Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters
New York: Regnery Publishing, 2020
There has recently been an epidemic of teen girls declaring that they have gender dysphoria and becoming “trans.” From the nice, white liberal perspective, this may appear to be a barrier broken by the foot soldiers of “civil rights,” but Abigail Shrier says in her excellent book, Irreversible Damage, that it is not. She instead argues that teen girls getting gender dysphoria is only a new twist to an old, well-known phenomenon. One can call that phenomenon a fad, a craze, or more darkly, a social contagion.
Some crazes, like teen girls wearing bobby socks and saddle shoes and screaming during Frank Sinatra concerts, are harmless, but other crazes are dangerous. Teen girls with gender dysphoria are analogous to the young ladies who hysterically accused ordinary citizens in Salem of witchcraft in 1692, or girls who developed anorexia nervosa in the 1970s, or those who cut themselves in the early 2000s.
Shrier entered the transgender debate after getting a letter from a reader following an article she wrote about the constitutionality of laws related to pronoun use. The reader’s daughter had mental health issues and got involved with the trans movement. She damaged her body with hormones, as well as her relationships with everybody. After this epiphany, Shrier wrote an article called “When Your Daughter Defies Biology.” The article drew a thousand comments and put her in touch with all sorts of people involved in gender dysphoria, from true-believer influencers to de-transitioners who were angry that they’d been deceived.
America has become fertile ground for this mass enthusiasm for reasons that have everything to do with our cultural frailty; parents are undermined; experts are over-relied upon; dissenters in science and medicine are intimidated, free speech truckles under renewed attack; government healthcare laws harbor hidden consequences; and an intersectional era has arisen in which the desire to escape a dominant identity encourages individuals to take cover in victim groups. (p. xxii)
Shrier argues that adolescence for teen girls is an agony of insecurities. As soon as they develop breasts they get attention from men, often considerably older men. Dealing with this is a shock that is difficult when the girl in question is 12 or 13. Teen girls are also concerned with their looks, and are often terribly cruel to each other.
Then there is the problem of young women giving each other awful advice. Shrier elaborates:
The female tendency to meet our friends where they are and share in their pain can be a productive and valuable social skill. Co-rumination (excessive discussion of a hardship) “does make the relationship between girls stronger” . . . But it also leads friends to take on each other’s ailments. Teenage girls spread psychic illness because of features natural to their modes of friendship: co-rumination’ excessive reassurance seeking; and negative-feedback seeking, in which someone maintains a feeling of control by angling for confirmation of her low self-concept from others. (p. 36)
Young girls also react with dismay to pornography. Many pornographic films are rough-sex fantasies where the woman is choked and/or sodomized. The average age of a young woman who first sees porn can be as low as 11, and many of these girls are so appalled by these depictions of intercourse that they then fear sex.
In the 1990s, parents and schools were concerned that there was too much sex going on. By then, the negatives of the sexual revolution were plain for all to see, including AIDS and births to unwed mothers. Today, however, adults are frightened that young people aren’t having sex at all. Instead, the young now live miserable, lonely lives in a virtual, smartphone-created cocoon.
Other markers of adulthood are lagging as well. Many youths are not getting their driver’s license even after they reach the age requirement.
In the same way that printers in the seventeenth century made money by publishing salacious accounts of witchcraft, social media influencers gain money and status by pushing gender ideology. These influencers are able to seduce teen girls into practicing self-harm by pushing the following easy-to-grasp but utterly false concepts:
- If you think you might be trans, you are.
- Trying out the trans lifestyle? [Breast] Binders are a great way to start.
- Testosterone, or “T,” is amazing. It may just solve all your problems.
- If your parents loved you, they would support your trans identity.
- If you’re not supported in your trans identity, you’ll probably kill yourself.
- Deceiving parents and doctors is justified if it helps transition.
- You don’t have to identify as the opposite sex to be “trans.”
[e]cstatic about being ‘on T’ [i.e. testosterone], pitying those who can’t yet “get access” because their “gatekeeping” parents won’t allow it, they are the undeniable drug and surgery boosters of the trans world. Many of them peddle misinformation, outright medical falsehoods, and just bad advice. They extol the glories of testosterone as if it were a protein shake, not a Schedule III controlled substance. They enthuse over double mastectomies as if they were no more significance than a haircut. They refer to skeptical parents as “toxic” — and encourage their audience to upgrade to a trans glitter family. (p. 55)
Since the smartphone revolution, young girls can slip down a Big Tech-managed rabbit hole where trans ideology is amplified and there is no opposing viewpoint. Girls who transition are given accolades online which provide a salve to their genuine angst. Unfortunately, like anorexia, becoming trans is a maladaptive coping mechanism to the ultimately brief discomfort that all experience during adolescence.
Shrier shows that schools, including prestigious private academies, are facilitating teen girls who engage in self-harm by becoming trans. When it comes to gender ideology, the adults have left the room. Teenagers are awash in natural hormones, and their brains are still in development. They don’t really know what they want, yet schools are affirming gender identity with little thought for the long-term consequences.
Another problem is that schools now routinely carry out anti-bullying campaigns that specifically seek to protect LGBTQ students. Many young people are fleeing to the trans identity because they are generally socially awkward and are looking for shelter.
It isn’t just schools that are corrupted, either; psychiatry is as well. Children who are taken to therapy are getting obviously bad advice about being in the wrong type of body. Psychiatry is a field historically prone to quackery. Freudian ideas became highly popular in the 1940s, but were empirically proven to be fraudulent by the early 1960s. In the late nineteenth century, neurasthenia was a common diagnosis which has fallen out of use because it is so ill-defined. Medicine itself — the part of it based on hard science — has also run into dead ends; in the mid-twentieth century, lobotomies and insulin shock therapy were used. The results were bad.
Shrier shows that members of the medical and mental health professions who push back against affirming gender dysphoria are forced out of their jobs and career fields.
Shrier’s focus is on teen girls, but she also gives a partial account of those highly competitive men who become transwomen to get a leg up in society’s current moral paradigm. Many of these men have autogynephilia. Autogynephilia is a perversion, possibly enhanced and spread due to the availability of lesbian pornography on the Internet, whereby a man is sexually aroused by imagining himself as a woman.
Transwomen fiercely defend the trans ideology because if the idea of autogynephilia gets out into the wider public narrative, its perverse aspects will change the public’s perception of them. Shrier writes:
One reason the existence of autogynephilia matters has to do with women’s safe spaces. If transgender-identified biological men are completely uninterested in women sexually, one might argue that however uncomfortable it may be, there is little danger in admitting them to women’s private spaces. But if some transgender men are heterosexual, aroused by the idea of themselves dressed as women and generally by the female form, the nature of the debate shifts and the possibility of admitting trans-identified men into women’s safe spaces begins to seem untenable. (p. 129)
Because the trans identity has successfully associated itself with the narrative of “oppressed” sub-Saharans in the South during the 1950s, they have successfully come under the sharp-toothed protection of the illicit second constitution that is the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Trans activists are thus able to bludgeon any skepticism from a health provider with real force.
The first health problem that arises in transgender individuals comes from the effect of puberty-blocking drugs and hormone treatment. It is already well-known that steroids used by professional wrestlers and bodybuilders damage the body. It is also known that hormone replacement therapy in menopausal women might cause certain cancers. It is therefore highly probably that hormone treatments currently being provided to young women who are transitioning will damage their bodies and that the resulting effects will manifest in the very near future. Testosterone treatments are certainly increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the side-effects of puberty-blocking drugs are yet to be discovered, but they are certain to be problematic. Mastectomies, breast binding, and surgically constructed genitalia likely have long-term complications as well.
Another aspect of the transsexual problem is the elimination of womanhood. Transwomen are genuinely and fiercely misogynistic. In their lexicon, actual women are “bleeders.” The vagina is referred to as a “front hole.” Even National Public Radio is starting to refer to genuine women as “people who menstruate.” Lesbian clubs and societies have gone underground, a major reason being that transwomen infiltrate lesbian gatherings and make seduction attempts.
The anti-woman trans movement is, ironically, an outgrowth of feminism itself. F. Roger Devlin wrote that, “A feminist in the strict and proper sense may be defined as a woman who envies the male role.” Shrier affirms this in different words. Womanhood, however, is an honorable thing in and of itself.
If the book has a weakness, it is that Shrier, who is likely Jewish, still accepts the “I Have a Dream” concept of “civil rights,” and believes that there are some people who might genuinely have gender dysphoria. Personally, I think the entire thing is a made-up condition which became a virus in the culture when quacks and sex pests made it up out of whole cloth in the early twentieth century.
A solid case can be made that transgenderism is a Jewish movement. The original founder of this ideology was a Jewish quack named Magnus Hirschfeld. He influenced other sex activists. By the early 2000s, Hirschfeld’s ideas were thoroughly discredited.
A horrible experiment, created by a Hirschfeld-influenced sex researcher named John Money and carried out upon a Canadian boy named David Reimer, went tragically awry. After a botched circumcision, Money convinced Reimer’s parents to raise Reimer as a girl. While Reimer was a child, there were no problems, but as he grew up, his biological impulses took over and he became male again. Reimer ended his unhappy life in 2004 by shooting himself with a shotgun.
One would think that Reimer’s story would have ended the trans movement, but homosexual activists got fully organized just as the Religious Right was going over a cliff like lemmings, following the tragically foolish George W. Bush.
All is not lost, however. In the late 1940s, the Democratic Party was the supreme political movement in the United States. Its politicians had deftly led America through three different calamities: the Depression, the Second World War, and the start of the Cold War. But then they got involved in sub-Saharan uplift and “civil rights.” They went on to lose the South, and now the Democratic strongholds in the Spanish-speaking areas of south Texas are switching affiliation. It is when institutions are at their most powerful that a mere pull on a small thread can unravel everything.
Gender ideology could be the loose thread that unravels the entire 1964 Civil Rights Act, and with it, all “civil rights”-inspired social oppression. Today, even Leftist professors recognize and admit that the “civil rights” movement tore the fabric of American society. Things that cannot continue eventually crash.
Sexually reckless behavior renders every endeavor a whisper away from catastrophe. Trans perversion is progressive — “civil rights” sexual recklessness drunk on whisky and high on cocaine.
Shrier gives some advice for parents of teen girls that is quite wise. She recounts a personal anecdote describing when she appealed to her mother to allow her to receive breast reduction surgery. Just as her appeal was about to be granted, her father intervened. He insisted that she looked as a woman should look and that breast reduction could interfere with breastfeeding later. She was initially dejected, but deep down relieved that she had received validation about her looks from a man she trusted.
Should you be a parent of a teen with gender dysphoria, Shrier argues that you should not indulge the child’s fantasy pronouns and new name. She also goes on to advise the following:
- Don’t get your kid a smartphone.
- Don’t relinquish you authority as a parent. Be in charge, don’t back down.
- Don’t support gender ideology in your child’s education. The ongoing “goomer” narrative pushing back against this poison is a good start.
- Reintroduce privacy in the home. Don’t let anyone post trivial family matters on social media.
- Consider taking big steps to protect your daughter from harm: change schools, get the right treatment, take away Internet access, etc.
- Stop pathologizing girlhood.
- Don’t be afraid to admit that it’s wonderful to be a girl. Boys grow up to dodge bullets in the infantry, mine coal, or work on oil derricks. Life ain’t easy for them.
. . . [T]he transgender craze will likely end as the multiple personality craze did: in the courts, with patients suing their doctors. Some of these teenage girls . . . will wake up at age twenty-three, twenty-four, and say, “Here I am. I’ve got a five-o’clock shadow, I’m mutilated and I’m sterile, and I’m not what I ought to be. How did this happen?” (p. 142)
Anita Bryant was right when she said, “Homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.” The homosexual movement has successfully recruited a generation of sympathetic children since George W. Bush destroyed the Religious Right with his swagger and idiotic decisions. All is not lost, however. Now is the time to support mainstream efforts to turn back gender ideology. The foundations of this movement are built upon sand. And in defeating it, we might take down the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well.
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