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Published on October 6, 2017 comments 91

Misunderstanding a New Kind of Gender Dysphoria


written by Lisa Marchiano

A year ago, as a result of a blog post I wrote, I began offering consultations to


parents of teens who had announced out of the blue that they were transgender.
Each week, several new families made contact with me, and their stories are
remarkably similar to one another. Most have 14 or 15-year-old daughters who are
smart, quirky, and struggling socially. Many of these kids are on the autism
spectrum. And they are often asking for medical interventions hormones and
surgery that may render them sterile, affect their liver, or lead to high blood
pressure, among other possible side effects.

The parents are bewildered and terrified, careful to let me know that they love
their child and would support any interventions that were truly necessary. They
speak to me of dealing with their fear for their child in terrible isolation, as friends
and family blithely celebrate their childs bravery.

I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of parents who call me. I find it difficult
to listen to their stories each one so like the others. The desperation in their
voices is palpable. They ask if they can fly to see me and bring their daughter.
When I tell them I dont do that, they ask if I can direct them to any therapist who
wont just affirm and greenlight their child for medical transition. Their voices are
tremulous with relief at speaking with someone who doesnt dismiss their
concerns about unnecessary medical interventions. Each consultation lasts longer
than the time I have allotted for it.

At times, I am able to offer advice that helps a family steer their child clear of
drastic medical intervention of dubious benefit or necessity. But sometimes all I
can do is stand helpless and witness the wreckage. Claires story was one of the
latter.

Like many of the young people I hear about, Claires daughter Molly had had a
series of complex medical and psychological challenges as an adolescent. Though
profoundly gifted, the teenager struggled with autism, dyspraxia, and anxiety, all
of which made school challenging. At 13, Molly developed anorexia, for which she
was hospitalized twice. There were years in there where I felt like my job was just
to keep her alive, Claire explained. Thanks in part to intensive psychotherapy,
Molly had mostly recovered from the eating disorder by age 16, only to face new
medical problems she was diagnosed with Crohns disease. Managing this
condition required doctor visits and medications, some of which came with
worrying side effects. It also added to Mollys isolation and social struggles.

Despite her multiple challenges, Molly finished high school on time, and was
accepted at her first-choice college. Claire and her husband Jeff felt relieved. But
after graduation came a new diagnosis. On her 18th birthday, after spending much
of the summer online, Molly told her parents that she was transgender.

This news came as a shock. According to Claire, Molly had never before expressed
any concerns about gender. She had been a fairly typical little girl in terms of
interests and play choices, and had dated several boys in high school.
Nevertheless, Jeff and Claire didnt object when Molly traded her long hair for a
buzz cut. They even purchased a binder for her that would flatten her chest and
make her look more male. Hoping that a therapist could help Molly clarify her
feelings about gender, Claire and Jeff accompanied her to an intake appointment
at a gender clinic. Claire was shocked by what happened there.

After a 30-minute consultation with a physicians assistant, Molly was given an


appointment for the following week to begin testosterone injections. There was no
exploration of her other physical and mental health issues, and whether these may
have influenced her belief that she was trans. There was also no caution expressed
about how hormone treatment might affect Crohns disease. Molly simply had to
sign a consent form stating that she identified as male and understood the risks
associated with testosterone.

The PA (physician assistant) also suggested that Molly schedule top surgery a
double mastectomy within a few months. When Claire stated that she and Jeff
wanted time to do research and consider alternatives before allowing Molly to
begin taking testosterone or have surgery, the PA told her that their job as parents
now was to support and affirm their son. In front of Molly, he told Claire she
ought to get her own therapist to deal with her issues so that she could be a better
support person to Max. When Claire and Jeff expressed concerns about Mollys
anxiety and isolation, the PA stated that these were likely a result of Molly being
transgender, and would resolve once she began to transition.

Up until about ten years ago, gender dysphoria presenting for the first time in
adolescence was virtually unknown in natal females. (There is a well-known type
of gender dysphoria found in males that sometimes begins in adolescence.) In the
prototypical form of female gender dysphoria, signs first appear in early
childhood, usually between the ages of two and four. Such girls hate stereotypic
femininity such as Barbies and dresses and embrace stereotypic masculinity
such as short hair, pants, and toy guns. For most young children whose gender
dysphoria began well before puberty, feelings of discomfort with their natal sex
resolve on their own, usually before adolescence. The exact proportion of
childhood-onset cases whose gender dysphoria persists into adolescence and
young adulthood has been estimated to be approximately 20%.

In the past decade, however, a new presentation of gender dysphoria has suddenly
become widespread, in which teens or tweens come to identify as transgender out
of the blue, without any childhood history of feeling uncomfortable with their
sex. Experts have dubbed this presentation rapid onset gender dysphoria, and are
beginning to study it.

We think this is an entirely distinct phenomenon from childhood-onset gender


dysphoria, says Michael Bailey, PhD a leading researcher on sexuality and
gender, and a psychology professor at Northwestern University. Indeed, we think
it didnt exist until recently. It is a socially contagious phenomenon, reminiscent of
the multiple personality disorder epidemic of the 1990s.

Although not much is known at this time about ROGD, it appears likely that it
may be a kind of social contagion in which young people often teen girls come
to believe that they are transgender. Preliminary research indicates that young
people who identify as trans out of the blue may have been influenced by social
media sites that valorize being trans. In addition, researchers have observed a
pattern of clusters of friends coming out together.

While transgender advocates have derided the notion that the sudden surge in
trans identified teens and natal female teens in particular could be influenced
by social contagion, the idea is not so far-fetched. Bulimia was virtually unknown
until the 1970s, when British psychologist Gerald Russell first described the
condition in a medical journal. Author Lee Daniel Kravetz interviewed Russell for
his recent book Strange Contagion. According to Russell, once it was described, and
I take full responsibility for that with my paper, there was a common language for
it. And knowledge spreads very quickly. Scientists have been able to track
bulimias transmission even into culturally remote enclaves following the
introduction of Western media sources. It is estimated that bulimia has since
affected 30 million people.
Others have noted that rapid onset gender dysphoria may share much in common
with another social contagion that spread symptoms of mental distress which were
iatrogenic that is, created or reinforced by the process of receiving medical or
mental health treatment. In the 1990s, some therapists unwittingly encouraged
their patients to construct false narratives of having been sexually abused. These
patients often became identified with their role as a victim, found themselves
dependent on their therapist, and saw a decline in their functioning and overall
mental well-being.

While many in the research community are gaining a growing awareness of rapid
onset gender dysphoria and its contagious nature, clinical practice guidelines have
not caught up with this newer understanding. Moreover, in recent years, advocacy
on behalf of the transgender community has seen medical gatekeeping reduced so
that, in many places in the US, young people like Molly can access medical
transition without any diagnostic or assessment process.

This is concerning, because there is reason to suspect that those with rapid onset
gender dysphoria are unlikely to benefit from medical transition, and may even
be harmed by it. Studies indicate that teen girls with this type of dysphoria have
much higher rates of serious mental health issues than those with the more
common gender dysphoria that is first noticed in early childhood. The growing
community of detransitioners mostly young women in their 20s suggests that
loosening the standards for accessing medical transition hasnt served everyone
well.

Dr. Debra W Soh Follow


@DrDebraSoh

Desistance & detransitioning are real. There are going to be many,


many more cases like this to comeindependent.co.uk/life-style/12-

5:58 PM - Sep 13, 2017

12-year-old boy who transitioned to female changes his mind 2 y


An Australian schoolboy who decided to transition into a female has
changed his mind two years later. At just 12-years-old, Patrick Mitchell,
independent.co.uk

72 423 832

In Mollys case, Claire and her husband wanted to be tolerant and accepting of
Mollys exploration of gender, but were alarmed by the rush to medical
intervention. As a medical professional with a research background, Claire was
worried about the side effects of testosterone. Research quickly confirmed what
she suspected there are no studies on the long-term safety of testosterone in
female bodied people, and little is known about how testosterone might affect
Mollys medical and mental health conditions. Furthermore, some of
testosterones effects such as a deepened voice and growth of facial hair are
permanent. Claire and Jeff were concerned enough by the lack of science
supporting medical transition for someone in Mollys situation that they asked
their daughter to move slowly so that they could all do more research. At first,
Molly agreed.

However, shortly after Molly started college, Claire could tell that all was not well.
Molly communicated with her parents infrequently. When Claire managed to
reach her, Molly was withdrawn and sullen. By October, Molly stopped
responding to phone calls, and would only communicate by text. A week before
Molly was due to come home for Thanksgiving, Claire and Jeff received a call that
Molly had been admitted to a psychiatric ward after becoming erratic and violent
in her dorm.

When Jeff and Claire arrived the next morning after driving through the night,
they were distraught by what they found. Molly seemed like a different person
than the kid they had dropped off just a few months before. When she saw her
parents, she became agitated. She kept repeating that she didnt want to see us,
that we were the reason she had been hospitalized because we didnt support her
transition, explained Claire. Eventually, hospital staff asked Jeff and Claire to
leave.

Claire believes that Mollys aggression and volatility were a reaction to beginning
testosterone injections, which had commenced two weeks prior to the
hospitalization. Molly had also changed her name and gender designation at
school. A gender-affirming therapist at her college counseling center had referred
her to an informed consent clinic for the testosterone prescription.

The rest of Mollys story is not a happy one. At the end of her freshman year, she
had top surgery, paid for by student health insurance. She moved back home over
the summer so that her parents could help during her recovery. By this time,
Mollys voice had deepened, facial hair had grown in, and she passed as male full-
time. Molly had become Max.

In spite of having transitioned, Max did not blossom into his authentic self. In
fact, his mental health worsened. He was more anxious and isolated than ever and
rarely left the house, spending most of his time online. He told his mother that he
feared people would know he was trans and try to harm him were he to go out in
public. When Claire tried to reassure him by offering to accompany him, Max
often refused, expressing a lack of trust for Claire and her motives because, in
Maxs words, Claire was a transphobe. I feel as though my child has been taught
to be paranoid about me, Claire told me.

By the end of that summer, Max had yet another diagnosis to contend with. He
began experiencing symptoms of interstitial cystitis, a painful and often
debilitating condition that affects the bladder. Claire was not able to find any
discussion in the medical literature about testosterone use and interstitial cystitis,
but she did find online accounts of trans men suffering from worsening IC
symptoms after going on testosterone. Claire pointed out that we just dont know
enough about how these medications affect people long-term. I would say these
gender doctors are experimenting on people, Claire told me, but when you
experiment, you keep data and track outcomes.

When Claire and I last spoke, Max was still living at home. Between his anxiety
and his symptoms of IC, he had been unable to return to college. The only times
he left the house were to see his therapist or attend a trans support group.

Claire agrees. Mollys belief that she was trans was a maladaptive coping
mechanism she used to deal with her anxiety and other issues, she said. That
belief was reinforced by her peers online and at college, by the therapist at school,
and the providers at the gender clinic. These people not only encouraged her to
believe that she was trans, but also that she needed to transition medically or risk
being unhappy and suicidal. And once she had transitioned, there was an online
community encouraging her to believe that the world would hate her because she
is trans. They have sealed her in a cave, and I fear there may be no way back.

Claires story is not unique. The spiking numbers of teens seeking gender
reassignment throughout the developed world have some experts concerned that
we are seeing another widespread contagion. In the UK, Australia, and US, the
number of teens seeking treatment has soared. The website 4thwavenow, which
describes itself as a community of parents and friends skeptical of the
transgender child/teen trend, gets around 60,000 views per month, and the
comments section is filled with hundreds of stories every bit as harrowing as
Claires.
What will it take for this contagion to be seen for what it is, so that its most
damaging effects can be prevented? Recently, one mom told me that I was her
only hope. She surely deserves better than that.

Claires story has been used with permission. Names and all identifying details have been
changed to protect privacy.

About Latest Posts

Lisa Marchiano Follow her:

Lisa Marchiano is a Licensed Clinal Social Worker,


a writer, and Jungian analyst in private practice in Philadelphia, PA.
She is working on a book about parenting.

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91 Comments

Panacea Liquidgrace
October 6, 2017

Women and girls on the autism spectrum in particular can feel and seem atypical in their
gender presentation, identifying more in their patterns of thought with male rather than
female persons. Now that too many in our society seem to be identifying gender in accordance
with secondary sex characteristics and cultural stereotypes, its easy to see how a young woman
who has no interest or patience for make up and complicated hairdos, who hates frilly clothes
(too uncomfortable for those who are sensory), and who has a blunt communication style can
come to wonder if she is really female or actually male instead, especially as adolescence
brings on an increase in gender differences. Boys can seem a lot simpler to grok than girls for
a female teen Aspie.

Its particularly ironic for a 70s kid like myself who constantly heard girls encouraged to play
with trucks, wear pants, have short hair, and climb trees, with nary a suggestion that it meant
one was anything other than a liberated, modern girl. While there have been and always will be
those who are genuinely transgender or intersex, it often seems like modern American culture
has re-narrowed our definitions of what it means to be male and female to such a ridiculous
extreme that we now need a host of new labels for those who dont conform to todays
inflexible gender stereotypes. More often than not, I suspect, tomboy remains a more
accurate label for many non-girly girls than trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid.

Reply

tony
October 6, 2017

It is quite funny. Gender is a social construct and does not exit, gender roles are not real and
must be destroyed, and if a girl or a boy does not follow the standard gender roles they are
trans and must be shot full of hormones and their body must be mutilated. But remember,
there is no difference between male and female brain, and no difference in the bodies either.

Reply

Mrs Beardsley
October 6, 2017

I am at a loss. Thank you for writing this article.

Reply
sabretruthtiger
October 6, 2017

The fact that these girls are smart means they have a significantly male part of the brain, which
is why they choose to be boys.

Reply

Adam Smith
October 6, 2017

There are some differences in intelligence between the sexes, but these are specific. Could you
elaborate and explain how you reached the conclusion you did?

Reply

R Irischild
October 6, 2017

smart = male brain? You actually wrote that?

Thats a pretty neat summary of the lie that is gender identity


There are virtually no innate cognitive differences between the brains of the two sexes. You
can drive a coach and horses through studies which claim to find differences and falsely
conclude that these are innate rather than conditioned.

I recommend Cordelia Fines Delusions of Gender, for a comprehensive review of the


neuroscientifc studies on so called brain sex.

Reply

Fish
October 6, 2017

While I disagree with what sabretruthtiger wrote, no, he or she didnt write that you only
have to scroll up to see that.

You have obviously taken Fines style of argument to heart: take a single incorrect statement
and extrapolate it to dismiss a whole field of investigation!

Reply

tony
October 6, 2017
Thats a bait. Ignore it.

Reply

Lcdm
October 6, 2017

She is not very smart. Look at what she did to her life.

Reply

Downstream01
October 7, 2017

Plenty of smart people have destroyed themselves.

Reply

Dan
October 6, 2017

The fact you actually wrote this sentence means you have a significant brain injury. Exactly as
much proof supports the foregoing sentence as your comment.

Reply

Liz E.
October 6, 2017

Such an important piece! Thanks to the writer and Quillette for publishing this!!!

Reply

Brady Caldwell
October 6, 2017

Cordelia Fines Delusions of Gender has been hugely criticized as a biased political polemic by
world leading scientists. For example start here
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/testosterone-rex-a-biased-polemic-
wins-the-royal-society-book-prize/
The Royal Society should be ashamed for giving her its book prize despite the mountains of
scientific evidence against her thesis
http://www.dana.org/Cerebrum/2014/Equal_%E2%89%A0_The_Same__Sex_Differences_in_the_Human_

Reply

bundorgarden
October 7, 2017

Yes, I agree with Brady Caldwell re Cordelia Fine and her book.

Reply

Speaker To Animals
October 6, 2017

Autistics are more systematising than empathic which is why autistic girls might come across
as more masculine than neurotypicals.

Id suggest getting a job in IT rather than gender reassignment surgery but unfortunately IT
companies deny that career preferences might have anything to do with the brain.

Reply

Chris
October 6, 2017

The need of teenagers to classify themselves in odd ways, and to distinguish themselves within
their groups and subcultures, is one thing. The facilitation of this by adults is something else
a kind of sadism. Imagine an unhappy Goth being offered bleeding to confirm their anaemia.
Theres something very perverse in a therapist suggesting that the real you is somebody else, a
different body. I thought it was all about integration and acceptance.

How did the categories woman and man get to be so emptied out that children feel they
dont offer any scope for identity? Its not that theyre unappealing because theyre narrow and
restrictive, its that theyve been evaporated.

Reply

John
October 6, 2017
>How did the categories woman and man get to be so emptied out that children feel they
dont offer any scope for identity? Its not that theyre unappealing because theyre narrow and
restrictive, its that theyve been evaporated.

I think Chris post and especially this paragaph are excellent.


In my opinion, feminism in its current state and the social justice movement are the root of all
evil in this case.

Gender-specific behavior, according to them, is a social construct that serves sexism and the
oppression of women. But males acting male and females acting female ist what makes us men
and women.
When people, especially at colleges where this teaching is prevalent, are taught that typical
male behavior and typical female behavior are undesired and oppressive, what makes them
men and women? What defines their sexuality?
If it must not be behavior, it is looks. What defines success as a man and as a woman when
traditional male and female values are demolished, being called antiquated and oppressive? It
is sex; men who have much sex are seen as winners and women who have much sex are seen as
progressive. This is why there are so many sites and forums about seduction on the internet,
people are forgetting how to act like men and women and are wondering why they cant find
partners.
(Young) People who dont have the looks or the social skills to be men and women are thereby
hindered from expressing their sexuality. Frustrated, they either try to fit in and get the looks,
or they simply deny their gender(-roles), which is especially encouraged by the social justice
movement (some may even suddenly come out as trans!). Theyll get acceptance that way, but
because they are still unable to express their sexuality, theyll become even unhappier and
develop mental problems.

Reply

Mom in Eugene
October 6, 2017

Having a female body or a male body is what makes you a woman or man. That behavior and
preferences even have a gender is a social construct, as girls do like trucks and boys can like
babies (etc). Yes, many girls like similar stuff as other girls, but many dont. Not behaving a
certain way doesnt negate your biological sex.

Reply

Michiel
October 8, 2017

Some girls do like trucks and some boys can like babies/dolls etc yes. That does not mean that
gendered behavioral and preferences are a social construct. It means that there is a range of
behaviours and preferences within male and female populations, a range that overlaps
significantly for sure, and allows for some women to be more interested in trucks than some
men (and vice versa), but also allows for boys/men, on average, to be more interested in trucks
and girls/women, on average, to be more interested in babies/dolls. On average is the key
phrase here. So your previous to last sentence could be better worded as Most girls like
similar stuff as other girls, but many dont. Of course it is true that not behaving a certain way
doesnt negate your biological sex.

Reply

warriorhun
October 6, 2017

John, your comment is very insightful, too.

Feminism and Gender Ideology is aiming at destroying the core identity, the sexual identity of
the future generation. It is evil and must be stopped, period.

Reply

Brett
October 8, 2017

Some very apt points John. Lets create, disperse gender dysphoria as a means to divide and get
those who feel downtrodden to socially engineer society, so we can conquer and not hate
ourselves as much.

Reply

missingdaughter
October 7, 2017

Exactly. We have lost a beautiful and brilliant daughter to this transient mental health/social
contagion disaster.

Reply

They still call their child 'Molly'


October 6, 2017

[She] had dated several boys in high school


are you aware of a thing called homosexuality? How is dating boys proof that someone is
female?
This article touches on an important topic, but the arguments presented and the language used
are simply terrible (and, frankly, transphobic). This is just one example out of the many.

Reply

Lcdm
October 6, 2017

If you have a penis and you like vagina you are straight and vice versa. You may identify as a
space station, you are still straight.

Reply

Fish
October 6, 2017

How is She had dated several boys in high school presumably a factually accurate
statement transphobic?

Could you list other examples of simply terribly arguments or language? The only argument I
can find is this phenomenon needs to be better understood, which I doubt anyone would
criticise. The rest of the article is anecdote.

Since you found many examples of such, I hope it wont be too onerous of you to share them.

Reply

Cynthia
October 6, 2017

As a parent of a trans-boy; I have to say that referring to the pre-transition child by the post-
transition name feels like a forced lie. Picture watching a Home movie where everyone sings
happy birthday dear Sarah (in her party dress). and you say look at Owen .. he was 3 that day.
many parents agree with their child that the name and gender references stay true to the time
they were used.

Reply

Charlie
October 7, 2017

Yeah, Im not trans but I changed my first name and my parents do this too. It seems natural
since at the time your name was one way.
Reply

Kellogmom
October 6, 2017

How can you say that? Lisa is a professional therapist and is relating one case out of what I am
sure is now numbering the hundreds. As a parent who is knee deep in the sewage that the
transtrendys have left in their wake you have no idea what we see on our side of the story.
You dont see the bloody tissues from her cutting, you dont hear the sound of her purging
after a meal or a movie, you dont see her running for hours straight. The simple truth is that
you dont know my child and you have no say in her life. All those examples btw are of past
trends that came through the last 30 years or so. Thank you Lisa for your measured take on
this highly politicized issue.

Reply

Nicholas
October 6, 2017

Its simple.

If you are a boy and the testosterone surges fail to masculinize your brain in utero you are left
effeminate and homosexual, vice versa for a girl with too much testosterone in her uterine
environment.

There is no such thing as a lesbian transwoman or a gay transman, its actually more like
heterosexual man with autogynephilia or heterosexual woman with issues such as autism and
gender fixation or other issues (its a long list).

Reply

Aloccin Scott
October 7, 2017

Pretty sure the point was to illustrate that she was succeeding in forming romantic
relationships like a normal girl her age should.They refer to Molly as Molly because they do
not believe Max exists.

Reply

fam
October 6, 2017
you made the decision to write this article about a girl because you want to whip people into a
frenzy and its impossible to do that with males unless theyre very young children

A- for cunning

Reply

Fish
October 6, 2017

Or maybe its because, as she says in the first paragraph, most parents who contact her have
teenage daughters (and I think its safe to assume that wasnt an incidental fact) so most of her
anecdotes concern girls.

As to trying to whip people up into a frenzy this was written by a social worker and
psychiatrist, two professions typically attracting empathetic, caring people who enter these
professions in order to help others.

Its true that she may be an outlier and that she wrote the article for the reasons you claim, but
there is no evidence of that and what evidence there is, circumstantial as it may be, points the
other way.

Reply

Jerilyn Franz
October 6, 2017

There is no evidence of new form of gender dysphoria. All we have is an attempt by anti-
trans groups to find a new reason to oppose transitions of transgender people. Trans people
such as myself, who didnt transition until middle age, despite DECADES of dysphoria, can
testify that family and friends are utterly oblivious. I was SURE some of them would have
noticed. Nope: I had no idea is the universal response. Even when they were diectly TOLD
years before (often to negative reactions), parents dismiss it: I never saw any evidence.

Last year a survey on this was promoted on a number of very anti-trans websites to parents
_already opposed_ to their childrens identies. The idea of selection bias apparently never
occured to the doctor running it.

Denial isnt just a river on the Nile.

Reply

Kendra M
October 6, 2017
Always refreshing watching religious zealots denying simple observations not fitting their
world views. Transphob is in this sense just another version of blasphemy.

Reply

Bill
October 6, 2017

Did you even read the article? You speak of your decades of dysphoria, but this article is about
the rapid onset variety and discusses it as a distinctly different phenomenon. The rapid onset
variety, resulting in poor outcomes, may be a result of a misbelieve that they are trans because
publicly (? how would you consider online/academic circles) identifying in the current P.C.
environment gains them sympathy and inclusion with a group where they may have felt as
outsiders and alone before. Does this mean the dysphoria is all bunk? Absolutely not. It is no
different than when being bi or lesbian was a fad and suddenly everybody in Hollywood
was coming out and then all the kids started coming out to be like their idols only to have
many revert back to truth (that they were not bi or lesbian).

The article points out that the medical practicioners arent considering conservative care but
instead going straight to permanent disfigurement without any attention to the individual case.
In yours, where you tell a practicioner about decades or even a year of the dysphoria then the
medical transition is likely to be more successful in longterm outcome than one where they
say i felt like this for 2 weeks, get me on the transition right now! which is, while a bit
exagerated, the case of Max. Unfortunately, Max sounds like part of that future post-transition-
trans-suicide statistic.

Oh, and to clarify my position, I feel the same way about the epidemic of plastic surgery. We
have a good percentage of people who made conscious and deliberate use of this medical
disfigurement. But we also have a percentage of people with a dysphoria seeking endless
surgeries to the point of ill-health rather than seeking the mental health assistance they really
need. Everybody was getting boob-jobs with silicone like it was as common as caps on teeth
only to find out later that there were serious health issues later on when implants leaked.

Reply

Ettina
October 7, 2017

Rapid onset according to the *parents*. No one has asked Max how long hes had gender
dysphoria. A trans person describing decades of dysphoria while all around them were
oblivious is absolutely relevant. For all we know, Max, too, had years of dysphoria with his
parents oblivious to it. (The bouts of eating disorder would fit with this a lot of trans guys
have eating disorders because a starving AFAB body looks more androgynous.)

Reply
TheRealThunderchild
October 6, 2017

Dear god .
Someone actually DID say smart = significantly male part of the brain.
This is not a conflation or misrepresentation.
It. Was. Said .

So, I have a top two percentile IQ . Im also female and know Im a woman .
Male brain ?
If your genitals and chromosomes do not demarcate your sex , then how can any other part of
your body ? The logic fail is strong here .
Thought processes may have a gendered pattern , but to assert this is innate to a persons sex ,
genetic and fixed , is ludicrous .
The infant brain is highly plastic and we are all socialised -from birth in the heirachy that is
gender . We cannot escape it .

However , to suggest this is innate , fixed and immutable doesnt explain how the genders are
expressed differently , from society to society , even if the heirachy remains intact .
And how is that hierarchy maintained ? It relies on biological SEX . It is easy to keep a smaller
person subordinate , especially when you can keep them pregnant , lactating , and with young
at foot.

Were this not the case , then whence rape as a tool of war and genocide , or as a tool for
securing a bride ?
If this were not the case , then why still are women worldwide fighting for the right to
refuse motherhood ?

So , gender . Gender is nothing but the reification of the physical subordination of one sex
under another , it is a dress code .

Yes . Back to logic . Male and female are biological SEXes , and this is not centred physically
in the brain .
One could argue gender is , as it is a notion formulated and enforced by one group of peope ,
to maintain a heirachy over another .
Just as with class and race .
But if one were to entertain the possibility of gender as a construct .one would have to admit
that as such , it is not immutable and that the heirarches it creates are neither homogenous or
innate .

Male brain ? Maybe , but not in the way methinks you think , sir .

Reply

Fish
October 6, 2017

Someone implied that and it is wrong.

It does not mean that there are no innate population-level differences in the brains of men and
women.

Please explain why you believe this to be ludicrous it is seen throughout the animal kingdom
(even in species with matriarchal societies) where these differences cannot be socialized.

Infants brains cannot comprehend gender until they are about 9 months old, yet behavioural
differences exist before then.

Gender is not a hierarchy, it is a grammatical construct for grouping nouns. In English this is
done on perceived biological sex.

Reply

andrewilliamson
October 6, 2017

Im shocked Saber earned so many troll points. Well played, Saber.

Reply

tony
October 6, 2017

If you were actually intelligent you would not fall for ab obvious bait, and you would write like
a literate person. All you did was make a bunch of clumsy assertions and we are supposed to
take you seriously because you claim to be super intelligent.

Reply

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Fish
October 6, 2017

Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to write this article.

I found that she had psychological challenges prior to her parents making contact, as well as
the involvement in online communities and support groups particularly pertinent.
While, due to social media being a very new phenomenon, the research is necessarily scant,
there are indications that psychological challenges in children and teenagers can cause them to
latch on to certain online groups.

In the mildest sense, it allows them to associate with people they perceive to be similar to them
with little change to themselves, but in stronger cases which may be linked to the degree of
the challenges they have faced it can lead them to change their behaviour or beliefs in order
to gain membership, and with it approval from, a particular group.

Veganism is perhaps the paradigm of this behaviour (in some cases this is by no means the
case for all vegans.) Here you have a very vocal group, with a significant online presence, who
offer unconditional praise to their own tribe. Its easy to see how someone whos experienced a
challenging upbringing (overly critical or harsh parenting, negligent parenting with no praise)
can find solace as a member of such a group.

Its may be possible (and Im not saying that it is there is not enough evidence therein) that
this article is describing an extreme version of that. Severe psychological challenges, plus
involvement (however that occurred) with an online community causing something akin to a
fuge.

Reply

Sam
October 6, 2017

There are no innate differences between the brains of men and women; all masculinity and
femininity is conditioned. Of course a body is easier to fix than society.

Reply

Nicholas
October 6, 2017

Sam: So we are just gonna ignore the mountain of evidence that you are wrong?

And how is your position even logical to begin with, I guess nature went, okay, lets have two
different sexes, but lets not make them psychologically different in any way.

And why the hormone differentiation of brains in utero? I guess that process is like the
appendix? Just there for show?

Reply

Andrew Cran
October 7, 2017
Sam study after study has shown that there are significant differences between the female
and male brain. Could you please give us some evidence to support your view?

Reply

Kendra M
October 6, 2017

Another very serious issue is that trans people have severe problems finding dating partners
willing to accept their invidual version of genitalia, with or without medically induced
transition. A slurry of trans writers have recently started to attack people for their transphobia,
simply because e.g. cis heteronormative people do not feel attracted to them.
Those writers usually on the intersectional, leftist team demand cis people to unlearn
their transphobia and finally date trans people. However, in reality. for most people it is
extremely difficult to accept surgically acquired genitalia (or even with wrong genitalia, i am
not sure, if the concept of trans inclusion only encompass people after physical transition).
Even within the left, serious conflicts have emerged between trans-exclusionary feminists
(TERFs) and queer activists; simply for the reason that the former do no believe that trans-
women should enter female spaces.
The so-called progressive left has a very serious theoretical issue here. On the one hand, they
(correctly) state that sexuality cannot be unlearned but it is genetically inherited. On the other
they face the problem that even the wokest cis-people have huge problems accepting trans-
people.
To the same end, one of the centra dogma of gender-centered sociology is the belief that
biology has very weak (if not no) impact on our behaviour. Contrary to that dogma, trans
people have to artificially override their biology (by hormones or surgery) to feel right.

The reality is:

There is NO medical intervention or treatment that can revert our gonosomally inherited
biology. The simpliest way is to finally just accept non-conform behaviour of individuals, e.g.
let tomboys be tomboys. Just dont call them tomboy but girl. After all, behaviour is
normally distributed.

Reply

Michael R. Jefferis
October 6, 2017

Such a reasonable view.

Reply

paulbarkerart
October 6, 2017

Theres a general problem with Identiy Politics of all sorts, that it pushes us into seperation &
encourages new divisions to spring up.
Gender Identity is just part of a whole cpmplex of Identities, covering Nationality, Politics,
Class, Region, Age, Education, Style etc.
My Country (UK/England/Britain) is going through a sort of breakdown at the moment over
National/Regional Identity with spillovers into ideas of Class, Culture & Generation. Lots of
people compare it to a sort of Mental Illness, thers an atmosphere of desperation.
I have a very complex sense of Identity & the biggest thing holding me together is my sense of
Liberalism that everyone has equal value & that everything is fluid. Boundaries can be useful
as long as they dont become imaginary walls.

Reply

Michael R. Jefferis
October 6, 2017

For the several transsexuals I have known, the decision to transition was made as an adult and
was pursued over a considerable period of time. In most cases they went through a period of
mental health counseling before beginning hormone injections and then on to surgery, if that
was elected.

Children and adolescents are NOT ready to make decisions of this magnitude. Counseling yes;
hormones and surgery, no. One has to consider the possibility of social contagion, as well as
erroneous thinking. Oh, my 10 year old child thinks he or she is the opposite sex. Well,
obviously that must be the case! Lets get right on that.

Any advocacy group can get carried away with its own logic, come to believe its own bullshit.
Hey, Ive been part of advocacy groups that were mistaken. Have we not all done that at one
time or another? It seemed so true at the time.

I dont think gender dysphoria is always bogus. Where real, it probably will manifest in
children. But lets not rush into possibly irrevocable and harmful procedures here.

Reply

SunMum
October 6, 2017

This is a very important article which echoes my experience of the effects of sudden onset
gender dysphoria in my son. I imagine that if I had not seen this in my own family I might
have felt the narrative to be alarmist, or melodramatic. It seems almost impossible that well-
meaning clinicians could proceed in this way. In the UK where I am based the medical process
is not as swift but it is equally unwilling to challenge a sudden self-diagnosis as transgender. In
the case of my son, raised in a socially liberal LGBT supportive environment, hormones
prescribed for sudden onset gender dysphoria have led to sharply worsening mental health, to
social isolation, and to a life on benefits. Ironically my son is entirely dependent on the parents
he sees as unsupportive. We are his only and best friends. Thank you Lisa Marchiano for
telling a story that needs more coverage and that demands proper investigation. There are far
too many of us struggling with this.

Reply

Puzzled
October 6, 2017

My kid as well. Girls aged 14 and 15 seem particularly susceptible for seizing this narrative as an
explanation for why they feel they are not proper females (if they find themselves
uncomfortable performing conventional femininity) and why they are uncomfortable with
their rapidly morphing bodies. Internet binges can quickly lead to self-diagnosis (even though
some trans advocates maintain that this never happens). In the US there is little support for
anything but rapid affirmation and medical transition, with little or no counseling required.
The fact that a lot of these kids have pre-existing mental health conditions or childhood
trauma of various sorts is waved off as irrelevant. As a parent, it is maddening to see this
situation unfolding with a dearly loved, confused, anxious kid not to mention being
summarily labeled a transphobic bigot if reservations are expressed. Most of us are pretty live
and let live with regard to adult trans people, and are advocates of basic civil rights for ALL
people. Were just fighting to be heard amid all the yelling and virtue signalling out there. In
short: Were fighting for time for our kids. Thanks to Lisa Marchiano and Quillette for the
coverage.

Reply

SkepticalMom
October 6, 2017

This article echoes my experience as well. Daughter at 15 who suddenly comes out as trans
despite 15 previous years of normal girlhood. But at the age when boys started groping her and
expecting blowjobs on the first date, she suddenly decides life would be better if she were not a
girl. She always preferred video games to gossiping, preferred science over shopping, and
hated makeup and hairstyling. This, combined with not wanting wear revealing clothing or be
sexually available to males (at age 15!) must mean shes really a boy, right?

Yet parents who point out possible explanations for kids who suddenly claim to be trans,
parents who see other issues at play and dont want to quickly dive into accepting their new
son by putting their daughter on testosterone, parents who know their child better than
anyone else, are considered transphobic.

Its normal for teens to try on different identities. Historically, it hasnt been much of an issue
because the identities were seen as harmless phases (Goth, prep, skater, cowboy, princess,
vegetarian, intellectual, future rock star, drama queen, etc.). Yet preventing natural puberty
and/or putting kids on opposite-sex hormones is neither harmless nor a phase. Both leave a
child with permanent body changes as well as unknown medical risks to future health.

In First World countries, teens are claiming to be transgender at alarming rates. Rather than
recognize the social contagion aspect of the huge increase, rather looking at WHY this
phenomenon might be happening, the world tells parents they are transphobic for asking
questions. Parents who question the wisdom of signing kids up to become dependent on
opposite-sex hormones for life, putting kids health at risk, are considered transphobic. Accept
your son this is what parents hear, starting with the very first therapy visit.

The world has gone mad.

Reply

EK
October 6, 2017

The world has gone mad.

True dat.

Reply

MattW
October 6, 2017

Some of these commenters getting upset over an obvious joke/troll comment ( the Im top 2%
one is full lulz, button up missy your insecurity is showing).
Also the predictable accusations of trans phobia, yawn.

Teenage mental issues are obviously rising, and the social justice religion offers praise and
positive reinforcement if you can just find a category to jump into while at the same time
stoking anger and hatred at everything outside of the movement creating this feedback loop
pulling the poor kids in and messing with them during some very tender years. Its very sad.

Reply

Dorothy
October 6, 2017

Thank you, Lisa Marchiano, for this article. As a parent of a daughter who has been swept up in
this frenzy, I am hopeful that this will be seen for what it is and the medical community will
soon start to put the brakes on this experimentation.
I am 100% certain that if the Internet didnt exist, this would not be happening. I know many
parents that are in the same situation and they all agree. This is a social contagion that allows
their daughters to be part of a group when they were previously outsiders socially. Many of
these girls are on the Autism Spectrum, but it is difficult to spot them since they present
differently than boys do. This trend has become so prevalent in schools now that in cafeterias
there are now trans tables.

Adolescence is a time of self discovery and often we feel we dont belong. There is no reason to
medicalize this important phase that most of us go through.

Reply

Dorothy
October 6, 2017

I forgot to mention that Canada has also been swept up into this along with the UK, Australia,
and the US.

Reply

Mark
October 6, 2017

Yea this is stupid for the less than a percent of the population that actually is transexual. This
article isnt the most articulate about it, but there are places requiring a 2 year persistent
diagnosis thank god.

Reply

SkepticalMom
October 6, 2017

Where are those places requiring a two years of persistence in order to be diagnosed
transgender? I would like to move to one of those places.

In the USA, some states do not even allow clinicians to question a childs self-diagnosis of
transgender, as The T has successfully glommed onto the LGB, and anti-conversion laws
designed to prevent religious organizations from putting on Pray Away the Gay (or beat
away the gay) programs, now apply to kids who claim to be trans. If a clinician tries to help a
child come to terms with their past trauma, or homosexuality, or sexism, or rape/molestation,
or rigid autism thinking, etc., in order to accept and be happy in their natural body, the
clinician is considered to be practicing conversion therapy.
http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/conversion_therapy

Reply
LisaM
October 7, 2017

Instead of peddling disingenuous piffle (and just recycled homophobic propaganda with a few
word changes) read what the real experts say.

From Melbournes Royal Childrens Hospital on Standards of Care for Transgender and
Gender Diverse children and adolescents.

https://www.rch.org.au/uploadedFiles/Main/Content/adolescent-
medicine/Australian%20Standards%20of%20Care%20and%20Treatment%20Guidelines%20for%20Trans%20a

Reply

Brenda
October 6, 2017

This brought up memories and resonance for me of being an anorexic teen girl in the early
nineties. While emotional factors and power struggles with paternal authority certainly
contributed to it, looking back I clearly see that nothing gave me an eating disorder so much as
reading Naomi Wolfs The Beauty Myth at age 16 and catching like a virus the idea that if I
wanted to be interesting, I needed something wrong with me, and so with its own symbology,
glamour and mythos laid out, I plugged into the anorexic meme. I can see where the rapid-
onset trans-disorder might easily catch suggestible, susceptible girls with low psychic
immunity and lacking a clear sense of self and purpose and given an internet full of validation
for their thorn-strewn path toward un-selfhood.

Reply

Speaker To Animals
October 6, 2017

There are no innate differences between the brains of men and women; all masculinity
and femininity is conditioned. Of course a body is easier to fix than society.

If masculinity and femininity are down to conditioning how does this explain transgender
people?

The socialisation model only works if people have the gender expression they are socialised
into.

Who the hell is bringing up boys as girls and visversa?

Reply
Nicholas
October 6, 2017

John Money brought up a boy as a girl

Reply

Jamie Shupe
October 6, 2017

An excellent and much needed article, but it would have been great to see a couple of additions
about the gender clinics intake evaluation shortcomings. I think it would have been to useful
to include how people with autism literally may not understand sex stereotypes. I say this
because we live in a world where if youre male and feminine these gender clinics turn you
into a female. And if youre female and masculine, they turn you into a male and claim you are
one. People with autism also may not be able to separate or unscrew feelings of masculinity or
femininity in regards to their sexual orientation. Another useful tie-in would have been sexual
orientation and the effects thereof in American society. As someone who studies trans people
through the lens of tens of thousands of news articles, I frequently see young lesbians or gay
males that are shamed and bullied by both their families, society, religion, or by their own
government at the state and federal level. Its not uncommon for these people to believe that
transition solves their problem. I too was fooled into believing I had to transition or be forever
miserable. It just added new problems.

Reply

Fred
October 6, 2017

Read 4thwavenow.com for more info and case studies of rapid onset gender dysphoria.

Reply

Lauren
October 7, 2017

Gender role expectations for women are exceptionally hard on autistic females, and do not get
easier in adulthood. Autistic girls (and women) need support with that. Supporting autistic girls
(and women) in coping with impossible gender role expectations is essential to our mental
health. As an autistic female, thats what I need help withnot pressure to retain a particular
gender identity, but help dealing with the way the world forces gendered expectations for
social performance on me that I am literally unable to meet due to the way my neurology
works.
Please focus on the impossible expectations that make the role of woman uninhabitable for
many autistic females. We need help with the social trauma being forced on us far more than
we need pressure to stay in gender roles that we will only ever be able to fail at and be
punished for. Pressure to retain a female gender role is not going to make us more able to
meet gender role expectations, and its not going to make other people stop abusing us for not
acting sufficiently like non-autistic women.

Reply

Nicholas
October 7, 2017

Lauren:

Well, gender roles are not social constructions, I think most of the differences in men and
women and especially in how children play can come down to evolutionary behaviour. I dont
think its a social construction that girls tend to pick up the doll shaped like a baby and play
with it like a baby. I think women are evolutionary programmed to try to make themselves as
attractive as possible for men, men do the same thing, but in a different way, its a behaviour
very common in mammals.

Women tend to be much more social animals in men, autists struggle with social interaction,
many of the interests that women have such as fashion change all the time, and autists prefer
routine.

I think differences like that and other identity problems are much more likely to be the culprit
rather than impossible gender role expectations. Which in reality even if you want to claim
so, are not that impossible since apparently most people live up to them? Otherwise they
wouldnt exist.

Reply

Mairi
October 7, 2017

Thank you. Great article.

Reply

Mason
October 7, 2017

I find it interesting that only parents seem to be surveyed and not the children who are
experiencing rapid onset gender dysphoria. Maybe ask the kids how long they have been
experiencing this? I think this is an important topic to study, but collecting data from parents
and their knowledge of what they think their child is or has experienced is a bit lacking, no?

Reply

LisaM
October 7, 2017

Yeh, according to this so called logic there are heaps of rapid onset gay and lesbian youth
around as well.

Reply

rdinsf
October 7, 2017

Interesting but this article would be better with footnotes to support the varios assertions.

Reply

L
October 7, 2017

Mason, I suspect the children themselves would tell quite a different story. In some cases
perhaps that story would be a fabrication or delusion of an individual affected with the rapid
onset gender dysphoria described here, but I just dont believe thats true in all cases. Ive seen
firsthand that parents dont always know or tell the full truth when it comes to their children,
and they may do so with the best intentions.

I came out as trans and transitioned in my late 20s (I had to wait for a number of reasons) after
having experienced significant gender dysphoria since puberty and having exhibited gender
nonconformity throughout my life. My parents acted shocked, made a plethora of untrue
assumptions about me, including that my gender dysphoria had been rapid onset because Id
only recently told them about itagain, for a number of reasons. They insisted my own
memories and experiences were false, told me Id been brainwashed by a cult, etc.

They presented a narrative extraordinarily similar to the one presented here to explain what
they believe is wrong with me. Its one that conveniently absolves them and casts blame all
over the place, misconstruing and and leaving out countless key factors and pieces of
information. They did all this out of love and a desire to protect me but also a belief that they
know better not just than me but than all of the medical and mental health professionals who
have worked with me. I in no way hate them for it, but its made our relationship difficult, to
say the least.
So yes, I have to wonder, why should the parents, especially of non-minor children, get to
write the entire narrative about rapid onset gender dysphoria? Are sufferers just
automatically assumed to be lying, confused, or brainwashed if they contradict their parents? I
will be pleasantly surprised if this comment is posted, but who knows.

Reply

Nicholas
October 7, 2017

Your story sounds more like autogynephilia rather than rapid onset, which is most likely also
why your parents never saw any gender atypical behaviour, because it didnt exist.

Reply

L
October 7, 2017

Im not sure what led you to glean autogynephilia from my post, but Im quite used to these
absurd assumptions by now. No, imagining myself as a woman is the opposite of arousing to
me. It grows so tiresome being told how my transition must have been motivated by fetishism
by people who take truthful if sometimes frustrated denial on my part as confirmation of their
assumptions.

My parents, other family members, teachers, friends, doctors, etc. DID see the significant
gender atypical behavior that, as I said, I displayed from a young age. I could lie about my
past to attempt to cover for whats actually a fetish (Im not, but think what you want), but I
couldnt fabricate the extensive photo albums and home videos my family kept throughout
my childhood. My parents loved and promoted the idea of me being a gender
nonconforming girl/woman and would have had no problem whatsoever with me being a
lesbian, had that been the case (it wasnt).

It was only when I came out as trans that the denial on their part set in that there had ever
been any hints of gender nonconformity and/or dysphoria. They seemed to view being trans
as an irrational, dangerous choice Id only recently decided to make, latching onto a fad as an
explanation for all the problems in my life (it isntonly for the gender dysphoria). When they
found information online about much younger people experiencing this rapid onset gender
dysphoria after spending extensive time on the internet, since I also spent a lot of time on the
internet (for work, not on Tumblr or watching YouTube videos about trans people), they
decided this must have been the case for me.

No one talked to me about any of these issues as a child or teen. I didnt know what being trans
was, let alone know any trans people or people who would have encouraged me to become
trans or cheer me for doing so. I didnt think I was dressing like a boy or dressing like a girl
or doing boy things or doing girl things. I just was being myself, which was fine until my
body started changing at puberty, bringing with it the gender dysphoria (discomfort with my
physical body, not societal gender roles) that would not abate until I took steps to medically
transition some 15 years later. In the interim, the only way I was able to manage the discomfort
was by maintaining such a low weight and body fat percentage that I had a fairly masculinized,
if dying, body, and that was hardly healthy or sustainable.

I love my parents and understand why theyve acted the way they have. My intent here is not
to trash them or anyone else, nor to get anyone here to care about my personal story, nor to
fight, but merely to say that even parents with the best intentions are not objective sources
when it comes to their children. Obviously the children are not objective sources of
information about themselves, either, but I do believe that any sort of actual study conducted
on parents who have diagnosed their children with rapid onset gender dysphoria should
involve at least some input should come from those children, as untrustworthy as their
perspectives may be considered, especially when said children are now adults themselves. If
not, you run the risk of getting one side of a story that represents a very skewed picture of
whats going on.

Reply

Nicholas
October 8, 2017

It was several things in your narrative, one example being that you wrote that it really started
in puberty.

Anyhow, its easily decoded, who you are attracted to is determined by hormones in utero,
there is no such thing as a gay transman or a lesbian transwoman. If someone claims being
trans and isnt attracted to their birth sex its autogynephilia/autoandrophilia or some other
kind of issue, such as autism and gender fixation.

Reply

L
October 8, 2017

Ah, several things. Well, I can only address the one you mentioned. Prior to puberty, I was a
child with an almost completely androgynous body and was often taken as a boy. I was
confused why I couldnt pee standing up and unhappy about this inability, but as I hadnt
developed (or not developed) the secondary sexual characteristics that I came to experience
intense dysphoria over, I was not yet uncomfortable with them (or the lack thereof).

In-utero androgen exposure has been pretty clearly shown to correlate positively with a longer
ring finger in comparison to the index finger. I remember discussing this in a high school class,
then having peers examine my hands and laugh at me about how my much-longer ring
fingers, along with my apparently too-large Adams apple, deep voice, and other traits
revealed me as actually being a guy, which they meant as an insult, although I didnt consider
it one. I dont have a scientific explanation for why Im primarily attracted to men (I didnt and
dont call myself a gay transman, by the way) instead of exclusively to women like I should
be, apparently. I dont think its fair that those who dont fit the your narrow view of what trans
people must be like should have to put up with our sexual orientations being considered either
false or pathological, though.

I also havent seen evidence to suggest the science behind gender identity is as simple, settled,
and easily decoded as you believe. I only spoke of my own experiences because theyre what
led me to see the problems inherent in conducting research on rapid onset gender dysphoria
that consists only of parents perspectives about their children, even if said parents have the
best intentions. Feel free to believe whatever you wish about me; I wont continue to debate it.
Its not as though I can provide any sort of concrete proof to you of my internal experiences
(e.g., gender dysphoria, sexual orientation, memories).

Pingback: The Transgender Peer Pressure Time-Bomb: Lessons From the


Life and Experiences of a Transgender Elder. Jenn Smith

C
October 7, 2017

L, I have a very similar story to yours but it led to my family and I no longer talking.
Additionally I tried to buy into the model stated above and enrolled myself in years of
intensive dialectical behavioral therapy, saw psychiatrists, and became convinced that if I
searched through every event in my life, work through any moment that may have caused me
pain, this dysphoria would go away. And when I got down that road 6 years into therapy,
attempting to solve my dysphoria, not transition, be a lesbian, find some magical root cause of
my dysphoria, some magical mental illness factor that could be helped through
psychotherapy, possible medication, supportive friends, the right loving relationship, I was
more dysphoric and miserable than when I had started. In my late teens I used to secretly go
out to lgbt youth drop in centers and put my binder on and feel completely free and ask to go
by the name I wanted and male pronouns and then spent all those years searching for a way to
solve it without transitioning. I came out officially a few years ago and started T a few months
ago. I have been able to lower my anti-depressant due to how life affirming this has been for
me and I believe in the future I will be off of it entirely. I know I learned some stuff about
myself in therapy and it wasnt entirely a waste but I also know that I wasted many years in
romantic relationships that I was miserable in ,because I wasnt out, I wasnt myself and I
wasnt in love. It was the equiv of a gay man marrying a straight woman. I mean I am almost
30 and I could be married now if I had been in a more supportive family and transitioned
earlier. because I wouldnt have spent so long hating myself. I am not ashamed to be trans, I
am not afraid of the public. I am a well educated man, who has a job, is accepted at work and is
doing well. I am posting here because I want parents who are afraid for their kids to know that
yes some of your kids may going through something else, but some of them may actually be
trans and find out. And if they are, dont let them waste their entire 20s hating themselves
trying to pursue their own conversion therapy because of articles like lisas. People like her is
why I spent all that time searching. I really wish I had stopped after about a year or two. I could
have let people love me a lot sooner, because it feels really great. I really wish I had let me love
me a lot sooner.

Reply

Puzzled
October 7, 2017

C, I think once a kid is financially independent, and reaches some point of executive-function
development (which for most is mid-20s) the parent has to let go. You cannot try to control
your kids forever. If my kid was open to the kind of therapeutic exploration that you did in
fact, to ANY exploration of that sort Id be a lot less wary about my kids path. Instead, she
would prefer quick access to T with zero discussion. And this is a kid with a prior history of
other types of mental health issues, and childhood trauma that occurred before she came into
our family. As a parent, I cant facilitate or sign off on a transition plan that feels like reaching
out for a quick fix to all the kids underlying issues, with almost no discussion and with the
attitude dont even discuss physical risks with me.

Youre obviously an adult, you get to live your life the way an adult does. I am glad you are
doing well and I wish you nothing but the best. I hope your relationship with your parents also
improves eventually.

Reply

C
October 7, 2017

Well first lets try and even define what transition even is. Many trans people choose many
different ways of transitioning and there is not one right way to transition. How much medical
transition a person chooses varies from each individual and no trans person needs to do x-y
and z medical procedures to prove anything to anyone. I am on T and plan to pursue top
surgery. I have no interest in bottom surgery. I have friends who have pursued bottom
surgery. I have friends who have had top surgery but do not want T. I have friends who have
been on T and had top surgery and then went off of T for various personal and or medical
reasons. I have found that in general when we believe in life that there are only a few choices,
we shut down our imagination for what is possible, and we trap ourselves into a life of anxiety,
depression, and fear. I would suggest that if you want to take your kid to therapy, take them to
someone who can allow them to explore their issues without an agenda. Take your agenda off
the table, take the therapists agenda off the table, and just allow them to explore. Find a
therapist who does not have a bias like the woman who wrote this article. Just someone who
can allow your kid to talk through their the trauma they have experience, the feelings they
have about their gender, what their goals are in life, how they want to express their needs etc.
And instead of saying to your kid, Im taking you to this therapist so you can figure out your
underlying issues that caused this (aka fix you) perhaps say, I want to help you figure out if this
is what you really want before we start this and help you with all the stuff that happened to you
before in your life, so this is a special person you can go talk to. See if your kid agrees. In terms
of dont discuss the physical risks with me attitude, take your kid to a doctor who will, put it in
front of your kid, print them out info, get them the studies. You have a unique child but a great
one. If you look into the trans community outside of what movies portray we are a community
filled with doctors, researchers, artists, photographers, writers, pastors, preachers,
neuroscientists. We are survivors, thrivers. We have unique brains. If this is who your kid is,
they will be ok as long as they have your love. What scares me about this article Ive read is that
I have seen all the responses on twitter, I have seen parents making comments that they plan
to kick out their teens at 18, I have seen parents saying their plan is to remove college funding
as a form of trying to stop their kid from transitioning. How is this helping anyone? It seems to
me the parents have as much underlying issues as the kids do and as much trauma of their
own to figure out. It seems like some family therapy is in line. Sometimes the trans kid in the
family becomes patient zero when the whole family has been in trouble for a long time.

Reply

Dianne Colbert
October 7, 2017

Thanks for writing this. We need people to be more aware of these issues.

Reply

A likely autist
October 7, 2017

Autistic people have trouble understanding social norms and conforming. It is no coincidence
that there is higher incidence (or at least, report) of transgenderism among those with autism.
When presented with Gender Studies that act as if gender as nothing but an arbitrary set of
stereotypic likes and dislikes, totally unrelated to ones feelings about their own body, what do
you think is going to happen? Add this on top of the modern community constantly attacking
questions they found annoying (ex.: Are you sure you arent just gay?) that could have helped
some of these people figure out what was really going on with them, and so many other
artificial roadblocks constructed by this incredibly bitter and paranoid excuse for a
community, its a recipe for disaster for any aspie on the internet. Now add that females on the
spectrum mask themselves with mimicry (the same skill that causes most cases to not be
detected until teens or even later) its not a wonder that so many more of these cases are in
females.

Reply

Jody
October 7, 2017
I have always called myself a tomboy. Im not sure how I would have acted if transgender
was an idea when I was 15. There are two experiences that stand out in my mind. As a child I
often thought I should have been a boy. When my cousin told me about recalling a
conversation that took place between her mother and father, that her mother insists took place
while she was pregnant, it gave me pause. My mother told me that her doctor told her I would
be a boy. This was before sonograms confirmed sexual identity. After I was born the doctor
said Oh shit! its a girl. Putting the two pieces of information together I realized that my
thoughts of I should have been a boy could very easily have been conversations between my
mother and father before I was born.

Nonetheless, I have always enjoyed sports, wearing pants (and not makeup), and occupations
that are dominated by men. I own my own business and regularly operate heavy equipment.
But there are two other experiences that also stand out in my mind. My first kiss, which blew
my mind and told me that I very much liked being kissed by a boy. And the enjoyment I had
becoming a mother. I loved being pregnant, especiallly feeling the baby kick (well at least until
the 9th month). I enjoyed breast feeding. I enjoyed taking care of this small person, reading
books to them, pushing them in the stroller, watching them grow into young men. Always
wanted a daughter but never was so blessed.

So, had I been influenced by social media, and professionals as this story suggests, would I
have decided at 15 that I was a transgender? Quite possibly. And I would have missed the best
part of life. Im not your typical woman, that is true. But I love being who I am, and who I am
is lucky that pants and mens shirts are OK for womens apparel without having to claim Im
transgender. Do I occasionally get addressed as sir? Yes. But so what. I happen to think that Im
exactly the kind of woman I was meant to be. Im physically strong, emotionally confident, and
mentally intelligent. I dont hold up a version of man and think this is what Im supposed to
be. I think Im exactly the type of women I was meant to be. Maybe it doesnt conform to
societys idea of womanhood, but thats OK too I rarely pay attention to what others believe.

Reply

LisaM
October 7, 2017

So, had I been influenced by social media, and professionals as this story suggests, would I
have decided at 15 that I was a transgender? Quite possibly.

Nope you wouldnt have. You cannot make someone who is cis become transgender (or vice
versa) anymore than you can make a straight person become gay (or vice versa).

Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and hardwired
and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a bit girly or tomboyish.

Why is it so hard fo cis people to actually listen to what we transgender people actually say
and believe it .. instead of endlessly pushing:
I am cis so you must be too..
Reply

Nicholas
October 8, 2017

Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and hardwired
and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a bit girly or tomboyish.

What does that even mean? Obviously pre-pubertal gender atypical behaviour is an indicator?
What does innate and hardwired mean?

Reply

Why?
October 8, 2017

Why is it so hard for cis people to understand that being transgender is innate and
hardwired. I have heard this more than oncebut if that is true, where were all the
transgender people when my parents, when I, were growing up? I mean, there are a lot of trans
teens now. Closeted? Im sure that was the case for a few of them, but not this many.

I saw this happen to my son (who now has transitioned to daughter). He went to summer
camp, met a girl, fell in love. 13 months later, she broke up with him and simultaneously
declared that she was a boy. One week later, he started to wonder if he was a girl, and things
snowballed from there. She too is on the autism spectrum, she too had a gender-typical
childhood until that point, in terms of his interests (baseball, legos, cars) and clothing choices.
This was at a time when the amount of time she spent on the internet and social media was
extreme ( more than 8 hours a day).

Why do I continue to think my child is not really a young woman? Because despite more than
a year of female hormones, she still defaults, when tired or stressed, to dressing and behaving
in a typically male way (no shirt, for example). I think that autism explains the difficulty with
learning social presentation and the lack of a strong sense of identity.

Reply

Jerilyn Franz
October 7, 2017

rapid onset variety

As determined how? By asking parents who are already opposed to their childrens identities if
_the parent_ was surprised by it!
Ive read the damned original survey. It didnt ask _the children_ any questions at all. It was
ENTIRELY about how _the parents_ were surprised by it. And marketed on sites _opposed_
to transgender people across the board.

Guess what? Parents are _usually_ surprised when their kids tell them they are LGBT+. And
always have been! Cishet obliviousness is so well known in the LGBT community as to be a
MEME.

I didnt notice ANYTHING suggesting you might be transgender!

Telling you directly when I was 8 wasnt a hint? Refusing to/demanding to wear dresses want
a hint?

As I said: Denial isnt just a river in Egypt.

Reply

LisaM
October 7, 2017

This article is beyond disingenuous and is just a rehash of a standard homophobic argument
against young gay and lesbian people, reworded for transgender youth.

By this so called logic we have an epidemic of rapid onset homosexuality as well, where
adolescents, out of the blue say they are gay.

The reality is parents are more often the very last to know about their childs sexuality or
gender identity, especially if they have expressed or supported anti LGBTI comments through
their life.

I personally know LGB people who even as adults have never told their parentsdoes that
make them pseudo homosexual then? That they are really straight?

Just the other day the Daily Mail outed a young gay manand he has been rejected by some of
his family.was he not really gay until then?It is even harder for trans teenagers, because while
you can (and very many do) hide your sexuality from your parents, rather difficult to do if you
are transgender.

What happens is the person has been agonising over it, suffering badly from gender dysphoria,
discussed with trusted friends, talked to people over the internet, researched itand then
finally (because puberty hitting is making things real bad) they tell their parents. And if they
are lucky they are supported by them, if they are unlucky, as in far too many cases, they get
kicked out of the home.
It is not an coincidence that this rapid onset, social contagion, trauma, (etc) nonsense is also
pushed by anti LGBTI conservative and religious extremist organisations against young LGB
people.
In fact this has long been the case and was the justification for differential ages of consent for
homosexual and heterosexual sex.
It is all based on the idea that if if they are discouraged/punished/etc from having gay sex as a
teenager (or their trauma fixed or other piffle like that) and not sucked into the gay lifestyle
then they will become straight in adulthood.

So we get now the exact same thing being argued for transgender youth, just keep
discouraging/punishing/etc them (rough conversion therapy basically) then they will grow up
cis.

Ignoring all the evidence that if you have gender dysphoria at the start of puberty you will
almost certainly have it all your life. Even Kenneth Zucker, the champion of gay/trans
conversion therapy for pre pubescent kids, states that fact and he also stated that for the vast
majority then puberty blockers and HRT are the correct pathway to follow.

Reply

Nicholas
October 8, 2017

This isnt about kids that have shown gender atypical behaviour, this is about kids that have
been gender typical and have certain issues such as autism suddenly declaring they are
transgender.

(And Zucker is one of many pointing this out)

(Sex change regret are most common in autists that lose their fixation and autogynephiles that
realize the reality isnt as fun as the fantasy).

Reply

C
October 7, 2017

Lisa M,
Thank you that is exactly my point. I wasted my entire 20s trying to fix trauma that wasnt
there, was the equiv of a gay man in a religious gay conversion therapy program but mine was
self inflicted in an AIM to please family and society. It was also brought on by articles like
these. When I finally went to a clinic for T and found out I didnt have to jump through a
million hurdles (10 appointments, 2 included appointments with a social worker, 1 with a
health advocate to go over the risks, another included one with someone who had transitioned
where I could hear about his experience even tho I have many friends who have transitioned),
I was SO RELIEVED doctors, social workers, therapists, and other clinicians were there to
support my experience. And despite everything I had done before all this my family still
abandoned me. All of this is straight up transphobia, otherwise language like mutilated
bodies wouldnt be being used. I dont feel mutilated at all.

Reply

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Starla Anderson
October 8, 2017

Im old, a grandparent. How did we get to the place where our prejudices make us think that
girls should be a certain way and boys should be a certain way and if our birth identity doesnt
fit with that template that we need to take hormones and have surgery to make us conform to
the way of the stereotype? It saddens me that gender identity has become such an obsession
with adolescents because it absorbs so much energy and so many resources but mostly because
it focuses attention on the self rather than others and this is definitely not good for mental
health. Each of us needs to feel that we belong and we find this feeling by being involved in
community and doing for others. Gender identity may be socially constructed but the truth is
that all of us have interests and abilities and sense of self that flexibly move along a spectrum
of attributes that might be considered male or female qualities. It has always been so and that
has been accepted until now in our society.

Reply

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