Why are we encouraging girls to mutilate their bodies?

The surge in young girls seeking gender reassignment should alarm us all.

Joanna Williams
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Topics Feminism UK

The Tavistock, the NHS clinic that specialises in treating children ‘who experience difficulties in the development of their gender identity’, has just released its annual batch of statistics. The figures reveal that the children being referred to the clinic are younger than ever, and that far more girls than boys are seeking treatment.

As The Times reports, over half of all the children seen by the Tavistock are now under the age of 14. The number of 13-year-olds referred in the past year rose by 30 per cent to 331, while the number of 11-year-olds is up by 28 per cent. The youngest patients were just three years old.

Three quarters of children who want help to change their gender are now girls – the highest proportion ever recorded. We urgently need to ask why girls in particular are so unhappy with the prospect of growing up to be women that they would prefer to change gender altogether.

The disparity between the proportion of boys and girls wanting to change gender exposes the myth put about by trans activists that we have an innate sense of gender identity in the brain. According to trans ideology, brains and bodies are aligned for most people – that is, their biological sex matches the gender identity in their brain – while trans individuals apparently experience a mismatch between the two. That means their bodies need to be changed and brought into line with their brains in order for their true gender to be realised. But if this really were the case, we would expect just as many males and females to experience this disjuncture between their brains and bodies. That so many more girls than boys are raising concerns about their gender identity suggests this is a social and cultural phenomenon, rather than a biological one.

The increasing number of girls looking to change gender also calls into question the view held by many radical feminists, that transgenderism is a form of ‘autogynephilia’. According to this theory, some men feel so sexually aroused by the thought of themselves as women that they transition in order to make this state permanent. This may well account for a small number of trans women who fetishise and ape stereotypical womanhood, complete with dresses, make-up and high-heeled shoes. In turn, some feminists accuse autogynephilic men of effectively grooming children on the internet to become trans. But even if these men are all-powerful and extremely persuasive, this clearly cannot account for such a sharp rise in teenage girls seeking gender reassignment.

The messages children receive about gender are shaped by our culture. Ironically, now that many children are taught that they can choose their own gender, the limits of acceptable behaviour within the genders seem more fixed than ever. Trans activists and campaigners would have us believe that the boy who wants to wear a dress must really be a girl, and that the girl who prefers getting into fights to experimenting with make-up must be a boy. Rather than society changing to accommodate a broader range of behaviour from boys and girls, children are told that they must change. This is a cruel lesson for adults to inflict on children.

Adolescence is a difficult time in which girls, in particular, can develop a complicated relationship with their bodies, sometimes leading to self-harm. One explanation for anorexia is that it is an attempt by adolescent girls to stop growing up and to keep their body childlike. Anorexia is taken very seriously by parents, teachers and health professionals who encourage girls to eat. But when teenage girls want to harm their bodies by chest-binding or taking puberty-blockers, they can find that these behaviours are not just validated but actively supported by schools and social workers. Charities and pressure groups like Mermaids or Stonewall need to be held to account for promoting the idea that changing gender is an answer to the problems some young people face.

Adolescents, influenced by their friends, experiment with different identities in a bid to work out who they are. For girls struggling with their sexuality, being a lesbian is rarely presented as a positive choice. Increasingly, homosexual women in the public eye describe themselves as ‘gay’ rather than ‘lesbian’. Whereas openly gay men front popular television shows, pop bands and become YouTube stars, lesbian women are hardly as visible or as aspirational. For girls today, it can seem easier to come out as transgender than to come out as a lesbian.

Feminists must also take some responsibility. Girls today grow up with feminists telling them, at every turn, that life as a woman is awful: they will be sexually harassed, paid less than men, face a lifetime of domestic drudgery, and still be judged and found wanting. This is hardly something for girls to look forward to. At the same time, feminism saves its biggest respect for those who have suffered most. Turning trans is a surefire way for girls to achieve the moral beatification doled out to victims. Sadly, this seems to be a very enticing prospect for many teenage girls.

For young people today, publicly struggling with your gender identity can mark you out as being at the cutting edge of progressive thought, and as more sensitive and more troubled than everyone else. We are at risk of making gender reassignment something fashionable. What’s truly appalling is that a significant number of adults are not just going along with this, but are actively encouraging teenage girls to mutilate their bodies. They should be condemned for child abuse.

Joanna Williams is associate editor at spiked. Her new book, Women vs Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars, is out now.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Angus J

13th July 2019 at 11:29 am

“The disparity between the proportion of boys and girls wanting to change gender exposes the myth put about by trans activists that we have an innate sense of gender identity in the brain.

That so many more girls than boys are raising concerns about their gender identity suggests this is a social and cultural phenomenon, rather than a biological one.”

It is not a case of ‘either biological or social’ but ‘both…and’.

The existence of an innate sense of sexual identity (I change the term from ‘gender’ to ‘sexual’ deliberately) is difficult to verify, but the case of David Reimer is a very important witness. He was brought up as a girl from the earliest age, including the removal of genitalia, and given all the social conditioning that would be given to a girl. But he always knew that something was not right with this and eventually identified as male. But the question is this: if he had been told from the earliest age that he was a girl, and had no male genitalia to disprove this social conditioning, how did he have an awareness that this was wrong, and that in fact he was male, other than by having an innate sense of his maleness – that is, his sexual identity?

Social conditioning also plays a very important part in the affirmation of sexual identity, notably because that innate sense can vary in security. On this subject, the paragraph from which I have quoted contains a glaring non-sequitur: “That means their bodies need to be changed and brought into line with their brains in order for their true gender to be realised. But if this really were the case, we would expect just as many males [as] females to experience this disjuncture between their brains and bodies.” Why? Why should there be an equal number of males and females? Perhaps the levels of sexual identity insecurity vary between the sexes, with more girls than boys needing affirmation of their sexual identity? And I would agree that the way that feminists have denigrated the feminine makes the affirmation of a feminine sexual identity considerably more difficult.

My understanding is that there is one phenomenon – gender dysphoria – which has two aetiologies: a mismatch between innate sexual identity and biological sexuality (true transsexualism); and the failure to provide the affirmation of innate sexual identity leading to mental confusion (social contagion).

I recognise that this is an immensely complicated subject, but I regret that have neither the time nor space to write more.

Icarus Bop

8th July 2019 at 2:35 pm

Gender might be a social construct, but it has its roots in physical fact. Feet and inches are a social construct, but that does not make me 6’2″ no matter how much I might wish it to be, because the unit of measure is rooted in physical fact.
If you have external plumbing then you are male, a young male is a boy, a mature male is a man, boy and man are concepts of gender, but still based on the fact of having a penis. Likewise for female / girl / woman.
Society has a contract with the next generation who are going out looking for mates. It is unacceptable for someone with a penis to claim they are a woman when the person chatting them up (investing time energy and expenditure) is expecting a vagina when it gets to the bedroom. You used to be able to identify a Woman (with a vagina) by the way they look act and dress, but this method of indication is getting less and less reliable.
The eventual outcome of this insanity is that people will adopt some signal to indicate what they really are (physically) like a ring on a specific finger for example, much in the same way that homosexuals adopted signals in the past so they could identify each other.
After that, we will still have some mode of dress that indicates if we are male or female, pretty much where we started with trousers and skirts, but with different signals.
In the meantime, our society is nullifying everything female women have sacrificed, given up, and suffered for many years so they can claim the same (or very similar) rights as male men.

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