All scientific evidence indicates that gender identity disorders result principally from cultural causes and moreover, modern society is facilitating them, according to an analysis published Friday.
Writing for the Catholic World Report, Anne Hendershott chronicles an exploding “transgender industry” illustrated by a massive surge in the number of referrals for gender-identity treatment, in some cases increasing by as much as 2800 percent in less than ten years.
Western societies such as the UK, Sweden, Australia, and the USA have seen a spectacular rise in the number of persons, especially young people, seeking treatment for gender identity issues, paralleling the attention given to gender theory in communications, medicine, and the entertainment media.
In the U.S., the percentage of adults who currently identify as transgender is double what is was in 2011, according to the best estimates.
None of this should come as a surprise, Hendershott notes. In the year 2000, bioethicist Carl Elliott published a ground-breaking article in the Atlantic Monthly titled “A New Way to be Mad,” which foretold this rapid growth in gender-identity issues by comparing them to past psychological epidemics.
“Why do certain psychopathologies arise, seemingly out of nowhere, in certain societies and during certain historical periods, and then disappear just as suddenly?” he asked.
Elliott suggested that psychiatrists and other clinicians helped to create the psychological epidemics in the past “simply by the way they viewed the disorders—by the kinds of questions they asked patients, the treatments they used, the diagnostic categories available to them at the time, and the way these patients fit within those categories.”
His fundamental thesis—backed up by abundant data and persuasive argumentation—is that rapid growth of a particular psychological disorder may often be abetted, if not directly caused, by the very ones who are purportedly treating it, as well as by society at large.
In a particularly insightful passage, Elliott wrote:
By regarding a phenomenon as a psychiatric diagnosis—treating it, reifying it in psychiatric diagnostic manuals, developing instruments to measure it, inventing scales to rate its severity, establishing ways to reimburse the costs of its treatment, encouraging pharmaceutical companies to search for effective drugs, directing patients to support groups, writing about possible causes in journals—psychiatrists may be unwittingly colluding with broader cultural forces to contribute to the spread of a mental disorder.
By one possible read, he proposed, once “transsexual” and “gender-identity disorder” and “sex reassignment surgery” became common linguistic currency, “more people began conceptualizing and interpreting their experience in these terms. They began to make sense of their lives in a way that hadn’t been available to them before, and to some degree they actually became the kinds of people described by these terms.”
In other words, it is quite possible that our cultural and historical conditions “have not just revealed transsexuals but created them,” he wrote.
If this thesis is true, “we can expect tremendous growth, as an entire industry is emerging to meet the growing need,” Hendershott writes.
It is, in fact, already happening all around us.
“From education specialists designing ‘safe schools’ for transgender children, to transgender practitioners, publicly funded medical clinics, reimbursement schedules, and a growing body of academic work and activism, the transgender industry has exploded,” she writes.
One clear scientific indicator of the principally cultural rather than biological roots of gender disorders is their uneven distribution among the population. If gender-identity disorder were truly a biological fact, it would be equally distributed throughout the population, whereas we find that it isn’t.
Unsurprisingly, data from the Williams Institute reveals that the highest percentage of transgender-identified adults live in Washington, DC. In fact, the district of Columbia has nearly double the number of transgender individuals as the next highest state (Hawaii).
The percentage of individuals living in the Washington, DC, who identify as transgender is 2.8 percent—“more than triple the percentage of those living in the next highest states of Hawaii or California,” Hendershott observes.
“As far back as 2013, the New York Times pronounced Washington, DC, the ‘gayest place in America,’ with a thriving transgender population. There is an annual ‘DC High Heel Drag Race’ held in DuPont Circle,” she adds.
Citing the findings of a meta-analysis of other studies published in The New Atlantis by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh, Hendershott writes that “the hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex—that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or a ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’ is not supported by scientific evidence.”
All of this suggests that the current transgender boom may just be getting started and we can expect it to continue swelling, perhaps until another disorder du jour arises to take its place.
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