While the primary focus of my blog is to examine the transgender trend as it relates to girls and young women, the online community of readers and commenters here also includes some parents of boys, as well as men who have detransitioned or who are also questioning the pediatric transition paradigm.
I have been wanting to hear directly from more fathers whose children are affected by transgenderism. Here, the commenter “heteronerd,” a father of young children and someone who sees himself as something of a geek, shares his insights from the world of STEM, as well as concerns about his own kids’ future.
It’s no secret that there are a large number of men from the world of IT and high tech who, as adults, have decided they are “actually women.” How many boys and young men will follow suit?
I just discovered this blog — thank you so much for your courage in pushing back against what seems like an unstoppable juggernaut. As a new parent, I’m desperately hoping that things will have returned to some balance of sanity by the time my children reach school age.
I’m Gen X and an introverted, artistic hetero male from a long line of introverted, artistic hetero males, all of whom turned out all right in the end after the usual adolescent turmoil. In my case, these tendencies were exacerbated by an acute but correctable birth defect that required long hospital stays and left me clumsy and physically fragile compared to other boys my age.
So I’m deeply concerned by the way in which the trans industry encourages girls and boys on the ordinary spectrum of human gender variation — “tomboys and soft boys,” as someone said earlier in the thread — to identify as transgender and seek drastic, irreversible medical intervention. Looking back on my own childhood, it’s terrifyingly easy to imagine a scenario in which a clueless but well-meaning teacher, or an adult predator, might have used leading questions (“Do you feel different from the other boys? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be a girl?”) to elicit the conclusion that I was “really a girl inside.”
I work in STEM academia, a world largely populated by geeky men who don’t fit the macho footballer mold, and in the past few years I’ve watched several younger male acquaintances “discover,” suddenly and unexpectedly (and always by way of a heavy dose of social media), that they “have always been a woman.” Similar to how you and many of the regular commenters here draw on your own memories of being a tomboy in your struggles with “FTM” daughters, my own memories of a “different” male adolescence are what fuel my gut sense that peak trans is leading these vulnerable young people down a terribly dangerous path. Ftmskeptic’s account here describes the exact thought process I’ve heard verbalized by late-adolescent males who get caught up in the trans subculture — just swap out “bad-boy athlete” for “pink sparkly princess” and “lesbian” for “gay boy” while leaving “science, pokemon and video games” the same:
[A] quirky, socially awkward girl who had always identified as a girl (although never a pink sparkly princess) suddenly decides that because she loves science, pokemon and video games rather than makeup, hairstyles and clothes she MUST actually be a boy. She says she is a gay boy, as she is attracted to boys.
It seems crystal clear to me that online and campus trans communities recruit insecure (often mentally ill) young people, both male and female, by offering them an easy “solution” to their difficulties living up to mass culture’s stereotypical gender roles — and that academia, big medicine and the media are irresponsibly enabling them. I’m particularly worried by the fact that “alternative” pop culture interests like fantasy gaming and punk music, which have traditionally been a refuge for gender-nonconforming kids both male and female, are the ones whose online communities are the most saturated by the militant trans narrative. I’m afraid that my kids will be at risk from this in a few years.
You have suggested that a lot of the “trans” phenomenon comes from the collision of autism-spectrum literal thinking with a gender-obsessed culture, and that rings true to my own experience. As an adult with some life experience writing a common-sense armchair prescription, I think that what would really help a lot of self-professed MTFs is cultural validation that their “geekiness” is a different but equally valid way of being biologically male, and from what you and others have written here, it seems like the same is true for FTMs.
This was phenomenal. Clear and lucid. The trans clubs recruiting insecure kids I find utterly believable. I was completely unaware of that phenomenon but I’m well aware as a former Artsy Kid of what you mean about “alternative” pop culture. And yep if you do that stuff on the computer the trans ideology is going to come creeping right in. When I was a teenager in the 70s we didn’t have the Internet. We had Acrylic Paint! That was new and you could use it in the house without it stinking the place up with turpentine like oil paint. That’s a little different. We also had punk. I spent years of my life as a teen both before I left home and after fooling around with clothing. Making little costumes, bleaching my hair. But it was just friggin clothes. I outgrew that and moved on. I am so disturbed by the trans thing and especially the way it’s treated as unquestionable. When it involves surgery and body shape altering drugs. Estrogen and testosterone? They ain’t ecstasy.
Also the whole thing is very right wing. All of the ideas in it are. And then the histrionic manipulative behavior including insincere accusations of bigotry. (Yesterday on Twitter I was talking to some bonehead who was blithely accusing a less extreme gender psychologist of pedophilia! Apropos of nothing and because the bonehead was mad at this doctor because people in another country had said he was standing in the way of some children transitioning. Just no concept of how to behave like a normal person.) We need to start pointing out that it is right wing and rob it of some of its left wing, social rebellion cachet.
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I read right wing blogs and from what I can tell it doesn’t find support there at all.
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Thank you, this makes so much sense. My ‘MtF’ child has said that “they don’t want to be masculine” more often than “I just know I’m a woman” – also the kid says he feels two years younger than his actual chronological age, plus there’s a strong history of mental illness in himself and in his dad, with whom it was pretty traumatic to live.
The kid has joined the Gay Straight Alliance at school and has commented on the oppressive ‘pronoun wars’ that the kids get into, that they’re all quite uptight about their identities – even though for some of them, the identity changes by the week.
And if you ask my kid, he’s really, more like a fur-dragon inside than a woman. He portrays himself in online chatrooms as trans-avian (bird) or other kind of anthropomorphic furry creature. Sometimes a female creature, sometimes not. I have caught him hanging out in chatrooms based in furry group sex.
Based on other things that I’ve experienced with him, I don’t think he’s a woman as much as a perv who doesn’t want to be one and maybe he feels like getting rid of his maleness will get rid of the pervy thoughts.
I have been focusing so much attention this year on my daughter (who previously was adamant she was my son), that I really haven’t thought much about my actual son falling for this trans “logic.” He definitely falls in the category of boys that could feel pressured. The one good thing I have working in my favor is that he actually learns from his older sibling’s mis-steps.
Yes I have definitely seen some parallel things in geek/nerd culture for males who don’t feel they fit into the “man box” as what you describe going on with adolescent females.
Just a month ago I was reading a geeky discussion forum and a young man posted that he didn’t feel comfortable being a man because it made him “a member of the oppressor class”. Two different people told him this meant that he was likely to be trans or at least non-binary, because if he was really a man he would “enjoy being an oppressor” Another trans woman responded that she discovered herself being a trans woman partially for that reason, and maybe he was trans too.
Somehow people seem to have gotten the idea that if you don’t fit in the box perfectly, you aren’t part of the category, and most people don’t really fit in the box, so.
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Thank you for your thoughts and your post here. It’s good to read the male side, if only to remind us that boys and men struggling with their gender are also often dealing with restrictive gender roles and people pressuring them to “switch boxes”.
Growing up as a gender non-conforming female, because I couldn’t find a woman like me in the media my role-models and idols were all those “introverted, artsy” males you describe. It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t actually attracted to them; I was identifying with them, wanting to “be” them. But it did foster in me a great sympathy for those artsy, introverted males, as in every story they were so often the guy who was bullied or had to struggle against traditional masculine gender roles.
When I was identifying trans and trying to “be” one of those guys I ended up saying more than once, “But there’s SO little difference between male and female!” It remains one of the most “true” experiences from my time as trans, in fact. And it’s not that there aren’t differences between male and female in so many ways; it was that fact that it had dawned on me, in a weird trippy way, that there are NO REASONS for gender roles: that women can step into male gender roles and men can step into female gender roles and anyone can occupy any space in-between if they so choose. It was incredibly freeing and honestly I encourage everyone to try it for a time if you haven’t already! Sex is a biological reality, but gender roles are bullshit for everybody – men and women, sons and daughters alike.
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In some ways, we had it so much easier being teens in the 1990s. There was something in the air and a lot of people, in alternative music/culture anyway, loosened up a LOT about gender roles. You had female musicians with short hair and masculine dress, like Justine Frischmann and Sonya Madan, taking the stage and not just being accepted as women musicians, but admired and lusted over by their fans. You had Brian Molko from Placebo appearing on Top of the Pops in a dress and full make-up, and he wasn’t “trans” anything, he was just a feminine man expressing himself. Some people questioned Marilyn Manson’s sexuality, but no-one thought he was “really a woman”. In their own particular ways, Trent Reznor and Jeff Buckley wore their vulnerability on their sleeves, yet they were all man.
They actually did stuff, as well. People were in the public eye mainly for music or acting or writing. Teens looked up to people who did things, rather than “activists” and people who just talked about stuff,
We can’t go back, but there must be a healthier way forward.
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