Transgenderism’s terrible toll on marriage and family

There may be no clearer sign of the madness that’s taken hold of Western society in recent decades than the victory of transgender ideology amongst our elites in government, media, arts, education, commerce and, perhaps most disturbingly of all, medicine.

From the vehemence with which this transgender ideology is being promoted and enforced you would be forgiven for thinking that it was actually possible for a man to become a woman and a woman to become a man. Or perhaps it is precisely because this is not possible that the vehemence we’re seeing is so strong and the tolerance of dissent so thin.

So, for the avoidance of doubt, let us be clear: being male or female is a biological reality. It is coded into each person’s chromosomes, XX or XY, hard-wired into every cell in our body. This means that any changes in appearance that might be brought about through surgery can only ever be cosmetic – replacing healthy, working organs with artificial, non-functional ones – while any changes induced by hormones require a life-long course of medication to sustain. This is because no medical treatment that’s been invented or could conceivably be invented can change a person’s underlying biology or DNA. We are male or female all the way down.

Yet despite this incontrovertible scientific fact about the fixed biological nature of male and female, the idea that a man can become a woman or vice-versa is fast becoming an enforceable orthodoxy from which no dissent at all is allowed. The act of refusing to accept that a man who has ‘transitioned gender’ is in fact a woman and must be treated in every way as a woman is quickly becoming a sackable and even criminal offence throughout Western countries. In the UK this lamentable state of affairs is underpinned in law by the 2010 Equality Act, which bans all discrimination on the basis of what it terms ‘gender reassignment’. As a result, organisations and corporations are now falling over themselves to assert the objective validity of gender transition and silence anyone who might dare to question whether the emperor really is wearing any clothes, and whether there might not be any negative consequences of letting biological males loose in female-only spaces and contexts.

Perhaps worst of all we find medical professionals, people we might have hoped know better, pushing the sex-change myth to younger and younger people, to children and their parents. Even schools have joined in and begun indoctrinating children as young as 4 into the harmful just-so-science of gender and queer theory. Any brave parents who try to protect their children from all this risk being denounced as bigots and having their children removed from their care. The internet helps to spread the contagion, with young YouTube stars enthusing to their young viewers about how great it is to switch genders. Is it any wonder that gender confusion has skyrocketed among the young, with referrals for gender dysphoria among UK children up over 4,000 per cent – that’s 40 fold – in ten years, from fewer than a hundred to several thousand each year?

What impact does all this have on marriage and family? Since the family comes about through the union of male and female, the impact is naturally huge. Just consider, for instance, that many of the people who undergo gender transition – I’m talking about adults now – are married with children. Think of the impact that must have on their marriages and families. There are no accurate figures on this, but according to therapists and specialists in the field such a transition typically (and hardly surprisingly) ends the marriage and breaks up the family. This is true, experts say, even when family members are supportive of the transition.

What about when couples don’t split up? That brings its own problems, as I’m sure you can imagine. Let us take a look at some real-life stories that give a close-up picture of how this works out in practice.

So let me tell you about Helen Boyd. Helen is a gender studies professor at Lawrence University in the United States. She’s written two books, My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, about her own husband’s transition from male to female and how the two of them stayed together despite everything. Boyd confirms what we’ve heard the experts say, that, unlike her, most spouses don’t stick with their marriages after their partner transitions. She adds that in the rare cases they do, it’s almost always women who stick around. ‘In my experience providing support for partners of people in transition,’ she says, ‘the majority are women.’ Financial considerations and the effects on young children are said to be chief among the reasons why women stay with the man they married despite them no longer being, well, exactly the man they married.

Boyd for her part says she was eventually able to adjust to the change in her marriage, but adds, tellingly I think: ‘To no longer be the woman in a relationship can be devastating. In a marriage, you know the rules. You know who brings the chocolates on Valentine’s Day. It’s all scripted. I still miss the man I married. I have three brothers, and I like men. Being heterosexual is just easier.’ This, remember, is from someone who affirms her husband’s transition, not a critic of transgenderism.

Let me tell you also about Pam Balentine. Pam told her husband, Ken, of 15 years that if he went through with the surgical transition he was proposing: ‘One of us will be very unhappy. That will be me.’ And sure enough, Pam now says that she feels on edge about her new status a woman with a wife, and in fact she has left her ‘wife’ twice since the surgery, but both times returned when living without ‘her’ was too painful. Like Helen Boyd, she says she still misses Ken, and the big, muscular body that gave her such a sense of protection.

I can tell you also about Julie and Simon, a couple who married in 1981. Though Julie says she discovered from early on that Simon liked to cross-dress, she still found his decision after 35 years of marriage to undergo full surgical transition difficult to adjust to. ‘I’m not a lesbian,’ she says, ‘but I suppose that would be the title I carry now. I wouldn’t say I was attracted to her but I wouldn’t say I wasn’t either. We’ve had a lot of years together and we’ve got to the stage in our lives when we weren’t jumping on each other every two minutes. When you’ve been together 40 years, life settles down a bit. It was just important to be together, and the only thing that concerned me was that she came through it all.’ She adds: ‘Emotionally I have grieved for Simon. One of my favourite smells is when Simon kisses me in the morning and he smells clean and of aftershave. That’s the one thing I will miss.’

These are stories of some of the few people who have stayed with their transgender spouse. While some say they are content, can we not also hear the voices of women grieving for the men they married, the men they knew and loved? Are we not entitled, in fact, to regard this as a form of abuse, placing women in the awful position of having to accept drastic changes to the terms of their marriage, or leave?

Another question we might ask is why counselling or therapy is never mentioned in the stories as an attempt to address the underlying causes of the gender dysphoria. Was this even considered at all? The stories certainly give the impression that affirmation of transition was simply assumed. Helen Boyd, the gender studies professor, despite all she’d been through in her own marriage, still maintained that ‘thinking that gender is biologically derived is an old-fashioned idea. Gender is malleable … you can change your gender, the way you express it … and be happy.’ But what about your spouse, we might ask, and those around you – will they be happy, or will they just be making themselves miserable helping you to feel better?

And does it work? Does transition actually help the transgendered feel better? It’s not clear that it does. There is growing evidence of regret about transition, which appears to be becoming a huge issue. Exactly how huge, however, is hard to say as research into it has been suppressed as too controversial to permit by universities such as Bath Spa. What we do know, however, is that the suicide rate among post-transition transgender people remains 19 times higher than the general population, indicating that transition is far from solving all a person’s problems.

So what do we have? Broken families, grieving wives, lots of unhappy people – a sorry tale of the damaging impact of transgenderism on marriage. And this is before we get on to the impact of transgenderism on family and children more broadly, which is what we’ll look at now.

And I’m afraid to say the picture is not good here either. For the reality is that children in our society over the past 10 years or so have been increasingly immersed in a culture that exposes them to affirmations of transgenderism and encourages them to question whether they have been born in the ‘wrong body’. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in soaring numbers of children experiencing gender confusion and seeking to change gender. But rather than regard this, as they should, as a public health problem to be investigated with some urgency and addressed, we find schools and government bodies treating parents who won’t toe the line as a serious risk to their child’s welfare.

A recent high-profile case in the United States throws into stark relief how real and serious a threat to parental rights this situation is. In October just passed, a jury in Dallas, Texas, awarded sole custody of a seven year-old boy, James Younger, to his mother, paediatrician Dr Anne Georgulas. The key point for the jury appears to have been that Dr Georgulas affirmed her son’s transgender identity while his father, Jeffrey Younger, did not and wished to protect him from the proposed transition treatment. A video of James at 3 years-old shows him telling his Dad that ‘Mommy’ told him he was a girl and puts him in dresses. Apparently this began after the boy made the mistake one day of choosing the girl toy for his Happy Meal at McDonald’s.

Although the judge, perhaps responding to a public outcry, subsequently overruled the jury to give the father joint custody, the case nonetheless offers a disturbing snapshot of where Western culture has got to in 2019 with gender ideology. For the fact that a jury of ordinary people – and ordinary Texans come to that, people not exactly known for their liberal views – can decide that it is in a child’s best interests to be raised as if he were the opposite sex, and that they can make that decision having just been shown in court an email by the woman to whom they are awarding sole custody that considers cutting off the boy’s penis – the fact that this can happen today shows how deeply gender mythology has penetrated our culture.

That this is possible has arisen in large part because of the capture of the medical authorities themselves by transgender ideology. Dr Quentin Van Meter, the president of the American College of Pediatricians, has explained how in the past 10 years professional bodies such as the Endocrine Society, which oversees the use of hormones in medical treatment, have been taken over by proponents of what’s called gender affirming therapy (or GAT), while the pioneers and practitioners of the scientifically sound ‘watch and wait’ approach have been deliberately cut-out and excluded. In fact, the latest Endocrine Society guidelines from 2018 even smear watch-and-wait as ‘conversion therapy’ and dismiss it as unethical – that’s how comprehensive the victory of the affirming camp among some professional bodies has become.

And yet it remains the case, as Dr Van Meter explains, that without medical intervention 90 per cent of males and 80 per cent of females will realign their gender identity to their sex by the time they have finished puberty.

He says that the root problem here is the medicalisation of what is in reality a psychological issue. For there is, he points out, no diagnostic test that could objectively confirm a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The condition is based entirely on the subjective opinion of a child or adolescent, an opinion for which there is no biological foundation, making it an unverifiable claim about the existence of an inner self at odds with a person’s biology.

That there is something else going on here becomes clearer when you realise that previously around two thirds of transgender people were males who identified as females. Whereas in the recent rush of cases centred on the young this proportion has reversed and now around two thirds are females identifying as males. This strongly suggests the condition has a link to a more general issue about the challenges for girls growing up in our society. Concern about this as an issue affecting young girls in particular led the UK government in September 2018 to order an investigation into its causes. However, a year later this inquiry was still reported to be in its very preliminary stages, suggesting a lack of priority and a risk it would never conclude.

Schools, for their part, seem to be doing their best to make matters worse. Transgenderism is being persistently promoted in classes as part of the general pushing of all things LGBT to youngsters in an effort to normalise such lifestyles and eliminate all stigma and adverse response. This has been going on up and down the country, with high profile examples that have particularly caught the public’s attention including the No Outsiders equality programme in Birmingham, which was protested outside the school by hundreds of mainly Muslim parents, and the All About Me RSE programme in Warwickshire, which promotes transgenderism starting at 4 years-old.

In All About Me, for example, 4 year-olds are told: ‘Some people may feel that actually they like to dress in clothes or behave in a way we would usually associate with the opposite gender. Some children may even feel that their body doesn’t really fit how they feel, even though they were born with the body parts of a boy, that actually inside they feel like they are a girl, or vice versa. This can be really confusing for some children and for the grownups that support them so it is important that we accept them for who they say they are.’

9 year-olds are told a story about King Binary: ‘The trouble is, not everyone felt that they fitted neatly in either Sheland or Heland, especially as the small children grew up and began to explore who they were and where they belonged. Some of the girls and boys felt they had been sent through the wrong door and would actually be much happier on the other side of the river, they really didn’t feel like they were meant to be girls or boys. When King Binary heard how confused and upset some of his people were he really didn’t know what to do, things had always been this way so what on earth could he do? He decided to call a meeting.’ The teacher is then instructed to ask the children: ‘How do we solve the issue? Ask the children to come up with ideas to solve the problem that King Binary and his people have.’

Similar materials and ideas are being used in schools across the country, with a new impetus coming from the Relationships and Sex Education regulations that are coming into force in September 2020. These regulations require for the first time the teaching of Relationships Education in all primary schools and encourage that this has LGBT content. Under the new regulations, schools are required to consult parents on the content of Relationships Education lessons and take their views into account. But in end what the school teaches is its decision and the lessons are compulsory with no right of parental withdrawal. In addition to this, the government is encouraging schools to ‘embed’ LGBT content across the curriculum, such as in art and maths lessons, so that children encounter it throughout the day and year and not just in specific RSE slots. This is all part of the drive to normalise LGBT relationships and lifestyles in the next generation via schools and the education system.

What’s very unclear at the moment is what parents are supposed to do if they don’t feel they are being properly listened to by the schools and continue to disagree with what’s being taught to their children. This, of course, is what led to parent protests at some schools. The challenge for parents is that disregarding their wishes and delivering controversial content regardless appears to be the order of the day when it comes to LGBT issues, as was on clear display in the recent debate in Parliament about the regulations, where concerned parents were repeatedly denounced as bigots by MPs. Yet the right of parents to control the education of their children is provided for in human rights conventions and legislation, meaning this is all very likely to end up in court before long.

We’ve seen, then, how transgenderism and the state’s promotion of it under the guise of equality and anti-discrimination legislation and policy is having considerable impact on families by undermining parental authority and setting children against their parents, with the state taking the side of the children.

The root cause of these problems is the way that transgenderism pretends that biology doesn’t matter and undermines its defining role in human life. After all, a world where a man can become a woman based entirely on how he feels and despite all appearance and evidence to the contrary is not a world that is likely to organise the family around the union of male and female with a view to welcoming new life. It is a world, rather, that has abandoned all sense that there is anything of real, fundamental significance about being male or female, about biology, a world of gender fluidity, where the significance of one’s biological sex is reduced to vanishing point.

Gender and queer theorists refer to the drive for a world like this as ‘smashing heteronormativity’ – by which they mean destroying the assumption that everyone is male or female and that heterosexuality is the natural and moral norm.

This world of smashed heteronormativity is the world that we in the 21st century West increasingly find ourselves inhabiting. With biological males (or, as we used to call them, men) competing and winning in female sporting events, and female-only spaces being opened up to males or eliminated altogether, the transgender movement has made huge gains in a very short space of time, particularly since the introduction of same-sex marriage in the first half of the decade.

Ryan T Anderson, the American cultural commentator, speaks of our time as a transgender moment rather than a transgender movement, and predicts its soon collapse under the weight of its own internal and reality-denying contradictions. We can certainly hope so, but I confess I’m not sure I see very many signs of that yet. While there is certainly mounting evidence of harms, and growing discontent with the sheer biology-denial of it all – including, I should say, within the LGBT movement itself among lesbians and feminists, with Stonewall recently splitting over the issue – nonetheless, the transgender movement globally seems to go from strength to strength, suffering only minor setbacks while achieving bigger wins. Will the threat of legal action against medical practitioners for harming children with over-eager gender treatment have some impact in the coming years? Or will the pushback from female sports competitors against biological males winning their medals and breaking their records win through for sanity? These are perhaps the brightest lights on the horizon right now.

These are challenging days for marriage and family, and the push for transgenderism only adds to the woes. Thank goodness for organisations like Coalition for Marriage, that still dare to speak the truth about marriage and what it means to be male and female to a world that so often seems only to want to hear fashionable and damaging falsehoods.

This is the text of a talk given at a Coalition for Marriage event in Bristol on 12 November 2019.

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