As a young teenager, Grace Lidinsky-Smith experienced deep depression and profound anxiety. She took refuge in incessant internet usage and became immersed in Tumblr. Now in her 20s, Grace looks back and describes how young people are told that they will only be “truly themselves” if they discover their “unique gender identity.”
But Grace suggests this is an info hazard: a false claim that, if it obsesses you, also destroys you. In the area of gender, in particular, many young people are trapped in compulsive self-analysis. They follow and seek to imitate vloggers who post daily video diaries of their gender transition.
Grace looks back on all this as a process that alienated her from reality. By her early 20s, like countless others, she believed the online trans community’s promise that transition would solve her unhappiness. Within four months, Grace started cross-sex hormone injections and had a double mastectomy. She soon realized she made a horrible mistake. She reverted to living as her birth sex but has lasting physical damage.
Grace is one of many who have been fast-tracked down a pathway of “treatments” for gender dysphoria, while underlying mental health issues have remained undiagnosed and unaddressed. They are victims of the false claims of gender ideology. According to this ideology, all people have a gender identity—the gender they feel they are—that may have no relation to their biological sex.
There are a small number of people who suffer deeply because of genuine gender dysphoria (a sense of being in the wrong body). They do not necessarily promote gender ideology.
Gender Transition in the Headlines
Grace hit the headlines in May when her story was featured on a 60 Minutes report about transgender health care issues. Veteran interviewer Leslie Stahl approached the subject in the context of some states introducing bans on medical treatments for gender transition among underage minors.
Detransitioners are people who have gone through medical treatments to live as the other sex but then regret their transition and revert to living as their birth sex. Stahl interviewed more than 30 detransitioners, four of whom appeared on the program.
Two healthcare professionals shared concerns that “gender-affirming” treatments sometimes begin without sufficient consideration. There are also worries that some greedy doctors are cashing in on a social contagion fueled by activists and vested interests in the pharmaceutical industry.
Stahl carefully bookended the program with the views of those who support gender transition. Some have pointed out that important issues were ignored. But airing this program at all was a significant moment: one of the first times mainstream American media have afforded a voice to those who regret their sex reassignment.
But airing this program at all was a significant moment: one of the first times mainstream American media have afforded a voice to those who regret their sex reassignment.
Even before the episode aired, angry activists attempted to prevent these stories from being heard. GLAAD condemned Stahl for scaremongering and insisted that hearing testimonies from a “tiny minority” of detransitioners would stir up hatred against trans people. Stahl resisted pressure to drop the program, although she provided extra footage to allow more time for the views of supporters of gender affirmative treatments.
The 60 Minutes report has raised awareness of urgent concerns about the promotion of gender ideology. Children and young people should be able to develop normally without suffering irreversible damage as a result of unproven theories.
While Grace was only given a minute or so on that program, since then she has been given high-profile opportunities to voice her concerns, including an hour-long interview with Benjamin Boyce and an op-ed in Newsweek. Abigail Shrier’s recent book Irreversible Damage powerfully retells the stories of detransitioners. Genspect, an international campaign group of professionals and parents, has given a voice to those concerned about the rapid medicalization of gender dysphoria in children.
Gender Transition in the Courts
In the United Kingdom we have seen increased attention given to those who suffer “sex change regret.” Last year, detransitioner Keira Bell sued the leading U.K. gender clinic for children and young people. Keira, now 24, reflects: “I was an unhappy girl who needed help. Instead, I was treated like an experiment.” She was put on puberty blockers and testosterone before surgery while still a troubled teen. She has been left with lasting damage.
In December 2020, the High Court ruled in favor of her case against the NHS Gender Identity Development Service. Judges ruled it was “highly unlikely” children 13 and under could ever genuinely consent to hormone blockers and “very doubtful” that 14- and 15-year-olds could do so. However, this decision was overturned on appeal earlier this month, and Bell is now seeking to take the case to the UK Supreme Court.
For children and young people who transition, there are lasting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual harms. All too many parents and professionals have been swept along into allowing children and teens to be used as human guinea pigs in a vast, untested medical experiment.
Defense of Human Dignity
In an age when there’s fury about animal experimentation, some don’t blink at the idea of sterilizing and mutilating healthy young people. But we should speak out for the protection of children and young people from ideas and treatments that could leave them with lasting damage.
The anguish and regret of detransitioners such as Grace and Keira point to the urgent need to defend human dignity. We are created as whole people. Mind and body cannot be arbitrarily separated. Maleness and femaleness are not just body parts that can be removed, nor are they merely performative acts.
Maleness and femaleness are not just body parts that can be removed, nor are they merely performative acts.
Gender ideology, with its eagerness to manipulate hormones and organs, affords the body (and the wondrous complementary capacities of male and female bodies) no intrinsic dignity. Man and woman were created as the crown of God’s glorious creation. The beauty of the embodied male-female union is a picture of the deeper and unbreakable love of God for his people, of Christ for his church.
The trans-affirming movement insists that human dignity is only respected when we accept the premise that we are autonomous (on the basis that there is no creator God, so we can determine who we are and how we live). In reality, human dignity is only respected when we understand that we are made by God and in his image. We are to treat everyone with civility and respect.
But true compassion has to be grounded in God’s good design for humanity. Testimonies from those who transition and then regret it show the false compassion of affirming transition. Our creator God shows us the way to live wisely and freely offers grace through Christ to all who struggle. We are to graciously and confidently hold out that offer of grace to all who have been deceived by lies.