Is ‘Gender Critical feminism’ an abuse culture?
How everyone from JK Rowling, The Daily Mail, an academic with a premium Survey Monkey account, the guy who co-wrote Father Ted and everyone else in the ‘Gender Critical’ movement may be normalising abuse and endorsing conversion therapy
Personal opinion of Michelle Snow.
This is long. It also jumps around a fair bit but had to get this all down in one place before my brain exploded. I promise it is going somewhere.
CN: Abuse references, descriptions of abuse practice, homophobia, transphobia, posts from ‘Gender Critical’ hate holes, LGBT conversion therapy and Game of Thrones spoilers.
In 2009 Ann Sinnott wrote a book called ‘Breastfeeding older children’ and to promote her work she talked to the Guardian. She mostly shared her experiences of breastfeeding her own child for longer than is seen as typical and nothing about it struck me as strange until I read these two sentances:
Shaming parents for how they raise their children is a very real thing. Shaming mothers is especially common. We have all seen it and we have all maybe even participated in it. I did not and do not want to do that myself but a number of things really bugged me about this:
How many 16 year olds would choose to be breastfed? Who is the person who would benefit from this arrangement? Why shouldn’t we be concerned about someone still being breastfed when they are old enough to drive a car to a shop and buy milk with money they received from their job? If someone who was 16 or older actually did choose to take their meals this way, could that be a sign that something sinister is going on?
When you were 16 would you have made the choice to have some lunch via your parent’s breast?
Nine years after this article was published, Sinnott alongside three others founded the LGB Alliance, a ‘Gender critical’ anti-trans hate group who work to reduce the rights of trans people in the UK.
Just cut to the chase, what are you arguing here Michelle? This is a looooong
I am arguing that the ‘Gender Critical’ movement and all who operate in it have possibly cultivated an abusive culture that has the potential to give adults the tools and justifications for commiting child abuse.
I will show that there are potential signs of this abuse posted publically right now.
And that it is possible that trans youths are being abused as you read this as a result of members of their family, teachers, medical practitioners and just about any adult in their lives coming into contact with ‘Gender Critical’ materials. That these materials are legitimised and promoted on social media, the mainstream media, dodgy academics, anti-trans web forums and specialised online spaces created to lure in parents who are ill-informed on trans issues and seeking answers after their child tells them they are trans.
And that these adults (including parents and guardians) have possibly become radicalised against trans issues to the point that they might be seeking out established trans conversion therapists or even practicing a form of trans conversion therapy themselves on young people outside of clinical or religious settings.
Are you serious?
Yes. I am.
Alright then, what is your definition of abuse?
Big question, but it has a relatively simple answer. Abuse is behaviour that causes harm. It can take the form of physical abuse (violence), sexual abuse, emotional abuse and pyschological abuse.
Abuse in any of its forms includes elements of coercive control and invalidation. Abuse can happen within any relationship but isn’t exactly uncommon in close relationships (in families, romantic relationships etc). When it comes to physical and sexual abuse most people could probably identify them if they happened to witness them. But when you get into pyschological and emotional abuse the signs can be subtle and can be very easily missed even if you do know what to look for.
But the truth is that most people reading this probably wouldn’t know it if they saw emotional or pyschological abuse. A good example of that is how most people missed a pretty obvious example from one of the most watched TV shows of all time.
Game of Throne’s Jon Snow is a survivor of emotional abuse.
This was obvious to those who knew what to look for in the first episode of the show. His father, Eddard Stark, lied to him about his true parentage his whole life, his fathers wife (Caitlyn Stark) treated him terribly, neglected him and even scapegoated him because he was (she believed) a child that was born due to her husband’s infidelity.
Jon Snow was told every single day of his life that he is worth less than his brothers and sisters. He wasn’t even allowed to share his family’s name even though he could have been granted it at any time.
It is probably the case that not even George RR Martin himself could have identified Jon Snow’s status as a survivor of child abuse even though he created the character. This was a TV show that was famously awful when it came to depicting the more well known forms of abuse so it was only natural that this could be missed even by the writers themselves.
Here is a list of behaviours that the NSPCC have put together that would qualify as behaviours conducive to emotional abuse of a child:
Jon Snow grew up and lived with at least seven of these behaviours (and even more in the books).
If this detail was totally missed when it applied to one of the most cherished characters from one of the most watched, most talked about, most loved shows of all time, you can probably imagine how much this gets missed or glossed over in the real world.
Sorry to ruin your favourites, House Stark Stans.
Thanks for spoiling Game of Thrones…what is your definition of conversion therapy?
The popular understanding of conversion therapy is a form of treatment that aims to ‘cure’ LGBT people of their ‘incorrect’ sexuality or gender identity. This practice has been performed in many settings by medical practitioners, religious leaders, members of cults and even by family members of the victims.
According to a review of the research published in the British Medical Journal there has not been much research into transgender/gender identity specific conversion therapy. But for this article I will be using the definition set out in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by 20 medical organisations including NHS England, NHS Scotland, the British Pyschological Society and the Royal College of General Practitioners:
“…’conversion therapy’ is an umbrella term for a therapeutic approach, or any model or individual viewpoint that demonstrates an assumption that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other, and which attempts to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity, or seeks to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity on that basis.”
Do you believe conversion therapy is abuse?
Well, yes. Clearly yes. How could you ask that?
At the heart of conversion therapy is the idea that a person’s sexuality or gender identity is an abberation that needs to be fixed. The practice is literally invalidating a component of a person’s identity and lived experiences.
It could be argued that conversion therapy is a formalised version of gas-lighting, the practice of subtley manipulating the target to question their experiences, judgement or even their sanity.
You only need to read the testimonies of survivors of the practice to quickly identify that these practices are dangerous and abusive by their nature.
But also worth remembering is that a major part of conversion therapy is identifying some kind of cause for the ‘abberation’.
Those that have been identified as causes for an LGBT identity by conversion therapy practitioners have included:
Surviving a physical/sexual assualt
Growing up with distant male/female role models
Being bullied at school
Self image/body issues
Various kinds of mental trauma
And as a social contagion that was ‘caught’ from positive media depictions of LGBT people or information about them.
That last one? Was literally the justification for the infamous Section 28 clause in the UK that made it illegal for a teacher to mention being gay in positive terms in a school. I have written about my experiences growing up under Section 28 before.
Alright, we get it, get to the point already Michelle
The UK news media has given the groups and individuals that make up the ‘Gender Critical’ movement (what correct people call a hate movement) alot of positive attention.
The LGB Alliance, Transgender Trend and Fairplay for Women have been reported on and covered positively and uncritically many, many times by The Times, The Telegraph, The Spectator, The Daily Mail, BBC News and too many others to name. The extent of how much positive coverage this hate movement and their ideas had received was a joke amongst trans people at one point. It stopped being funny three years ago when Gender Recognition Act reform was first kicked into the long grass before finally being killed off entirely last year.
These organisation’s talking points have also been promoted by British writers JK Rowling and Graham Linehan, who between them brought these ideas to the awareness of billions worldwide with the assistance of the global press.
(That was mostly JK Rowling though. Graham Linehan was barely known outside the UK and is actually more famous globally now for being really, truly weird).
But what appears to have been missed is how all of these groups and individuals have possibly advocated for conversion therapy for trans people. They have even dished out a possible justification for it that could give parents a justification for abusing their children with the tactics of traditional conversion therapy practitioners.
To me, they have done so openly but hidden away from identifying terms and practices, because they have invented a new language to act as a trojan horse for abusive practices.
How? By supporting a ‘Detransitioner community’ (that raises a lot of unsettling questions) and through advocating for a little thing called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria that absolutely isn’t a sub-type of gender dysphoria but is widely treated as such by the ‘Gender Critical’ movement.
Okay, start with the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, what is that?
This is going to take some explaining.
Before 2018 on web forums such as Mumsnet as well as multiple Gender Critical subreddits there was a lot of posts and conversations about how ‘identifying as trans’ was the result of a social contagion. Parents of trans children, upon being told or finding out about their childs identity appear to have flocked to these forums and there they would be told that their child is ‘doing this to them’ because they had been infected by the internet, their friends or even ‘groomed’ into it by some ‘nefarious transgender lobby.’ You can go to any gender critical online space right now and see the posts for yourself. It won’t take you long to find them. Just search for ‘ROGD Parents’ on any search engine.
And Lisa Littman, an assistant proffessor at Brown University’s School of Public Health, probably decided to make the idea of socially contagious ‘trans identifying’, which was based purely on the perception of a person’s motivations from the outside, something more ‘real.’ That is the only explanation for what she did in 2018.
Littman created a web survey and asked the operators of three anti-transgender websites to call for participants: 4th Wave Now, Transgender Trend and Youth trans critical professionals. All three are infamously anti-trans and host key resources for the ‘Gender Critical’ movement, they all argue that gender identity isn’t real and as a result trans identites are not legitimate. The survey also later found its way to a Facebook group for the parents of transgender children that Littman noted was a ‘trans positive’ group. It is unconfirmed how many participants took part through a specific group or website but it is safe to assume that the majority of the participants will have participated through the three outright anti-trans websites. The survey itself didn’t ask where the participants found the survey and the survey was created on and hosted by Survey Monkey so Littman herself probably has no idea where the participants came from.
The results of these web surveys were formulated into a study that outlined a pattern of Gender Dysphoria in young people ‘onsetting rapidly’. The survey made no attempt to ask the young people themselves about the speed of the onset of their gender dysphoria. This survey’s goal was to measure the perceptions from parents on the outside.
Littman’s study claimed that there was a direct correlation between a young person’s gender dysphoria onsetting rapidly with the following behaviours:
Having friends who had come out as transgender in some form (because trans people becoming friends with other trans people is a red flag).
An increased use of social media and/or the internet before disclosing their gender identity (when it comes to the ‘internet’ part, Littman was not specific on whether this meant trans related websites or just marathoning Bojack Horseman).
A ‘feeling of victimhood’ (which…not hard to have when your parents aren’t exactly onboard and spend their time on anti-trans websites is it?).
The study was titled: “Parent reports of adolescents and young adults perceived to show signs of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria.”
The title is accurate. No youths, trans or otherwise, were asked to participate. This was entirely based on the perceptions of (almost certainly) anti-trans people whose children I feel very sorry for. But looking at gender critical/anti-trans webspaces, they appear to believe that this study was absolute proof that a parent’s idea of who their child is trumps anything the child themselves has to say.
JK Rowling mentioned it in her blog post where she argued that she herself may have come down with some of that ‘ROGD’ herself as a teenager because she had suffered misogyny growing up whilst also living with OCD.
And here is Graham Linehan claiming it is real and also working in his favourite word (predator) because he is Graham Linehan and he is…*sigh*.
The problem is that Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) does not exist as it is widely understood by transphobes. A diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria requires the feelings of discomfort associated with it to be present for six months or more.
It also requires people who may be experiencing gender dysphoria to actually say so themselves. The person actually has to tell the clinician how they feel. You can’t get someone else diagnosed with gender dysphoria by proxy no matter how old they are.
‘ROGD’ can never, ever be a medical diagnosis for the same reason you cannot get your neighbour diagnosed with something on your say so alone. Because the person themselves with the symptoms of whatever it is has to actually describe them to a clinician.
(There are obviously exceptions)
But also, the most obvious point…maybe these parents don’t know every single thing about their childs life? How many of you kept things from your parents growing up? Especially something that could result in family rejection which coming out as trans famously can cause?
There are now many groups and websites that exist that have taken Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria as part of their name and reason for being. There are resource threads on transphobic web forums for ‘ROGD Parents’. The tone of these is blatant: ‘My child isn’t really trans, they have been taken from me!”
There is even a book that came out last year called ‘Irreversible Damage’ that was entirely inspired by “ROGD” that has only served to make it more legitimate. Stamford medical school Child Pyschology fellow Jack Turban MD called the book: “…bizarre and full of misinformation.”
It was written by a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. Not a clinician. But Ben Shapiro really liked it.
Of course this book got rave reviews in the Daily Mail, The Times and The Sunday Times and was featured in the Economists best books of 2020 list which makes sense when you consider the UK’s new media’s editorial position on trans issues.
But how has ‘ROGD’ been received by the medical community?
It hasn’t. It has not been studied further in any way I could find and the World Proffessional Association for Transgender Health had this to say about it:
“The term “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)” is not a medical entity recognized by any major professional association, nor is it listed as a subtype or classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD)”
Also, a researcher from the same University as Littman came out saying that the study was nonsense.
But despite the fact that this came from parents who probably weren’t listening to their children, it became a fancy new phrase that sounds like it could come from a diagnostic manual. It was spread online and then legitimised by Littman’s ‘study’ and further spread through ‘Irreversible Damage.’ As a result the idea that some trans identities are not authentic and should be challenged, their identities invalidated and explained away by “they use Snapchat” and other such nonsense is now a mainstream idea in the UK and beyond.
Where do these ‘detransitioners’ come into it?
I have not got nearly as much to go on here. But here is how I see it.
The idea of someone who has chosen to detransition isn’t a new one. Detransitioners have always been part of the trans community. But to most trans people, they are people who tend to re-transition at some point and cite external factors as the reason they detransitioned in the first place.
But many members of the ‘Gender Critical’ movement have been talking about the ‘many’ or even ‘thousands’ of detransitioned people existing who are proof that current trans healthcare models are wrong or otherwise dangerous.
Here is another snippet from JK Rowling’s blog:
And of course here is something from the former comedy writer to ‘celebrate’ the recent DeTrans awareness day:
I wasn’t exactly well informed on the subject of detransitioners because I am a journalist who covers the trans community and genuinely in six years of doing so I have only ever met three detransitioners. And two of them had retransitioned in some form. But on the 10th of March this letter was released online to announce that the 12th of March would be De-Trans awareness day:
I spent all day editing a podcast on the 12th so decided to jump into the hashtag the next day to get my head around it and maybe, possibly, find some guests for a future podcast. Some will not believe me on this but the podcast’s whole thing is going deep into things and I probably wasn’t the only one who knew very little about detransitioners so I believed that it would probably make for a good pod. Even though the whole awareness day was basically a hashtag, maybe there was something more to it?
Here is what I learned from the 2021 Detrans awareness day.
- Every named organisor from that letter was followed by almost entirely ‘Gender Critical’ anti trans accounts. They are very easy to spot: it is almost always made clear in an account’s bio and wouldn’t take long to find some kind of reference to how trans something is bad or needs to stopped in their posts if that wasn’t the case. If you have doubts, please double check my work yourself.
- I looked for detrans people who were not openly transphobic or related to ‘Gender Critical’ anti-trans ideology in some form. I found none.
- The vast majority of accounts that claimed to be detrans were anonymous and faceless. I found less than 20 who used a real sounding name and showed their face. Again, all appeared to be heavily aligned with ‘Gender Critical’ ideology in some way.
- Every single major thought leader in ‘Gender Critical’ online transphobia was celebrating and boosting the event in some way.
- For an awareness day, I did not learn anything about what detrans people actually wanted from their social media posts. The references to “alternative theraputic options” for dealing with Gender Dysphoria started and ended there.
I re-read the letter. This portion stood out to me:
“Alternative theraputic treatment for gender dysphoria is not offered by the established medical community…We need to be given the same level of urgency to care that we had when we identified as transgender and persued medical transition.”
What is an alternative theraputic treatment for gender dysphoria that isn’t offered by the established medical community? Why so vague?
I looked around and found this tweet from one of the awareness day’s organisors:
Gender…dysphoria….socially induced? There is no evidence supporting that?
Then I went to Transgender Trend who had published a pamphlet written by one of the organising groups.
I read through it and the vast majority of the pamphlet appeared to be selling the idea that transitioning itself was wrong, did not solve any issues a person may have and may even cause misery.
There were repeated assertions that medically transitioning would not make a person a “real” man or woman.
And then came the idea that medical transitioning itself was not the answer for dealing with gender dysphoria.
Let’s go back to the conversion therapy memorandum of understanding that I wrote about at the beginning:
“‘conversion therapy’ is an umbrella term for a therapeutic approach, or any model or individual viewpoint that demonstrates an assumption that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other, and which attempts to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity, or seeks to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity on that basis.”
‘Gender Critical’ ideology has always been very clearly against the idea of medical or social transition. It’s founding text (Janice Raymond’s ‘The Transsexual Empire”) argued heavily against medical transitions and included the infamous quote: “The problem of transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.”
Everyone involved with this Detrans awareness day was ‘Gender Critical’ and anti-trans in some form.
This pamphlet has to be an advert for detransitioning. It isn’t just information for detransitioners. It was selling detransition as a better way for dealing with Gender dysphoria (something Cornell University as well as just about every medical and research institution on earth disagrees with).
This pamphlet was a literal conversion therapy tool selling a thoroughly debunked lie.
It repeatedly put the cause of gender dysphoria down to trauma, mental health issues and autism.
The same reasons given to justify gay conversion therapy.
Nobody can argue that this ‘resource’ wasn’t a conversion therapy resource. Everything in it was literally arguing that the gender assigned to them at birth was preferable to the identity their still present dysphoria was trying to tell them about.
It was hard for me to believe anything other than the few remotely verifiable detransitioners I had seen were potentially victims of some kind of ‘Gender Critical’ conversion therapy. Of course I cannot know this for sure and I believe people when they tell me who they are.
But they told me a lot about who they are by the sheer number of ‘Gender Critical’ anti trans people they followed. And they told me alot about themselves when their entire movement all believed the same political views in regards to transgender issues.
You would expect to find a diversity of opinion amongst any group of people united under a demographic. But the detransition community appeared to be something of a monoculture.
Hang on, that is a whole series of huge judgements on a whole bunch of people. You are clearly prejudiced! Why should anyone believe you?
Well don’t just believe me. Maybe believe Ky Schevers, a “former detrans rad fem” who has been arguing this for months now.
In her blog post about Detran awareness day she had this to say:
“After researching social psychology and radicalization, I now know that people with strong psychological needs and vulnerabilities can easily be indoctrinated if they find a ideological group that offers them a sense of support and belonging and seems capable of solving their problems. Which means that if the only group that a detransitioning or questioning person can find holds a particular set of beliefs, that person could easily adopt those beliefs as a means of getting support and care from the group. We thought the fact that so many detrans women adopted radical feminist politics meant we had stumbled onto the truth. Their conversion reinforced our faith. Really we just stumbled on a very effective way of brainwashing people without them really realizing what was happening. Hell, a lot of us had been radicalized ourselves through a similar process.”
In another blog she talked about how she sought to discourage detransition and ‘liberate’ transmasculine people from being trans:
Outwardly I was trying to raise awareness and create resources for detransitioned women while covertly I was working with radical feminists, detrans and otherwise, to counter trans activism, discourage people from transitioning and “liberate” transmasculine people from themselves. Some of us joked among ourselves about running psy-ops in queer/trans groups, subtly trying to change what ideas were acceptable to talk about in those spaces.
You should read every single word that Ky has written, but if you still have doubts about this little “detran conversion therapy” theory, read her blog on how she was ‘converted’ herself.
After reading that it is hard to look at any ‘Gender Critical’ detransitioner as anything but a potential victim of conversion therapy that has possibly become a practitioner of conversion therapy themselves.
Naturally, Lisa Littman’s next ‘study’ is on detransitioners. Based on her previous work, expect this to be based on the results of another Survery Monkey poll that will be about as useful scientifically as asking ‘Flat Earth’ advocates if they believe the Earth is flat.
So is this actually resulting in children being abused and being subjected to conversion therapy?
‘This is very likely’ is my view. It is currently hard to tell or confirm. But there are signs out there online right now that are publicly accessible that suggest that ‘Gender critical’ ideology is pushing parents and other adults towards abusive practices including emotional abuse and conversion therapy.
Here are some anonymous posts from Mumsnet that could be seen as adults admitting to engaging in abusive behaviour towards their own or other trans children.
Many ‘Gender Critical’ spaces share information about the Bayswater Support group. Their website includes information on how to invalidate a trans childs identity and manipulate them into believing that being trans isn’t real or their feelings are otherwise invalid. Here they are advising on how to navigate around the Memorandum of Understanding on conversion therapy to ensure that the child receives some of that sweet, sweet conversion therapy from a therapist.
Also shared widely in ‘Gender Critical’ spaces are the names of specific trans conversion therapists including Lisa Marchiano. Here are her words that were published in a niche pyschology journal.
Finally, here are some ‘stories from ‘ROGD parents’ from another ‘resource’ widely shared in ‘Gender Critical’ circles:
Alright, this is too long as it is. Summarise?
The LGB Alliance, Transgender Trend, Fairplay for Women, JK Rowling and Graham Linehan have all pushed Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and all have supported their own concept of detransitioners.
Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria is literally the idea that some young people who say they are trans are wrong for a number of reasons. It is literally invalidating trans identities based on the narcissistic idea that a parent’s perception of their childs identity is more valid than their childs view of themselves.
It is my view that ‘ROGD’ is the perfect tool to gaslight a young trans person to the point where they will believe that their identity and feelings are wrong because their parent says so.
The detransitioner community, backed by prominent ‘Gender Critical’ figures are few in number but argue they they represent thousands even though there is no evidence to support this.
And there is the fact that almost all public detrans people argue the same ‘Gender Critical’ points and are a monoculture that all argue that medically or even socially transitioning is dangerous, a cause of misery or the result of trauma.
They argue for an “alternative” solution to deal with their gender dysphoria.
The parallels between detransitioners and the “ex-gay” community seeking their own “alternative solutions” to the “gay lifestyle” are obvious. So obvious that a white supremacist website that also celebrated and boosted DeTrans Awareness day 2021 made this comparison even more blatant.
And they are regularly used by ‘Gender critical’ transphobes as an argument against transgender healthcare and in favour of ‘theraputic alternatives’ to transition.
The phrase ‘therapeutic alternatives’ keeps coming up over and over again in their community. It is obvious that this is widely seen by ‘Gender Critical’ people as therapy that does not affirm a trans identity, but seeks to place the ‘blame’ for gender dysphoria on past traumas, neurodivergent conditions, social contagion, body issues and many, many other nonsense reasons.
The same way gay conversion therapy practitioners have done for decades.
Here is that NSPCC list of behaviours that come under the term “Emotional Abuse”:
“ROGD” and the ‘Gender Critical’ Detrans movement, if used against a child as a reason for denying healthcare or blocking some aspect of a social transition, could be described as: “not recognising a child’s own individuality or trying to control their lives.”
Using material about ‘RODG’ or from this ‘Gender critical’ Detrans movement to justify refusing to use a trans child’s chosen name and actual pronouns could be seen as “failing to promote a child’s social development.”
Potentially limiting or otherwise “not allowing them to have friends” is a possible response that you could see from an ‘ROGD’ parent who believes their child identifies as trans due to their friends influence.
“ROGD” resources as well as the resources put out by ‘Gender critical’ Detrans people could be used to manipulate a trans child into detransitioning in some form.
It is my personal view, based on everything I have presented here that the ‘Gender Critical’ is a culture that advocates, validates and justifies abuse of trans youths. I believe they do this because they do not believe that a trans identity is in anyway real or legitimate. I also believe there is an element of narcissism at play where they believe that their view of other people is more true than how a person views themselves. Especially if they happen to be the parent of that person.
It is my view that organisations and individuals including the LGB Alliance, Transgender Trend, Fairplay for Women, JK Rowling and Graham Linehan have boosted, advocated and sought to legitimise these ideas that could so easily be used to abuse transgender children.
These groups have been given millions of pounds worth of free, positive advertising by much of the UK’s news media which can only result in many people seeking out their websites and social media presence where they may have been exposed to these ideas.
If you are like me and feeling horrified at the potential scope and possible scale of this abuse culture you may be asking your self: “How could they do this? How could people miss this?”
I have no definite answers for you except that this has probably been missed by many for the same reasons most people missed how Jon Snow from Game of Thrones is a survivor of childhood abuse.
And to support and be part of this kind of potential abuse culture, the kind of person who can do that with a clear conscience could also believe that a 16 year old taking their lunch from their parent’s breast does so because they have a say in the matter.
Or maybe even that it doesn’t even matter how they feel about it.