Ryan Anderson has published a nuanced, reasoned, and thoughtful book-length argument against the transgender moment and ideology. Within this reasoned and thoughtful argument, he has also written a blistering condemnation of complicit doctors and therapists that reads somewhat like a legal brief.
There is a great deal to commend in the book When Harry Became Sally (Encounter Books), coming out in February, but what jumped out at me was the chapter on the victims of transgenderism and their genuine anger at a medical and therapeutic establishment that lied to them; offered them no options, and caused real and permanent harm to them. I am not sure if Anderson meant it precisely in this way, but in the chapter on “destransitioners,” the guilt of doctors and therapists jumps out practically on every page. And it seems profoundly legally actionable.
One girl started on testosterone gel at 18, switching shortly thereafter to injections. At college her “voice broke,” her hips narrowed, her shoulders broadened. Then she had her otherwise healthy breasts amputated, an operation that was botched and left her with severe scarring. Anderson points out that in all these interactions with the medical profession she never received any counseling on why “she felt so strongly that she wanted to be a man.” She now says, “I have become a female who looks like a man. I will always have a broken voice and will never grow breasts…” And she never received even a moment of counseling.
Anderson says this is a common theme among those who regret their sex changes; they feel as if they were pressured into it. He says, “They regret that medical professionals never explored the underlying psychological issues.” It is as if there is only one answer to gender dysphoria, one only of drugs and surgery.
A young woman named Cari is one of many destransitioners now telling their stories on YouTube. She socially transitioned at 15, started hormones at 17, sometime thereafter had her breasts cut off, and then destransitioned at 22.
Cari’s experience with professionals is quite typical. A gender therapist put her on testosterone after only 3 or 4 visits. She says, “When I was transitioning, no one in the medical or psychological field ever tried to dissuade me, to offer other options, to do really anything to stop me besides tell me I should wait until I was 18…”
Cari wants to know if there is any other medical condition where you can “walk into the doctor’s office, tell them you have a certain condition, which has no objective test, which can be caused by trauma or mental health issues or societal factors, and receive life-altering medications on your say-so?”
Max began to transition from female at sixteen. After hormone therapy, she had her breasts cut off. She says, “I felt I had no choice but transition for a long time, and the reason I felt that way was because other choices were not offered to me. How can someone give informed consent to transition when they believe the only alternative is a miserable life eventually cut short by suicide?”
Max considers in some ways that she is very lucky because she did not get the hysterectomy that she was about to schedule. Nonetheless, she says the medical profession did her a great deal of harm. She levels specific criticism at a doctor who cut off her breasts, and also what she calls “the medical-industrial complex.”
A girl named “Crash” says she was traumatized by the suicide of her mother, also by what she describes as “internalized misogyny” likely caused by bullying. She says these are the traumas that led to her gender dysphoria and desire to become a boy. Yet not a single gender therapist ever explored these traumas with her. It is likely none of them even asked what lay behind her desire to become a boy. She says mental health professionals and gender specialists have left her wounded. The female doctor she saw was very empathetic and “chill” but “she helped me take a drug that gave me problems that I’m still dealing with.” Crash says doctors “helped me destroy myself.”
Someone going by TWT, a man who tried to become a woman, says that being put on hormones after just two visits to a therapist fell short of the medical standards of care back then but not today.
Carey Callahan tried to transition to a man and, according to Anderson, “looks back in consternation at the doctors who didn’t seem to respect her body either but treated it as something to experiment on.” Anderson further describes her dismay that “medical professionals would have subjected her to such drastic procedures, in view of her mental confusion and unaddressed trauma.”
The problem is that mental health professionals, gender counselors, doctors and the teachers in your local school believe children who display any cross-gender behavior are probably candidates for transition. And there is only one answer for this: drugs and surgery.
As a baby Jazz Jennings liked to unsnap his onesie. This could only mean he wanted to wear a dress and be a girl, and they acted accordingly. The gender ideologues believe that any resistance is problematic and even illegal. Reluctant parents should be lied to and even turned into Child Protective Services for removal from the home.
This is what they prescribe for a boy who likes to unsnap his onesie. Social transition as young as five. Puberty blockers as young as eight. Cross sex hormones at eighteen. Surgery shortly thereafter. They do not point out that even things like puberty blockers can halt bodily changes that can never be made up. One poor soul in Anderson’s book believes he can make up lost puberty in his 30s. He can’t. Puberty ends at puberty.
Anderson correctly blames not just doctors but also journalists “who consistently tout the success of sex reassignment procedures and overstate the evidence in their favor.”
And then there are the activists who belittle and even mock the victims of sex change ideology. Zack Ford, who is connected to the leftwing ThinkProgress and is a veritable stalker of Ryan Anderson, took to Twitter just this week to suggest that Walt Heyer, who regrets his sex change and lays the urge to psychological problems, was never “transgender” in the first place. Ford is certainly right about that but what he gets wrong is nobody really is transgender because pretty much all of them grapple with underlying psychological problems and are fooled into the transgender answer by unscrupulous therapists, butchering doctors, and activists like Zack Ford.
Transgender is a “social contagion,” as one of Anderson’s subjects say. We have seen such social contagions before. There was a time when hysteria led to the burning of women thought to be witches. There was a time not long ago when hysteria led to the prosecution of day care workers based on phony sexual abuse memories recovered in children by ideologically driven psychiatrists.
We look forward to the day when the victims of the sex change hysteria begin to sue the therapists and doctors who, in the words of the victims, have destroyed their lives.
There is so much more in the remaining seven chapters of When Harry Became Sally. Ryan Anderson is to be congratulated on this important and brave book that will only bring him oceans of opprobrium from the sexual left.