Heather, I agree with almost everything you’ve said — but you are making somewhat of a devil’s bargain when you make the claim that trans is real but rare: you want to save this enormous cohort of confused kids at all costs, and believe me, I sympathize. Perhaps you think it’s more palatable to a compassionate audience, and it demonstrates that you’re not just a wicked transphobe, if you concede something along the lines of “there always used to be trans people, and those were the ‘real’ ones, but these kids are different.”

Well, it’s true that these kids are different, and it’s true that for about a century we’ve had people in the West who believed sex change was a real thing that reflected their true inner self, but I wish you were willing to “go all the way” and state the obvious: that there is no physical, medical evidence for the condition currently known in the West as “being trans.”

It’s always been rare, yes. But what is trans? In what way is it “real”?

If you want to make the claim that all cultures throughout history have had gender nonconforming people, yes, I agree. And, since behavioral traits exist on a spectrum, if you want to make the claim that all cultures have a few extreme outliers of very, very gender nonconforming people, I will agree with that too. Absolutely. That’s real.

A few cultures, especially those with rigid gender roles, even have a category for extremely gender nonconforming folks. That’s why a culture like Samoa’s has a category for fa’afafine, but a more egalitarian culture like the Iroquois did not create a special category.

So far, we probably agree. Gender nonconforming people exist. But gender nonconformity does not equal “trans”— if that were true, you and I, both gender nonconforming women, if only because we dare to have unpopular opinions, would be “trans” —and we’re not.

Gender nonconformity exists in all times and places, but it does not equal trans. The specifics of what a culture _does_ with that reality of gender nonconformity are …well, culturally determined.

Gender nonconformity is universal. What cultures _do_ with gender nonconformity, how they treat it, what they believe it signifies, how they behave toward nonconforming people, that’s all very different across time and place.

Throughout history and different cultures, what people _didn’t_ universally have is a belief in being “in” the “wrong body” or a belief in being literally the opposite sex, or a belief in a brain-body mismatch. No, those are things specific to our culture, and the “treatment” consists of health-harming cosmetic procedures. We created all of it. I’d say Samoa did a much better job.

We didn’t create gender nonconformity— the universal. We created “trans,” our culturally specific response to it.

So… what is it to “be trans”? The 20th and now the more extreme 21st century Western version of “being trans” is essentially a culture-bound syndrome.

To say that some people “are trans” is to concede that some people really are the opposite sex on the inside. There’s no evidence for this.

If what you’re claiming is simply “some people are so extremely unhappy with their bodies that they are ‘happier’ living as the opposite sex and having these extreme cosmetic procedures” — well, I suppose that’s possibly true.

Even that, though, is not a “universal” — traditionally the fa’afafine know they’re male, don’t experience distress at their bodies, etc. The emotional distress of “being trans,” and the idea that the solution to the distress is to have cosmetic procedures while all of society pretends they’re the opposite sex — that’s all stuff specific to our culture. Some might say our culture’s approach is very unhealthy compared to Samoa’s.

So to call our extremely unhappy gender nonconforming people “trans” as if it’s some real and valid medical condition, in absence of all evidence, is to gloss over the hard reality about what is real versus what is a (very maladaptive) cultural invention.

Think of this too — if we concede that some people are “really trans” then, too, every teenager in the grip of this current cultural mania is going to be sure, absolutely sure, that she’s “one of the rare and real” trans people. Every parent who is horrified to see his pre-school age son play with dresses and dolls is going to be sure, absolutely sure, that his son isn’t proto-gay, but rather “one of the rare and real” trans kids. “Born that way” if you will. But there is nothing at all wrong with any gender nonconforming person’s body or behavior. That’s all in our minds.

No one can be “in” the wrong body because we _are_ our bodies. It’s possible to have a false cultural belief that a few rare people are “in” the wrong body, that they “are” really trans, but that is a statement of belief, not fact. I would argue that it’s a harmful belief that benefits no one and leads to health-destroying interventions.

No one “is trans” in the way 21st century Western people have conceived of it. There is no evidence of such a thing.

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Compassion does not require us to deny fundamental reality. No amount of hormone suppressors, cross hormones, plastic surgery, clothing, hair, make up, or belief will turn a boy into a girl or a girl into a boy. This is true even if the child is trans. At best, these children become good fakes...but they live a life pretending to someone they are not and can never be.

You are right to point out the financial incentives. They are legion. Yes, drug companies stand to gain, but so do "gender therapists", surgeons, and medical facilities. There is good money to be made from the pain and confusion of these children and their terrified parents (some of whom may be mentally ill themselves and virtue signaling through their child).

Trans or not, children, especially very young children, engage in magical thinking. How many five-year-olds who declare a different gender really understand that they cannot be what they claim to be, who they claim to be...ever? I suspect none of them do. It's cruel to indulge such fantasies.

With few exceptions (Swyer's, CAIS) were are all born male or female. Nothing can change that reality. How is altering the body to (allegedly) align with the mind more compassionate than helping a child accept the body in which he or she was born? It isn't.

The bigger question for me is why this is happening now. Did this explosion of trans children arise organically from some place of woke compassion or is something else going on?

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Brilliant observations! I agree completely. Please keep writing!! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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