When In Doubt, Blame Tumblr

“Police in Pakistan say they have found the bodies of two transgender women who were tortured and beaten to death. Senior officer Mohammad Ali Zia says the bodies were recovered late Saturday from a locked house in the Sahiwal district of the eastern Punjab province. He says it’s unclear what motivated the killings, which appear to have taken place three days ago. Transgender people are often subjected to abuse in conservative, Muslim-majority Pakistan. They are also among the victims of so-called honor killings carried out by relatives to punish perceived sexual transgressions.”

This news comes to us from Associated Press, while the Guardian chose instead to go with Jamie Doward’s inflammatory report on an altogether different topic: “School counsellors and mental health service providers are bowing to pressures from ‘highly politicised’ transgender groups to affirm children’s beliefs that they were born the wrong sex, a leading expert has warned. Marcus Evans, a psychotherapist and ex-governor of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, whose Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is the only NHS clinic to provide gender counselling and transitioning, said many experts were living in fear of being labelled transphobic, which was having an impact on their objectivity. ‘I believe the trans political agenda has encroached on the clinical environment surrounding and within the Gender Identity Development Service,’ Evans told the Observer [column in the Guardian]. ‘Young people need an independent clinical service that has the long-term interests of the patient at heart. To some extent, this requires a capacity to stand up to pressure coming from various sources: from the young person, their family, peer groups, online and social networking pressures, and from highly politicised pro-trans groups.’”

So let’s review. in Pakistan, they’re killing trans women, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. In the UK, meanwhile, they’re worrying that too many kids change genders because therapists aren’t brave enough to help them make the right decision.

I am sorely tempted to say that this is a First World problem clashing with a Third World problem, but I’m not sure that this is what these two culturally contradictory stories actually boil down to.

“The number of children referred annually to GIDS has risen from 468 in 2013 to 2,519 in 2018. Some claim social media is a factor in the increase. In a hard-hitting paper, presented at a conference earlier this year and shared with the Observer, Evans quoted the experience of ‘Dagny,’ a woman who identified as a trans man in her teens, has now detransitioned, and says she was influenced by views expressed on the social network Tumblr,” the Guardian piece contineud.

She transitioned from one gender to another because of stuff she saw on Tumblr? Didn’t the therapist she worked with — the one who oversaw her transition — notice that her reasons for transitioning were, um, sort of flimsy? Tumblr? Really?

Did that not ring any bells at all in any of the therapy sessions she went through on her way from female to male? Were the first therapists so cowed by the all-powerful transgender movement that they couldn’t see what was staring them in the face: namely, that this girl was not transgender?

Here’s more from the Guardian: “Last week ‘BBC Newsnight’ reported that the Trust had data showing that children who took hormone blockers had reported an increase in thoughts of suicide and self-harm. The Rrust said the data, involving 44 children, was too small to draw final conclusions. It said the data suggested the positive outcomes were likely to outweigh the negative.”

Oh, so in other words the reporter basically made up the conclusions until finally admitting what they actually were.

This supposed exposé followed an open letter posted online by a former clinician at the Leeds branch of GIDS, Dr. Kirsty Entwistle, who warned that “traumatic early experiences,” which might be a factor in a young person’s desire to transition, were not being investigated by medical staff out of fear of being labeled transphobic.”

There’s something suspicious about all of this. I tend to distrust arguments that blame divergent sexuality on traumatic experiences. Isn’t that theory the psychiatric community tried to foist on gay men and lesbians for decades? If only we hadn’t been traumatized during our formative years, the argument went, we would be so-called normal, meaning straight and cisgender.

I am also skeptical of the case being made that medical staffers are so terrified of being called transphobic.

By whom?

Blaming malpractice on a cabal of unidentified name-callers strikes me as a weak foundation on which to build a case. Peer pressure to transition? Peer pressure to diagnose? It may be true, but I doubt it.

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