Transgender or institutionalized self-harm?

Last week, I finished Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.

This is not “normal” reading fare for me at all. Longtime readers know that I cannot stand identity politics anything. I even have a difficult time listening to conservatives who obsess over responding to identity politics stuff. I honestly just want it to go away. It’s stupid. It’s mean-spirited. It’s everything that is despicable about this political moment. I feel like Franny Glass in Salinger, meditating on people who just go around ruining everything that is true and beautiful.

I was not expecting to relate to this book as much as I did.

I am not even remotely unsympathetic to (truly) transgender people. Before we moved to Florida, we had a dear, dear friend who was a transgender woman, or what would have been known in the past as a drag queen. We were friends with her for many years, and she was one of the few people who came to visit us when our daughter was in the NICU for several months. This person lived a very complicated life, where work days were spent as a man in a corporate environment, and some nights were spent with a totally different persona. I learned a lot about the nasty, humbling details of transitioning physically to a new gender and the impact of domestic trauma on a person’s mind. I wouldn’t dare speculate why or how she became the person she is. As far as I am concerned, that is for God to know. But our friendship opened my eyes to a lot of things I would not have seen before.

I watched as this person’s world was turned upside down by politics, long before Trump was a candidate. I had never thought about where she might prefer to go to the bathroom or the kind of hate she would have to endure. In fact, that was kind of what was bizarre about the whole thing. She did not have to endure any meaningful hate until she became a hill progressives were willing to die on. Then hate was everywhere. And her plight was lumped in with bratty and rebellious teens who did not know what they wanted, but who had suddenly become political expedients to be lifted up as a fucked up model for society.

Shrier presents the current transgender phenomenon as the latest version of how teenage girls romanticize self-harm. I can totally see that, too. There’s a reason why – until now – we associated gender dysphoria with drag queens. Historically, we are talking about gay men who enjoy dressing as women. Not teenage girls.

But that is not what is happening now. You have an overwhelming number of teenage girls who suddenly think they are not girls. It’s not that they think they are boys, either. They just don’t want to be girls. And their idea of gender is actually gender stereotypes. What they reject is being an Instagram Barbie, not being a girl, per se. Their predicament is not all that different than Blacks living in an environment of “anti-racism,” where white liberals define things like grammar and showing up for appointments on time as quintessentially white traits and platforms for oppression. It’s just the dumbest, most fake, and unnecessarily cruel thing lately.

I am not a Barbie doll. My best subjects were math and symbolic logic. I am pretty fine with having a vagina and being a woman. But if I were in school now, my teachers would be telling me I am dysphoric. They would be pressuring me into decisions that would deprive me of the experience of producing and meeting my daughter. Would that make me suicidal? You’re goddamn right it would. Having a baby was literally the best thing that ever happened to me. And public school activists are stripping young girls of exactly that.

In past decades, hormonal teenage girls would have been driven to anorexia, bulimia, cutting, affecting bipolar or depression symptoms, substance abuse, destructive boyfriends. But now, they live in a world where they are being radicalized on the interwebs long before they have a single romantic interaction in the real world. They start watching porn at an average age of 11 – truly grotesque stuff, like getting choked and beaten.

The main difference between what is happening now versus in past decades is that teenage girls are being encouraged and enabled by the adults in positions of authority around them, who have increasingly mentally ill ideas about human sexuality themselves. In California, where the de facto Democratic presidential nominee is from, it is now possible for kids as young as 12 years old to get hormone injections on the campus of their public school, sans parental notification, let alone consent.

Imagine that for a moment. You send your kid to school, and a few months later her voice starts to change. You wonder what is up. You find out your kid’s school has been giving her testosterone injections without your knowledge. You get to explain to your daughter, amid the normal teenage angst, that she is now infertile and will never be able to have kids. No one walked her through the consequences because they were too busy slapping their own back for being so progressive. She now wants to have a double mastectomy. Not to be male, but because she lives in an environment where hating your developing body is elevated and praised. It’s a phase that will pass, but she will have destroyed her embodied self.

People would lose their shit if they heard that schools were now pro-anorexia. But that is effectively how they are acting with transgender students. You hate your body and want to mutilate it? Good for you? How can we help you achieve your self-mutilation goals? That’s what counts as “caring” now.

That is what gets me about all of this. Not the mania or collective mental illness of politics, but the institutionalization of self-harm. The idea that you could send your child to a school that thinks you, the parent, is dangerous to your child, that puts using the wrong pronoun in the same box as trying to drown your child in the bathtub. That the suggestion of “hey, let’s think about the long-term consequences of this” is now met with institutions trying to remove a child from your custody.

We need to reject this new development forcefully.

11 thoughts on “Transgender or institutionalized self-harm?

  1. In a better world, people would be able to live however they want, without resorting to surgery and artificial hormones, and without strangers telling them to conform to gender stereotypes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even when we were growing up, several decades past, life was confusing. The great thing was common sense was the rule of the days. Yes, there were friends that dabbled in untoward behaviors, but they grew up. These days, pyschologists can not teach right from wrong or imply psychological traumas for things discussed above. No wonder more and more young people are confused. And parents are the first protectors of their children’s well-being and future opportunities.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Of course, the school doesn’t have to deal with the long-term consequences of this weirdness; it’s the parents. But the school doesn’t want the parents to even know what’s going on. This is our world nowadays.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I was growing up, and all the years before (talking to relatives), the purpose of school was to ensure reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, and the kids would grow up, under their parents’ guidance. Schools were never meant to parent the children. It’s not their jobs. As a kid, if any teacher wanted to know me more than instruction, I would have looked at them with a raised eyebrow, then run away. They are not my parents. I don’t want to know how they think about social things. The parents are the ones responsible for my upbringing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So a really interesting question, I think, is when exactly did this shift occur? I grew up in Southern California, and I feel like the seeds of this movement were evident in the early 90s. Not the transgender movement, but the sense that schools and parents were not on the same page. But it may be that the culture wars of the early 90s and 2010-20 rhyme. I feel like this is a fad that is already beginning to be forcefully rejected (identity politics, that is).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think, to some degree, given human faults, the problems have always existed, less so perhaps in the past. But where freedom of speech is removed, and propaganda grows, and people will do anything to hold onto their jobs, even if it means a poor education, we see the seeds of future problems. I think I was born to think for myself, though I was pretty naive growing up and I didn’t really think too deeply, just wanting to play, be with friends, and live like all other kids. But I had a mind of questioning, if I understood. Like in the 5th or 6th grade, when a science teacher told us gravity was like a swinging pail of water. With time, I guess my filter grew. And when they said we need to stop pollution and save the planet. I knew the planet was far too big to ever be destroyed, even if some people got cancer from polluted ground water. But really, after working a few years prior to becoming a teacher, I was following the rabbit down the trail of reason, and the ah haa moments grew.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Very interesting.
    I am a trans man myself. However, I can see how much more common it is for adults to just let kids transition (and girls don’t even hit puberty at 12, right? I can’t remember, sorry). I would wait. Yes, let them explore, but not transition them so young.
    And it’s not just girls I’m seeing this being done with: it’s happening to boys too. How much, I don’t know, but I see it a lot.
    Whatever is happening needs to stop.
    Now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the sense that certain personalities have hijacked the experience of transgender folks as their melodrama du jour. And they don’t care about the consequences for anyone – not for kids, not for legitimately trans individuals whose cause is harmed by false advocates destroying how they are perceived in the world, no one.

      Liked by 1 person

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