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Jour­nalist Abigail Shrier’s new book inves­ti­gates the increasing number of young girls iden­ti­fying as trans­gender.
Allison Schuster | Col­legian

Doctors in the United States observed a four-fold increase in ado­lescent girls receiving gender tran­sition surg­eries from the year 2016 to 2017. In Great Britain, the increase for the last decade was an astounding 4,400%. In her book released in August, “Irre­versible Damage: The Trans­gender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” Wall Street Journal reporter Abigail Shrier inves­ti­gates why.

Psy­chol­o­gists and researchers have failed on a mass scale to study the causes behind such a surge, Shrier said. While many have ignored the trend, however, Shrier has been writing on the topic for two years, talking with the real people who rep­resent those numbers and the systems leading to the spike in gender dys­phoria.

Every gen­er­ation of teenage girls falls prey to societal pres­sures, Schrier argues. While female desires to be beau­tiful, loved, and popular are con­sistent throughout history, the sub­se­quent trends that result in an attempt to fulfill these needs are ever-changing. In the ’80s, an eating dis­order known as bulimia took hold, spurring an influx of girls heaving until their calories dis­ap­peared from their bodies. This unfor­tunate physical and psy­cho­logical phe­nomenon was pop­u­larized not by the sudden natural real­ization within so many the tactic of throwing up to lose weight, but rather it grew out of a mis­guided search for hap­piness, per­pet­uated by people and insti­tu­tions promising weight loss as an answer to growing depression and anxiety. 

Trans­gen­derism has exploded among young girls in a similar manner in the last few years, and — much like the esophageal burning caused by the treach­erous eating dis­order — the effects are often irre­versible. 

Shrier’s respectful han­dling of the sen­sitive subject estab­lishes cred­i­bility for her claims. She never denies the exis­tence of true gender dys­phoria. Rather, her work in iden­ti­fying the insti­tu­tions behind the increase in diag­noses seeks to clarify how the craze is sep­arate from the genuine con­dition. The dis­tinc­tions between trens­gender adults and so-called trans­gender children embodies her accep­tance of the con­dition as some­thing legit­imate apart from its recent dis­tortion for use as a tool for troubled teens. 

In assem­bling stories of those who have seen a loved one succumb or have per­sonally suc­cumbed to the trans­gender craze, Shrier show­cases the real con­se­quences behind the movement and rec­og­nized trends in young girls’ devel­opment of gender dys­phoria, detailing their expe­ri­ences with their trans­gender lifestyle. 

Intense encour­agement from sources outside of the family served as an influ­ential force throughout every heart­breaking tes­timony in Shrier’s book. She argued that the most pow­erful insti­tu­tions, like social media and edu­cation, go beyond imposing the idea that trans­gen­derism is an inher­ently good thing. Rather they con­sider cis­gen­derism, or the state of one’s gender cor­re­sponding to their bio­logical sex, is a bad thing. Shrier pro­vided the example of Benji, who was for­merly woman-to-man trans­gender. After her first-hand expe­rience with these instu­tions, she empha­sized the decision to tran­sition is never made solely by the child in question. 

“Your guidance coun­selor, social worker, doctor, ther­apist, psy­chi­a­trist, parent, school teacher, told you that this is a good idea…This is not some­thing that you came to the decision on your own.” 

With all these insti­tu­tions working together, Shrier intel­li­gently ana­lyzes the factors that have led to an intense reaction by today’s youth, revealing the heavy hand pro­gres­sivism holds on young people. 

Public edu­cation serves as one of the biggest pro­po­nents of trans­gen­derism among ado­les­cents. Class­rooms across the country have become centers for gender edu­cation, which Shrier points out is far more radical than many parents know. Teachers, school admin­is­trators, and various speakers set stu­dents on a quest to determine their gender. From a young age stu­dents are instructed their gender is sep­arate from their bio­logical sex assigned at birth. 

Far from the lessons of tol­erance, love, and accep­tance that used to be taught, teachers now actively encourage alien­ation from fam­ilies. In line with the left’s push to make the state the student’s family, teachers demonize stu­dents’ parents and home life, encour­aging stu­dents to place their trust in schools instead. Shrier writes that teachers see schools as an anti-bul­lying envi­ronment where stu­dents can act dif­fer­ently than they do at home. 

This often includes changing one’s name and pro­nouns, taking drugs, and even receiving surgery. If a parent ques­tions a child’s gender-identity mission on reli­gious grounds, Shrier said many edu­cators con­sider it as spir­itual abuse. 

Parents are often com­pletely unaware of their child’s trans­gender identity until it’s too late. Back in my own high school days — a mere four years ago — the school nurse required written parental per­mission to provide ibuprofen for my headache. Now, stu­dents in some states can undergo trans­gender surg­eries during school hours before their parents ever suspect a thing. 

Deception looms in areas beyond edu­cation, too. Shrier’s reporting reveals the appalling will­ingness of so many in the medical field to avoid the con­ver­sation regarding cor­ruption within the realm of gender identity. The coalition between gov­ernment, media, science, and edu­cation has cap­i­talized on a free pass to indoc­trinate as few outside of these closed-off insti­tu­tions are aware of the rising rates of trans­gen­derism. 

Trans­gender influ­encers on social media use posts, videos, and blogs to explain to children how to hide their gender change from family members. Many trans­gender children report first hearing about trasngen­derism online. Activists often lure children in with the promise of hap­piness, some­thing most teenagers are in des­perate search of. Influ­encers on every platform — most dis­tinctly Tumblr and Youtube — promise the elim­i­nation of anxiety and depression if they start binding their breasts and taking life-altering drugs. 

And it can work for a little while, too. Many young girls find when they ini­tially “come out” as trans, they feel over­whelmed with support and cel­e­bration. Children once viewed as painfully for­get­table finally become accepted, even if having to pretend to be someone they’re not in the process. 

“We cheer as teenage girls with no history of dys­phoria steep them­selves in a radical gender ide­ology taught in school or found on the internet. Peers and ther­a­pists and teachers and internet heroes egg these girls on,” Shrier wrote. 

For lonely and iso­lated teenagers, the online trans­gender com­munity often becomes their primary source of love and comfort. And this tends to wear off on other stu­dents, Shrier said. The amount of children who now identify as trans­gender because of the potential influence of peer pressure has risen sig­nif­i­cantly, high­lighted by jarring sta­tistics.

“Nearly 70% of the teenagers belonged to a peer group in which at least one friend had also come out as trangender. In some groups, the majority of the friends had done so,” Shrier wrote.

The ageless pro­clivity to conform is only com­pounded by virtue sig­naling. Many activists pressure those under­going tran­sition to avoid speaking to cis­gender people, including their own parents. Sex change for these people becomes asso­ciated with goodness, such as thinness is seen as the ultimate good for those suf­fering from anorexia. The result of such pressure has been an explosion of young girls iden­ti­fying as trans­gender despite not expe­ri­encing any feelings of gender dys­phoria earlier in their childhood. 

All these girls faced problems akin to so many teenagers and, after seeing their friends’ sudden burst of hap­piness, thought they could chase the same feeling. After a little while of living in a body com­pletely unrec­og­nizable, children typ­i­cally find them­selves just as depressed, but now they have com­mitted irreparable damage to their physical selves and, more often than not, to their mental health and rela­tion­ships. 

Every gen­er­ation of teenagers feels awkward, rejected, lonely, depressed, and anxious. Yet no other gen­er­ation has expe­ri­enced such a rise in gender dys­phoria. According to Shrier, this is largely because ther­a­pists rush right to sex-change hor­mones and oper­a­tions rather than addressing the perennial problems behind so many gender con­ver­sions. Would a social worker simply agree with anorexic patients when they call them­selves fat? Of course not. The social worker would help the patient under­stand his unachievable, mis­placed idea of hap­piness in his weight. If ther­a­pists would do their jobs cor­rectly, they could help patients dis­cover their current path to hap­piness is dis­torted. 

Shrier writes that the trans­gender adults she spoke with were among the most thoughtful and kind people she had ever met, but their expe­rience is vastly dif­ferent than that of children today. Their child­hoods were paved with gender dys­phoria despite not having the resources available to today’s youth. The majority of today’s trans­gender children rarely feel the same natural dys­phoria until outside influ­ences get involved.

A nation of happy and healthy children begins at home, and Shrier thor­oughly pealed back the layers behind the trans­gender craze to reveal those civil and social insti­tu­tions actively pre­venting such a state. As far gone as some may be, Shrier offers a message of hope for those who have gotten caught in the trans­gender craze’s mighty grip. Her call-to-action demands parents act now. The earlier they can stop their children from exploring a world they’re utterly unequipped to under­stand, the better they can address the issues leading them down that path.

If parents don’t open their eyes and push back against the insti­tu­tional deception present before them, the fun­da­mental alter­ation of the minds of children — and specif­i­cally young girls — will con­tinue to thrive. And such damage could be, as Shrier has demon­strated, irre­versible.