Camille Paglia: I am transgender, but sceptical about “transgender wave”

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Camille-Peglia.jpgHow do you know when an ideological campaign has progressed from extreme into the realm of insanity? When its own members condemn it. 

Camille Paglia, an academic and Salon columnist, has previously taken unconventional positions on feminism and gender issues. This time, she has openly condemned what she sees as the “transgender wave” – when Paglia herself identifies as transgender. In her criticism, she takes aim at left-leaning activists who refuse to acknowledge that biology must be considered in any discussion on transgender issues.

Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly sceptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows. Furthermore, I condemn the escalating prescription of puberty blockers (whose long-term effects are unknown) for children. I regard this practice as a criminal violation of human rights.

It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming (a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence) flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender. Biology has been programmatically excluded from women's studies and gender studies programs for almost 50 years now. Thus very few current gender studies professors and theorists, here and abroad, are intellectually or scientifically prepared to teach their subjects.

In our politically correct society, “transgender” individuals are too often blindly celebrated, without any regard for the potential psychological and physical harms that could result from transition surgeries and treatments. As Paglia mentions, research has shown that puberty blockers can prolong feelings of gender dysphoria rather than curing them – and new research continues to confirm this. The New Atlantis recently published a paper detailing the motivations for hormonal treatment along with the known associated risks. The authors wrote:

One particular gender-affirming intervention for children and young adolescents with gender dysphoria is puberty suppression (also known as puberty blocking) — a hormone intervention that prevents the normal progression of puberty. Puberty is a turbulent time in any young person’s life, and it can be terrifying for those who identify as the opposite sex. For parents of children with gender dysphoria, puberty suppression can appear very attractive. It seems like it might offer a medical solution for the anticipated confusion, anxiety, and distress by holding back the development of the most conspicuous features of their children’s biological sex. Puberty suppression seems to offer an intermediate step between the social affirmation that parents can give very young children and the sex-reassignment procedures that their kids can pursue once they’ve grown. And it seems to offer a way to mitigate the discordance between children’s beliefs about their gender and the realities of their bodily development (while acquiescing to, rather than challenging, the children’s self-understanding). 

The refusal of many to acknowledge the health risks of transgenderism is posing tremendous physical and psychological harm for transgender people around the world.

Ryan T. Anderson, a researcher at The Heritage Foundation, pointed out some of the flaws in the current thinking on gender: 

Biology isn’t bigotry, and we need a sober and honest assessment of the human costs of getting human nature wrong. This is especially true with children. And yet, pediatric gender clinics—and therapeutic interventions on children—are on the rise. In the past 10 years, dozens of pediatric gender clinics have sprung up throughout the United States … The sad reality is that while the number of pediatric gender clinics is growing, very little is known about gender identity in children—and many therapies amount to little more than experimentation on minors.

As the above sources state, more research is required if we are to understand the causes of transgenderism and the long-term effects of gender transition. Many experts have declared that children who experience gender dysphoria often end up identifying with their birth gender later in life. It is irresponsible to promote therapies to change children’s gender without conducting the research necessary to determine whether it is safe or not.

When Karl Marx approached the end of his life, he declared that he ne longer identified or supported communist ideology – the ideology he created. Today, “transgender” individuals do not identify nor support today’s “transgender” ideology. Both stories are results of the same cause: an ideology that was taken to extremes, and turned from a radical way of thinking into a radical agenda of control.

Read next: Psychiatrist says many children “try out” transgenderism to be “different”

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