Transgender and the new reality

  Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen it to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This is one of my favourite bits from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. It nails for me the absurdity of some logical reasoning: you can apply as much logic as you like, but unless it aligns with reality then it’s worthless. I love the idea of mankind proving that black is white – and thus getting run over on the next zebra crossing. As if such a thing could happen…

Which neatly brings me to the thorny issue of reality and our minds. Some diseases, such as dementia or schizophrenia, can cause a person to suffer delusions – to believe things which are not actually true – that is, what their minds believe does not match up with reality. At the same time, other conditions include believing that one’s birth sex is different – that one was ‘born in the wrong body’, so to speak. Reality does not match up with one’s internal state. This is known as Gender Dysphoria. The current action of the NHS in such a case is to cautiously move forward with things like hormone therapy, and even surgery to permanently transition. (Since 2004, the government also allow sex on a birth certificate to be changed, as happened with Rachel Mann, for example).

In these cases, the transition – although it may be permanent – is only really a ‘patch-up’ job. Scientifically speaking, it is currently impossible (and perhaps will be forever impossible) to transition from being a man to a woman or vice versa. Every cell in the human body declares that we are male or female. A blood test on a man who has transitioned to a woman, for example, will still yield the result of a man. Someone who begins hormone treatment will need to be on that treatment indefinitely – i.e. for the rest of their lives. Treatment, such as it is, cannot alter reality.

Why do I say all this? Why am I stepping out into this delicate and precarious minefield? Consider the case of Germaine Greer: she recently made comments – in her usual, ahem, ‘robust’ way – that chopping off your penis did not make you a woman. Her comments were branded ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘misogynistic’, and a group of people petitioned to prevent her scheduled lecture at Cardiff University from taking place. Greer has subsequently been demonised by activists, calling her – no prizes for guessing – a “bigot”.

But now the government has got in on the act. The Women and Equalities Committee has just published the results of a transgender inquiry, which states that trans people are being failed by the NHS and many other parts of society. As Melanie Phillips writes, the results of this inquiry will actually have the biggest effect on children:

Trans and gender issues, says the committee, should be taught in schools as part of personal, social and health education.

We can all predict what will happen. Gender fluidity will be actively promoted as just another lifestyle choice. Under the commendable guise of stopping the minute number of transgender children being bullied, the rest of the class will be bullied into accepting the prescribed orthodoxy — that gender is mutable, and any differentiation in value between behaviour or attitudes is bigoted and prohibited.

This comes in a week where teenagers in a school in Brighton were given a (government-sponsored) survey with 23 options for gender, including terms like ‘Gender fluid’, ‘Genderqueer’, ‘Tri-gender’, ‘In the middle of boy and girl’ and so on. It’s truly staggering.

What worries me about all this is that, under pressure from certain vocal activist groups, an alternative vision of reality is being foisted upon some of the most vulnerable people in our society – children and teenagers. Scientists have known for some time about ‘neuroplasticity’ – the way the brain can rewire itself. This is none more so than in the brains of teenagers, for example pornography can have a much bigger effect on a adolescent brain than it can an adult:

Between the ages of 12 and 20, the human brain undergoes a period of great neuroplasticity. The brain is in a malleable phase during which billions of new synaptic connections are made. This leaves us vulnerable to the influence of our surroundings and leads our brains to be “wired” around the experiences and information that we receive during that time period.

Anyone who’s ever been through puberty will be able to testify – growing up as a teenager is a difficult time of life. It’s confusing, lots of changes are happening, and you are in real need of guidance. It seems to me that presenting teenagers with a list of 23 gender options will actually exacerbate the issue, rather than helping. Teaching children and young people that there are a plurality of gender options will make what is a confusing and difficult time even more confusing and difficult.

There have been a number of cases recently where very young children have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (on charity claims up to about 80 children per year) – and the response is sometimes to administer powerful puberty-blocking drugs. I simply cannot believe this is the right response to these circumstances.

There’s a phrase from the Bible which has passed into our English language: “they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). It worries me that this is what’s happening with our society today: I think we are sowing seeds in young lives which we’re not going to see the fruit of for a generation – but one day we will reap the whirlwind. 

Gender Dysphoria is undoubtedly a real phenomenon and I feel deepest sympathy for anyone who suffers with it. But I think our government is very wrong in its solution. I would encourage anyone who has GD to find a way to feel comfortable in their own body, however hard that might be: to engage in transitioning from one sex to the other might seem to be the solution, but in reality it often does not deliver what it promises.

From the Melanie Phillips article I quoted above:

In fact, gender fluidity itself creates victims. Professor Paul McHugh is the former chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins hospital in the US. In the 1960s this pioneered sex-reassignment surgery — but subsequently abandoned it because of the problems it left in its wake. Most young boys and girls who seek sex reassignment, McHugh has written, have psychosocial issues and presume that such treatment will resolve them. ‘The grim fact is that most of these youngsters do not find therapists willing to assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions. Rather, they and their families find only “gender counsellors” who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions.’

In fact, there is a whole website devoted to the issues around sex change regret and examples of people who have made the transition ‘back again’, so to speak.

In conclusion, it seems that the government has bought into a particular agenda and understanding of gender – one which is controversial at best. But, worse than this, the new gender orthodoxy is not open to questioning – as the case of Germaine Greer demonstrates. And it troubles me that our society, once again, is sleepwalking into the whirlwind of its own creation as our children are raised in a world where desires can override reality itself.

Further reading

I’ve linked to a few pieces in the post above, but here are a few other articles which I’ve found helpful:

Note on comments: I have decided to disable comments for this post. If you would like to reply to me, I welcome feedback via other channels. I might publish and engage with feedback if it is constructive and respectful.

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