February 24th 2018

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COVER STORY Weatherill demand places Murray-Darling in jeopardy

EDITORIAL China completes island building in South China Sea

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens: wouldn't know a cowardly act if they did one

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE Government forms say it is fluid gender marriage

FREEDOM AND LAW Gender and anti-discrimination: wedges between you and freedom

HISTORY A look back at B.A. Santamaria gives us a forward impulse

GENDER POLITICS Transgenderism: A state-sponsored religion

LAW AND SOCIETY Protecting freedom of religion in Australia

HISTORY Hungary, 62 years on from the anti-Soviet uprising

MUSIC Reel to real: Johann Johannsson, RIP

CINEMA Sweet Country: Sour taste of bush justice


BOOK REVIEW Lessons from the UK front of the GFC

BOOK REVIEW The dragon has woken and rumbled

BOOK REVIEW Recovery manual for morals and culture


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Transgenderism: A state-sponsored religion

by Andre Van Mol

News Weekly, February 24, 2018

Gender dysphoria is a serious mental health issue. By contrast, transgenderism is a belief system that increasingly looks like a cultish religion – a modern-day Gnosticism that denies physical reality in favour of deceived perceptions – being forced on the public by the state.

Gnostic adepts have seen through the surface
of things to the true reality.

Disagreement with pro-LGBT policies quickly gets one branded as anti-science. As Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, this is an example of ideology using the language of science to camouflage itself.

It turns out, though, that science isn’t much help to transgender advocacy. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 notes gender dysphoria desistence rates of 70 to 97 per cent in “natal males” and 50 to 88 per cent in “natal females”. The American Psychological Association’s APA Handbook on Sexuality and Psychology states that the vast majority of gender dysphoric boys and girls have accepted their birth/chromosomal sex by adolescence or adulthood.

University of Toronto psychologist Dr James Cantor cites three large-scale and other smaller studies that show that trans-identifying kids will outgrow it 60 to 90 per cent of the time. A 2008 study affirmed that 80 to 95 per cent of gender-dysphoric pre-pubertal children would accept their biological sex by the end of adolescence.

Put plainly, transgender identification is something that most often corrects itself. An overwhelming probability of desistance is not a scientific case for identity politics and mandatory compliance with its demands.

Not pro-science: no science

In 2016, the U.S. National Institutes of Health began recruiting for a $US5.7 million study of transgender minors, the largest to date. It will be the first to follow the medical effects of delaying puberty, and only the second to track its psychological effects as well. As the website for the University of California San Francisco Centre of Excellence for Transgender Health notes: “While clinically becoming increasingly common, the impact of GnRH analogues [the puberty blocking drugs] administered to transgender youth in early puberty and

A September 2017 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Clinical Guidelines Synopsis on hormone treatment of gender dysphoria offered six major recommendations, three of which encouraged hormone administration (starting in adolescence) and surgery (post-hormone treatment), despite these three being supported by “low” or “very low” evidence.

Clearly, issuing major therapeutic recommendations based on low to no evidence is inconsistent with good practice. Leading the charge to bury contradictory findings, the UK’s Bath Spa University recently refused to allow a researcher – who is himself a gay-identified psychotherapist and a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health – to investigate people who regret their gender-reassignment surgery and who have detransitioned to their birth sex.

Based on the sparse data we do have – much of which does not indicate positive long-term results from the practice – it is impossible to recommend gender transitioning to minors as evidence based or even safe. In the absence of verifiable results, what we have is strident ideology imposed with soft totalitarianism. It’s not pro-science—it’s no science.

A physical solution to a psycho-spiritual issue

No child feels entirely comfortable in his or her own skin. That’s part of growing up. Today, however, social awkwardness can far too easily lead young men or women to conclude that they must not fit in because they are LGBTQ.

Erroneous diagnosis leads to erroneous treatment, and at last more and more people are recognising this across the political spectrum. Resistance to transgender imposition is appearing even on the left. The website First do no harm: youth gender professionals (youthtrans criticalprofessionals.org), for example, is run by self-described “psychologists, social workers, doctors, medical ethicists, and academics [who] tend to be left-leaning, open-minded, and pro-gay rights but who are also concerned about the current trend to quickly diagnose and affirm young people as transgender.”

The website explains: “We feel that unnecessary surgeries and/or hormonal treatments which have not been proven safe in the long term represent significant risks for young people.”

This site is an example of a growing trend of skepticism of transgender ideology by “fourth-wave” feminists; it features posts by LGB-affirming and LGB-identified individuals and parents who are skeptical of the “born transgender meme” and are concerned about minors being railroaded into transgenderism.

Though it presents itself as based on science and opposed to traditional religion, transgender ideology is itself quasi-religious. It bears a striking similarity to goeteia, a practice that J. Budziszewski describes in his book What We Can’t Not Know as “the ancient practice whose goal was to acquire power by ‘breaking’ nature, unpatterning its patterns, uncreating creation.”

Princeton’s Robert George explains that transgender ideology is Gnostic in its denial of physical reality in favour of an allegedly overruling knowledge plus feelings.

Similarly, in his August 3, 2017, letter to the editor of The Times of London, Rev. N.T. Wright wrote: “The confusion about gender identity is a modern and now internet-fuelled form of the ancient philosophy of Gnosticism. The Gnostic, one who ‘knows’, has discovered the secret of ‘who I really am’ behind the deceptive outward appearance … This involves denying the goodness, or even the ultimate reality, of the natural world. Nature, however, tends to strike back, with the likely victims in this case being vulnerable and impressionable youngsters who, as confused adults, will pay the price for their elders’ fashionable fantasies.”

Psychiatrist Karl Benzio puts it even more succinctly: “Transgender occurs when a person with a psycho-spiritual issue is looking for a physical solution.”

Our new Gnostic state religion

Transgender ideology is a doctrinaire faith, and our Government is aggressively proselytising, the establishment clause be damned. At the federal level, the Obama Administration decided the Title IX prohibition on sex discrimination applied to transgenderism wherever Title IX funds went. Federal monies come with federal strings attached. Feminists complained that this was further male imposition into a women’s domain, but the policy persisted until the Trump Administration rescinded it.

Illinois has moved to rid itself of foster families and social workers who won’t “facilitate” transgenderism. In California, the 2016 Healthy Youth Act mandates that pro-LGBT instruction be given in state junior high and high schools. It provides for parental inspection of sex education and HIV prevention content and allows students to opt out without repercussion.

However, unlike the sex-ed and HIV content, the act’s opt-out provision “does not apply to instruction, materials, presentations, or programming that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation”, among other content. It also mandates that “instruction and material shall be appropriate” for “pupils of all … cultural backgrounds” while disregarding religious multiculturalism. The act states: “Instruction and materials may not teach or promote religious doctrine”; but perhaps that should be restated as “any other religious doctrine”.

The act did not protect kindergarteners at California’s Rocklin Academy Schools when, without informing the parents, the class was read two children’s books on transgenderism and a classmate they knew as a boy was reintroduced as a girl. The superintendent defended the decision by noting that, unlike sex-education materials, gender-identity issues do not require parental notice.

Transgender catechism is mandatory and has no age of consent.

This is taking place in other countries as well. In Canada, for example, Ontario’s Bill 89 allows for state seizure of children whose parents disagree with LGBTQI policies and ideology, and it provides for government agencies banning couples of similar conviction from fostering or adopting children.

We are told that we must comply with the insatiable demands of transgender politics. Any failure to do so is a damnable transgression. As David French puts it: “In the secular faith of the illiberal left, pronoun mandates have become the equivalent of blasphemy codes.”

As Fr Richard John Neuhaus, founder of First Things magazine, observed in 1997 (and Matthew Franck quoted in 2013): “With the older orthodoxy it is possible to disagree, as in having an argument. Evidence, reason, and logic count, in principle at least. Not so with the new orthodoxy. Here disagreement is an intolerable personal affront. It is construed as a denial of others, of their experience of who they are. It is a blasphemous assault on that most high god, ‘My Identity’.”

Rod Dreher concurs. He writes: “You cannot argue with an identity politics zealot, because to deny their assertion is to deny their personhood. In turn … they owe you no respect. The higher cause of asserting and affirming their identity excuses everything. … this is how the rule of law ends, and law is replaced by will to power.”

It’s not enough to simply be pro-LGBT. Any failure to be sufficiently celebratory of LGBT claims and proposals is quickly met with accusations of being hateful, bigoted, phobic, or the F-word: fundamentalist.

Consequences of dissent

Orthodox Christians and Jews voicing objections to LGBT ideology and practice are accused of being against human rights and equality. The knowledge that such concepts as universal human equality and human rights are specifically Biblical and Judeo-Christian in origin is lost on the critics, though it is advanced even by prominent atheist philosophers like Luc Ferry and Jurgen Habermas.

The foundational precept is that all people are created in the imago Dei, or image of God. People are of equal worth, though behaviours are not. Adversaries are neither seen as subhuman nor evil incarnate, but deserving respect and honour even when fully in disagreement with us. These views are quite at odds with the current cultural tactic of argumentum ad Hitlerium.

And what of free speech and the right to dissent? Rights of conscience no longer apply to those who will not comply with LGBT groupthink. Belief that harm is being done in the name of transgenderism, especially to children, is becoming costly. No quarter can be allowed for divergence from the party line. No heresy can be left unpunished.

Gender dysphoria is a serious mental-health issue with an enormous rate of desistance. But transgenderism is a belief system that increasingly looks like a cultish religion – a modern-day Gnosticism denying physical reality for deceived perceptions – that is being forced on the public by the state. Children are being railroaded into treatment protocols that lack proven long-term track records of safety and efficacy. Transgender ideology is an intolerant creed, and its dogmas demand the sacrifice not only of conscience rights but also of desperately needed care for dysphoric children and adults.

Andre Van Mol MD is a board-certified family physician in private practice in California. He is the new co-chair of the American  College of Pediatricians’ Committee on Adolescent Sexuality.

This article originally appeared in Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, New Jersey, on January 24, 2018, and is reprinted with permission.

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