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To Escape the Body: A Review of Helen Joyce’s Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, pt. 3 – How Transgenderism Harms Women And Children

Part 1 – The History of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 2 – the Causes and Rationalization of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 3 – How Transgenderism Harms Women And Children: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 4 – How Transgenderism Took Over Institutions And How Some Women Are Fighting Back: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 5 – Conclusion and Discussion: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Last time, we discussed what Joyce thinks are the causes of transgenderism, how they render many or even most trans people as not really trans in the first place, and what gender-identity ideology (GII) says in the first place.

This time, we’ll go over what Joyce sees as the harms of transgenderism.

Think Of The Kids!

Joyce starts by reminding us that there is a fairly high desistance rate among cross-sex identifying kids and this was known since the 70s and 80s. But this is obviously an inconvenient fact for GII, Joyce asserts, so it gets ignored.

I don’t think this is a good start, I think the modern argument TRAs would offer are that you should not stand in your child’s way of deciding their identity, even if they would desist later. Jesse Singal’s famous (or infamous) 2018 Atlantic article highlights the alarming rhetoric aimed at parents skeptical of transition (“Would you rather have a live daughter or a dead son?”), but I don’t know of cases where desistance has been ignored. I do, however, see serious debate between pro-trans and anti-trans advocates on how many desist in the first place.

Anyways, let’s jump to the 1990s. Clinicians at the time began to wonder what could be done to help the kids who would not desist. It was not clear how to identify them, and if you simply waited until they were older, then you ran into a big problem.

Puberty.

Puberty has strong and lasting effects determined by your sex (really, hormones) that cannot be fully undone by surgery. A trans woman who undergoes male puberty is going to have a deeper voice, certain facial features, and larger body (notably hands and feet). Trans men don’t have as many visible leftovers if they transition (barring breasts). But going through this was obviously discomforting to these kids, so why not try to delay puberty and see who desisted?

Thus, Amsterdam clinicians decided to start injecting small groups of kids with puberty blockers. This was predicted to be a free lunch – the kids who desisted would be taken off the blockers and develop as normal, the ones who persisted could grow up until they were 16 and old enough to consent to the irreversible stuff.

Joyce details a catastrophe as the outcome.

Of the seventy children enrolled in a study between 2000 and 2007, every single one progressed to cross-sex hormones. Almost all had surgery at age eighteen…These children were all highly gender-dysphoric, and had not desisted by the start of puberty.

Joyce admits that it was possible the clinic somehow picked out only persisters, but she is highly skeptical of this. If every other study Joyce cited found major desistance, then the more likely explanation was that puberty blockers had disrupted the body’s process for resolving dysphoria.

But the results were taken up with gusto by others, and Canadian and American clinics began prescribing these blockers not long after. UK’s Tavistock was initially cautious, but began routine assignment in 2014 after, according to Joyce, they were pressed by activists.

All this might have been more acceptable if the criteria for assignment were strict, but Joyce says they’ve been assigned more and more to kids with less severe dysphoria and even those who aren’t transgender, but non-binary or gender-fluid.

I’m not sure how to verify the numbers exactly (even Joyce admits we don’t have clear counts). The number is clearly greatly increasing, but it’s not clear if this just reflects that the right number of kids are getting them, or too many are. I will say that she’s correct on the broadening of who can get blockers. The Mayo Clinic, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic all say that you don’t have be trans, but just questioning your gender to get it.

But is the broadening of the accepted reasons really a problem? Assume for a moment that puberty blockers worked as advertised (no interference with normal desistance processes). Is there something inherently wrong with offering kids who are experiencing discomfort with their gender puberty blockers? One might argue that categories like non-binary or genderqueer don’t exist and are artificially created for ideological reasons, but if they do, I’m not sure what the issue is.

For Joyce, however, the problem goes beyond just kids on the verge of puberty. Pro-trans messaging has come to include the idea that kids from a very early age can indicate their gender. Diane Ehrensaft, Director of Mental Health and founding member of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center, is quoted as saying that kids as young as three years old can indicate their knowledge of their gender.

This is an inversion of John Money’s ideas, though no less highly unconventional. Where Money had argued that gender was malleable in the first 2.5 years of life and then unchangeable, the modern GII argument seems to be that gender is known from birth.

Both, however, would argue for social transition at an early age. This is unacceptable to Joyce because these are always presented as reversible (both transition and blockers), but part of what she calls the “cascade of interventions”. It does not appear that kids tend to desist even if you just socially transition them. The age at which interventions are happening is lowering as well, with some kids getting cross-sex hormones and even surgery before 16.

If you want to see how nasty activists of any sort can get if you question their views, Joyce points to a controversial figure in this discussion space, the man named Ken Zucker. Zucker is one of the biggest names in gender medicine and has seen at least 1500 gender dysphoric kids. He edits Archives of Sexual Behavior but is known for authoring studies which showed the high desistance rates among kids. Zucker even introduced puberty blockers alongside someone else into Canada in 1999.

I won’t detail the entire controversy, Singal has also covered that here here. Joyce, for her part, argues that the campaign to get Zucker taken down was very much to send a message to anyone else who tried arguing like he did.

Medical Issues With Puberty Blockers

Not only is there a dearth of reliable evidence that kids benefit from taking puberty blockers, Joyce argues that there are other side effects that complicate the matter.

  1. Only your natal hormones can make your ovaries/testicles mature.

  2. There is anecdotal evidence that your sex life may be less-than-fully realized.

  3. Puberty, even if partial, is what makes your penis or vagina develop into an adult’s, blocking it can keep your genitalia child-like, leaving not enough skin to do standard reassignment surgery.

  4. Eggs and sperm cannot be frozen for later if they are never active to start with, and they only activate in puberty.

  5. Trans men and women suffer from higher rates of diseases (not the same ones for both).

The drugs themselves are another issue. Joyce claims that they’ve never been put under clinical trials and aren’t even made for that purpose according to the manufacturers. They’re meant for treating adults for hormone-related conditions or to chemically castrate sex offenders. There are concerns that they may cause a significant IQ drop and prevent calcium from being laid down in bones.

From a cursory glance, I think Joyce is correct. Google Scholar doesn’t list too many studies that actually look at the issue, I only found one meta-review, published in 2020. There was also a piece from 2019 in the BMJ that discussed possible issues with even trying to study it from an ethical perspective. Wikipedia lists some adverse effects.

Progress Is A Circle

But there is another effect in promoting transgenderism, and gender-diversity to a lesser extent, in children – the reinforcement of gender stereotypes. Joyce picks Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship as her example of this, where the titular Teddy becomes a girl by turning his bow tie into a hair bow.

Such stories of children for children are increasing common, and they do not endorse any explanation of a child’s alienation from their sex other than a discordant gender identity. Joyce argues for familiar explanations: homosexuality or seeking (parental) approval.

Thus, it is damning to Joyce that so many pro-trans or trans-inclusive arguments and lessons to children just enforce gender stereotypes that are the product of the culture. Why are these people acting as if these stereotypes were instead naturally implanted into people?

Parents V. The World

Even more damning is how this divides parents from children. Obviously, transphobic parents would always have a problem with any suggestion of a trans child. But with an increasingly harsh attitude towards anyone who questions their child’s identity or the idea of teaching these ideas to children, there are now stories about kids cutting contact and leaving their homes.

There is evidence to support this indirectly, at least one school district in the US said that its staff were not permitted to reveal a trans kid’s status to their parents. This was picked up last year by right-wing media, which is presumably why the district removed the document from their site.

Schools are not the only intervening institution; the government is in on it as well. Joyce refers to a 2019 British Columbia court case involving a 14-year-old trans boy named Max and his father.

In 2016, aged twelve, she was referred to the school counsellor. Unbeknownst to her parents at the time, she mentioned feeling a commonality with the transboy protagonist of a film she had seen online. The counsellor concluded that Max was trans, arranged for a change of name and pronouns in school records, and referred Max to a psychologist, who recommended testosterone and made a further referral to a paediatric endocrinologist.

A consent form was sent to the Jacksons; the father refused to sign…But under British Columbia’s Infants Act, a child of any age has the right to medical treatment that is opposed by parents if the doctor thinks it is in the child’s best interests, and that the child is ‘mature enough’ to decide. In 2019, the supreme court of British Columbia ruled that Max could consent to medical transition independently of the father’s wishes (his ex-wife was no longer opposed). His refusal to refer to his child as a boy, and continued opposition to transition, were ruled ‘family violence’, and he was banned from speaking to the press.

Tangentially, I will note my confusion over this case. The Guardian reported the following:

“I will be stranded between looking and sounding feminine and looking and sounding masculine. I would feel like a freak,” the teenager wrote in an affidavit which was read out in court on Tuesday.

But I don’t know what would cause this. This may just be a teenager not able to speak clearly, but w/o drugs or surgery, how would you be stuck in such a manner? I would understand if Max was upset about looking/sounding feminine while trying to be masculine, but the wording is…odd.

A Threat To (Cis) Women

The elephant in the room for who stands to lose, according to Joyce, is cis women. They stand to lose many things they had once relied upon, not the least of which include single-sex spaces.

You may remember the name Jessica Yaniv if you’re more online. Yaniv is a trans women and trans activist who, in 2018, began asking wax salons if they would wax her genitals. The reporting I find from this time suggests that Yaniv hadn’t had surgery, meaning she still had her penis and testicles. This doesn’t work for Brazilian waxing; testicles are simply too sensitive to some of the techniques. When she was refused, she brought anti-discrimination cases in British Columbia against the women who refused.

Joyce says it was unclear which way the case would be decided. In the end, however, the court ruled that Yaniv was in the wrong and described her as a vexatious litigant who was acting in bad faith and motivated by money over actual discrimination.

Sounds like a victory for cis women, right? No, unfortunately. The court did not decide against Yaniv on the basis of the defendants having a religious right to refuse service, but on the basis that she had made self-admitted racist remarks against them. The defendants were South and East Asian women, you see.

What I don’t quite understand is where Joyce actually falls on this idea of religious freedom to not accept the tenets of GII. Does she greatly support religious freedom in all cases, or just strategically in this one because it happens to support her view that trans women are a threat to cis women?

The more classic problem, of course, is the bathroom question – is it okay to ban trans women from women’s restrooms? Here, I’ll point to there being no evidence that it’s problematic, but this may be because the culture hasn’t really caught up yet. I don’t think we can really extrapolate from the present to the near future.

Joyce, however, goes a different route – crime statistics.

The little evidence that exists shows that at least some of the males who identify as women are very dangerous indeed. Of the 125 transgender prisoners known to be in English prisons in late 2017, sixty were transwomen who had committed sexual offences, a share far higher than in the general male prison population, let alone in the female one.

So either transwomen are more likely than other males to be sexual predators, or – more probable in my view – gender self-identification provides sexual predators with a marvellous loophole. Whichever is true, allowing males to self-identify into women’s spaces makes women less safe.

Of course, prisoners are perhaps not representative of the overall trans population. But I would agree that self-ID is a dangerous thing and shouldn't be the basis by which we decided transgenderism. I would say that it specifically applies to spaces like women's restrooms, but I don't know of any practical way to allow for people to critically evaluate whether someone is trans that also accommodates self-ID.

There’s then a really uncharitable attempt at showing TRA hypocrisy.

Arguing that vulnerable males must be allowed to identify out of male spaces because males are so dangerous undermines any argument that males should be admitted to female spaces on demand.

Obviously, she and her opponents disagree on many things. But it’s not a contradiction if your opponents believe that sex is malleable like gender to also believe that trans women and women should therefore be kept in the same space, segregated away from cis men.

There are more arguments Joyce makes for the preservation of single-sex (basically only women’s) and the dangers of allowing trans women to enter those spaces, but they’re not very interesting or worth expounding on. If you understand the argument that males tend to be more violent, especially sexually, towards females, you’ve read about a dozen or so pages in this book already.

Mods are mean and limit me to 20k characters, check the comments for the rest of this post.

That's all for this part. Next time, we'll go over some more modern history and how some cis women are fighting back against this. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed!

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I rewrote this comment like 5 times, but I would concede to the feminists that women probably do deserve some special privileges, as they have been subjected to unfair evolutionary forces.

For a large part of human history, women have been subject to evolutionary pressure that removes their agency. Being unable to fight back against men's sexual advances results in a successful propagation of genes for weakness and mental vulnerability. As such, women tend to have a biological predisposition to certain "negative" traits.

This basically a vulgar version of the radfem argument, if I understand it correctly, right? Same reason they say all sex with men is rape: All the women who didn't like rape were killed off, resulting in the genetic stock of the human race consisting of women who "like" rape.

This basically a vulgar version of the radfem argument, if I understand it correctly, right? Same reason they say all sex with men is rape: All the women who didn't like rape were killed off, resulting in the genetic stock of the human race consisting of women who "like" rape.

Besides being a really terrible understanding of evolutionary psychology (even the bro-iest evpsychs will say women evolved to be hypergamous and attracted to dominant alpha males, not that they evolved to enjoy being raped), it's also a terrible understanding of radfems. Radical feminists (at least of the Andrea Dworkin school) don't say all sex with men is rape because they've been forcibly bred to "like" rape. They claim sex with men is "rape" because under the Patriarchy, women do not have true agency and therefore don't have the power to genuinely consent to sex.

...What are you even talking about? This has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is pretty damn insulting to women to boot without a hundreth of the evidence you'd need to get close to be allowed to say it.

I’m not sure how to verify the numbers exactly (even Joyce admits we don’t have clear counts). The number is clearly greatly increasing, but it’s not clear if this just reflects that the right number of kids are getting them, or too many are. I will say that she’s correct on the broadening of who can get blockers. The Mayo Clinic, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic all say that you don’t have be trans, but just questioning your gender to get it.

I think the huge age and Assigned Sex at Birth tilt is indicative of something. If the rise was a correction to the actual number of gender dysphoric people due to societal acceptance, I would predict that trans-identified individuals would rise equally across both sexes and all age groups. We see the opposite. It is highly tilted by sex and age. In the past, the vast majority of transgendered individuals were AMAB. Now most are AFAB.

UCLA Williams Institute released a report examining the number of trans-identified people over the past five years. It buried the lede in its June 2022 report: in the same five-year period while trans-ID increased 100% among youth, trans-ID among adults 25 and over dropped 21%.

In 2016, total estimated population for transgender adults was 1,184,150. By 2022 it was 938,200. Growing social acceptance of trans-ID does not fully explain why we see more of it among children and less among adults. It could make sense if the trans-ID among adults remained the same or increased slightly compared to youth and young adults. To have the percentage of adults decrease 21% at the same time as the percentage increased 100% among young people seems significant.

Using vague estimations for demonstrative effect: If only 1% of people 25+ are transgendered, but 10% of people 25 and under are, then either there are still 9% of people 25+ who are transgendered but are struggling to keep it under wraps or 9% of people under 25 did not have to transition to live comfortable lives. If it was the former I predict would mean we'd see at least some of those 9% of people transition as social norms make it easier to transition. But we don't see older people transition at significant rates, instead we see many detransition.

So we approach the other horn. Up to 9% of people under 25 could have lived decently comfortable cis lives, but instead transitioned because of some change in the environment. Is this a good outcome? There are many side effects to the drugs that transgendered people take, like increased risk of heart attack and stroke for females on testosterone. There's also baldness, which many transmen take Finasteride to counter, another drug with a whole host of issues. It is not an exaggeration to say that transitioning dramatically reduces quality of life. It is harder to find a romantic partner. Having biological kids might be impossible. Many medical issues and difficulty getting the correct treatment for their specific hormonal and chromosonal profile. Every transgendered person over 30 that I have asked has stated that they would not want anyone to have the transgendered experience if there was a way to prevent it (though they usually maintain that transitioning was the only option for their sanity.)

I can support transitioning as a major medical intervention that is preferable to suicide, despite the myriad of health complications. But treating it as no big deal seems like it would be difficult to defend.

Joyce claims that they’ve never been put under clinical trials and aren’t even made for that purpose according to the manufacturers. They’re meant for treating adults for hormone-related conditions or to chemically castrate sex offenders.

There have been some clinical trials, though there's some controversy due to the author funding. Some trials for other uses of the drug do show the bone density problem, but do note the difference in dose: the height trials involve 4 micrograms per kilogram body weight, while I think the FDA's regimen for precocious puberty end up around tenth that unless I screwed up my math. I'm not sure what the common regimen for trans-related stuff is (if a defined regimen exists), but it seems more like the latter than the former.

But with an increasingly harsh attitude towards anyone who questions their child’s identity or the idea of teaching these ideas to children, there are now stories about kids cutting contact and leaving their homes.

In addition to the issues on questioning the matter, the politics of misgendering get disruptive and complicated quick. I think a lot of the this reflects trying to manage norm conflicts where the only available tools are an HR or oi-can-I-see-your-license system that isn't up to the task, but the end result of an administrative system that can't tell the difference between is a whole bunch of everyday people that start seeing things through that blurry a lens, too. And then not wanting to out someone publicly or not really understanding the whole thing is treated as a dire insult.

This may just be a teenager not able to speak clearly, but w/o drugs or surgery, how would you be stuck in such a manner? I would understand if Max was upset about looking/sounding feminine while trying to be masculine, but the wording is…odd.

I think it's just been sliced-and-diced by the reporters. I can't find the original documents, and some of the publication ban may prevent them from being posted anywhere I can access, but at least from this reporting:

Claire Hunter, one of the child’s lawyers, argued the appeal should not proceed in part because the child has already taken treatments that are partially irreversible, thus making the father’s core arguments moot.

The boy’s voice has lowered and he has developed facial hair, the court heard.

I've... mixed feelings about starting masculinizing hormone therapy at that age (from other documents, probably 13ish?), but it's not outside of potential scope, and six months to a year would have significant changes. A lot of the most overt are below-the-belt stuff that I'm not getting into in the context of a young teenager, but promoted facial hair growth is a pretty common one, and there's some upper body muscular stuff that's not going to go away quickly if at all. I don't think he's going to turn into an extra from a circus over six months, but it's not something you turn on and off; the kid may not readily present as feminine anymore even if he wanted to.

((This is part of what makes the matter so complicated to resolve through courts: like with issues revolving around abortion or age restrictions on firearm purchases, the time frames are short and the wheels of justice grind slow and not particularly fine. There's been an American snafu regarding a Texan politician's kid that is kinda hard to talk about because he's an asshole even by the standards of politicians, but if you put a gun to my head and made me bet whether the kid's on hormone therapy in a year or two... and it's not like the alternative would be just, either.))

The drugs themselves are another issue. Joyce claims that [puberty blockers] have never been put under clinical trials and aren’t even made for that purpose according to the manufacturers. They’re meant for treating adults for hormone-related conditions or to chemically castrate sex offenders.

I thought their primary purpose was as a remedy for precocious puberty? A 9 year old girl begins menarche, goes on puberty blockers for a couple of years, then you take the brakes off and let nature resume its course. The purpose is not to go on puberty blockers until long past the typical age of puberty. Chemical castration aside the sensible use case would seem to be to attenuate excessive natural hormone levels and bring them back to the normal range, not suppress normally functioning hormone levels and reduce them below the normal range (how much of sex offending is accounted for by excessive hormones is not something I know, but it's not implausible).

I was looking at some old school photos the other day and there's a striking amount of development where at age 12 we all (95%) looked like kids, at 13 we looked gawky, and at 14 we were largely close to our final height if not our final weight - that is to say it's a typical S curve, and a pretty fast one for its effects that occurs within a narrow age band. What happens if you block puberty long term? You can't remain a physical child forever, right? How much do puberty blockers impart lasting effects on physical development after the typical age of puberty has passed? Conversely I doubt you could achieve full adult physical development if you gave puberty stimulators to a six year old. I imagine an outline of these questions could be trivially tested with plant experiments.

All of these questions get glossed over by TRAs in order to support the wishful thinking that sexual development is endlessly reshapeable with the right tools and endlessly redefinable in the absence of tools. On the other hand it could also support arguments for transitioning at ages younger than 16, which raises a different set of problems.

Yes, it's always been striking to me that the go to example for how these drugs have been used safely for a long time is a condition that primarily concerns puberty happening at the wrong developmental window. Which using them to delay puberty past this window seems to violate. Granted, later puberty and early puberty aren't necessarily the same problem. But it does seem to undermine any amount of comfort the idea that these are drugs with a trusted history is supposed to give me.

But is the broadening of the accepted reasons really a problem? Assume for a moment that puberty blockers worked as advertised

"Please concede 90% of the argument" isn't what I would call a good faith line of persuasion, honestly.

The elephant in the room for who stands to lose, according to Joyce, is cis women. They stand to lose many things they had once relied upon, not the least of which include single-sex spaces.

Men would probably stand to lose too, if they hadn't already lost everything to feminism already. There are no male-only spaces anymore, only "mixed" and "women's".

"Please concede 90% of the argument" isn't what I would call a good faith line of persuasion, honestly.

I don't follow. It's important to assess what our true objections to something might be.

Men would probably stand to lose too, if they hadn't already lost everything to feminism already. There are no male-only spaces anymore, only "mixed" and "women's".

Have we ever seen a trans man get a men-only (de jure or de facto) space shut down or even try that? I've never heard of that happening, but obviously that's harder in an age with fewer men-only spaces.

I don't follow. It's important to assess what our true objections to something might be.

Most of the objection to them is that they don't work as advertised.

Have we ever seen a trans man get a men-only (de jure or de facto) space shut down or even try that?

Shut down? No. Gained entry to? All the time. Just from experience, gay sex clubs and saunas now require you to accept vagina in these venues, if the person owning it claims to "feel like a man", whatever that actually means. That the purpose of these places is for people who like dick to vigourously have sex with other people who like dick doesn't seem to matter or even register.

Most of the objection to them is that they don't work as advertised.

Sure. But I'd want a clear statement from objectors that they would be fine with blockers in the future if they were better. I don't want to assume that, hence me making that argument.

Shut down? No. Gained entry to? All the time. Just from experience, gay sex clubs and saunas now require you to accept vagina in these venues, if the person owning it claims to "feel like a man", whatever that actually means. That the purpose of these places is for people who like dick to vigourously have sex with other people who like dick doesn't seem to matter or even register.

Interesting to hear, I hadn't really thought about that. My passing knowledge was related to lesbian bars dying off, I hadn't considered gay bars.

I think the problem is inherent in the blockers. They do what exactly what it says on the tin - halt puberty. The problem with that is they are being used for the purpose of allowing a person to mature and a brain to develop enough to make an adult decision. But they halt puberty, the process that changes a kid brain into an adult brain.

I don't think this has been sufficiently studied. If it ever gets studied either:

  1. I'm wrong. Teen brains still mature as normal on puberty blockers. Despite this, nigh 100% of kids who go on puberty blockers to treat dysphoria go on to hormone replacement. In this case why bother with blockers at all? Seems like medication and risk without a purpose. Better to come up with a new protocol that focuses on preserving sexual health and end appearance.

  2. I'm right, in which case puberty blockers are not actually giving kids time to mature and make adult decisions. We still have kid brains making the final decision to go on HRT, it's just a 16 year old kid brain instead of a 12 year old kid brain. We still have immature kids making adult decisions. It is possible that normal puberty is the thing that causes desistance and acceptance of sex assigned at birth.

So I'm against blockers on principle and I don't see a way to get me to change my mind.

The problem with that is they are being used for the purpose of allowing a person to mature and a brain to develop enough to make an adult decision.

I think you're mistaken. The WPATH SOC 8 explains the purpose as: "In general, the goal of GnRHa administration in TGD adolescents is to prevent further development of the endogenous secondary sex characteristics corresponding to the sex designated at birth. Since this treatment is fully reversible, it is regarded as an extended time for adolescents to explore their gender identity by means of an early social transition (Ashley, 2019e). Treatment with GnRHas also has therapeutic benefit since it often results in a vast reduction in the level of distress stemming from physical changes that occur when endogenous puberty begins (Rosenthal, 2014; Turban, King et al., 2020)."

But they halt puberty, the process that changes a kid brain into an adult brain.

That's why WPATH recommends not using them until after puberty has begun: "The use of puberty-blocking medications, such as GnRH analogues, is not recommended until children have achieved a minimum of Tanner stage 2 of puberty because the experience of physical puberty may be critical for further gender identity development for some TGD adolescents (Steensma et al., 2011)."

In this case why bother with blockers at all? Seems like medication and risk without a purpose.

One reason is to allow casting a wider net. If close to 100% of kids who go on blockers continue on to cross-sex hormones, that suggests the blockers are being used fairly conservatively, i.e., only the kids who are most likely to go on cross-sex hormones anyway are getting them. Which suggests they may be screening out a lot of kids who, nevertheless, will go on to transition one day after having gone through natal puberty. Expanding the use of blockers would give those kids a chance to make that decision at a point in their physical development where it'll be easier, safer, and more effective, with minimal impact on the ones who decide to resume natal puberty.

We still have kid brains making the final decision to go on HRT, it's just a 16 year old kid brain instead of a 12 year old kid brain.

It's a 16 year old kid brain with 4 years of experience living as the opposite gender, learning about their options for hormones and surgery, etc., instead of a 12 year old kid brain with zero experience. Don't you think that experience might be useful for decision-making?

You're getting a lot of replies for the first point. For the second point, it seems comparable to a 12 year old making a decision to take cross-sex hormones after living as the opposite sex since they were 8. If the experience is the only factor, not the maturity, then that would be just as acceptable as giving cross sex hormones to 16 year olds who have been on puberty blockers since they were 12.

But I think the general public expects that 16 year olds are able to make more informed decisions in general than 12 year olds, and a large part of this depends on the difference in general maturity and problem solving ability - not just experience. For there to be proper informed consent, the kid needs to be able to understand life long choices. The kid needs to understand not just the words "increased risk of heart disease or stroke" but needs to have a conceptual understanding of risk and what it is like to go through a stroke, what happens after, etc. It's one thing to know the words that it will be harder to have sexual pleasure or start a family, it's another thing to be able to conceptualize what that would mean for them as an individual (I would say most 16 year olds would be unable to fully appreciate it, let alone 16 year olds who have brains that function like 12 year old brains.)

The experience of dressing in a certain way and cutting hair in a certain way is absolutely trivial and never entered my mind as a concern with regards to informed consent and making permanent medical decisions at 16.

For there to be proper informed consent, the kid needs to be able to understand life long choices. The kid needs to understand not just the words "increased risk of heart disease or stroke" but needs to have a conceptual understanding of risk and what it is like to go through a stroke, what happens after, etc. It's one thing to know the words that it will be harder to have sexual pleasure or start a family, it's another thing to be able to conceptualize what that would mean for them as an individual

I don't disagree with much of that, but the unfortunate reality is, those risks exist no matter what.

They have exactly the same capacity at age 12/16/whatever to understand the risks of going on blockers and then possibly cross-sex hormones as they do to understand the risks of not doing it: what it's like to go through a series of major surgeries to correct things that could've been prevented (funding them if they aren't covered by insurance, taking weeks away from work to recover, etc.) and to live with the things that could've been prevented but are now uncorrectable, what it's like to have to reintroduce yourself to everyone you know as an adult, to update your photo ID when you no longer resemble your old photo, and so on.

Denying them a choice in the matter doesn't make any of the risks go away, it just forces them into accepting one set of risks instead of the other.

The experience of dressing in a certain way and cutting hair in a certain way is absolutely trivial and never entered my mind as a concern with regards to informed consent and making permanent medical decisions at 16.

It probably should have, because I don't think the experience of social transition is really very trivial at all. It's not just about the self-contained act of putting on different clothes or getting a different hairstyle; it's also about how your interactions with everyone else are affected by whether they perceive you as male or female.

They have exactly the same capacity at age 12/16/whatever to understand the risks of going on blockers and then possibly cross-sex hormones as they do to understand the risks of not doing it:

In cases like that, where a kid (under 14 at least) faces consequences in every direction, typically the doctors and the parents/guardians look at concrete data, test results, imaging, prognosis learned from studies, and make the best decision together for the kid (with the parent being the final arbiter outside of especially egregious decisions where the data is very, very clear - like blood transfusions.) They don't freeze the kid in cryo until their birth certificate says they're old enough and then have the kid make the decision.

It feels like we're trying to invent medical ethics 2.0 for this group, ignoring all the lessons of the 20th century that created medical ethics 1.0.

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That's why WPATH recommends not using them until after puberty has begin:

The reason they do that is because starting them too early permanently halts the development of sexual function (see my Marci Bowers quote from the other comment), it has nothing to do with the development of the brain. There's no evidence starting them after Tanner II helps minimize the impact on the brain.

Also keep in mind that this proves blockers are not reversible, contrary to what is often claimed by professionals in trans case.

One reason is to allow casting a wider net. If close to 100% of kids who go on blockers continue on to cross-sex hormones, that suggests the blockers are being used fairly conservatively, i.e., only the kids who are most likely to go on cross-sex hormones anyway are getting them.

This could be easily tested with randomization, which is seen as unethical by trans activists for some reason. Other potential explanations for the same result could be the blockers themselves preventing desistence, or the sunk cost fallacy encouraging people to continue interventions once they started. There's no reason to assume your explanation is more likely to be true.

Which suggests they may be screening out a lot of kids

I'll need to double check, but as far as I remember the Dutch Protocol just took in the order on which they were referred to the gender clinic, so they did not really screen anyone out. I'll post about it in a separate comment once I find more info.

easier, safer, and more effective, with minimal impact on the ones who decide to resume natal puberty.

There isn't really any evidence for that, and blockers do not have minimal impact.

Don't you think that experience might be useful for decision-making?

How does the experience of changing your name, dressing a different way, or going to the other bathroom help to inform you about making permanent modifications to your body?

The reason they do that is because starting them too early permanently halts the development of sexual function (see my Marci Bowers quote from the other comment),

That claim is absurd on its face. Is there any actual evidence for it?

There's no evidence starting them after Tanner II helps minimize the impact on the brain.

There's no evidence that there is any impact on the brain to minimize in the first place.

Also keep in mind that this proves blockers are not reversible, contrary to what is often claimed by professionals in trans case.

I suppose it would prove that, if it were true that blockers permanently halted the development of sexual function.

There isn't really any evidence for that

Can you clarify this statement?

If you're saying there's no evidence that transition is easier, safer, and more effective for people who haven't completed natal puberty, then that's simply absurd - such a claim would imply a total unfamiliarity with both human sexual development and the procedures involved in transition. So I have to assume that's not what you mean.

How does the experience of changing your name, dressing a different way, or going to the other bathroom help to inform you about making permanent modifications to your body?

It helps inform you about how committed you really are to living as the other gender. If you can't stand being called by a girl's name or being treated as a girl, you might wanna think twice about becoming a girl, right?

That claim is absurd on its face. Is there any actual evidence for it?

What do you think would compell Dr. Marci Bowers, a board member of the WPATH, to make such an absurd claim publically?

There's no evidence that there is any impact on the brain to minimize in the first place.

This response makes this entire exchange rather confusing:

But they halt puberty, the process that changes a kid brain into an adult brain.

That's why WPATH recommends not using them until after puberty has begun:

There's no evidence that there is any impact on the brain to minimize in the first place.

And "no evidence" is a bit of a strong statement, anyway.

I suppose it would prove that, if it were true that blockers permanently halted the development of sexual function.

How many examples of people who were blocked still in Tanner stage 1 can you give that had no issues with developing sexual function?

Anyway, there's plenty of evidence for blockers not being reversible. They have permanent impact on growth, and bone density, and even brain development as cited above. Blockers halting sexual development is more of a written confession on top of the evidence.

If you're saying there's no evidence that transition is easier, safer, and more effective for people who haven't completed natal puberty, then that's simply absurd - such a claim would imply a total unfamiliarity with both human sexual development and the procedures involved in transition. So I have to assume that's not what you mean.

If it's so absurd, it should be trivial to point out the issues with this statement.

The argument for puberty blockers is supposed to be that, particularly for trans women, going for male puberty causes a host of changes that would have to be reversed later on, be it dropping of the voice or changes to the body structure. Fair enough, except their are trade-offs. Puberty blockers are not a magical pause button, they just block the body's interaction with certain hormones, while development continues. So maybe your body, your face, and your voice will be more feminine thanks to puberty blockers, but your penis will be smaller making vaginoplasty more difficult, your bones will be weaker putting you at high risk of early onset osteoporosis, and you might end up with a few IQ points shaved off, putting a bit of an asterisk around that "easier" and "safer" part.

Further, while puberty blockers for trans women come with trade-offs, puberty blockers for trans-men make no sense. A Trans man can take testosterone at 50, and their voice will drop just the same, they will develop a lot of the same secondary sex characteristics, and it's easier to cut off your breasts after they grow, and you decide you don't want them when you're mature, than it is to have them re-grow if you decide you wanted them after all when you're mature. Given that trans men are currently a majority of referrals to gender clinics, it would seem on average puberty blockers do not make transition "safer" or "easier".

Further still, your original statement was "easier, safer, and more effective, with minimal impact on the ones who decide to resume natal puberty". To the extent puberty blockers help trans women, the statement is clearly false for trans-curious men who end up going the cis route. If puberty blockers were the magical pause button they are advertised, it would be one thing, but you don't get your development window back. If you allow me a bit of hyperbole: ending up as a dim, brittle midget with micropenis is not what I'd call "minimal impact". And here the downsides affect trans-curious women as well, while offering no benefit.

It helps inform you about how committed you really are to living as the other gender. If you can't stand being called by a girl's name or being treated as a girl, you might wanna think twice about becoming a girl, right?

Yes, but the question was in the other direction: how does not being bothered by being called a girl's name, or being treated as a women show you you'll be satisfied with hormones or surgery? Go ahead and "treat me like a girl", and see if I care. Not letting you come close to me with hormones or a scalpel, though.

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If close to 100% of kids who go on blockers continue on to cross-sex hormones, that suggests the blockers are being used fairly conservatively, i.e., only the kids who are most likely to go on cross-sex hormones anyway are getting them.

Or, that blockers inhibit normal desistence. Why do you ignore the most obvious option?

I don't think an explanation that relies on novel speculation about the causes of gender dysphoria and/or the effects of puberty is necessarily more "obvious" than one that relies on a common statistical phenomenon.

What common statistical phenomenon? 100% diagnosis accuracy rate? I'd be shocked if most doctors could diagnose anything short of a broken arm 100% accurately.

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Where’s the control group in these studies. You can’t draw any conclusions without a control group and randomization.

And you would need to see if the people who didn’t take puberty blockers/transitioned were better or worse off than the ones who got the interventions.

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There is anecdotal evidence that your sex life may be less-than-fully realized.

Not just anecdotal, and not just "may be less-than-fully realized". I believe Marci Bowers' words were "has never experienced an orgasm". In the latest Standards of Care, WPATH is using this as an argument to remove age limits on HRT.

But is the broadening of the accepted reasons really a problem? Assume for a moment that puberty blockers worked as advertised (no interference with normal desistance processes). Is there something inherently wrong with offering kids who are experiencing discomfort with their gender puberty blockers? One might argue that categories like non-binary or genderqueer don’t exist and are artificially created for ideological reasons, but if they do, I’m not sure what the issue is.

Puberty blockers were used as an argument to silence people with objections to permanent medical interventions on someone who's too young to understand what they even entail. "They're safe, it's like a pause button, 100% reversible". If they aren't, and it's not, I think there needs to be a reckoning about how and why they were pushed, and the people pushing them need to be excluded from future conversations.

The other thing is that "puberty blockers working as advertised" is basically the fountain of youth. The trans issue we're talking about at this point is transhumanism, not transgenderism. You can make your case for whether it's good or bad, but that needs to be a separate conversation, not something piggy-backed on how to alleviate the suffering of a minority of dysphoric kids.

Not just anecdotal, and not just "may be less-than-fully realized". I believe Marci Bowers' words were "has never experienced an orgasm".

Specifically: "Every single child who was truly blocked at Tanner stage 2 (9 - 11 years old) has never experienced orgasm."

She means they've never experienced orgasm prior to going on blockers, right? Surely she doesn't think anyone is staying at Tanner stage 2 forever.

Not just anecdotal, and not just "may be less-than-fully realized". I believe Marci Bowers' words were "has never experienced an orgasm".

I've only heard stories, which is why I describe it as anecdotal.

In the latest Standards of Care, WPATH is using this as an argument to remove age limits on HRT.

Can you link where this is the case?

Can you link where this is the case?

Sorry, I conflated a bunch of things. In the draft (should open on the correct page, check: statement 12G), and the originally published version they had a bunch of age limits, which they removed after issuing a correction. The current version does talk about not using blockers before stage Tanner II, but the reasoning for not having strict age limits for everything except for phalloplasty is more in the line of "some studies say <positive thing>, some studies don't, we recommend an individualized approach" (see page 67 or therabouts, "Consideration of ages for gender-affirming medical and surgical treatment for adolescents". And don't miss the chapter about eunuchs while you're there!).

The trans issue we're talking about at this point is transhumanism, not transgenderism.

Look at this excerpt from Joyce's book:

A 2018 paper Olson-Kennedy [the director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles]] co-authored mentions mastectomies being performed on transboys (that is, natal girls) as young as thirteen. She has been captured on video (by a parent from 4thWaveNow, a group of parents opposed to gender-identity ideology) brushing off parents’ worries about surgery on minors, saying that ‘if you want breasts at a later point in your life, you can go and get them’.

This is just magical thinking (or just bad faith) about the limits of the medical industry masquerading as "healthcare". The fact that it's coming from someone supposedly in it is even worse.

saying that ‘if you want breasts at a later point in your life, you can go and get them’.

Maybe she meant inflatable ones?

These indeed come cheap in all shapes and sizes.

But is the broadening of the accepted reasons really a problem? Assume for a moment that puberty blockers worked as advertised (no interference with normal desistance processes). Is there something inherently wrong with offering kids who are experiencing discomfort with their gender puberty blockers? One might argue that categories like non-binary or genderqueer don’t exist and are artificially created for ideological reasons, but if they do, I’m not sure what the issue is.

Whats the scenario here? So you have kids who have some sort of gender problem but dont want to transition, and you give them puberty blockers. If nothing changes about their gender situation, what then? Do they just keep taking blockers permanently? I mean, progressivism making people literally not grow up is funny as an idea, but probably not so funny if it actually happens.

And if you dont start out with the idea that normal development is the "good outcome", why would it be a problem if they interfere with desistance? At most you can say that trans people end up less happy. But hypothetically that could change, and the interference remain the same.

The simpler explanation would be that trans women attracted more scrutiny, so of course people who declared themselves to be pro-trans focused on touching women and female-related terms. Trans men don’t seriously threaten men in the same way, and good luck trying to start a mens-rights movement which might be threatened by them.

There are more arguments Joyce makes for the preservation of single-sex (basically only women’s) and the dangers of allowing trans women to enter those spaces, but they’re not very interesting or worth expounding on. If you understand the argument that males tend to be more violent, especially sexually, towards females, you’ve read about a dozen or so pages in this book already.

The feminism is getting in the way of the analysis here: Men dont worry about transmen because whatever they could do was already done by normal women. They demanded to be included in previously male-only spaces, and that those change to accomodate them. But this goes back to "The only allowed reason to not like someone is that hes evil", and so she has to claim this is about violence.

Whats the scenario here? So you have kids who have some sort of gender problem but dont want to transition, and you give them puberty blockers. If nothing changes about their gender situation, what then? Do they just keep taking blockers permanently? I mean, progressivism making people literally not grow up is funny as an idea, but probably not so funny if it actually happens.

I think the idea is that you give them time to make a decision. Perhaps in 6 months, they make a decision and it's now permanent, no buyer's remorse accepted. I have no idea how long you'd assign them.

The feminism is getting in the way of the analysis here: Men dont worry about transmen because whatever they could do was already done by normal women

Why there wasn't really a fight over trans men joining isn't really the point, I think. I'm arguing that trans men don't get any privileges by acting like cis men. The use of the men's restroom is, to use a bit of hyperbole, like a deer entering a wolves den. The only ones at risk I can see are boys who female predators may go after, but that's not nearly as common as the reverse.

Why there wasn't really a fight over trans men joining isn't really the point, I think. I'm arguing that trans men don't get any privileges by acting like cis men.

Those are the same point. They dont get any privileges that way because they already had them as women. If theres any advantages to being a man, weve gotten outraged about and tried to eliminate them a while ago.

They're related, but not the same. I'm arguing about what is, you're arguing about why that is. We're both mostly in agreement over why there's no privileges to be gained by being a trans man.

There's no legal privileges, but I suspect jumping out of the social competition between women is at least a small factor for many trans men. Some people will just never do beauty, femininity, etc. well, and so it saves them some emotional turmoil and anxiety to join the men's rat race, and abandon women's.

Why would you need to be trans for this? You can just not care about your appearance and not spend time with the chick cliques. If youre enough of a nerd to be on here youve probably seen a few girls like that.

I think the idea is that you give them time to make a decision. Perhaps in 6 months, they make a decision and it's now permanent, no buyer's remorse accepted. I have no idea how long you'd assign them.

Wait, what? That's even worse! It's one thing to muse about a hypothetical transhumanist future, where you can change your sex like you change your socks, it's another to ask ~14 year olds make permanent, "no take backsies" decisions about their bodies. Doesn't the idea strike you as completely bonkers?

it's another to ask ~14 year olds make permanent, "no take backsies" decisions about their bodies. Doesn't the idea strike you as completely bonkers?

By that logic, shouldn't 14 year olds be put on mandatory puberty blockers until they're old enough in your view to make permanent decisions about their bodies? After all, the effects of natal puberty are every bit as permanent as the effects of cross-sex hormones and reassignment surgery.

Since we know that puberty is required to mature the brain to its adult capability, and since we know that cognitive abilities that deal with understanding long term consequences only develop with puberty, and since we know that puberty blockers permanently retard brain development - how can we argue for their use? How can a minor without the capability to understand long term consequences consent to a procedure that will permanently retard their ability to understand long term consequences?

You can also throw in that we know that a significant amount of gender dysphoric kids desist after puberty but not those kids who were placed on blockers. So we also have to consider that blockers may not just cause various health issues but may actively be preventing the simplest "solution" to the original concern of dysphoria: desistance.

But a simpler way to put the same argument is that the natural healthy pathway is not on an equal playing field with a totally novel, speculative approach that manifestly has all sorts of costs (financial, social and healthwise), just because a very small (even by the accounts of activists who've probably inflated the numbers) face particular psychological issues dealing with it.

The entire idea that the natural norm is equally as "problematic" seems absurd to me; some weird mix of transhumanist assumptions far too early for their time (basically underrating the damage we can do while overrating our options for controlling development) and the end result of a "queer" philosophy that things it can recenter any structure and make all traditional structures as problematic as deviant ones with a shift of focus. Well, biology isn't just a perspective.

How can a minor without the capability to understand long term consequences consent to a procedure that will permanently retard their ability to understand long term consequences?

Citation needed.

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx

A very general overview of adolescent cognition

puberty blockers cause IQ drop https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00044/full#B6

and "According to the results obtained through the cognitive evaluations, the patient presented a decrease in their overall intellectual performance after the onset of pubertal block, pointing to immaturity in her cognitive development (Table (Table11)."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5694455/

Nope, try again. You claimed puberty blockers will permanently retard someone's ability to understand long term consequences. Your evidence doesn't back that up. I think you owe us either some evidence that people treated with puberty blockers are permanently unable to understand long term consequences, or else a retraction.

Lower IQ isn't associated with less cognitive ability?

I don't see a reason to treat a natural process we've observed in nearly every healthy human (to say nothing of every other mammal, bird, reptile, or even fish), the same way we would treat a radical intervention that would alter the trajectory of that natural process, particularly when there's no way to externally verify whether or not that intervention is appropriate in any specific case, and we're left to do it on the say-so of a teenager.

So I don't think the same logic should apply.

Do you believe we should ignore the risks of every "natural process", or only this particular natural process?

For example, cancer occurs as a natural result of cell mutations and has been observed in many species. Applying your logic consistently would mean that we shouldn't treat the natural process of cancer the same way we treat interventions to stop cancer, and therefore that the risks of e.g. chemotherapy can't be justified by weighing them against the risks of untreated cancer.

No, like I said I'm in favor of erring on the side of natural processes that are a part of a healthy life. We might run into the philosophical issue of "what is health" in some corner cases, but since we're talking about a process that is necessary for the development of reproductive functions of the body, reproduction literally being one of the defining qualities of life itself, I'd say things are pretty clear here.

We might run into the philosophical issue of "what is health" in some corner cases

Seems to me you're just trying to define your hypocrisy out of existence. Gender dysphoria isn't healthy.

Now, if only we had a way of verifying a teenager has dysphoria, without relying on their say-so...

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Questions over whether teenagers can consent to permanent surgeries are different than questions about whether puberty blockers might be acceptable. I agree that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed to transition, but that might be too young as well.

Then I don't understand what you mean by "they make a decision and it's now permanent".

Let's take a gender-uncertain 12-year-old. They're about to hit puberty and society says that it's best if kids have bodies undergoing the changes associated with the gender.

In this case, our hypothetically perfect puberty blockers might allow this child to come to terms with being okay with their current gender. The desistance takes hold and they don't want to stop their natural processes. So we take them off the blockers and it's all good. But after that, I'd say that stopping puberty as it's happening would probably be a bad idea, but I don't know the science of it. So when they say they want to be the gender assigned to their sex typically, it wouldn't be possible to ask for blockers again. Does that make sense? Or is your objection something else that I'm missing?

Oh, I thought you meant that if they do decide to switch genders, and go on with HRT / surgeries, they have no right to complain afterwards.

Pregnant Persons

Some of you will recall when the ACLU altered Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s words on abortion. The change was to convert “woman” to “person”, along with the appropriate pronoun changes.

This is, obviously, a sign of the ACLU’s commitment to the TRA stance and acceptance of GII. But this terminology was not made by them, nor is it limited to them. There are many examples of institutions adopting a gender-neutral approach when it comes to talking about health, medicine, and biology. The most famous example, I suspect, is “people who menstruate” from the original tweet that got JK Rowling cemented as a transphobe.

Another brief history lesson with Helen Joyce, this time about the affect of third-wave feminism. To summarize, mainstream feminism was only able to shift towards self-identified women instead of females because of changes in the 90s.

  1. Third-wave feminism de-emphasizing communal/structural issues and instead focusing on choice and agency.

  2. The rise of intersectionality, which made people (particularly activists) see each other as a set of labels whose experiences per label were the exact same. This meant you could stick on “trans” and it was just another label, as opposed to fundamentally in opposition with the group.

  3. A new and performative postmodernist-styled method of doing feminism, in which subversive playing with words and symbols were substitutes for working with governments and movements.

Who cares, you might say. After all, isn’t it liberating to not be defined by being a “walking uterus”? To this, Joyce responds that this is only a negative because you see being a female as limiting.

Joyce embraces the argument that shifting definitions of things that were previously for “women” to gender-neutrality is inherently dehumanizing when the need comes to speak of female bodies. “Pregnant people”, “people with vaginas”, “abortion seekers”, “birthing parent” and more are examples of this to her. Personally, I think this is overblown and Joyce is being hysterical. When people say these things, it is not “reminiscent of porn sites, where visitors are invited to search according to body part and activity of interest.” Nor is it the case that women “become orifices, providers of genetic material, vessels for growing offspring and milch cows.”

I will admit that there has been a rise in the use of this language in ways that are clearly misogynistic, but I do not believe that it makes these phrases inherently dehumanizing.

Joyce also misses on another argument – the noticed redefining of terms to suit trans women but not trans men. She correctly points out that in multiple cases, the definition of women or female is changed to be trans-inclusive, even for medical advice websites, but there is no similar change for trans men. She argues that this is just another example of how the trans rights movement is really about men trying to have it all.

The simpler explanation would be that trans women attracted more scrutiny, so of course people who declared themselves to be pro-trans focused on touching women and female-related terms. Trans men don’t seriously threaten men in the same way, and good luck trying to start a mens-rights movement which might be threatened by them.

There are more ways in which cis women are hurt socially by this, but I don’t think it’s necessary to expand on them. In order:

  1. Lesbians are under pressure to sleep with trans women.

  2. Lesbian icons are rewritten to become trans men.

  3. Cis women whose husbands transition can see serious relationship problems.

Joyce is being hysterical... I will admit that there has been a rise in the use of this language in ways that are clearly misogynistic

Please, please tell me this was deliberate.

I do not believe that it makes these phrases inherently dehumanizing.

Is there any phrase that you do consider inherently dehumanizing, rather than becoming that via context? This is like any discussion on what produces a slur, too; it's the usage that poisons those terms, so the "inherentness" isn't really the deciding factor.

The simpler explanation would be that trans women attracted more scrutiny, so of course people who declared themselves to be pro-trans focused on touching women and female-related terms. Trans men don’t seriously threaten men in the same way

Interesting choice of words.

Isn't part of the factor in erasing women-language but not man-language that there simply isn't a similar set of overlaps? At most, you've got "trans-women (probably?) still need prostate exams," but there's nothing so involved (and identity-affirming/destroying, depending on context) as pregnancy.

good luck trying to start a mens-rights movement which might be threatened by them.

Don't really need that last part, do you?

Please, please tell me this was deliberate.

I fucking knew someone would call me out for using that term. Yes, I was very much aware that women have been called hysterical for what they're saying. I can only say that it fits Joyce's argument at that time.

Is there any phrase that you do consider inherently dehumanizing, rather than becoming that via context?

No. I get why people opt the route of declaring a word/phrase problematic, it's convenient to demand that people use your terminology to refer to you since you can make them use maximally positive language. But that's not the same as saying the words are inherently a problem, it's always the intent behind them.

Isn't part of the factor in erasing women-language but not man-language that there simply isn't a similar set of overlaps? At most, you've got "trans-women (probably?) still need prostate exams," but there's nothing so involved (and identity-affirming/destroying, depending on context) as pregnancy.

Good point, but I'm not sure how much you can attribute to this justification. At least, I've never seen anyone use or allude to this as for why people, as Joyce argues, are interested in going after women-language over men-language.

Linguistically dividing a politically useful/necessary class into constituent parts ("menstruator" "pregnant people" "people with vaginas") could be argued to reduce class cohesion - essentially, if "women" don't exist then it's harder for "women" to band together and advocate for their rights.

Medically there are language barrier issues as well, if you use "cervix-havers need pap smears" instead of "women need pap smears" you will necessarily fail to address a number of the female individuals you seek to alert.

The last argument I have against such language, beyond its awkwardness and ugliness in prose, is that changing the words will not affect reality in the long term. So, while such language is disjointed, ugly, atomizing etc now...over time "menstruator" and "afab" will just replace "women" in people's minds and will be as inclusive/exclusive as those words are now. Humans are very good at recognizing another individual's sex, very few trans people pass and those that do are mostly trans men...no one will be fooled by linguistic games in the long run, just like if we started calling cats "undogs" it'd be weird and people would misunderstand it for a while but in the end it wouldn't change anything material.

Linguistically dividing a politically useful/necessary class into constituent parts ("menstruator" "pregnant people" "people with vaginas") could be argued to reduce class cohesion - essentially, if "women" don't exist then it's harder for "women" to band together and advocate for their rights.

The fact that there's a constant euphemism treadmill where they deny or colonize any of the "polite" ways to distinguish* make it quite clear to me that destroying the group cohesion is not just a consequence but a goal.

* See the blurring around "female', now that "woman" has been ceded.

Linguistically dividing a politically useful/necessary class into constituent parts ("menstruator" "pregnant people" "people with vaginas") could be argued to reduce class cohesion - essentially, if "women" don't exist then it's harder for "women" to band together and advocate for their rights.

Yup, Joyce definitely believes this as well. She argues that destroying women as a group defined by how they are the female sex and oppressed by men because of it makes it hard to do group-based politics, since you now may have women who do not fit either description and have drastically different needs and wants.

I fucking knew someone would call me out for using that term

I mean, I laughed. If it fits, it fits, and in the context it's hilarious.

it's convenient to demand that people use your terminology to refer to you since you can make them use maximally positive language. But that's not the same as saying the words are inherently a problem, it's always the intent behind them.

Well, uh, on this topic demanding that people use your maximally positive language is hardly a sin committed only by Joyce. We're assuming the intent is honest, but also, should we let intent be the deciding factor? Whatever the intent, in practice, it turns out that a sizable population really hates that language even though they've supported everything else to do with all this.

The simpler explanation would be that trans women attracted more scrutiny

Yes, but I think cross sex exogenous hormones play a significant role here. I remember reading a piece by a trans man about his partner complaining that since beginning receiving testosterone he'd become more terse and less expansive about his emotional experiences. Isn't it plausible that trans men in receipt of testosterone become more stereotypically masculine, either bottling up their emotions and/or more likely simply experiencing a significantly reduced valence of emotions, while trans women experience the opposite where their exposure to oestrogen manifests in the stereotypically feminine behaviour of feeling strong emotions and coping with those emotions by proactively sharing them for inspection and validation. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease technician's attention. Yes that's sexist but in this subject talking about sex-isms is unavoidable.

The Sports Question

You all know about this and the controversy surrounding people like Lia Thomas, so I won’t give too much background information.

Firstly, Joyce details something only modern TRAs deny – that there is a biological difference between males and female that is not possible to overcome in the vast majority of cases. She points difference in body fat, muscle mass, etc. where men have clear advantages.

In 1998, Serena and Venus Williams challenged any male tennis player ranked 200th or below. The 203rd rank player did little preparation and crushed them both. The site boysvswomen (no points for guessing their stance on this) tracks how teenage boys compare against just “women” and finds that they completely dominate for the most part. I don’t think it’s unbiased, but I don't think it's wrong.

In other words, you would effectively erase cis women from any kind of recognition or awards if they competed with men, as women would lose to even middling men.

A good-faith TRA might argue that male bodies do indeed have advantages over female bodies. But this doesn’t hold for trans people. This, unfortunately, is not the case either. I decided to dig into it myself to see what was up.

  1. This 2021 paper says that “the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed.”

  2. This meta-review by the BMJ found “hormone therapy decreases strength, LBM and muscle area, yet values remain above that observed in cisgender women, even after 36 months. These findings suggest that strength may be well preserved in transwomen during the first 3 years of hormone therapy.”

  3. This 2019 study looking at grip strength in trans men and trans women found that while grip strength increased for the latter and dropped for the former. But the amount they change is not the same, nor do they change to the levels found in cis people. This site shows average grip strength by age brackets and is likely very close to cis people’s averages. Looking at this, you can see that, for a 28-year-old trans woman, her average grip strength of 40 is significantly higher than that of women of that age (36). For comparison, the average male grip strength is 44.5. With trans men averaging an age of 23 in that study, their grip strength of 39.2 is again basically half-way between cis men and women.

This is not to say that men will dominate in every sport, or even that individual ability doesn’t matter. But on average, it doesn’t seem like transitioning does much to address the power of male puberty.

Of course, we might ask if those who transition pre-puberty might be able to play. I can’t find any studies about it, but here’s what a sports physicist had to say on the matter.

Interviewer: Presumably, there is no advantage if a trans girl never went through male puberty?

Harper: I suspect that trans girls would still, on average, be taller. I don't know that for certain. There may be very minimal advantages.

So, this may be a group who could participate in cross-sex sports.

In any case, Joyce explains that by 1972, you had more than 1000 female athletes competing, and everyone at the time recognized they needed separate events. The reason is obvious to casual observation – males tend to physically dominate in comparison to females.

But you now ran into an issue – how to define female? This is not as easy as you might think with respect to the tests they would run.

For example, physical examination can be wrong like it was in the case of Foekje Dullema, a Dutch track athlete. In 1950, her national record was erased for not being a woman, but in 2012, researchers found she had a rare condition called 45,XX/46,XY mosaicism, which meant she was born with the cells of both sexes.

Consider then the case of Ewa Klobukowska, a Polish sprinter who had some kind of mosaicism (meaning some cells were XXY). She was able to become a mother later, but it was unclear how much of her sporting ability really came from that extra Y.

Before the 1968 Olympics, the physical exams were replaced with the Barr bodies test, where you test for deactivated X chromosomes. However, this would lead to the exclusion of people with CAIS, or complete androgen-insensitivity syndrome. These people had XY chromosomes, but just didn’t get affected by them, meaning they were not able to cheat with male puberty’s effects.

The case of Maria Jose Martinez-Patino, a Spanish hurdler, made the International Olympics Committee change on this test as well after they deemed she was unjustly affected by the Barr bodies test. They replaced it with the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. But by this point, the history of misfires had lowered any confidence in doing this kind of testing. Now, suspicious individuals would be tested, but general tests were stopped after 1999 by the IOC.

Here, I’m not exactly sure what happened. According to Joyce, sporting authorities were unable to determine or accept that the cause of male advantage was their bodies combined with the power of male puberty. Instead, in 2003, they apparently decided it all came down to having testicles and a body that could produce testosterone.

Joyce writes that there was pressure on sports administrators by the 2010s. Some of it was accusation of sexism due to the 2009 Caster Semenya case, others were – you guessed it – TRAs who wanted gender identity to be the decider. The IOC believed that the latter were preparing challenges against their Stockholm Rules (the 2003 ruleset), particularly in places where sex-change surgery wasn’t needed for changing legal sex.

But there is some good news for Joyce and others like her. In 2020, World Rugby has declared that they will not allow trans women to compete in the international women’s game due to the heightened risk of injury. The risk of injury in rugby is very important to assess, it’s a collision sport, you can get brain injuries and broken necks. The organization can’t compel national federations to do the same, but it has warned anyone who breaks with the rule that if any cis woman brings up a personal injury claim, they won’t lift a finger.

I personally think that the sports question is extremely overblown and only used as a proxy for the larger culture war.

Many, many people are unable to compete in sports even when training their whole life, simply because they were born with bodies that are unable to reach top performances. I think the best examples for this would be sprinting and basketball.

Since >90% of the people born are unable to match top athlete performance, I don't see what the big deal is to just say "Well, yeah, you are a woman but you still cannot compete, you were sadly born in a body that barrs you from it, sorry."

It sucks for them, but life isn't always fair and that is fine.

Life being unfair is unalterable by us, it's up to something no one can control. In contrast, we get to decide who participates in what sports. The two should not be conflated, one is changeable and one is not.