dancers obsessed with keeping weight down and then being sucked into a pattern of food deprivation for the sake of a successful career. Even so, it’s more about fear of rejection than just a little weight gain.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Anorexia and other eating disorders are caused by starvation. Binging is actually a far more common symptom. Young girls are especially prone to starve themselves to get thin. When they take it too far, it becomes life threatening.

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

How can it increase 4000% in a short space of time? Well if you’re being paid handsomely to mutilate children you’re going to make sure lots of them need mutilating I suppose

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

I know that correlation is not necessarily causation, but one thing has recently increased by more than 4000%: children’s access to pornography. Are there any other alternatives to pornography-access as causation for a change of this magnitude?

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

I know, that’s depressing, but I’m more inclined to suspect the influence of social media and online ‘communities’. I met two young people, one male, one female, both of whom spent their nighttime hours online with chat groups in the US.

The boy had gone through several identities before settling on being trans (one was ‘bronies’, if I remember correctly). Look it up. There are ‘furries’ and ‘cosplay’ characters – all fantasy role play that might seem silly and harmless, and at least won’t merit a life-changing diagnosis.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Yes. Pornography affects different demographics differently. For adult men there’s an addiction risk tied to cross-dressing pornography. For children it serves as a training manual for sexual behavior: pornography teaches boys violent dominant behavior while it teaches girls degrading submissive behavior which they can avoid by identifying as the opposite sex.

Glenda Pogorelsky
Glenda Pogorelsky
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

According to one writer on the trans issue, the root of trans-activism began in the 30s with the porn industry. Hence the notion that the trans movement is actually dominated not by people with genuine gender dysmorphia, but by sexual fetishism.

Glenda Pogorelsky
Glenda Pogorelsky
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

According to one writer on the trans issue, the root of trans-activism began in the 30s with the porn industry. Hence the notion that the trans movement is actually dominated not by people with genuine gender dysmorphia, but by sexual fetishism.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Yes. Pornography affects different demographics differently. For adult men there’s an addiction risk tied to cross-dressing pornography. For children it serves as a training manual for sexual behavior: pornography teaches boys violent dominant behavior while it teaches girls degrading submissive behavior which they can avoid by identifying as the opposite sex.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

There doesn’t have to be just one cause. Serious problems are often multifactorial.For example, trans identity is fashionable right now. Identifying as trans provides teens with a lot of social approval and a major increase in status.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

I know, that’s depressing, but I’m more inclined to suspect the influence of social media and online ‘communities’. I met two young people, one male, one female, both of whom spent their nighttime hours online with chat groups in the US.

The boy had gone through several identities before settling on being trans (one was ‘bronies’, if I remember correctly). Look it up. There are ‘furries’ and ‘cosplay’ characters – all fantasy role play that might seem silly and harmless, and at least won’t merit a life-changing diagnosis.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

There doesn’t have to be just one cause. Serious problems are often multifactorial.For example, trans identity is fashionable right now. Identifying as trans provides teens with a lot of social approval and a major increase in status.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Absolutely! Social contagion amongst girls is particularly marked and it tends to go in phases of diferent types of malady or suffering at different points in time. Anorexia and other eating disorders; cutting and other forms of self harm. In Victorian times young women would suffer from fainting episodes, and there was a condition that became very ‘popular’ that involved the legs no longer working and the young woman having to take to her bed.
You will find that many young women presenting with ‘gender dysphoria’ have a back catalogue of previous conditions, such as some of those mentioned above.

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

How can it increase 4000% in a short space of time? Well if you’re being paid handsomely to mutilate children you’re going to make sure lots of them need mutilating I suppose

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

I know that correlation is not necessarily causation, but one thing has recently increased by more than 4000%: children’s access to pornography. Are there any other alternatives to pornography-access as causation for a change of this magnitude?

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
1 year ago

I’m beginning to wonder about the validity of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. How can a condition increase by 4000% in such a short time frame?

It’s very reminiscent of the Multiple Personality Disorder farce in the US 50 yrs ago. Joan Acocella’s book ‘Creating Hysteria’ tells how an entire industry sprang up overnight, driven by therapists and medics who genuinely believed in what they were doing.

Almost all of those diagnosed were women but families were destroyed and blameless men imprisoned. Fictional books and a particular film dramatised the ‘condition’ (and potentially created the blueprint).

The MPD craze didn’t take off in the UK, perhaps because the NHS’s ‘not for profit’ model militated against it, but this was also before the advent of social media and ‘influencers’.

The trans women I have known had no gender issues as children, were and are heterosexual, and pursue sexual relationships with women. This can be a very lonely road, in my experience.

Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago

Dear Unherd writers, can you please find a better word than “misogyny”? Or give it a proper context as it relates to women and trans issues.
Speaking of America now. It seems to me that the term is generally associated with men having dislike, contempt, prejudices against women; not with women having those against other women. All polls that I have seen in America have women supporting trans issues much more than men. Why not write about that? Or why not give men credit where credit is due 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Aidan A
Mark Barnett
Mark Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

There is some truth to that however its mostly in the younger age bracket. A sign of a very dangerous full on propaganda initiative among our children and young people. Its been portrayed as their generations fight against ‘the man’ if you’ll pardon the sex based reference, as homophobia was to mine. That was indeed a very noble crusade. This however is not.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Barnett

We removed God from society (rewording the 1st amendment to justify it) then made the killing of unborn babies perfectly acceptable (calling it abortion women’s healthcare). Then we progressed forward by making some feel proud of the sin of homosexuality (they are merely gay, after all). We even shredded the 5,000 year old definition of marriage to make it legitimate.
Now we come to the matter of transexuals. And we give pills to children in order to suppress their sex and let them believe that boys can be girls and vice versa, despite the biological facts. What is next, bestiality, polyamory or perhaps pedophilia? I cringe to think, as throughout history, the human travails into being our own gods usually doesn’t end well.
The good news, at least, is that I still have the right to believe that we are all sinners, every last one of us. And you have the right to do whatever you wish behind closed doors. But I don’t believe you have a right to practice chemical or physical genital mutilation on children, regardless of what dysphoria they have at the time.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

’Gender’ ideology is profoundly homophobic and originated in misogynistic, religion-obsessed America as a form of conversion therapy for gay and lesbian teenagers.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago

Nonsense. It came from radical lesbian feminism – Judith Butler’s ‘Gender Trouble’ being the foremost example, which is now required reading for most Gender Studies courses and adjacent subjects.
The kind of Christianity that you are accusing has been fairly low-status for most of the time gender ideology has been ascendant. None of its variants teach that you can be born in the wrong body. The promoted gay ‘conversion therapies’ in those circles tend to be psychological/psychiatric – and certainly don’t attempt to alter physical sex.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

You wrongly assume that all feminists are lesbians. It’s “trans women”, born male, who hate lesbians and call them ‘TERFS’ as a prelude to violence against them. Ironic that you also hate both lesbians and feminists like the “trans women” do.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

I made no such assumption. The term ‘radical lesbian feminists’ was not meant to imply that all feminists were lesbian. I don’t have to qualify everything. That was a mistaken understanding on your part.

Caroline was essentially accusing the US ‘religious right’ of being the source of gender ideology. That is not true. It came from one wing of ‘radical lesbian feminism’ which doesn’t believe in human nature and has written to deconstruct genders (Judith Butler and others), claiming they are merely performative. It is the academic root of todays transgender fruit. It is supported by contemporary ‘boss-girl’ feminism, which is very happy with the erasure of the male-female distinction, especially in the workplace, and trans-identifying males, who definitely attempt to perform gender.
Their opponents- the TERFs as you will – are also originally drawn from the same radical lesbian feminism, with some of the earlier feminist ‘waves’ thrown in. I would place myself on this side of the argument, because like them I am an essentialist – although they would certainly ‘hate’ me for where I take my essentialism.
Back to the original point. Gender ideology is not a product of religious conservatism, especially Christian religious conservatism, or any manifestation of the ‘cis-hetero-patriarchy’ that trans, lesbians and feminists all rail against to one degree or another. If such a construct had the kind of cultural or political power it is claimed to have, we would not be having this conversation. This whole argument is a product of the intersection of LGB and feminist theory and activism, and they must own it. But they won’t, for many reasons – the big one being that when trans eventually falls out of favour – and it will – there’s a chance they will be blamed together with it, and will go down with it.
As for my personal disposition, I don’t ‘hate’, I merely disapprove.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

I made no such assumption. The term ‘radical lesbian feminists’ was not meant to imply that all feminists were lesbian. I don’t have to qualify everything. That was a mistaken understanding on your part.

Caroline was essentially accusing the US ‘religious right’ of being the source of gender ideology. That is not true. It came from one wing of ‘radical lesbian feminism’ which doesn’t believe in human nature and has written to deconstruct genders (Judith Butler and others), claiming they are merely performative. It is the academic root of todays transgender fruit. It is supported by contemporary ‘boss-girl’ feminism, which is very happy with the erasure of the male-female distinction, especially in the workplace, and trans-identifying males, who definitely attempt to perform gender.
Their opponents- the TERFs as you will – are also originally drawn from the same radical lesbian feminism, with some of the earlier feminist ‘waves’ thrown in. I would place myself on this side of the argument, because like them I am an essentialist – although they would certainly ‘hate’ me for where I take my essentialism.
Back to the original point. Gender ideology is not a product of religious conservatism, especially Christian religious conservatism, or any manifestation of the ‘cis-hetero-patriarchy’ that trans, lesbians and feminists all rail against to one degree or another. If such a construct had the kind of cultural or political power it is claimed to have, we would not be having this conversation. This whole argument is a product of the intersection of LGB and feminist theory and activism, and they must own it. But they won’t, for many reasons – the big one being that when trans eventually falls out of favour – and it will – there’s a chance they will be blamed together with it, and will go down with it.
As for my personal disposition, I don’t ‘hate’, I merely disapprove.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

You wrongly assume that all feminists are lesbians. It’s “trans women”, born male, who hate lesbians and call them ‘TERFS’ as a prelude to violence against them. Ironic that you also hate both lesbians and feminists like the “trans women” do.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago

There is freedom of religion in America. Which religion in particular do you hate? What about religions that worship goddesses? Is there any form of religion you don’t hate?

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago

Nonsense. It came from radical lesbian feminism – Judith Butler’s ‘Gender Trouble’ being the foremost example, which is now required reading for most Gender Studies courses and adjacent subjects.
The kind of Christianity that you are accusing has been fairly low-status for most of the time gender ideology has been ascendant. None of its variants teach that you can be born in the wrong body. The promoted gay ‘conversion therapies’ in those circles tend to be psychological/psychiatric – and certainly don’t attempt to alter physical sex.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago

There is freedom of religion in America. Which religion in particular do you hate? What about religions that worship goddesses? Is there any form of religion you don’t hate?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

You are trying to change the subject from mistreatment of teenage girls to religion to push your own agenda. God has not been removed from society. There are churches, synogogues, and mosques everywhere.
The only change is that now you can’t force other people to follow your religious beliefs, and that’s what you’re upset about. You obviously have the right to believe what you want. Have the decency to accept that others have the same right.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

’Gender’ ideology is profoundly homophobic and originated in misogynistic, religion-obsessed America as a form of conversion therapy for gay and lesbian teenagers.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

You are trying to change the subject from mistreatment of teenage girls to religion to push your own agenda. God has not been removed from society. There are churches, synogogues, and mosques everywhere.
The only change is that now you can’t force other people to follow your religious beliefs, and that’s what you’re upset about. You obviously have the right to believe what you want. Have the decency to accept that others have the same right.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Barnett

We removed God from society (rewording the 1st amendment to justify it) then made the killing of unborn babies perfectly acceptable (calling it abortion women’s healthcare). Then we progressed forward by making some feel proud of the sin of homosexuality (they are merely gay, after all). We even shredded the 5,000 year old definition of marriage to make it legitimate.
Now we come to the matter of transexuals. And we give pills to children in order to suppress their sex and let them believe that boys can be girls and vice versa, despite the biological facts. What is next, bestiality, polyamory or perhaps pedophilia? I cringe to think, as throughout history, the human travails into being our own gods usually doesn’t end well.
The good news, at least, is that I still have the right to believe that we are all sinners, every last one of us. And you have the right to do whatever you wish behind closed doors. But I don’t believe you have a right to practice chemical or physical genital mutilation on children, regardless of what dysphoria they have at the time.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

You will have to cite your sources about women in America supporting trans issues “more than men.” I don’t think women here do, but then, I’m around a lot of GC folks, so maybe I don’t get the entire picture.
As far as nomenclature goes, how about “bigotry against women,” “women haters,” “male chauvinism”? Or simply “sexism”? Seems to me like your comment says something more about you than Unherd. Your comment about giving men “credit where credit is due” seems a shade too defensive, or assertive of Male Superiority to me. Do you really want to start comparing how superior men are to women in the Enlightened about Transgender Department?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

I thought Sarah Ditum’s article moving and thoughtful and I thought she was careful to explain that she was writing about girls but, still, in passing, expressed a thought that it’s not a bed of roses for boys. However, it was an article about girls and a valuable one.
I wondered, initially, if your criticism of A A was unfair and, perhaps, sometimes it seems that men tend to be tarred with the same misogynistic brush, so I was minded to come to his defence but, sorry A A, this time I think the comments are justified. This article didn’t dismiss boys and men, it didn’t complain about boys and men, Sarah simply wrote about her experience growing up and of the likely much more difficult experiences girls with similar feelings might endure today.

Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago

Thank you for the note Jonathan. This is AA. I do see your point. I don’t like the word as it could be misinterpreted, but I should have withheld my comment on this article.

Last edited 1 year ago by Aidan A
Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago

Thank you for the note Jonathan. This is AA. I do see your point. I don’t like the word as it could be misinterpreted, but I should have withheld my comment on this article.

Last edited 1 year ago by Aidan A
Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Hi Romi, well you certainly have the right to see me as you wish. I disagree 🙂
Fair question about sources. I have seen Pew Research and Gallup polls. Here is the one that I looked up most recently.
https://news.gallup.com/poll/350174/mixed-views-among-americans-transgender-issues.aspx
If I am reading the data wrong I would be glad to be corrected.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

I thought Sarah Ditum’s article moving and thoughtful and I thought she was careful to explain that she was writing about girls but, still, in passing, expressed a thought that it’s not a bed of roses for boys. However, it was an article about girls and a valuable one.
I wondered, initially, if your criticism of A A was unfair and, perhaps, sometimes it seems that men tend to be tarred with the same misogynistic brush, so I was minded to come to his defence but, sorry A A, this time I think the comments are justified. This article didn’t dismiss boys and men, it didn’t complain about boys and men, Sarah simply wrote about her experience growing up and of the likely much more difficult experiences girls with similar feelings might endure today.

Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Hi Romi, well you certainly have the right to see me as you wish. I disagree 🙂
Fair question about sources. I have seen Pew Research and Gallup polls. Here is the one that I looked up most recently.
https://news.gallup.com/poll/350174/mixed-views-among-americans-transgender-issues.aspx
If I am reading the data wrong I would be glad to be corrected.

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

You’re referring to internalized misogyny.
The term misogyny doesn’t refer to all men, just as racism doesn’t apply to all white people (or the people in any dominant class).
Autogynephilia and vast violent online pornography are directly related to the rise trans-ideology, which is inherently a very misogynistic ideology–frankly, a reactionary one to the real progress women were making.
Until trans-ideology, researchers understood that transsexuality among men was about their ORIENTATION, not some inner identity. Most transsexuals were highly feminine boys from a young age who are attracted to heterosexual males–and those are the ones who’ve mostly wanted to be left alone by this awful movement. The second dangerous type–ones associated with all sorts of sexual violence–are the heterosexual autogynephiliacs, meaning men who get off on pretending to be women and, like exhibitionism, FORCING WOMEN TO PRETEND, because they know what a degrading experience it is. they literally get off on it. There are porn genres and social media groups obsessed with it.
The man “Lia” Thomas is a heterosexual intact male who forced women to watch him undress while they were forced upon pain of career humiliation and school tuition loss to undress in front of his. This was a sexual crime, not a civil rights benchmark.
AND, a NEW scary dimension among the millenia old eunuch-ification of boys is a third category of trans-ing boys, who may be joining out of porn use since age 12 and cosplay internet obsession and mental illness, who then become victims of grooming and direct sexual exploitation by the older bisexual autogynephiliacs. On social media sites boys are encouraged to show naked photos of themselves “transitioning” and a fave is to go into women’s spaces and secretly film themselves trying on lingerie. Or, in OnlyFans, some trans have accounts where they film themselves masturbating in women’s spaces and get paid for it.
This movement by Pritzker (a trans-id’d male) with his pharma money is about putting on woman-face and turning it into a civil right while enjoying the transgression against females. These guys CONSTANTLY TALK ABOUT BECOMING THE HOT GIRL YOU CAN NEVER HAVE. It’s a predatory paraphilia popular among incels who introject an image of a pubescent girl as their “identity” and then demand we all stand back and watch them exhibit themselves for their own orgasm.
The social contagion among girls is that they don’t want to turn into the things in porn culture. And they’re afraid if they don’t go along with the trans nonsense they’ll be excluded.
Having said all of that, women can be terribly misogynist to other women, and all humans can be nasty to others. Of course there are some very good, brave men, who’ve been nastily emotionally abused by toxic women. it’s just that women as a class don’t have the structural and physical ability to abuse men in the way that they can with us. That’s why 3000 women are still murdered each year by male partners in the US–a rate of 500:1, w/ women’s murders usually in self-defense. A yearly 9/11 for women. We don’t murder like that.
Misogyny isn’t about you, unless you perpetrate it. Morally courageous men who speak truth to power about this are more needed than ever–please be one.

Last edited 1 year ago by leculdesac suburbia
Nancy G
Nancy G
1 year ago

Thank you for noting the various types of paraphiliac behaviour displayed by many men who claim to be transgender women (and thus deserving of compassion because they are so oppressed and marginalized, etc etc). If they were offered the (‘gender affirmation’) surgical option, they would, of course, decline it because retention of their fully functioning male bodies is essential for the indulgence of their fetishes.

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 year ago

Thank you for noting the various types of paraphiliac behaviour displayed by many men who claim to be transgender women (and thus deserving of compassion because they are so oppressed and marginalized, etc etc). If they were offered the (‘gender affirmation’) surgical option, they would, of course, decline it because retention of their fully functioning male bodies is essential for the indulgence of their fetishes.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

Misogyny means hatred of women. It’s exactly the right word. Individual men don’t just develop that hatred in isolation. They learn it from the larger society. How can you not believe that this affects how teenage girls feel about their bodies? Why do you think the mistreatment and suffering of young girls should be invisible and no one should write about it? Answer: misogyny.

Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Dear Robin, I don’t know where you are getting all these things that you are ascribing to me from. Certainly not from my comment.

Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Dear Robin, I don’t know where you are getting all these things that you are ascribing to me from. Certainly not from my comment.

Mark Barnett
Mark Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

There is some truth to that however its mostly in the younger age bracket. A sign of a very dangerous full on propaganda initiative among our children and young people. Its been portrayed as their generations fight against ‘the man’ if you’ll pardon the sex based reference, as homophobia was to mine. That was indeed a very noble crusade. This however is not.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

You will have to cite your sources about women in America supporting trans issues “more than men.” I don’t think women here do, but then, I’m around a lot of GC folks, so maybe I don’t get the entire picture.
As far as nomenclature goes, how about “bigotry against women,” “women haters,” “male chauvinism”? Or simply “sexism”? Seems to me like your comment says something more about you than Unherd. Your comment about giving men “credit where credit is due” seems a shade too defensive, or assertive of Male Superiority to me. Do you really want to start comparing how superior men are to women in the Enlightened about Transgender Department?

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

You’re referring to internalized misogyny.
The term misogyny doesn’t refer to all men, just as racism doesn’t apply to all white people (or the people in any dominant class).
Autogynephilia and vast violent online pornography are directly related to the rise trans-ideology, which is inherently a very misogynistic ideology–frankly, a reactionary one to the real progress women were making.
Until trans-ideology, researchers understood that transsexuality among men was about their ORIENTATION, not some inner identity. Most transsexuals were highly feminine boys from a young age who are attracted to heterosexual males–and those are the ones who’ve mostly wanted to be left alone by this awful movement. The second dangerous type–ones associated with all sorts of sexual violence–are the heterosexual autogynephiliacs, meaning men who get off on pretending to be women and, like exhibitionism, FORCING WOMEN TO PRETEND, because they know what a degrading experience it is. they literally get off on it. There are porn genres and social media groups obsessed with it.
The man “Lia” Thomas is a heterosexual intact male who forced women to watch him undress while they were forced upon pain of career humiliation and school tuition loss to undress in front of his. This was a sexual crime, not a civil rights benchmark.
AND, a NEW scary dimension among the millenia old eunuch-ification of boys is a third category of trans-ing boys, who may be joining out of porn use since age 12 and cosplay internet obsession and mental illness, who then become victims of grooming and direct sexual exploitation by the older bisexual autogynephiliacs. On social media sites boys are encouraged to show naked photos of themselves “transitioning” and a fave is to go into women’s spaces and secretly film themselves trying on lingerie. Or, in OnlyFans, some trans have accounts where they film themselves masturbating in women’s spaces and get paid for it.
This movement by Pritzker (a trans-id’d male) with his pharma money is about putting on woman-face and turning it into a civil right while enjoying the transgression against females. These guys CONSTANTLY TALK ABOUT BECOMING THE HOT GIRL YOU CAN NEVER HAVE. It’s a predatory paraphilia popular among incels who introject an image of a pubescent girl as their “identity” and then demand we all stand back and watch them exhibit themselves for their own orgasm.
The social contagion among girls is that they don’t want to turn into the things in porn culture. And they’re afraid if they don’t go along with the trans nonsense they’ll be excluded.
Having said all of that, women can be terribly misogynist to other women, and all humans can be nasty to others. Of course there are some very good, brave men, who’ve been nastily emotionally abused by toxic women. it’s just that women as a class don’t have the structural and physical ability to abuse men in the way that they can with us. That’s why 3000 women are still murdered each year by male partners in the US–a rate of 500:1, w/ women’s murders usually in self-defense. A yearly 9/11 for women. We don’t murder like that.
Misogyny isn’t about you, unless you perpetrate it. Morally courageous men who speak truth to power about this are more needed than ever–please be one.

Last edited 1 year ago by leculdesac suburbia
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Aidan A

Misogyny means hatred of women. It’s exactly the right word. Individual men don’t just develop that hatred in isolation. They learn it from the larger society. How can you not believe that this affects how teenage girls feel about their bodies? Why do you think the mistreatment and suffering of young girls should be invisible and no one should write about it? Answer: misogyny.

Aidan A
Aidan A
1 year ago

Dear Unherd writers, can you please find a better word than “misogyny”? Or give it a proper context as it relates to women and trans issues.
Speaking of America now. It seems to me that the term is generally associated with men having dislike, contempt, prejudices against women; not with women having those against other women. All polls that I have seen in America have women supporting trans issues much more than men. Why not write about that? Or why not give men credit where credit is due 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Aidan A
julianne kenny
julianne kenny
1 year ago

And what does the medical profession do with all of these perfectly healthy organs and tissues they remove from healthy young people..? Children are being groomed into an ideology about sex gender trans and queer theory- hard for them to resist. In Dept Stores Mermaids and Unicorns with rainbows cover > than 50% of some clothes lines. In one major chain- all pyjamas,raincoats, babygros, etc.. why babies? It is insidious. Unicorn rucksacks rainbows again,accessories. How can they not fall in line? At School for most of their young lives it is re enforced,Pride Month( not day,week..) Super sensitive,autistic, dysphoric or confused kids have no other avenue. The Sexual Health programs of the past 30 have been a failure .

Last edited 1 year ago by julianne kenny
Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  julianne kenny

One children’s hospital in the U.S recently proposed that the uteruses of transgender identified girls be transplanted into the bodies of trans identified men. ( A Pittsburg hospital, I believe). Dystopian stuff!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

It wouldn’t work. They would have to be constantly on dangerous meds to prevent rejection, and the uterus has no function without ovaries. They couldn’t get pregnant.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

It wouldn’t work. They would have to be constantly on dangerous meds to prevent rejection, and the uterus has no function without ovaries. They couldn’t get pregnant.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  julianne kenny

One children’s hospital in the U.S recently proposed that the uteruses of transgender identified girls be transplanted into the bodies of trans identified men. ( A Pittsburg hospital, I believe). Dystopian stuff!

julianne kenny
julianne kenny
1 year ago

And what does the medical profession do with all of these perfectly healthy organs and tissues they remove from healthy young people..? Children are being groomed into an ideology about sex gender trans and queer theory- hard for them to resist. In Dept Stores Mermaids and Unicorns with rainbows cover > than 50% of some clothes lines. In one major chain- all pyjamas,raincoats, babygros, etc.. why babies? It is insidious. Unicorn rucksacks rainbows again,accessories. How can they not fall in line? At School for most of their young lives it is re enforced,Pride Month( not day,week..) Super sensitive,autistic, dysphoric or confused kids have no other avenue. The Sexual Health programs of the past 30 have been a failure .

Last edited 1 year ago by julianne kenny
ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

When I was first at sea, in the 1970s to describe a vessel as “like a girls’ school” was to say that it was an unhealthy atmosphere, prone to poor decision-making and what is now described as “groupthink” which undermined good judgement.

It was common knowledge that adolescent girls developed “crushes” (sometimes known as “pashes”) on older girls or members of staff. Books and stories for that age group openly referred to such things, with the general assumption that such things passed with time.

I knew a girl who developed into a young woman with a passion for mountaineering. After years of dieting and training (climbers are often very focused on weight, for obvious reasons) she developed a very slender, boyish physique and favoured male compsny because few women develop such interests to that extent …. but I never knew her show any signs of this being a problem. It was regarded as a great joke amongst her circle that people who didn’t know her well, didn’t always realise that she was female.

This is a manufactured crisis.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

It is certainly a manufactured condition. The crisis it has created, though, is very real.

PAUL NATHANSON
PAUL NATHANSON
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

For the record, many people think of boys’ schools (notably the private British ones) as unhealthy, because adolescent boys tend to form “crushes” on each other. For a while, parents assumed that their sons would grow out of these romantic or erotic attachments, and most of them did. I don’t see anything wrong with these experiences at all, whether they disappear with age or not.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

It is certainly a manufactured condition. The crisis it has created, though, is very real.

PAUL NATHANSON
PAUL NATHANSON
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

For the record, many people think of boys’ schools (notably the private British ones) as unhealthy, because adolescent boys tend to form “crushes” on each other. For a while, parents assumed that their sons would grow out of these romantic or erotic attachments, and most of them did. I don’t see anything wrong with these experiences at all, whether they disappear with age or not.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

When I was first at sea, in the 1970s to describe a vessel as “like a girls’ school” was to say that it was an unhealthy atmosphere, prone to poor decision-making and what is now described as “groupthink” which undermined good judgement.

It was common knowledge that adolescent girls developed “crushes” (sometimes known as “pashes”) on older girls or members of staff. Books and stories for that age group openly referred to such things, with the general assumption that such things passed with time.

I knew a girl who developed into a young woman with a passion for mountaineering. After years of dieting and training (climbers are often very focused on weight, for obvious reasons) she developed a very slender, boyish physique and favoured male compsny because few women develop such interests to that extent …. but I never knew her show any signs of this being a problem. It was regarded as a great joke amongst her circle that people who didn’t know her well, didn’t always realise that she was female.

This is a manufactured crisis.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago

It’s too bad that some ideas, like the idea that one can change one’s sex, like the genie, once escaped, cannot be put back in the bottle. When I was a girl I was a tomboy. But I’m lucky I was born in 1955, before the world went crazy.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Ah, the good old days of the Jim Crow South and women leaving town in shame (or worse) because of an illegitimate child the father skipped out on.
I’d agree that 1955 had it right when it came to surgical alteration, partly because that was barely available (first sex change in 1952). But let’s please find a middle ground between exploding all our traditions with one blast and romanticized hindsight.
{follow-up: As a general matter, I stand by comment, if not the snarky tone. But Ms. Rosenthal’s comment did not warrant my reply, and I accept the communal downvote as a just one}

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Ah, the good old days of the Jim Crow South and women leaving town in shame (or worse) because of an illegitimate child the father skipped out on.
I’d agree that 1955 had it right when it came to surgical alteration, partly because that was barely available (first sex change in 1952). But let’s please find a middle ground between exploding all our traditions with one blast and romanticized hindsight.
{follow-up: As a general matter, I stand by comment, if not the snarky tone. But Ms. Rosenthal’s comment did not warrant my reply, and I accept the communal downvote as a just one}

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago

It’s too bad that some ideas, like the idea that one can change one’s sex, like the genie, once escaped, cannot be put back in the bottle. When I was a girl I was a tomboy. But I’m lucky I was born in 1955, before the world went crazy.

Stewart Dixon
Stewart Dixon
1 year ago

Sarah thank you, pleasure to read.

Kasia Chapman
Kasia Chapman
1 year ago
Reply to  Stewart Dixon

I enjoyed this article very much. It gave me hope that if reframed our default position that a human body should be a stable phenomenon and our minds have the upper hand to a position that is more align with the truth ie our bodies change all the time , puberty gets a turbo charge , there is a huge number of calibrations that our bodies do at every nanosecond of our existence that we have no conscious awareness off, our minds are very limited and should not delude themselves that our consciousness is in control of our lives . Example: cancer will grow inside you whether you like it or not and may or may not kill you despite all you do on the conscious ( and medical) level. So a little more humble default position ( I think ) would go a long way. Let’s talk to our children about their changing bodies, that is a normal part of life not to be challenged but accepted . If we don’t ride that wave we will drown.

Kasia Chapman
Kasia Chapman
1 year ago
Reply to  Stewart Dixon

I enjoyed this article very much. It gave me hope that if reframed our default position that a human body should be a stable phenomenon and our minds have the upper hand to a position that is more align with the truth ie our bodies change all the time , puberty gets a turbo charge , there is a huge number of calibrations that our bodies do at every nanosecond of our existence that we have no conscious awareness off, our minds are very limited and should not delude themselves that our consciousness is in control of our lives . Example: cancer will grow inside you whether you like it or not and may or may not kill you despite all you do on the conscious ( and medical) level. So a little more humble default position ( I think ) would go a long way. Let’s talk to our children about their changing bodies, that is a normal part of life not to be challenged but accepted . If we don’t ride that wave we will drown.

Stewart Dixon
Stewart Dixon
1 year ago

Sarah thank you, pleasure to read.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

“girls my age whose bodies were erupting into curves” as something of great concern vs glory. Our culture has not created good acceptance of the fundamentals related to sex. Boy leer because of our expectations. Children trying to deal with the surge in hormones. We are failing in care for our children.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

“girls my age whose bodies were erupting into curves” as something of great concern vs glory. Our culture has not created good acceptance of the fundamentals related to sex. Boy leer because of our expectations. Children trying to deal with the surge in hormones. We are failing in care for our children.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
1 year ago

Bravo!
You cannot reduce a complex, beautiful human being, male or female. made in God’s image, down to a lump of biological meat, to be manipulated. Young person: you are so much more than your body!

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

Your comment doesn’t reflect reality. What people want to do to their bodies is their own business and no one else’s. People, especially women and even teenage girls, spend countless sums modifying their meat bag.
Here’s a partial list of body modifications undertaken by women. And these are only the ones that are considered permanent. The list of temporary modifications is considerably longer.
Tattoos, ear, nose, eyebrow, belly button, prepuce and l***a piercings, dental implants, permanent hair removal, lip fillers, lip plumping, butt lift, liposuction, nose jobs, cheek and chin sculpting, blepharoplasty, buccal fat removal, face lift, tummy tuck, breast implants, vaginoplasty.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

—The human body is alive and not just a “meat bag”.
—The procedures on your list are totally medically unnecessary bodily mutilations that have risks attached. Piercings, tattoos, and permanent hair removal are among the least dangerous, but they can all still cause infections and other complications. You can die just from general anesthesia gone wrong. At least adults are mature enough to understand the risks. Teenage girls are still children in many ways.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

—The human body is alive and not just a “meat bag”.
—The procedures on your list are totally medically unnecessary bodily mutilations that have risks attached. Piercings, tattoos, and permanent hair removal are among the least dangerous, but they can all still cause infections and other complications. You can die just from general anesthesia gone wrong. At least adults are mature enough to understand the risks. Teenage girls are still children in many ways.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

Your comment doesn’t reflect reality. What people want to do to their bodies is their own business and no one else’s. People, especially women and even teenage girls, spend countless sums modifying their meat bag.
Here’s a partial list of body modifications undertaken by women. And these are only the ones that are considered permanent. The list of temporary modifications is considerably longer.
Tattoos, ear, nose, eyebrow, belly button, prepuce and l***a piercings, dental implants, permanent hair removal, lip fillers, lip plumping, butt lift, liposuction, nose jobs, cheek and chin sculpting, blepharoplasty, buccal fat removal, face lift, tummy tuck, breast implants, vaginoplasty.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
1 year ago

Bravo!
You cannot reduce a complex, beautiful human being, male or female. made in God’s image, down to a lump of biological meat, to be manipulated. Young person: you are so much more than your body!

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago

The idea that women’s bodies are “wrong” in a variety of ways is pervasive. The authors description of wanting “to be pure self, no flesh at all” is very familiar to me. I most recently experienced it in my late 40s. “I’m going to be incorporeal.” That’s not a real option, though.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Cynthia W.

Exactly, and it’s not unknown among boys, though I acknowledge the imbalance. The quest for a disembodied spiritual existence, which might be part of some “body dysmorphia disorder”, is bound to be thwarted by changing the constituent parts. Has anyone studied the degree to which “wrong body” aversion might be “any body” aversion?

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Has anyone studied the degree to which “wrong body” aversion might be “any body” aversion?”
It seems very unlikely! However, I think the feeling of just being tired of dealing with the body appears in a lot of different ways, from the Manichean belief that Spirit is good while Matter is evil to the “transhumanist” fantasy.

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Has anyone studied the degree to which “wrong body” aversion might be “any body” aversion?”
It seems very unlikely! However, I think the feeling of just being tired of dealing with the body appears in a lot of different ways, from the Manichean belief that Spirit is good while Matter is evil to the “transhumanist” fantasy.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Cynthia W.

Exactly, and it’s not unknown among boys, though I acknowledge the imbalance. The quest for a disembodied spiritual existence, which might be part of some “body dysmorphia disorder”, is bound to be thwarted by changing the constituent parts. Has anyone studied the degree to which “wrong body” aversion might be “any body” aversion?

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago

The idea that women’s bodies are “wrong” in a variety of ways is pervasive. The authors description of wanting “to be pure self, no flesh at all” is very familiar to me. I most recently experienced it in my late 40s. “I’m going to be incorporeal.” That’s not a real option, though.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Judging by this article, a hard-hitting first-person account I have no reason to dispute, the inclination to harm oneself comes in large part from within, or “gets internalized” in common contemporary parlance.
If a young girl can develop a radical bodily self-hatred over YouTube, claims of the suicidal threat caused by merely questioning the underage self-questioner are thrown into greater doubt. That is, there is already a major risk of self-harm and even suicide connected with wanting to escape your given body. Helping a child to accept their inherited mortal frame, at least until legal adulthood, might in fact reduce the incidence of related self-harm. (Or maybe that’s wrong; it’s probably clear I have no expertise here).
From my point of view as a gender-change skeptic (at least at this level of incidence) who’d rather not make assumptions or condemn anyone, it seems that efforts to liberate children from the burden of traditional gender roles have helped lead to a net increase in related anxiety and adolescent self-disgust. Is there a middle path that makes being a boy or girl carry less specific “weight” and expectation, but discourages seeing one’s developing body as something to escape–at least until that body is fully grown?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Mônica
Mônica
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Efforts to liberate children from the burden of traditional gender roles have helped lead to a net increase in related anxiety and adolescent self-disgust.”

I see it the other way around. The idea that there are fixed, unchangeable male and female features is what leads to a lot of unnecessary pain. Within this mindset, you can’t be a boy and like pink and dolls. If you like those, then you have to be a girl. That’s clearly expressed by parents who supported their children through transitioning. Just accepting that people can like or dislike different things, irrespective of gender, would go a long way toward helping children accept themselves as they are.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Mônica

No authority to say it, but I think you are wrong. We are not born fully formed, but grow into who we are to a large extent by learning how to fit into our surroundings. At some point you find out you are a boy and not a girl, or vice versa, and you look for cues about how such a person is and should behave. That gives you a trellis to grow around, and a way of interacting that other people can mesh with. It may be hard for those who are not too good a fit, but at a minimum it gives you something to rebel against. The alternative is that each person gets the task of inventing who they are all by themselves without any help or cues, and then forcing the world to confirm the identity they have come up with. That would give a lot more uncertainty and anxiety to everybody, not just to those furthest from fitting the template.

Sure, flexibility is a good thing. But 1) many of those gender role features are there because they have some kind of fit with underlying averages, 2) The shift from sexless child to adult with desires and admirers is going to be a wrench no matter how roleless and featureless our expectations for people are.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Besides, how would a child be able to decide that he was a girl or she was a boy – if not by learning from people around him/her what a boy or girl was (supposed to be) like and then choosing one of them?

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

In the same way that all species that exist through sexual reproduction do, including the 99.9999999% that do so without the aid of pink fluffy toys.

PAUL NATHANSON
PAUL NATHANSON
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Not quite, Steve. In at least one way, humans are not like other species. To be human is to be part of both nature and culture. The latter is not a shallow veneer that hides some underlying reality. We’re “programmed” by nature, as it were, to create culture. Bodies mature naturally, to be sure, but people mature both naturally and culturally. The two processes are inseparable.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Ah, but if you look at deer or sea lions their behaviour is under genetic control too. Instinct, as they say. Our behaviour is not. There is a lot of human behaviour that is different between the sexes, and that is not a direct consequence of biology. And while we cannot choose our biology, cultural conditioning is strong enough to impose some very un-biological behaviours, from monks to suicide bombers. And transsexuals.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We are neither under full genetic control nor total free agents. We can busy ourselves disputing the ratio, and perhaps come to an improved understanding of which is which, beyond the obvious.
But a desire to radically alter the one body you have could be correlated with transhuman escapism or a more complete existential despair. I know I’m duplicating some of my remarks, but I’m trying to provoke responses and “socially construct” my own view.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I agree. I would put my money on existential despair myself. If you are suffering from an unbearable distress without known cause or solution, then any radical change that explains your distress, promises a solution (and gives you a ready-made group of supporters) is bound to look appealing.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good point. And the “ready made group of supporters” is a recent development.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good point. And the “ready made group of supporters” is a recent development.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I agree. I would put my money on existential despair myself. If you are suffering from an unbearable distress without known cause or solution, then any radical change that explains your distress, promises a solution (and gives you a ready-made group of supporters) is bound to look appealing.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We are neither under full genetic control nor total free agents. We can busy ourselves disputing the ratio, and perhaps come to an improved understanding of which is which, beyond the obvious.
But a desire to radically alter the one body you have could be correlated with transhuman escapism or a more complete existential despair. I know I’m duplicating some of my remarks, but I’m trying to provoke responses and “socially construct” my own view.

Ddwieland
Ddwieland
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Right. At least one time that I picked up my toddler granddaughter from daycare, the little ones were in potty time, boys and girls together. So even at that age, they were introduced to physical distinctions and obviously not suffering any gender doubt. I imagine that there was little if any gender difference in the toys that they played with.

PAUL NATHANSON
PAUL NATHANSON
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Not quite, Steve. In at least one way, humans are not like other species. To be human is to be part of both nature and culture. The latter is not a shallow veneer that hides some underlying reality. We’re “programmed” by nature, as it were, to create culture. Bodies mature naturally, to be sure, but people mature both naturally and culturally. The two processes are inseparable.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Ah, but if you look at deer or sea lions their behaviour is under genetic control too. Instinct, as they say. Our behaviour is not. There is a lot of human behaviour that is different between the sexes, and that is not a direct consequence of biology. And while we cannot choose our biology, cultural conditioning is strong enough to impose some very un-biological behaviours, from monks to suicide bombers. And transsexuals.

Ddwieland
Ddwieland
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Right. At least one time that I picked up my toddler granddaughter from daycare, the little ones were in potty time, boys and girls together. So even at that age, they were introduced to physical distinctions and obviously not suffering any gender doubt. I imagine that there was little if any gender difference in the toys that they played with.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There is no decison as to whether one is a boy or a girl. it has already been decided from the moment of conception. Sex is recorded in every single cell. The variations that occur in expression depend on several things: innate disposition and character, environment and parental influence and wider social norms and expectations.
I do believe, though, that girl and boy behavioural ‘programs’ are to an extent innate, even if modified by all of the above

Last edited 1 year ago by Jane Anderson
PAUL NATHANSON
PAUL NATHANSON
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

“There is no decision as to whether one is a boy or a girl. it has already been decided from the moment of conception. Sex is recorded in every single cell.”
Yes, Jane, but I’d make the wording more specific. There is no decision as to whether one is male or female (sex, a given of nature). Everything else is about some version of masculinity or femininity (gender, a cultural elaboration on sex). Boys and girls, men and women are therefore both sexual and cultural beings. That might be self-evident to most of us, but we can hardly take anything for granted in this age of postmodernist relativism and ideological fantasy.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  PAUL NATHANSON

If other mammals do something, it is innate. If only humans do it, it is a social construct.
Cows mount other cows when they are in heat and kill to protect their calves. They don’t wear stiletto heels, have ridiculous pink extensions attached to their hooves, have their lips blown up into ridiculous shapes, expect bulls to keep them while they carry out pointless byre-tidying tasks or give themselves silly names and ‘pronouns’. Even their ‘maternal instinct’ only kicks in after the birth, not before.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago

All humans do not behave the same way. Behavior varies considerably by social group. If it was only innate, all human social groups would have the same behavior. They don’t.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago

All humans do not behave the same way. Behavior varies considerably by social group. If it was only innate, all human social groups would have the same behavior. They don’t.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  PAUL NATHANSON

The point is that a woman is an adult human female, and a man is an adult human male. That up until recently has been well understood and accepted.
What gender ideology has done is to conflate gender with sex and in doing so turn ‘man’ and ‘woman’ into identities. Gender roles and expectations are what I think you are referring to – and are largely social in construction, as you suggest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jane Anderson
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  PAUL NATHANSON

If other mammals do something, it is innate. If only humans do it, it is a social construct.
Cows mount other cows when they are in heat and kill to protect their calves. They don’t wear stiletto heels, have ridiculous pink extensions attached to their hooves, have their lips blown up into ridiculous shapes, expect bulls to keep them while they carry out pointless byre-tidying tasks or give themselves silly names and ‘pronouns’. Even their ‘maternal instinct’ only kicks in after the birth, not before.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  PAUL NATHANSON

The point is that a woman is an adult human female, and a man is an adult human male. That up until recently has been well understood and accepted.
What gender ideology has done is to conflate gender with sex and in doing so turn ‘man’ and ‘woman’ into identities. Gender roles and expectations are what I think you are referring to – and are largely social in construction, as you suggest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jane Anderson
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

As Paul says, the whole point of this discussion is that we need to distinguish between the biology, which is clear and inborn, and the social behaviour, which is not. You can certainly say that behaviour ought to be determined purely by biology, if that is what you think, but you cannot claim that it is the only possibility.

I’d agree that the behavioural programs are at least based on biology, in the sense that the roles we have fit the underlying framework, but a lot of the details could well be cultural. It is certainly hard to prove the contrary.