The Manifold Dangers of Pretending to Be the Opposite Sex

In 2015, during the Obama administration, the Supreme Court ruled that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  This decision — which made the final pronouncement on the first major battle about gender confusion — rendered meaningless the distinction between men and women.  It was no longer necessary for a married couple to comprise a male and a female.  In a marriage, there could now be two husbands or two wives.

The weekend prior to this ruling, Bruce Jenner, a former decathlete who won gold in the 1976 Olympics, came out as transgender and won an award for "courage" for doing so.  Thus began the linking of sexual orientation and gender identity that cemented the transformation of LGB to LGBT.  In the following years, Hollywood and the media sought to mainstream transgenderism by highlighting it in TV shows, movies, and articles.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration began pushing legal mandates that characterized gender identification — whether in education, health care, housing, or the military — as a civil rights issue.  An individual's "gender identification," not biological sex, would be the criterion for determining admittance to public schools, sports teams, washrooms, locker rooms, showers, dorms, and the like.

The dogmatism and irrational haste surrounding so-called "anti-discriminatory" gender policies and the notion of "gender fluidity" have made it nearly impossible to voice alternative views.  This not only is unhealthy for society but deprives the gender dysphoric — that is, people who are uncomfortable with their sex — of balanced counseling and a reasonable amount of time to arrive at how they want to be identified and whether they want so-called "sex change" surgery.  As a matter of course, counselors driven by the false narrative of "trapped in the wrong body" impose gender reassignment on confused youths, often causing untold trauma.

In his book When Harry Became Sally, Ryan T. Anderson, an American political philosopher and currently the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, exposes the shocking contrast between the glowing, politically charged media accounts of "transitioning" and the horror stories of regret — of children and adolescents badgered and hastened into making irreversible physical changes when what they really needed was psychotherapy to help them accept themselves and live in harmony with their bodies.  Sharing his insights into the harsh reality of being transgender in America today, Anderson presents a side of the story that is not generally available for parents and troubled youths.

The book has borne the brunt of the dogmatism surrounding the topic.  It has been canceled on Amazon, the first book to be banned under a policy "not to sell certain content determined to be hate speech."  But the world's top bookseller has no qualms about selling Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.   (And strangely, the Fireside Reads edition, Summary of When Harry Became Sally, is available on the website.)

As early as 1965, Johns Hopkins University was at the forefront of gender fluidity studies and even founded a gender identity clinic.  Seeing no psychological benefit from "gender-change" surgery, Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist at the university's school of medicine, dissuaded his colleagues from the practice.  He believed that being transgender was largely a psychological, not a biological problem, and encouraged psychotherapy to help patients comfortably live within the parameters of their sex.  He viewed the "reassignment" trend as a response to political pressure and felt that manipulation of human nature was illegitimate, as sex is truly immutable.  McHugh's evidence-based approach to gender dysphoria prevailed at the institution until 2016 when it began performing body-modifying procedures once again.

At that time, all health care plans regulated under Obamacare were required to cover body-modifying procedures to imitate the opposite sex, and all physicians to perform them.  Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were not mandating insurance coverage of the procedures, since they had concluded that there wasn't enough clinical evidence to consider them beneficial, the federal government's civil rights office was requiring it of private insurance plans and physicians covered under these plans.  It was clearly a case of politics overriding science.

Under Obama, the military was required to pay for body-modifying surgery.  Taxpayers were made to bear the cost of "transition" for federal prisoner Bradley Manning, convicted of releasing classified information and given a 35-year prison term (later commuted by Obama).  The Obama administration even sued North Carolina for keeping biological sex as the basis for access to bathrooms and other facilities.

All this was the outcome of a radical change in thinking spearheaded by leftist activist groups: a "transgender boy" is a boy, not a girl who calls herself a boy (as previously believed), and a "transgender girl" is a girl, not a boy who calls himself a girl (as previously believed).  Ignore biology; people can be the sex they think they are.  By changing language, extremist activists are normalizing their version of the "gender" discourse.  Rather than "taking artificial hormones and surgically reshaping body parts to look like a member of the opposite sex," they say a person is "coming home" to a "real" "gender identity."  They discredit all approaches other than the above, even though the rate of suicide among transgenders is over 40%, and 80–95% of such children don't persist in a transgender identity.  Their dogma disrespects parental authority and the discomfort of non-transgenders.

An outgrowth of this aggressive advocacy for gender-dysphoric minors has been to secretly assist a child with procedures to make him look like a member of the opposite sex.  Such assistance may include the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.  The parents are not informed — especially if they are pursuing other medical or psychological lines of care for their children.  If they are deemed "unsupportive" of the change, they are subject to coercive methods.  If that does not work, Child Protective Services may be called to declare the home a "toxic environment" and mandate the child's removal.

When Harry Became Sally includes stories of traumatized people who have "de-transitioned," or tried to undo the modifications to their bodies.  Their common experience is that their psychological problems were ignored and they were hastily given hormones and plastic surgery to change their physical appearance when what they really needed was in-depth counseling to deal with their doubts about their sex and the trauma they had suffered.  Anderson's research has found that the gender-dysphoric run an elevated risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.  The risk does not appear to be alleviated by any cross-sex hormones or mutilating surgeries.

The American Psychiatric Association acknowledges the politics and political pressure bending the debate.  The author of its most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders notes that it's politics, not science, that has shifted the terminology in recent years.  The manual defines gender dysphoria as "incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender."  It says there is no accurate count of people identifying as transgenders — anywhere between one in 20,000 and one in 200.

The most effective response to dysphorias — including sex dysphoria, anorexia, and body dysmorphic disorder — is to recognize that feelings are not the same as reality and help the dysphoric come to terms with reality.  Unfortunately, in the current political environment, the focus is on changing the bodies of the gender-dysphoric with undue haste rather than exploring their mental state and helping them cope.  Hormones are being administered at ever younger ages.  Surgical procedures, no matter how realistic, do not create the organs of the opposite sex in all their functionality.  Often, the tragic consequences are irreversible changes, infertility, and psychological trauma.  Anderson cites evidence that even when all procedures are technically and cosmetically convincing, the psychological benefit is not great.

When Harry Became Sally presents an honest appraisal of transgenderism — its many pitfalls and few triumphs.  The author urges a cautious, compassionate approach in treating the gender-dysphoric.  He says hasty, irreversible procedures should be avoided, especially for minors.  The fact remains that the vast majority of gender-confused children eventually accept their sex.  Anderson says it would be prudent to guide them as they explore their changing emotions and body image over time and avoid costly, life-changing interventions.

Image via Pxhere.

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