Backlash Against Two Centers of Gender Ideology
Two contrasting stories from the past few weeks illustrate the stakes of the battle that is being waged right now over the issue of gender dysphoria, and in particular its huge impact on a generation of vulnerable children.
One story is deeply disturbing, showing the perverse lengths to which certain ideologues and “medical experts” are willing to go in pushing children towards irreversible and life-altering “treatments,” without regard to their long-term physical and mental health.
The other story is much more promising, suggesting that such ideologues can only push so far before they provoke a backlash, and that it may only be a matter of time before such a backlash happens in the U.S.
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Predatory Practices
One of the most distressing aspects of the transgender ideology that has swept through our culture and social institutions in the past decade or so, is the level of energy that its promoters have invested into pushing the most extreme and destructive version of transgenderism on impressionable children.
This is evidenced, for instance, in the vast quantity of pro-transgender content published by LGBT activists on social media sites such as TikTok. There, children can find all manner of detailed “how-to” videos and testimonies, which portray becoming another gender as a perfectly normal, easy, low-risk, and even “cool” thing to do. Such videos have been watched billions of times. No wonder that the number of children experiencing gender dysphoria is skyrocketing.
However, it is particularly disturbing when these same activists insinuate themselves into venerable institutions, to which we ought to be able to look for impartial, evidence-based, non-ideological information.
A few days ago, the wildly popular “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account drew attention to a series of videos published by the “Gender Multispecialty Service” clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. These pro-transgender videos promote a variety of drastic “gender transition” procedures and “treatments” for children. In one video, a staff member explains that even toddlers can know that they are “transgender,” which they might manifest by refusing to play with certain toys. In another one of the videos, Dr. Francis Grimstad cheerily explains the benefits of a “gender-affirming hysterectomy” while upbeat music plays in the background.
“A gender-affirming hysterectomy is very similar to most hysterectomies that occur,” Grimstad says, explaining that “a hysterectomy itself is the removal of the uterus, the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus, and the fallopian tubes, which are attached to the sides of the uterus.” Grimstad notes that some hysterectomies would also involve the removal of the ovaries.
This video was just one of a series of some 90 videos explaining and promoting various “treatments,” such as mastectomies (the removal of healthy breasts) and so-called “phalloplasty” (the surgical creation of a similitude of male genitals) and “vaginoplasty” (the surgical creation of the similitude of female genitals).
“Our skilled team includes specialists in plastic surgery, urology, endocrinology, nursing, gender management, and social work, who collaborate to provide a full suite of surgical options for transgender teens and young adults,” the website reads.
Naturally, the idea that gender-confused but otherwise healthy children should even be thinking about getting a sterilizing hysterectomy as a form of “treatment,” let alone that trained adults should proactively be explaining it to them on YouTube, immediately strikes every fair-minded person as monstrous. And yet, as other researchers have found, institutions around the country are offering even the most drastic sex change surgeries to minors.
As one might expect, the widespread publicity given to the videos has resulted in outrage. Equally as predictably, the hospital has responded by claiming that they are the targets of a smear campaign and “transphobia” and are arguing that “anti-trans” activists are spreading falsehoods, such as that the hospital performs major sex-change surgeries on minors.
The only problem, as one Twitter user pointed out, is that in one of the hospital’s own videos one of their staff explains that while other hospitals might require a patient to be eighteen before cutting off her healthy breasts in a “gender-affirming” mastectomy, Boston Children’s Hospital has done so on children as young as fifteen. In that same video, the staff member explains that they do sometimes perform genital surgeries on 17-year-olds.
Huge Lawsuit Pending Against UK Transgender Clinic
At the same time as Boston Children’s Hospital, and other medical centers in the U.S., are pushing unproven “treatments” on children suffering from gender dysphoria, pro-trans doctors in the UK are facing a major backlash.
For the past few decades, the Tavistock Centre has been the main UK clinic treating children suffering with gender dysphoria.
However, the clinic has been at the center of a maelstrom of controversy, after a series of whistleblowers stepped forward. These former staff allege that the gender identity clinic at Tavistock was heavily influenced by pro-trans activist groups to fast-track children for medical interventions, sometimes recommending things like puberty blockers after a single meeting with a child.
Meanwhile, staff members who urged a slower “wait and see” approach, say that they were pressured to keep their opinions to themselves, and ultimately forced out of the clinic by a hostile work environment. The result? Children had no one advocating for them to slow down and to first try less drastic “treatments.”
While it seemed for a long time that the pro-trans ideologues were winning the day, the tide has rapidly turned in the UK. Part of this is due to data showing a staggering 4000% increase in referrals of children to Tavistock for transgender “treatments.” Then there is growing awareness about the speed with which children are being sent for “treatments” like puberty blockers, sex hormones, and mutilating surgery, which are both experimental and known to have irreversible long-term consequences, including permanent effects on bone density, breast development, voice, hair growth, and fertility.
Some of this awareness is driven by the above-mentioned whistleblowers. But some is also due to a growing group of “detransitioners” – those who regret procedures to medically alter their sex – who are courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about how they were rushed into life-altering decisions before they were mature enough to understand the consequences, and in some cases showing the literal scars left by their so-called “treatments.”
The first piece of good news is that the UK government recently decided to shut down the Tavistock Centre next spring. Instead, children suffering from gender dysphoria will be sent to regional clinics. Such clinics are less likely to be ruled by a small group of ideologues who are under the influence of pro-transgender advocacy groups. It is also to be hoped that at these smaller clinics children will receive more personalized care and support that emphasizes counselling.
On the heels of this news comes the news that as many as 1,000 families may soon join a lawsuit against the Tavistock Centre, alleging that their children were rushed into irreversible procedures and “treatments” that left them worse off than before.
Tom Goodhead, Global Managing Partner at Pogust Goodhead, the law firm representing the families, told Sky News: “We believe that there are potentially hundreds of young adults who have been affected by failings in care over the past decade at the Tavistock Centre, and we want to be able to give them a voice in court.”
He alleges that “children and young adolescents were rushed into “treatment” without the appropriate therapy and involvement of the right clinicians, meaning that they were misdiagnosed.”
If such a lawsuit gets off the ground, it is possible that Tavistock and the ideologues who pushed children through will face a major reckoning that will reverberate around the world. As The Economist put it recently, “The tide in Britain appears to be turning against groups who espouse the belief that gender identity trumps all else, and towards maintaining support for sex-based rights and evidence-based medicine.”
Truth Will Assert Itself
It is obvious to anyone who has not been drawn (duped) into the world of transgender propaganda, that gender ideologues are deliberately seeking out vulnerable children and encouraging them to embrace a “transgender” ideology. In many cases, these children are simply confused by the normal physical changes of puberty, or are suffering from body image issues, depression, social isolation, family problems, or (as in the case of one school where over a dozen students were transitioning simultaneously) autism.
Instead of helping these children to learn to embrace the God-given gift of their bodies and their given sex, these ideologues hold out the promise that a new identity will solve their problems. Once these children express any kind of an interest in pursuing a transgender identity, they are funneled into a system in which even gently questioning the wisdom of so-called sex-altering procedures is viewed as tantamount to physical violence and anti-trans “hate.” The result is that such children are very unlikely to run across anyone who might urge them to avoid or wait on drastic “treatments”, and instead to pursue other solutions – such as counseling – that might help them to embrace their God-given gender.
The Catholic Church has consistently opposed gender ideology, not because it opposes or hates individuals struggling with gender dysphoria, but because it recognizes the presence of God’s wisdom within nature. Clearly, human individuals are born either male or female. That is, biological sex is a fact of nature.
As in so many other areas of life, the Church affirms that wisdom and health are to be found not in rebelling against reality, but rather in learning to accept and to conform ourselves to reality. As humans we are called to learn to be receptive to truth, learning to listen to reality as God has constituted it. That is, we are called to live in the truth.
There are two components of the Church’s teaching on the creation of the human person that are especially important for assisting individuals with gender dysphoria: (a) the composite unity of body and soul by which a person exists and (b) an individual’s act of being in the unity of body and soul is as male or female. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. (no. 365)
Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God.” In their “being-man” and “being-woman,” they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness. (no. 369)
So much of the post-modern worldview is based upon the idea that humans possess ultimate power over nature and can exercise our will upon nature without consequences. However, the whole history of the 20th century has shown that the unchecked imposition of our will on nature produces all sorts of unintended consequences. In sexual matters, we have seen this in the explosion in sexually transmitted diseases, in the massive rise in abortion, the dissolution of the family, and the increasing disillusionment of those who pursued a sexually hedonistic lifestyle, only to find misery in doing so.
As developments in the UK suggest, pro-transgender ideologues are due for a major reckoning, having painted a rosy picture of so-called “gender transitioning” in recent years. They have convinced thousands of children struggling with gender dysphoria that all one needs to do to be happy is to take certain medications or undergo a particular surgery. More and more children who listen to them are waking up a few years later to the fact that they underwent irreversible procedures that gave them a body that is only a grotesque similitude of the opposite sex, at the cost of their fertility, their ability to experience sexual pleasure, and their overall health and happiness.
Even as transgender ideology is ramping up in many countries around the world, in the UK we may be catching a glimpse of what will follow close behind: a backlash that sends the pendulum swinging back towards sanity. You can only push so far before truth and reality reassert themselves. Let us pray for a similar awakening to take place here in the United States, so that no more children have to be hurt in the name of this diabolic gender ideology.
As president of Human Life International, Fr. Boquet is a leading expert on the international pro-life and family movement, having journeyed to nearly 90 countries on pro-life missions over the last decade. Father Boquet works with pro-life and family leaders in 116 counties that partner with HLI to proclaim and advance the Gospel of Life. Read his full bio here.