Recently, Time magazine featured actor Tommy Dorfman’s decision to medically transition after a life in the “wrong body.” At 29, Dorfman is an adult who has decided to endure the lifelong dependence on hormones and numerous surgeries associated with transitioning, including castration and genital reconstruction, and the possibility of extensive cosmetic surgery to reshape his male jaw, nose, and forehead to look more feminine.
Time was not the only outlet to celebrate Dorfman’s decision. But as our culture promotes the examples of Dorfman and others, such as Jazz Jennings, the struggles of other young people, particularly teenage girls, to deal with the cultural pressure that transgender ideology places on them are being neglected.
Teenage girls had enough to deal with as it was. They entered the pandemic with worrisome rates of depression and anxiety. After over a year of social isolation and school closures, they’re emerging miserable and dangerously unhealthy. As the country slowly emerges from the pandemic, an alarming number of media reports reveal the dire and devastating consequences of policies that closed schools, libraries, and community centers, and severely limited children’s access to sports and meaningful extracurricular activities. Social isolation, disengagement from academic instruction and community, and loss of a stable daily structure resulted in rising rates of eating disorders and mental-health-related emergency-room visits. Suicide attempts by teenage girls increased by 51 percent from 2019 to 2021. For boys, the rate increased by 3.7 percent. A Texas summer camp director predicts a “perfect storm . . . of anger and frustration” headed for schools this fall, based on observations of emotionally fragile counselors and campers this summer.
But that’s not all they have to deal with. The percentage of girls requesting gender changes had soared in the decade preceding the pandemic, while the number of girls uncomfortable with their biological sex continues to rise. A 2020 study conducted by Britain’s National Health Service found a relationship between increased media coverage of transgender issues and rising numbers of teenagers, primarily girls, requesting gender changes. Journalists are glorifying medical transitions and presenting them to the adolescent readers of celebrity publications as a solution to their “depression, anxiety and panic attacks.”
This is false. The young teenage girls increasingly captivated by gender ideology possess bodies and minds that are still growing and developing. The adults in their lives are responsible for guiding them safely through adolescence. Yet journalists and many other corners of society are suddenly claiming that cross-sex hormones and damaging surgeries should be readily offered to children, often citing the examples of transitions by people who are already adults.
In contrast, a bravely vocal group of detransitioners — individuals who no longer identify as a gender other than their biological sex, though they once did — are demanding that the medicalization of gender-dysphoric children end and that society prioritize teenagers’ mental health instead. Detransitioners are young adults, primarily women, who sorrowfully acknowledge that they needed responsible, caring communities and mental-health support as teenagers, rather than a rush to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and radical surgery. Grace Lidinsky-Smith, who detransitioned in her twenties, describes her experience:
My gender dysphoria, which I had taken as proof that I was truly meant to live as male, turned out to stem from other mental health issues. My change had been a brutal mistake, and I would have to live with the consequences—numb scars, no breasts, a deepened voice—for the rest of my life.
We can, unfortunately, expect to hear many more tales such as this as more young people begin down Lidinsky-Smith’s path.
A quick call to any summer-camp director will reveal a huge spike in the number of teenage girls proclaiming a gender identity that does not align with their biological sex. Teens, like many Americans, self-medicated on their devices throughout the pandemic. As their isolation, anxiety, and depression grew, many girls followed an increasingly familiar rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria path from the transactivist corners of Reddit, Tumblr, and YouTube into a transgender identity. This wrong-body narrative will be eagerly affirmed when the girls return to school. Unfortunately, speech codes drafted by transactivists and enforced by school districts’ “gender affirmation” policies instruct kids to perceive any alternative perspective as “transphobic.” So, rather than fully acknowledging the consequences of a lonely year spent on screens and exploring alternative approaches to alleviate girls’ unhappiness, adults responsible for the welfare of children will rush straight to gender affirmation and transition.
Detransitioners, as well a growing group of compassionate older women who transitioned, desperately want to protect children. These individuals have lived through dysphoria, intense emotional distress, and medical transition and its consequences. They want teenagers to know that transitioning cannot and will not resolve their underlying mental-health challenges. In fact, those issues could be compounded by regret, sterility, and the health risks of cross-sex hormones, including weakened bones and increased risk of heart disease and strokes.
Caring and responsible adults need to question why journalists, as well as education and medical professionals, are eager to rush children into transition services provided by Planned Parenthood or one of the 300 gender clinics that have emerged since 2007. Relentlessly elevating individuals who are transitioning away from their biological sex as role models and aggressively advocating for transition will not help girls who are finding COVID-era adolescence unbearable, but are not truly transgender. These vulnerable girls deserve steady access to loving adults and supportive mental-health services that will provide them with the skills and tools they need to safely navigate adolescence. And they certainly need more than the unquestioning promotion by media outlets of the questionable life choices made by celebrities.