Overview of a New Book on the Transgender Movement

Ryan Anderson summarizes the ideas in his new book about the transgender movement, When Harry Became Sally, in the video below, and it’s worth watching. (Anderson’s portion begins at 11:13, and the video unfortunately cuts out at 54:00, but I think it’s mostly the Q&A that was lost.)

I’ll highlight two of his points here. First, at 32:00 he notes some of the philosophical contradictions in the transgender worldview. (For more detail on this from Anderson, see “The Philosophical Contradictions of the Transgender Worldview.”)

The transgender worldview combines a new form of the ancient philosophy of Gnosticism, in which the real self is something other than a material body, while also, at the same time, embracing materialism, in which only material bodies exist, and so simultaneously asserting two things that are mutually contradictory: only material bodies exist, but the real self is something other than the material body….

It relies on rigid sex stereotypes, in which girls play with dolls and boys play with trucks, and yet it insists that gender is purely a social construct, and thus there are no meaningful differences between men and women, all the while insisting that gender identity is real and meaningful but the facts of human embodiment are not.

And lastly, it embraces a radical expressive individualism, where people should be free to do whatever they want and to define the truth however they wish it to be, but it also enforces a ruthless paternalism, in which anyone who dares to dissent from transgender ideology will be coerced or punished.

Second, at 50:35 he argues that pursuing sex reassignment treatments (surgeries, hormones, etc.) is harmful, particularly for children. (For more from Ryan Anderson on this topic, see here.)

A more cautious therapeutic approach begins by acknowledging that the vast majority of children will grow out of a stage of gender dysphoria naturally if their development is not blocked and if they’re given the time and the space to do so.

An effective therapy looks into the reasons for a child’s mistaken beliefs and feelings about their gender identity, and it addresses the problems that the child thinks will be solved by transitioning.

Many health professionals liken gender dysphoria to other types of dysphoria, serious discomforts with the body. They will describe [gender dysphoria] as similar to something like anorexia, or body dysmorphic disorder, or body integrity identity disorder [link added]. All these involve false assumptions and feelings about one’s body, which can then solidify into mistaken beliefs about the self. So Dr. McHugh finds that many other psychosocial issues usually lie underneath a child’s mistaken assumptions….

As a result, the most helpful therapies don’t try to remake the body to conform to mistaken thoughts and feelings—that’s impossible. But rather, they try to help people find healthy ways to manage that tension and that distress that they feel and then move towards accepting the reality of their bodily selves.

This therapeutic approach…rests on a sound understanding of what physical and mental health is and what the purpose of medicine [is] in restoring physical and mental health.

(If you prefer the written word to video, reading the two articles by Ryan Anderson linked above will give you much of the same information as the video.)

Amy K. Hall