Nothing exemplifies the madness of our times more than the fervent push since 2013 by therapists, educators, social workers, and journalists to poison, mutilate, and sterilize girls who have self-diagnosed themselves with the novel social-media-transmitted hysteria now known as rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD).
Hence, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier, an op-ed freelancer for The Wall Street Journal, is one of the most valuable (as well as sensible and lively) books of recent years. Shrier is terribly bright but not an academic: She brings a wise Jewish mother’s perspective to her advice for parents losing their chance of grandchildren to the insanity of our age.
Before the smartphone and the Great Awokening helped make transgenderism the latest craze among adolescent girls (partly displacing older teen fads such as anorexia, cutting, and recovered memories), psychological science knew of only two main types of gender dysphoria (when an individual is dissatisfied with the sex of his or her body):
Childhood-onset gender dysphoria: An extremely effeminate little boy or extremely tomboyish little girl will insist he or she is the opposite sex. While rare, this is not something parents can overlook; a boy with the condition, for example, will insist from perhaps age 3 onward on dressing up dolls. Most will grow up to be homosexuals satisfied with their biological sex, although some as adults will insist on a sex change.
Late-onset gender dysphoria: This is a biological male-only affliction driven by the sex fetish of being aroused by the thought of himself as a woman. While kept mostly secret by the press, it likely explains the majority of the famous cases of high-IQ men who have fathered children declaring themselves to be women. It’s not that they always felt like a girl on the inside while succeeding in some intensely masculine career such as world’s greatest athlete or outer-space tycoon, it’s that they have a fetish.
Strikingly, this condition appears to be most prevalent in brilliant, vaguely autistic, not nice men. For example, the mathematician Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, wanted a sex-change operation after his autogynephilic fantasies began overwhelming him in grad school. But then he changed his mind and decided to kill people instead.
If we didn’t live in a culture that sided with the liars and censors, more people would know the true story about the late-onsets, which would have saved many American families much grief over the past half-dozen years. But you don’t want to cross these ultra-aggressive late-onset types. They are the ultimate example of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s concept of the dictatorship of the small minority in which the most intolerant win.
What science hadn’t heard about until after the 2015 Caitlyn Jenner media whoop-de-do was the sudden proliferation of moody adolescent girls declaring themselves to be transgender. In 2018, Lisa Littman published the first-ever scientific study of the new rapid-onset gender dysphoria in which young girls, along with many of their school or internet friends, decide that they aren’t going through with puberty because…uh…uh…because they were researching the cause of their unhappiness online and discovered that they are boys.
The exact manifestations of mental illnesses tend to be highly specific to their time and place. For instance, nobody has neurasthenia anymore, but 125 years ago it was fashionable. Psychiatrist Edward Shorter has articulated the plausible concept that people with psychological pain go looking for a “symptom pool” that perhaps more or less fits themselves and then adopt whatever label the current culture slaps on it.
Only a vanishingly small number of American teenage girls thought they were boys until the media started hyping transgenderism around 2013. Unhappy pubescent girls shopped online for some explanation of their discontent and found en masse that the hot new one was transgenderism.
As Shrier empathizes, it’s natural for many adolescent girls to be leery of changing into women: “Puberty is hell,” Shrier explains—the bleeding, the cramps, the manic-depressive emotional swings, the need for attention and terror of unwanted attention, and the agonizing self-consciousness.
Few ROGDs really want to be men, they just are scared of being women. “They flee womanhood like a house afire, their minds fixed on escape, not on any particular destination.”
Some girls who develop ROGD are tomboys, while many others were always girly-girls. Mostly, they are just girls who find that they aren’t turning out socially to be The Plastics in Mean Girls.