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Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

The Transgender Tide Is Turning

Published at The Epoch Times

In recent years, transgender ideologues have mounted a cultural offensive that swept all rationality before them. First, biological science and objective reality were well trashed as internal feelings came to matter more than biological facts. Then existing procedures for dealing with transgender ideation were trashed, allowing anyone who believed themselves to be the opposite sex to simply declare their new identity — and, presto-chango — that is what they are.

Next came language engineering in which lexicon police require media, employers, colleagues, and family to use the preferred pronouns declared by transgendered people under threat of social media exclusion, loss of employment, and in some cases, losing custody of one’s own children. Biden administration bureaucrats promulgated regulations that required doctors to provide transgender hormones and surgeries even if they violated their moral and religious beliefs. Catholic hospitals have been sued, some successfully, for refusing transgender hysterectomies.

Soon, womanhood itself was canceled. Females began to be called by ridiculous terms such as “people with uteruses.” We were told ubiquitously that “men can give birth” and “women have penises.” Female athletes were forced to compete with transwomen in sports such as track, swimming, golf, and volleyball. Girls’ and women’s locker rooms were opened to anyone claiming to be female regardless of genitalia.

​Then, they came for the children. Activists took to social media platforms such as TikTok to push trans ideology on youth and silently invaded even the most culturally traditional households. The number of children who claim to be the opposite sex went from a bare trickle to a flash flood. In the name of preventing youth suicides, the Biden administration, medical associations, and professional journals crafted standards of care requiring that youngsters and teenagers claiming to be transgender or non-binary receive only “gender-affirming” support — meaning their ideation is to be accepted unquestioningly.

Under the new regime, children claiming to not be their biological sex first receive unquestioning “social affirmation,” never called by their “dead (given) names” and referred to only by their “preferred” pronouns. Some schools secretly affirm these ideations by openly promoting transgender ideology in classrooms and, sometimes, hiding ongoing student “transitions” from parents. Children were invited to “family friendly” drag queen performances that had the impact — and probably the point — of sexualizing childhood.

Worse, children and adolescents are next put on “medically-affirming care,” in which doctors prescribe drugs and hormones to prevent normal puberty. “Surgical-affirming care” has become increasingly routine with thousands of girls as young as age 12 having had their breasts removed. Teenagers receive invasive facial reconstruction surgeries to masculinize or feminize their faces. A few even had their genitals reconstructed.

For too long, it looked as if this subversive social revolution was unstoppable. But now, the tide seems on the verge of turning. A cultural counter-offensive is gaining steam that, if successful, could halt the transgender juggernaut. Here are some of the new developments that may be changing the tide.

Socially Liberal Countries Are Hitting the Brakes

Contrary to what the ideologues tell us, “the science” around transgenderism — particularly with regard to caring for gender dysphoric children — is not “settled.”

The public health sectors in the United Kingdom, France, Finland, and Sweden — not exactly Bible-belt countries — have published new directives urging “great caution” in blocking the puberties of children or performing body-altering surgeries precisely because of the paucity of good scientific information and the potential for serious harm. The UK’s recently published guidelines noted specifically that childhood gender dysphoria is often “transitory.” Authorities in France, Sweden, and Finland worry that the number of children identifying as trans has increased so dramatically it can be deemed an “epidemic.” The new guidelines strongly encourage extended psychological exploration and care instead of puberty blocking and surgically altering the bodies of minors.

‘De-Transitioners’ Are Telling Their Stories

The transgender movement has been propelled by stories of children celebrating their surgeries and worries about suicides. Now, young people who transitioned are increasingly returning to their born sex, a process known as “de-transitioning.” Their stories are often tragic and compelling. For example, Chloe Cole, an 18-year-old detransitioner recounts how she was “affirmed” in her sex confusion at age 12 and had her breasts removed at 15. Now 18, she understands she is a woman and is issuing a clarion warning, saying, “My teenage life has been the culmination of excruciating pain, regret, and most importantly injustice.”

Chloe is not alone. A new documentary, “The Detransition Diaries,” follows three young women whose bodies were harmed by medical and, in one case, surgical affirmation, issuing a warning to protect children from trans ideology and gender-affirming care.

Attack of the Trial Lawyers

Chloe has decided to sue the doctors who she says allowed her to be irreversibly harmed by medical and surgical interventions. Other cases are being threatened or filed. In Oregon, Camille Kiefel, 32, announced a lawsuit against the health professionals who, she says, approved her mastectomy after only two brief Zoom meetings.

If trial lawyers smell the scent of money, they could swarm the transgender medical community the way litigators did the tobacco and asbestos industries.

States Are Passing Youth-Protecting Laws

Conservative states have started enacting laws to protect children from being propagandized by transgender ideology and having medical and surgical transitions. Florida forbids discussion of sensitive sexual issues, including transgenderism, through the third grade. Several states have banned biological boys competing against girls in sports. Some have required people to use the public restroom of their biological sex. Arkansas, Alabama, and Arizona have outlawed medical and surgical transitions in youth, with more such laws likely on the way.

Gender ideology is one of the direst cultural threats Western society faces. Not only are the bodies and minds of precious people — particularly children — at risk, but if all that matters ultimately are feelings, if we cast objective truth aside to accommodate deeply held personal desires, then the stability of civilization itself is at material risk.

The time has come for an intense but mutually respectful societal conversation that focuses not only on the causes of transgenderism and the potential benefits of transitioning such people, but also the many risks and alternatives that can care compassionately for suffering people while maintaining cultural equilibrium. Our future thriving requires nothing less.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.