The Economist: "Children are victims in the latest identity-driven culture war"

(14 Posts)
miri1985 Thu 16-Nov-17 23:49:27

Children are victims in the latest identity-driven culture war: Some feminists and transgender activists are on opposite sides

THE first question asked of any new parent is: “Boy or girl?” Across the developed world, the answer matters far less than it used to. Both girls and boys are less constrained by their sex than ever before. Women can not only vote and own property, but stand for election and run companies. Men can care for children—and for their appearance. Both sexes are free to love, and in many countries marry, whomever they wish.

But for some, even today’s capacious gender roles do not fit. The number of transgender adults—those who do not identify with the sex on their birth certificates—seems to be rising (see article). More are changing their names, clothing and pronouns, taking cross-sex hormones and seeking gender-reassignment surgery. Their rights and status have become the casus belli for the latest culture war.

The fiercest fire is left-on-left. Some feminists reject the claim that trans women (people registered male at birth who have made the transition to a female identity) are indeed women, rather than men who eschew stereotypically male behaviour. But to trans people being thus “misgendered” feels downright cruel. Such feminists are called “transphobes” and accused of hate speech. The hard words fly both ways: witness Germaine Greer declaring that “just because you lop off your dick” does not make you a woman.

None of this is edifying. What is unforgivable is that children are caught in the crossfire. Soaring numbers are seeking help for gender dysphoria—the distressing conviction that the sex on their birth certificate is the wrong one. If they are unlucky, what happens next will have more to do with an adult battle over identity than with what is right for them.

Gender reassignment is a momentous choice, since it causes irreversible physical changes and, if surgery is done to reshape the genitalia, perhaps also sterility. For gender-dysphoric children the clock is ticking, since puberty moulds bodies in ways no drugs or scalpel can undo. Waiting until adulthood to start the transition therefore means worse results.

Some clinics buy time with puberty-blockers, which suppress the action of sex hormones. But these may have harmful side-effects. Furthermore, most gender-dysphoric children will probably not become transgender adults. Studies are scarce and small, but suggest that, without treatment, a majority will end up comfortable in their birth sex, so treatment would be harmful. Unfortunately, no one knows how to tell which group is which. Yet some trans activists have thrown caution to the wind. Specialists who start by trying to help gender-dysphoric children settle in their birth identities, rather than making a speedy switch, risk being labelled transphobes and forced out of their jobs. Few are willing to say that some such children may actually be suffering from a different underlying problem, such as anorexia or depression.

Won’t someone think of the children?

It is bad enough that doctors, parents and gender-dysphoric children must make high-stakes choices against time without good evidence about what will happen. Worse is that children’s plight is being used by adults as an opportunity for moral grandstanding. The child’s interests depend not on the feelings of transgender activists—nor those of feminists—but on facts that still need to be established. Doctors need to know more about how to tell when gender dysphoria is likely to persist. Until they have that information, they should not rush in with drugs. Before acting, doctors should have reasonable grounds for thinking that they are doing good.

OP’s posts: |
DJBaggySmalls Thu 16-Nov-17 23:56:16

That seems desperate to somehow make this feminists fault as much as trans activists, but doesnt offer any evidence.
Its not clear how feminists are causing any crossfire for kids to be caught in? Or how feminists suggesting caution over transitioning kids is any different from gender specialists saying the same thing?

DonkeySkin Fri 17-Nov-17 03:19:00

Exactly Baggy. They imply that feminists are the ones making the debate nasty, through our mean insistence on pointing out reality (i.e., that's it's not possible to change one's sex).

I think that as criticism of the trans movement hits the mainstream, this will happen more and more. Radical feminists in particular will be blamed for 'polarising' and even 'preventing' earlier debate on this issue. When the truth is that radical feminists have developed the only coherent analysis of the forces driving transgenderism, and it is only through the relentless, patient work of radical-leaning feminists that the problems inherent in trans ideology, particularly the horrifying reality of what the paediatric transition movement is doing to children, are now slowly coming to wider public attention.

I also couldn't help rolling my eyes at this: 'for some, even today’s capacious gender roles do not fit'. Anyone paying attention to children's entertainment, marketing etc. can see that gender has become ever more restrictive for children over the past 20 years. Girls especially are suffering in a grotesquely sexist culture which positions them as submissive, pornofied objects before they've even hit puberty.

pallisers Fri 17-Nov-17 03:29:13

The hard words fly both ways: witness Germaine Greer declaring that “just because you lop off your dick” does not make you a woman.

Why is that hard words? I'm sure Ms Greer said them with a certain amount of hardness but the words themselves are simply true. It doesn't make you a woman but it may make you a transwoman (if that was your intention).

Agree completely with the comments about desperate to make it feminists fault. What crossfire are feminists creating that is pushing children into diagnosis, hormone treatments and surgery?? Actually the more I think of it the angrier I get ... women/feminists point out the dangers involved and it is "hard words" and "crossfire". Male-oriented publication like The Economist points it out and it is the voice of reason. fucks sake

CaoNiMa Fri 17-Nov-17 08:33:28

Yeah, it's interesting how they quote Greer stating fact, yet leave out any "DIE CIS-SCUM" or "punch all TERFS" rhetoric from the other side.

Mumsnut Fri 17-Nov-17 08:35:46

The author seems to believe that only if surgery is performed will children become sterile through gender reassignment treatments. This just ain't so.

Ereshkigal Fri 17-Nov-17 08:50:23

Oh yes, you're right, I missed that the first time! Poor research.


Datun Fri 17-Nov-17 08:50:36

Children are not getting ‘caught in the crossfire’. They are being relentlessly and deliberately targeted with scandalous propaganda supplied by trans pressure groups.

I can’t see from the link who wrote the article. But whoever it is, they don’t like women.

Ereshkigal Fri 17-Nov-17 08:54:50

And even with surgery, only "perhaps" sterility. Economist journo, if you're reading this, going onto cross sex hormones straight after puberty blockers will sterilise children. No perhaps about it.

CabernetSauvignyoni Fri 17-Nov-17 09:07:40

This has made me so angry :

Gender reassignment is a momentous choice, since it causes irreversible physical changes *and, if surgery is done to reshape the genitalia, perhaps also sterility.*

Completely ignoring the fact that it is the puberty blockers that are the first steps to sterility and a sexless life. These children have no option to freeze eggs or sperm before transition, or even to have any hope of a fulfilling sex life unlike an adult that transitions.

Saying ‘these may have harmful side effects’ is utter bollocks. They do. Because for nearly all children, after puberty blockers come the cross sex hormones, meaning that even after detransition they will never develop the way their peers will. The concept isn’t difficult and the statistics are there, but shhhhh we can’t talk about that.

It seems like the author is trying to give a balanced opinion, but is actually being harsher on feminists than the TRAs - using Germaine Greer’s quote as an example of hard words on both sides isn’t really representative of the vitriol spewed by the TRA community.

CabernetSauvignyoni Fri 17-Nov-17 09:11:27

And I seen others have picked up those exact points! That’ll teach me not to RTFT before posting blush

Ereshkigal Fri 17-Nov-17 09:15:17

It's easy done smile it's good that this critical point has been stressed. I hope the journalist maybe will see this.

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 17-Nov-17 09:32:14

I agree that the article is flawed; however it's also the first one I've seen which acknowledges the problems but doesn't make me sound like a raging TERF for sharing it. Therefore, I have shared it on FB.

Bit nervous now actually blush

norahnamechange Fri 17-Nov-17 09:44:45

Don't worry, we've all done it. And am glad you shared this.

Women have often been at the forefront of calling out abuse, including systematised abuse and are so often targeted. Just one of the more obvious examples:

I can live with some unfounded criticism if it makes society stop and realise what is actually happening to children at the moment and then put in some safeguards,

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in