The 1960s: The Sexual Revolution for Transsexuals
Discovery of female sex hormones and “the Pill”
In the 1960s the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone ushered in the age of reliable contraception. Women were delighted to be able to take charge of their own reproductive capacity for the first time. But did they wonder what other uses these hormones could be put to? No – why would they? These were female hormones, not male hormones. Why would anyone except a woman want to take female hormones?
Ever curious…. some men took a bite from the forbidden oestrogen “apple”….
Back in 1951 Dr Carl Djerassi elucidated the structure of one of the progestin analogues which were used in the first contraceptive pills (see “Sexual Chemistry: a history of the contraceptive pill” by Lara V Marks, 2001 but reprinted in 2010 and still available, Yale University Press ISBN: 9780300167917.) By 1960 health services world-wide were prescribing the contraceptive “Pill” and conducting an experiment in long-term medication on women, and a few men.
Gender Identity Disorder
At about the same time Drs John Money, Alfred Kinsey and Harry Benjamin were thinking of a new way of treating a minute population of profoundly disturbed men: transsexual men. They suffered from “Gender Identity Disorder”, later called “Gender Dysphoria” – dysphoria means “anxiety” in Greek. Just as surgery and anesthesia advanced the psychologists could now offer new drugs, female sex hormones, which brought about and maintained secondary sexual characteristics, especially the development of breasts and suppression of beard and other hair growth. The drugs worked: they produced “transsexual” men or, more accurately, “sexual hybrids” with female attributes superimposed on a male body. The drugs also induced profound psychological effects of euphoria and a transient feeling of calm and well-being. In many cases these psychological effects did not last, as they seemed to be of a progressively addictive kind.
The new psychiatric discipline of “gender identity disorder” was extremely controversial from the beginning. It was subject to accusations of malpractice from the professional bodies at regular intervals (e.g. Dr Russell Reid and the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists). But this did not seem to arrest the growing interest of both psychiatrists and patients… From a trickle the number of would-be transsexuals has steadily increased until “sex change” was legalised in the UK in 2004. Dr Ray Blanchard has categorised the different kinds of male transsexuals – homosexual and heterosexual (autogynaephilic) transsexuals. The female transsexuals got off to a late start but in the 2010s young “transmen” are making up for lost time. Is there a fashion element here? Perhaps there is.
Gender Recognition Act: a stealthy revolution
The UK Gender Recognition Act was passed into law in 2004 in total silence, except for a a few dissenting voices in Parliament It was barely reported in the press, and there was absolutely no discussion in the media. The law in 2004 did not require an “Equalities Impact Assessment”, so women – the female sex – were never asked to comment on the impact of the advent of male “women”. The general population was certainly not aware that this act introduced a confusion between biological sex (well understood) and a new, undefined mental characteristic called “gender”. No one, except a few MPs, peers and some lawyers, understood that the Act was actually an assault on the reality of sex.
The international “Trans” campaign
by James Kirkup – The Spectator Coffee House – 2nd Dec 2019
A great deal of the transgender debate is unexplained. One of the most mystifying aspects is the speed and success of a small number of small organisations in achieving major influence over public bodies, politicians and officials. How has a certain idea taken hold in so many places so swiftly?
People and organisations that at the start of this decade had no clear policy on or even knowledge of trans issues are now enthusiastically embracing non-binary gender identities and transition, offering gender-neutral toilets and other changes required to accommodate trans people and their interests. These changes have, among other things, surprised many people. They wonder how this happened, and why no one seems to have asked them what they think about it, or considered how those changes might affect them.
Some of the bodies that have embraced these changes with the greatest zeal are surprising: the police are not famous social liberals but many forces are now at the vanguard here, even to the point of checking our pronouns and harrassing elderly ladies who say the wrong thing on Twitter.
How did we get here? I think we can discount the idea that this is a simple question of organisations following a changing society. Bluntly, society still doesn’t know very much about transgenderism. If you work in central London in certain sectors, live in a university town (or at a university) or have children attending a (probably middle-class) school, you might have some direct acquaintance. But my bet is that most people don’t know any trans people and don’t have developed views about how the law should evolve with regards to their status.
So the question again: how did organisations with small budgets and limited resources achieve such stunning success, not just in the UK but elsewhere?
Well, thanks to the legal website Roll On Friday, I have now seen a document that helps answer that question.
The document is the work of Dentons, which says it is the world’s biggest law firm; the Thomson Reuters Foundation, an arm of the old media giant that appears dedicated to identity politics of various sorts; and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation (IGLYO). Both Dentons and the Thomson Reuters Foundation note that the document does not necessarily reflect their views.
The report is called ‘Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for youth’. Its purpose is to help trans groups in several countries bring about changes in the law to allow children to legally change their gender, without adult approval and without needing the approval of any authorities. ‘We hope this report will be a powerful tool for activists and NGOs working to advance the rights of trans youth across Europe and beyond,’ says the foreword.
As you’d expect of a report co-written by the staff of a major law firm, it’s a comprehensive and solid document, summarising law, policy and ‘advocacy’ across several countries. Based on the contributions of trans groups from around the world (including two in the UK, one of which is not named), it collects and shares ‘best practice’ in ‘lobbying’ to change the law so that parents no longer have a say on their child’s legal gender.
In the words of the report:
‘It is recognised that the requirement for parental consent or the consent of a legal guardian can be restrictive and problematic for minors.’
You might think that the very purpose of parenting is, in part, to ‘restrict’ the choices of children who cannot, by definition, make fully-informed adult choices on their own. But that is not the stance of the report.
Indeed, it suggests that ‘states should take action against parents who are obstructing the free development of a young trans person’s identity in refusing to give parental authorisation when required.’
In short, this is a handbook for lobbying groups that want to remove parental consent over significant aspects of children’s lives. A handbook written by an international law firm and backed by one of the world’s biggest charitable foundations.
And how do the authors suggest that legal change be accomplished?
I think the advice is worth quoting at length, because this is the first time I’ve actually seen this put down in writing in a public forum. And because I think anyone with any interest in how policy is made and how politics works should pay attention.
Here’s a broad observation from the report about the best way to enact a pro-trans agenda:
‘While cultural and political factors play a key role in the approach to be taken, there are certain techniques that emerge as being effective in progressing trans rights in the “good practice” countries.’
Among those techniques: ‘Get ahead of the Government agenda.’
What does that mean? Here it is in more detail:
‘In many of the NGO advocacy campaigns that we studied, there were clear benefits where NGOs managed to get ahead of the government and publish progressive legislative proposal before the government had time to develop their own. NGOs need to intervene early in the legislative process and ideally before it has even started. This will give them far greater ability to shape the government agenda and the ultimate proposal than if they intervene after the government has already started to develop its own proposals.’
That will sound familiar to anyone who knows how a Commons select committee report in 2016, which adopted several positions from trans groups, was followed in 2017 by a UK government plan to adopt self-identification of legal gender. To a lot of people, that proposal, which emerged from Whitehall looking quite well-developed, came out of the blue.
Anyway, here’s another tip from the document: ‘Tie your campaign to more popular reform.’
‘In Ireland, Denmark and Norway, changes to the law on legal gender recognition were put through at the same time as other more popular reforms such as marriage equality legislation. This provided a veil of protection, particularly in Ireland, where marriage equality was strongly supported, but gender identity remained a more difficult issue to win public support for.’
I’ve added my bold there, because I think those are very telling phrases indeed. This is an issue that is ‘difficult to win public support for’ and best hidden behind the ‘veil of protection’ provided by a popular issue such as gay rights. Again, anyone who has even glanced at the UK transgender debate will recognise this description.
Another recommendation is even more revealing: ‘Avoid excessive press coverage and exposure.’
According to the report, the countries that have moved most quickly to advance trans rights and remove parental consent have been those where the groups lobbying for those changes have succeeded in stopping the wider public learning about their proposals. Conversely, in places like Britain, the more ‘exposure’ this agenda has had, the less successful the lobbying has been:
‘Another technique which has been used to great effect is the limitation of press coverage and exposure. In certain countries, like the UK, information on legal gender recognition reforms has been misinterpreted in the mainstream media, and opposition has arisen as a result. ….Against this background, many believe that public campaigning has been detrimental to progress, as much of the general public is not well informed about trans issues, and therefore misinterpretation can arise.
In Ireland, activists have directly lobbied individual politicians and tried to keep press coverage to a minimum in order to avoid this issue.’ (Emphasis added).
Although it offers extensive advice about the need to keep the trans-rights agenda out of the public’s gaze, the report has rather less to say about the possibility that advocates might just try doing what everyone else in politics does and make a persuasive argument for their cause. Actually convincing people that this stuff is a good idea doesn’t feature much in the report, which runs to 65 pages.
I’m not going to tell you what I think of the report, or the agenda it sets out. I’m not going to pass comment on it or its authors. I’m just going to try to summarise its nature and contents.
A major international law firm has helped write a lobbying manual for people who want to change the law to prevent parents having the final say about significant changes in the status of their own children. That manual advises those lobbying for that change to hide their plans behind a ‘veil’ and to make sure that neither the media nor the wider public know much about the changes affecting children that they are seeking to make. Because if the public find out about those changes, they might well object to them.
I started my first job as a researcher in the Commons in 1994. I’ve been studying and writing about politics and policy ever since. And in my experience of how changes in the law are brought about, the approach described in that report is simply not normal or usual. In a democracy, we are all free to argue for whatever policy or position we wish. But normally, anyone who wants to change the law accepts that to do so they need to win the support or, at least, the consent of the people whose authority ultimately gives the law its force. The approach outlined, in detail, in the Dentons report amounts to a very different way of lobbying to get the laws and policies you want. Even more notably, it suggests that in several countries people have been quite successful in lobbying behind a ‘veil’ and in a way that deliberately avoids the attention of the public. That, I think, should interest anyone who cares about how politics and policy are conducted, whether or not they care about the transgender issue.
I’m going to conclude with an observation I’ve made here before, but which I think bears repeating in the context of that report and the things it might tell people about other aspects of the trans issue: no policy made in the shadows can survive in sunlight.
The sunlight of biological truth
Transgender ideology harms women, gays—and especially feminine boys and masculine girls.
Wall Street Journal 13th Feb 2020 Colin M. Wright and Emma N. Hilton
Dr Wright is an evolutionary biologist at Penn State. Dr Hilton is a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester.
“Transgender ideology can take on a comical character, as in a recent American Civil Liberties Union commentary objecting to sales tax on tampons and similar products while pondering: “How can we recognize that barriers to menstrual access are a form of sex discrimination without erasing the lived experiences of trans men and non-binary people who menstruate, as well as women who don’t?”
Yet it’s one thing to claim that a man can “identify” as a woman or vice versa. Increasingly we see a dangerous and anti-scientific trend toward the outright denial of biological sex.
“The idea of two sexes is simplistic,” an article in the scientific journal Nature declared in 2015. “Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.” A 2018 Scientific American piece asserted that “biologists now think there is a larger spectrum than just binary female and male.” And an October 2018 New York Times headline promised to explain “Why Sex Is Not Binary.”
The argument is that because some people are intersex—they have developmental conditions resulting in ambiguous sex characteristics—the categories male and female exist on a “spectrum,” and are therefore no more than “social constructs.” If male and female are merely arbitrary groupings, it follows that everyone, regardless of genetics or anatomy should be free to choose to identify as male or female, or to reject sex entirely in favor of a new bespoke “gender identity.”
To characterize this line of reasoning as having no basis in reality would be an egregious understatement. It is false at every conceivable scale of resolution.
In humans, as in most animals or plants, an organism’s biological sex corresponds to one of two distinct types of reproductive anatomy that develop for the production of small or large sex cells—sperm and eggs, respectively—and associated biological functions in sexual reproduction. In humans, reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth more than 99.98% of the time. The evolutionary function of these two anatomies is to aid in reproduction via the fusion of sperm and ova. No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex “spectrum” or additional sexes beyond male and female. Sex is binary.
There is a difference, however, between the statements that there are only two sexes (true) and that everyone can be neatly categorized as either male or female (false). The existence of only two sexes does not mean sex is never ambiguous. But intersex individuals are extremely rare, and they are neither a third sex nor proof that sex is a “spectrum” or a “social construct.” Not everyone needs to be discretely assignable to one or the other sex in order for biological sex to be functionally binary. To assume otherwise—to confuse secondary sexual traits with biological sex itself—is a category error.
Denying the reality of biological sex and supplanting it with subjective “gender identity” is not merely an eccentric academic theory. It raises serious human-rights concerns for vulnerable groups including women, homosexuals and children.
Women have fought hard for sex-based legal protections. Female-only spaces are necessary due to the pervasive threat of male violence and sexual assault. Separate sporting categories are also necessary to ensure that women and girls don’t have to face competitors who have acquired the irreversible performance-enhancing effects conferred by male puberty. The different reproductive roles of males and females require laws to safeguard women from discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. The falsehood that sex is rooted in subjective identity instead of objective biology renders all these sex-based rights impossible to enforce.
The denial of biological sex also erases homosexuality, as same-sex attraction is meaningless without the distinction between the sexes. Many activists now define homosexuality as attraction to the “same gender identity” rather than the same sex. This view is at odds with the scientific understanding of human sexuality. Lesbians have been denounced as “bigots” for expressing a reluctance to date men who identify as women. The successful normalization of homosexuality could be undermined by miring it in an untenable ideology.
Those most vulnerable to sex denialism are children. When they’re taught that sex is grounded in identity instead of biology, sex categories can easily become conflated with regressive stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Masculine girls and feminine boys may become confused about their own sex. The dramatic rise of “gender dysphoric” adolescents—especially young girls—in clinics likely reflects this new cultural confusion.
The large majority of gender-dysphoric youths eventually outgrow their feelings of dysphoria during puberty, and many end up identifying as homosexual adults. “Affirmation” therapies, which insist a child’s cross-sex identity should never be questioned, and puberty-blocking drugs, advertised as a way for children to “buy time” to sort out their identities, may only solidify feelings of dysphoria, setting them on a pathway to more invasive medical interventions and permanent infertility. This pathologizing of sex-atypical behavior is extremely worrying and regressive. It is similar to gay “conversion” therapy, except that it’s now bodies instead of minds that are being converted to bring children into “proper” alignment with themselves.
The time for politeness on this issue has passed. Biologists and medical professionals need to stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex. When authoritative scientific institutions ignore or deny empirical fact in the name of social accommodation, it is an egregious betrayal to the scientific community they represent. It undermines public trust in science, and it is dangerously harmful to those most vulnerable.”