The Age of Advanced Incoherence 5: Body Politics

The Strange Case of David Reimer

David Reimer was a Canadian born male whose penis was destroyed during a case of botched infant circumcision. His parents took him to John Money, a psychologist and pioneer in the field of sexual development and gender identity. Money worked with intersex patients, more on that later.

Following the accident, Money “reassigned” David as a girl (without performing surgery), and on Money’s advice his parents renamed David Brenda and raised him as a female. David-Brenda grew up believing he was a female and was treated by everyone around him accordingly. Society had assigned him a gender, but even so David neither felt nor acted like a girl. Between the ages of 9 and 11, he began to suspect he was actually a male, and his parents confirmed the truth. He transitioned to living as a male at age 15, and later went public with his story to help discourage similar medical practices. After years of severe depression, financial instability, and a troubled marriage, he committed suicide.[1]

If “chromosomes are independent of sex or gender,” as GI-advocates argue, then David Reimer would not have failed to identify as a woman at age 9-11. If “gender identity is fluid, not innate,” then upon learning at age 15 that he was born with XY chromosomes, David should have been able to maintain his “female” identity. He wasn’t.

In fact, the concept of gender as something independent of biology was something invented, or contrived, rather than discovered. Prior to the 1950s, gender was a concept that applied only to grammar, not to living beings. Latin-based languages categorize nouns as masculine or feminine, which was and is referred to “gender.” During the 1950s and 1960s, however, “sexologists realized that their sex reassignment agenda could not be sufficiently defended using the words sex and transsexual. From a purely scientific standpoint, human beings possess a biologically determined sex and innate sex differences.” “(Gender Dysphoria in Children,” by the American College of Pediatricians, June 2017.)

Since no kind of medical intervention (neither hormones nor surgery) could change a person’s genes, sex change was objectively impossible. The solution of the sexologists was “to hijack the word gender and infuse it with a new meaning that applied to persons.” Money, the most prominent of the sexologists, redefined gender to mean “the social performance indicative of an internal sexed identity.”

In essence, these sexologists invented the ideological foundation necessary to justify their treatment of transsexualism with sex reassignment surgery and called it gender. It is this man-made ideology of an “internal sexed identity” that now dominates mainstream medicine, psychiatry and academia. This linguistic history makes it clear that gender is not and never has been a biological or scientific entity. Rather, gender is a socially and politically constructed concept.

The above quote comes from a 2017 paper, “Gender Dysphoria in Children,” by the American College of Pediatricians. The ACP is a very small (about 500) splinter group of “apostates” from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the foremost national professional organization regarding pediatrics in the country, which consists of 66,000 members.  The ACP holds Judeo-Christian, traditional values but is open to pediatric medical professionals of all religions provided that they hold true to the group’s core beliefs that life begins at conception and that the traditional family unit, headed by a both-sex couple, poses fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children. The AAP, on the other hand, holds that same-sex parenting has no inherent differences for child development than traditional both-sex parenting. The ACP has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for, in their words, “propagating damaging falsehoods about LGBT people.”

Despite this, ACP takes a clear and medically supported viewpoint on gender dysphoria (previously known as gender identity disorder), as follows:

Gender dysphoria (GD) of childhood describes a psychological condition in which children experience a marked incongruence between their experienced gender and the gender associated with their biological sex. When this occurs in the pre-pubertal child, GD resolves in the vast majority of patients by late adolescence. Currently there is a vigorous, albeit suppressed, debate among physicians, therapists, and academics regarding what is fast becoming the new treatment standard for GD in children. This new paradigm is rooted in the assumption that GD is innate, and involves pubertal suppression with gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists followed by the use of cross-sex hormones—a combination that results in the sterility of minors. A review of the current literature suggests that this protocol is founded upon an unscientific gender ideology, lacks an evidence base, and violates the long-standing ethical principle of “First do no harm.”

The AAP takes a different stance and views gender as possessing inherent, empirical reality independent of biology. They promote intervention at the earliest opportunity as a response to gender dysphoria, entailing “affirmation” of alleged gender identification from infancy on, pubertal blockers or hormone suppressors from age 15, and surgery at age 18. The primary risks of pubertal suppression include adverse effects on bone mineralization, compromised fertility, and unknown effects on brain development. The medical interventionist perspective takes a more subjective view of “First do no harm,” and believes it should be left to the child to decide what constitutes harm, based upon their own subjective thoughts and feelings. A frequent argument made is that children suffering from gender dysphoria are a high-suicide risk if they aren’t given what they want as quickly as possible. Under threat of such an outcome, measures such as castration, double mastectomies, and sterilization are considered not to come under the rubric of “doing harm” to the child, but only of correcting a biological error in service to an indwelling gender.[2]

Many parents trust the AAP view over the APC, which they may hardly be aware of outside of the context of a “Hate Group” made up of religious zealots and homophobes.  At first glance, the AAP, with its 66,000 members, has more scientific credentials—as well as ideological traction—than the APC, with its measly 500. The ACP was founded in 2002, and the AAP dates back to 1930. Yet AAP Policy is created by fewer than 30 pediatricians without general member input, while the APC includes all its members in policy-making and requires a 75% majority. While its Judeo-Christian leanings might constitute an ideological bias, the AAP has even less of a claim to impartiality, at least since it began partnering with the nation’s largest pro-homosexual/pro-“trans” activist organization, the radical Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2016.

As the ACP writes: “The debate over how to treat children with [gender dysphoria] is primarily an ethical dispute: one that concerns physicians worldview as much as science. Medicine does not occur in a moral vacuum; every therapeutic action or inaction is the result of a moral judgment of some kind that arises from the physician’s philosophical worldview. Medicine also does not occur in a political vacuum and being on the wrong side of sexual politics can have severe consequences for individuals who hold the politically incorrect view.”

Opponents of the ACP, those who wish to brand it as a hate group with “backward” religious views, see the attempt to reintroduce morality into medicine as proof of their ideological bias, since the progressive viewpoint advocates for the privatization of morality. But since nature abhors a vacuum, where morality is ousted, ideology enters, and the AAP imperative is in its own every bit as moralistic, albeit with a secular and scientistic set of ideals in place of religious ones. The case of John Money’s treatment of David Reimer may be illustrative here as regards the consequences of medicine occurring in a moral vacuum.

Queering the Pitch: Intersex & Body Dysphoria

Genderqueer and gender identity advocates now argue—in direct opposition to the struggles of feminism—that subjective (and wholly unmeasurable) gender is more empirically real than measurable biological sex. At the same time, gender-dysphoric people (including children) are to be assisted in transitioning from one biological sex to another, even though (in fact, because) biological sex is claimed not to exist, since only individual choice exists.

That there may be a biological basis for gender dysphoria and confusion (which is not the same as fluidity) is undeniable. “Intersex people” are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics, including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.” Such variations may involve genital ambiguity, and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-male and XX-female.

According to one source (Blackless, Fausto-Sterling et al.), “1.7 percent of human births might be intersex, including variations that may not become apparent until, for example, puberty, or until attempting to conceive.” Leonard Sax argues that intersex should be “restricted to those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female.” This apparently brings the figure down to around 0.018% of births, and Sax “criticizes Fausto-Sterling for counting Late-Onset Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia for 88% of her figure.”

The most original feature of Fausto-Sterling’s book is her reluctance to classify true intersex conditions as pathological (Fausto-Sterling, 2000, p. 113). . . . She often uses the word natural synonymously with normal. However, natural and normal are not synonyms. A cow may give birth to a two-headed or Siamese calf by natural processes, natural being understood as per Fausto-Sterling’s definition as “produced by nature.” Nevertheless, that two-headed calf unarguably manifests an abnormal condition. Fausto-Sterling’s insistence that all combinations of sexual anatomy be regarded as normal . . . follows that classifications of normal and abnormal sexual anatomy are mere social conventions, prejudices which can and should be set aside by an enlightened intelligentsia. This type of extreme social constructionism is confusing and is not helpful to clinicians, to their patients, or to their patients’ families. Diluting the term intersex to include “any deviation from the Platonic ideal of sexual dimorphism” (Blackless et al., 2000, p. 152), as Fausto-Sterling suggests, deprives the term of any clinically useful meaning.

Abnormalities are part of nature and it’s even conceivable they always have been. With technological advancements, including ones that have measurably polluted the atmosphere (not to mention food and drink additives, vaccines, and other medical interventions that have had a hard-to-measure impact on the human body, and hence on fetal development), the element of mutation has to be factored into the increase of natural abnormalities.

Determining how these abnormalities should be addressed is not easy. The assumption that anything that emerges within our cultural environment should be accommodated, encouraged, and celebrated is really just the flip side of the eugenic viewpoint that all abnormalities are ipso facto unhealthy and that they should be weeded out. Both result from premature judgment (prejudice) that shuts down continued inquiry and exploration.

What ends up determining the desirability of a given type is not science per se but fashion, cultural trends, albeit ones that—today at least—use science as their justification. Just as previously religion was the primary determinant of morality, today we have science, or scientism. Screening fetuses and opting to abort them based on the data is considered socially and morally acceptable, simply one benefit of the available technology. Likewise, artificial insemination and other forms of technologically-managed birth processes, while we view some of them with horror when placed in a fictional context such as Brave New World, they are generally regarded with sentimentality and blanket approval in the context of our own lives. Our present culture is assumed by many people to be advanced and predominantly benign. I would say this is for obvious but unnoted reasons: since we are inculcated by our culture, we are predisposed to view it as benign. In the same way,  an infant is predisposed to view its caregivers as good, regardless of how they behave towards it: because its survival depends on them.

When it comes to gender fluidity, sexual orientation, and other areas generally viewed as proof of social progress and the wonders of science, the facts (which are themselves notoriously fluid) tend to be the first casualty of the dominant ideology (which I would say is primarily shaped via State apparatus). Just as individuals suffering from identity confusion are being either recruited into prevailing social agendas or ostracized by them, so it is with facts. Those that serve the agendas (including very loosely argued opinions) are promoted; those that threaten to undermine them, even when clearly relevant and firmly established, are stricken from the record. The primary way to ensure this is by making such facts equivalent to bigotry or hate-speak.

Gender dysphoria as a diagnosis is problematic because diagnosing something as a form of mental illness brings with it social stigmatization and gender identity advocates are all about de-stigmatization. They are caught in a double-bind, however, because if gender dysphoria is not listed as a mental disorder, there is no way for the gender dysphoric to get treatment for it on a medical insurance plan. This raises the obvious question, if gender dysphoria is not (really) a mental illness, why does it require medical treatment? What that leaves—besides the already discussed assertion that gender is an empirical reality independent of biology—is a curious reversal by which the diagnostic lens is pointed away from the patient and towards the society that’s treating them. Society becomes the problem, a collective suffering from a shared disorder, that of prejudicial discrimination against the gender dysphoric.

Simply put: In order for gender dysphoria to be seen as normal and yet still be eligible for treatment on a medical insurance plan, the culture at large has to be seen as abnormal. The inherent paradox in this is that it is this same abnormal or “diseased” culture that is being relied upon to provide the saving treatments.

Imagine a patient came to a doctor with a pain in his arm and the doctor said, “We don’t know what causes your pain, where it originates, what it signals, or how it’s likely to develop in future. However, we do have a treatment for it: we can remove your arm, after which the pain will probably cease.” What would most people say to such an offer? Yet—in crude terms—this is the remedial being offered for gender dysphoria. Cause unknown. Origin unknown. Risks unknown. Expected development over time, unknown. Treatment: double mastectomy, chemical castration, and a full biological makeover.

What’s more, beyond an immediate sense of relief that at least some solution has been attempted, there is no evidence these treatments work (and it’s arguable how relieved a person is likely to feel immediately after having their body parts removed or having begun a process of sterilization). What evidence there is for the efficacy of chemical and surgical sex changes is mixed, at best; it is too soon to say much at all about the more recent social and medical procedures such as early “affirmation” (indoctrination) and puberty blockers. Puberty blockers also arrest brain development, and yet are being described as “reversible.” This is internally contradictory because puberty only comes once in a child’s life, and once it has been blocked you cannot reverse the effects on the child’s biology during the period of arrested development. A 25-year-old adolescent is clearly not the same as either a 14 year old adolescent or a 25 year old adult. Parents are placing their blind faith in science, trusting it to know what it is doing; and science, meanwhile, is using these parents and their children as guinea pigs to try and figure out what it is doing.

Nor is this experiment even based on scientific hypotheses, because there really isn’t one for gender dysphoria, at least not that these treatments refer to or address. The treatments are rather based on an ideological hypothesis, one so poorly formulated that it’s difficult to sum it up without sounding either incoherent or derisive. Prosaically, it goes something like this: “All suffering should be alleviated as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not its cause is understood. Whatever a person feels, thinks, and wants is the best gauge for how to proceed, and should be acted on as soon as possible, without considering the long-term consequences, either for them or those close to them. If the patient isn’t sure what they want, they should be assisted until they have sufficient certainty to make the right decision. It is wrong to pathologize any kind of behavior that is not overtly destructive to others. This includes self-destructive behaviors and mutually destructive consensual ones.”

A more elegant way to sum it up might  be to cite the old Hashâshīn credo: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

*****

[1] In case you thought the thicket couldn’t possibly get any thornier, it behooves me to add the three founding fathers of “the transgender movement” were also pedophilia activists, namely Alfred Kinsey, Harry Benjamin, and John Money. Kinsey is world famous for his “pioneering” work on sexual psychology and credited with kickstarting the sexual revolution. I have written about Kinsey elsewhere, and how his experiments into child sexuality involved the recruitment of known pedophiles for what would—under any other conditions besides those of ritual science—be called child sexual abuse. Kinsey recruited Harry Benjamin, in 1948 in San Francisco, to see a child he had encountered during his interviews for Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (published that year). The child wanted to become a girl despite being born male, and Benjamin wanted to assist rather than thwart the child. Neither Kinsey nor Benjamin had seen anything of the sort before, and the case led Benjamin to conclude that there was a different condition to that of transvestism, which adults with similar needs had hitherto been classified. This was the first case of what Benjamin would later call “transsexualism.” Benjamin began treating the boy with female hormones before sending him to Germany for partial surgery. After that, Benjamin reputedly lost track of him. John Money’s involvement in transsexual surgery has already been documented and is generally seen as a black mark on his record today, along with his views on pedophilia. Describing the example of “a boy aged ten or eleven who’s intensely erotically attracted toward a man in his twenties or thirties, if the relationship is totally mutual, and the bonding is genuinely totally mutual,” he stated “I would not call it pathological in any way.” “Interview: John Money,” PAIDIKA: The Journal of Paedophilia, Spring 1991, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 5.

[2] The AAP is also in favor of infant circumcision, the medical arguments for which are at best weak, while the possibility of traumatic side-effects is entirely ignored.

4 thoughts on “The Age of Advanced Incoherence 5: Body Politics

  1. Ready for a lecture circuit. Knock-out support imagery. Think some AAPs got switched for ACPs in-text. …Fordism, meet post-modernity.
    “What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.”
    Gordon White of Rune Soup has cooked up a new sociological thesis that conspiracy culture is dead thanks to Trump-era machinations, further diverted by cornball shite like flat-earthery.
    Air cover for ‘eugenics’ was about public good. No one has to provide cover for ‘circumgenics’ because the American family is too corrupt to be allowed to raise kids, by implication, of the affirmative position pushed by institutional figures. Who needs conspirators when the culture is [being indoctrinated to believe that it is] cannibalizing itself?
    Relative pluralistic ignorance (of trans advocacy groups/APA et. al.) about what motivates traditional sexual normativity in the household or absolute pluralistic ignorance (by all) about what constitutes identity; perhaps about what constitutes rational thinking?
    Is the search-engine filter bubble effect breeding subversive ‘worlds’ both Brave and New? People are overwhelmingly politicized by this, or just equivocate ‘freedom’ with castrating kids, or don’t care- no skin in the Nuskin game.
    Questions are prolly too big. Dunno where the forum exists in which to ask them. Maybe this is my filter bubble.

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