Why are so many children declaring war on their own bodies?
Society’s collective denial of womanhood and manhood and of biological reality itself has created a vacuum of meaning where gender ideology can easily flourish.
A commentary on “Als Bürger habe ich Angst, was Sie mit meinen Kindern vorhaben” (published in Cicero Magazine on December 10, 2022)
There is a very powerful pencil drawing by Iranian-British artist Raoof Haghighi that I am always reminded of whenever the topic of children and transition comes up. It shows a young woman standing in the wasteland, her face sad and resigned, looking down. Her breasts and her pubic area have been cut out and placed on the ground beside her; in their stead, there is a gaping emptiness in her body that you can look through. The title of the artwork is Just Take Them and Leave Me Alone: Take what makes me a woman and leave me be.
There is an increasing number of children – predominantly girls – who identify as transgender, i.e. their self-perception does not correspond to their biological sex. They feel “born in the wrong body” and see their salvation in “correcting” it: Puberty blockers and hormone therapies as well as, in case of girls, breast binders and even mastectomies are supposed to help them adjust their bodies to their self-perception. The last step are sex reassignment surgeries, or so-called bottom surgeries, either vaginoplasty for boys or phalloplasty for girls.
The number of “trans children” has seen a dramatic rise worldwide over the last years: In England, the number of children suffering from so-called gender dysphoria has increased from 250 to over 5000 between the years 2011 and 2021. That is a twentyfold increase in only ten years. According to a study done in the US, the number of 13- to 17-year-olds who identify as transgender has doubled from 150000 in 2017 to 300000 in 2020. Between 2008 and 2018, Sweden registered a 1500 percent increase of gender dysphoria diagnoses among girls.
But why are so many children declaring war on their own bodies?
The answer to this question seems to be a complex combination of various factors that are all based on one common, fundamental societal and philosophical problem: Our (Western) society is experiencing an identity crisis. Despite all the ruminations and musings about all facets of identity, despite all this preoccupation with the self and despite the constant navel-gazing, we don’t know who we are anymore and what truly constitutes the essence of human existence. Never have we been so far away from ourselves.
It was postmodern deconstructivism which declared the destruction of all traditions, all values and all definitions their ultimate goal – and this goal has been reached. Every word and every meaning have been dissected and questioned. We are now standing in the wasteland of post-truth, like the girl in Haghighi’s picture: It is a wasteland where the simplest categories such as man and woman cannot exist anymore, where the body and the mind are not considered one entity anymore, and were man has even placed himself above nature and biology. This vacuum of meaning creates far-reaching consequences for our children, as Professor Kathleen Stock puts it in an essay for UnHerd: “[O]rdinary binary notions of truth and falsity, or of discovering what is right and wrong, are inapplicable when it comes to the treatment of gender-dysphoric youth — because there are no prior fixed facts about identity, or truth, or morality here to discover. All meaning is up for grabs.”
Meaning and truth have been tossed overboard. In their stead, an ideology is taking hold which makes children and teenagers believe that they are inherently deficient and inadequate, all under the rainbow-colored guise of embarking on a search for identity and self-acceptance: the transgender cult. Children and teenagers – especially during the highly confusing and vulnerable phases of their development such as puberty where identity formation in connection with physical changes is crucial – are incredibly receptive to the society around them. They are searching for answers, for role models, for ideals that they can identify with. But what do they find in this society that doesn’t even know itself anymore? What does our society teach them in the context of their mental and physical development?
Under the spell of gender ideology, society presents children a world full of paradoxes where all “old” truths have been shattered, such as the “old” definition of woman and man as an adult human female or male respectively. For the first time in the history of mankind we are living in an era where it is not possible to easily define a woman. The Cambridge Dictionary for instance has changed its definition of woman so that everyone can be a woman “who lives and identifies” as such. The same goes for the definition of man. Breaking down the man/woman binary means making a mockery of any kind of definition and this logical problem lies at the very basis of gender ideology (because if every woman can be a man and every man can be a woman, then what is a woman or a man?). It is predicated on arbitrariness and contradiction, not on logic and common sense.
Since this problem of definition cannot be solved, the first step is to completely negate the nature of human biology and declare biological sex to be purely arbitrary. Sexual dimorphism is passé. It is now even considered transphobic to merely talk about it. Instead, the new mantra is that biological sex is an infinite spectrum and your place on this spectrum depends entirely on how you feel. Not only that, body and mind are not considered one entity anymore: Instead, gender ideology claims that your so-called gender identity – meaning your personal sense of self as a member of a particular gender – can exist independently from any biological circumstances. A person’s sex is supposedly “assigned at birth”, without taking into consideration the “innate” gender identity of the baby.1 To put it crudely: Breasts and a vagina don’t make a woman, and a penis doesn’t make a man. In this post-biological understanding of reality, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria becomes perfectly normalized (in newspeak: depathologized) and its treatment, including medical procedures, is glorified as a glittery search for identity.
Which leads us to the next paradox: Our society both negates and perpetuates stereotypical gender roles. On the one hand, gender ideology is very allergic to any kind of gender roles and keeps insisting that sex differences are purely social constructs. This even went so far that the New York Times published a column in August 2022, in which the author claimed in all seriousness that maternal instinct was a “myth” created by the patriarchy to suppress women. Women are denied their motherliness, their femininity, their womanhood. At the same time, people are shouting from the rooftops that men and masculinity are fundamentally toxic. Boys are thereby blamed for their inherent masculinity which is seen as something bad that they should be ashamed of and that they should disengage from.
On top of that, there is a vehement push to not only negate sex differences, but to basically eradicate them. An example for that is a recent bill that was passed in Spain which requires toys to be gender neutral. As banal as this sounds, this bill perfectly exemplifies the obsessive attempt to stamp out any differences between femininity and masculinity until there is nothing left of it. The director of a Spanish toy company perfectly summarized the idea behind that: “It’s important if we want to see a future in which a boy could become a midwife or a girl could become a mechanic.”2 So the general tenor is: Don’t conform to gender roles!
On the other hand, however, gender ideology uses precisely those stereotypical, even regressive gender roles as a basis to determine who is “female” or “male” because you can’t use biology for that anymore. The British non-profit organization Mermaids, which has recently come under heavy criticism, explains to children that you are rather female or male depending on if you rather identify with Barbie or G.I. Joe. In American classrooms it has become common practice to ask children “which toys seem more like boy toys or girl toys” (which brings us back to the topic of toys). If a dressed-up barbie doll or a military action figure are our stereotypes for how women and men should behave and look, then we are regressing to clichés that couldn’t be any more outdated. Here, the tenor is quite the opposite: The more you conform to female or male gender roles, the more you are a woman or a man. A girl playing with a tractor – must be a boy! A boy playing with dolls – must be a girl!
Within the framework of gender ideology, preferences for certain toys or clothes are regarded as reliable indicators to determine a child’s gender identity. For instance, a woman from England named Jeneen Schofield initiated her five-year-old son’s social transition to a girl because Luna didn’t like “football stuff”, preferred playing with dolls and ran around dressed in “princess dresses”. If you look at transgender celebrities in the media, they always appear in outfits that are overly “feminine” with lots of make up, long hair, painted fingernails, dresses and skirts – or overly “masculine” with short hair, wearing pants and men’s shirts, as bearded as possible.3 There is no room for tomboyish girls or feminine boys since they do not conform to these preformatted stereotypes.
Hence, womanhood and manhood are both denied and utterly warped, so that the role of women and the role of men in society has become completely unclear. Being a woman and being a man has no more inherent meaning. We have rid ourselves from biology, rid ourselves from our social roles, rid ourselves from everything.
And now a child might ask him- or herself that central question: Who am I? What kind of person do I want to be? Where is my place in this society? How do I want to walk through this life? In addition to these complex reflections, confusing new questions arise: Am I a girl or a boy? Or neither? What does it mean to be a girl or a boy? Today’s society owes them an answer to these questions because it has no clue itself. And so children are being sucked into this maelstrom of trials and tribulations in the search for answers about their identity and their body, where a new transgender identity might seem like the way out. Just Take Them and Leave Me Alone: I don’t know what to do with my sex, so just make it go away.
Of course, there are many other factors that play an important role in this: the extreme and extremely early sexualization in our society; the indoctrination of children with the concept of gender ideology as early as preschool and primary school, for instance by asking them for their “preferred pronouns”; the increasing and uncontrolled time spent online and on social media; the so-called social contagion effect, both in the real and the virtual world, due to the fact that children and teenagers are very impressionable, especially by their peers; the way pedagogues, psychologists and doctors are urging children to undergo medical transition instead of opting for a cautious way to find a solution or do therapy, especially considering the fact that a vast majority of trans identifying children has co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses; the considerable rise of psychological problems like anxiety disorders and depression among teenagers; and finally the legal consolidation of gender ideology on a political and juridical scale by passing Self-ID bills – as it most recently happened in Spain and Scotland – which allow changing your legal sex at a whim.
So far, the law had been the final barrier. However, by implementing bills like the Ley Trans in Spain or the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Scotland, this final barrier is about to break in Europe. In this sociopolitical climate the new so-called Queer Plan drafted by the German government gives cause for great concern. Similar to Spain and Scotland, this plan intends to enable minors in Germany to change their legal sex simply by going to the register office, without any medical diagnosis. At the age of 16, Spanish and Scottish youth can even change their legal sex without their parents’ consent. It is only a matter of time until the medical transition of minors will be allowed, too – maybe even without their parents’ consent like in California. If this last barrier breaks down, there will be even more children and teenagers like the one in Haghighi’s picture: girls and boys who are alone, desperate, confused and with easy access to serious legal changes and even more serious medical procedures.
Our society’s current confusion, disorientation and loss of meaning are the ideal breeding-ground for all these worrisome developments – this is how a destructive ideology such as gender ideology can flourish in the first place. A society that has lost its own identity is not capable of taking its children by the hand and help them find their own identity. It abandons its children. It leaves its children to the influence of an ideology that, in the wasteland of meaninglessness, praises the mutilation of your own body as the perfect solution. It makes children declare war on their own bodies and puts a knife in their hands instead of telling them that they are already perfect just the way they are. Puberty blockers, mastectomies, sex reassignment surgeries, all of that might seem to them the salvation from the anguish of their identity crisis, but in fact it is the surrender in the face of a society that cannot provide any role models, let alone a definition of a man or a woman.
But surrender is not an option – not if our children’s health is at stake. We need to help them stop this self-declared war against their own bodies by unveiling the fallacy that underlies it: No child is born in the wrong body. If you refuse to believe this fallacy, then you already possess the most powerful weapon in the fight against the dangerous cult of transgenderism: common sense.
About the author: Born 1987, with roots in Germany and the Philippines, living in Spain. Constantly curious and eager to learn new things. Freedom > safety. Your own opinion > groupthink. Coffee > tea. Recommended: The moving testimonies of detransitioners Helena Kerschner and Abel Garcia that give you an insight into the thoughts of a trans identifying teenager (and their adult view on this difficult time).
Die deutsche Version des Artikels findet sich hier:
Dr. Alexander Korte, a German pediatric psychiatrist and expert for gender dysphoria says: “Neurobiological research has definitely not proven that gender identity could be genetically conditioned. From a psychodevelopmental standpoint it is unreasonable to presume that identity is something that you are born with.” (from the article “It’s hip to be trans”, published in the German newspaper taz)
The mother of a trans identifying daughter describes this “stereotypical manliness” with a lot of sad irony in a very recommendable essay: “How to Be a Man (inspired by my trans-identified daughter)”