A book for young adult readers (fourteen-plus) includes a letter to the writer’s amputated breasts:
And I know this is probably hard for you to hear, but I believe I’ll be happier without you. I also think this will be better for you. You need to be free and I’m just going to keep holding you back and pushing you down. It’s time to separate.
Nevo Zisin’s surgery costs were paid for, like earlier testosterone treatments, by internet appeals for cash. Finding Nevo is an autobiography commissioned by Walker Books, “the leading children’s publisher in Australia and New Zealand”. By age twenty, when it was published, the gender celebrity author had been a girl, a lesbian, a man, and non-binary. Presently, the transgender activist is a public speaker who runs “programs and workshops” for schools and workplaces, and advises children and parents in the Jewish community on gender and sexuality.
This essay appears in the current Quadrant.
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In December 2016, about the time Finding Nevo was being written and edited, Dr John Whitehall, Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University, published the first in a series of Quadrant articles on childhood gender dysphoria—the conflict experienced by those children who believe they have been born in the wrong gender. The psychological condition has become a politicised media celebration, and a cause in the culture wars. YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram are guides for escaping youthful boredom, bullying and parents by selling the excitement and obsessiveness of gender swapping. For the isolated and friendless, Google will find you gender advice and medical solutions to put things right. It’s a fast-track route that leaves some young twenty-somethings mutilated and drug dependent, alone, and in another body, worrying about adult things like working, passing and how to tell new acquaintances, and remind old ones, of their pronouns. And after the glamour and grooming that led them on their journey, everyone around them now seems to be talking of suicide.
Whitehall is on the side of the kids, urging caution and pleading for the saving of young bodies from surgical castration, body disfigurement and lifetimes of prescribed drugs with unknown long-term effects:
While proponents argue for massive intervention, scientific studies prove the vast majority of transgender children will grow out of it through puberty if parents do little more than gently watch and wait.
Our world is an unquiet place. Transsexuality, multiple interpretations of gender, racial politics, self-identity fantasies, pronoun dictatorship, and the immediate cry of “transphobia” in reaction to different conversations about dysphoria are weapons in the progressives’ war against everything. At the Sorbonne students prevent actors from taking part in a performance of Aeschylus’s The Suppliants because a publicity-enjoying pressure group claims their stylised masks are racist: “Blackface: Colonial Propaganda at the Sorbonne”.
The cover of Esquire magazine in March was an unremarkable photo of a seventeen-year-old boy, sitting in his bedroom, looking towards the viewer. Social media took offence. The white heterosexual body outraged them, and this simple cover text set off a keyboard tsunami of complaint: “An American Boy: What it’s like to grow up white, middle class, and male in the era of social media, school shootings, toxic masculinity, and a divided country.” The always silly Guardian wondered if the social media fury “was part of a marketing strategy?” It noted that although the long-established men’s magazine had said the cover was promoting the first in a series about “boys of different races and sexualities and genders, leading the series off with a particularly Aryan-looking lad was a tactical mistake. The angry response was inevitable.” An ordinary boy is called Aryan-looking and this causes an inevitable angry response? It could be the opening scene for a posthumous Tom Wolfe novel: The Bonfire of the Gender Vanities.
Melbourne is a woke colony and the natural home of Archer, an “award-winning” magazine published twice yearly and feverishly but un-erotically devoted to lipstick-sexuality, gender and identity studies 101. Where else would you discover that the rainbow coalition “consume ecstasy alone at a rate almost 6 times that of the general population”. Drug testing the ABC should be an election policy—for all political parties. Several lines from a delicious artefact of contemporary Canberra snobbery make a packingly tight fit in its decorated pages and modish articles:
My exchange semester in Paris was a culture shock but not the type I was expecting. I had uprooted myself from Canberra, home to a visible queer community and the largest percentage of “YES” votes for the same-sex marriage postal survey, to find myself in a sterile metropolis … When a student in my French political history class [at the elite Sciences Po] turned up in a suit with cufflinks, he didn’t even raise eyebrows.
The sexual-politics seriousness of the magazine is evident in a text exploring stageworthy indignities suffered by a community worker and writer when “planning my [Adelaide] wedding as a non-binary queer”:
Amongst other things the [same-sex-marriage] survey result meant that I could get properly married now … As a bisexual, and as a non-binary femme of colour whose partner is a cis white guy [heterosexual], my queerness is often invisible … Technically, I could already marry regardless of the outcome of the survey and subsequent legislation. I had chosen not to amend my gender marker on official documents, so there was no legal barrier to my partner and I getting married as man and wife … When we turned up to appointments with vendors [wedding suppliers], there was often confusion about who I was and who my partner was. “Who are these people? Where are the gays?”, their faces seemed to read.
The 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (but not the 1978 remake) was a documentary, not science fiction. Its trailer held a warning for your future, which you may have forgotten: “The unimaginable becomes real, the impossible becomes true.”
It’s true, drag-queen kids have entered the mainstream media. An online video promo for a Good Morning America interview is headlined, “The 11-year old trailblazing drag kid ‘Desmond is Amazing’”. The film appears on my screen after I ask YouTube the question a lot of kids probably ask: “am i trans”—no question mark needed—YouTube understands. The clip of Desmond has attracted over 14,000 comments—most are horrified. In another six months it will probably have become terribly banal and his eager parents may have signed for a drag family series with Netflix. Their drama would compete for viewers with I Am Jazz, a reality television series currently in its fifth season. It follows the life of young Jazz and her transgender boy-to-girl experience: born in 2000, diagnosed with gender dysphoria aged five, and a trans celebrity thereafter. In series four Mom suggested a “farewell to penis party”. When good old smiling dad asks why it couldn’t be a “new vagina party” Mom replied, “I wanna bake a cake. And I’m not baking a vagina cake.” The cake and finger food were penis-shaped and the gay Pink News website reported that the show’s fans “loved the penis cake”. Publicists describe the emasculating operation Jazz undertakes as “gender confirmation surgery”. The slick series is produced by TLC, a pay television provider of family entertainment formerly known as The Learning Channel. Its programs are seen in 95 million US homes.
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, John, the Savage, is taken to the feelies. He finds the experience base and ignoble. Nobody understands what he means.
Whitehall’s Quadrant advice to “gently watch and wait” is premised on having sensible parents, living in a sensible world. Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted, “We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids.” He was reacting to a report which suggested New South Wales teachers were being trained to search their schools for signs of transgenderism in the kids, who could then be directed towards helpful advisers. He was savaged, his comment was called “hateful”, and he was set up by the media to appear cruel and unfeeling.
Given the chance, the Australian media would crucify a writer like Todd Whitworth. In a Quillette opinion article he offered similar commonsense advice to that of Whitehall and Morrison:
I would promote the use of caution in transitioning children … The prevalence of Gender Dysphoria is not nearly as high as many activists would have you believe. Indeed it afflicts less than 1 per cent of the population. The determination of whether someone has this condition requires a qualified mental health professional who specializes in the field. Your kids’ teachers and your own Facebook friends don’t qualify.
He added: “It is the job of parents to keep children safe from harm, including harm that arises from decisions they may not yet be ready to make.” Whitehall is a professor of paediatrics, Morrison a politician, Whitworth is an American-born Canadian aged in his forties, and a female-to-male transsexual man.
In the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Book Awards the People’s Choice Award was won by Ida, a young adult novel by “non-binary author” Alison Evans: lesbian fantasy with pronouns and gender. The writer’s new book, Highway Bodies, has just been published and has already collected excellent reviews from Goodreads—helped along by the availability of free copies to some young readers in return for reviews, almost all of which favour the propaganda: “Everyone is queer. And the people who aren’t are evil.” “This is the most delightfully Australian zombie apocalypse story I’ve ever read. I love all the queer representation (big surprise, right).” “Honestly, I’m loving how, in the midst of this zombie apocalypse, these kids show us this utopian society, where you can still respect each other’s genders and pronouns.”
Only one reviewer offered a negative appraisal:
Try as I might to ignore the rabid gender politics being rammed down my throat, I couldn’t go more than 2 pages without being reminded that *EVERY* POV [point of view] character is bisexual, nonbinary, lesbian, homosexual, or transgender. That’s right, not a single heterosexual POV or main character as at page 116 … I feel like one star is still three stars too many.
The books are favoured by educationists and Evans is invited to speak in schools and libraries, has been featured at other conservative-free sites like the recent Perth Writers’ Week and the Wheeler Centre, and is appearing in May at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. The Perth event was a discussion of topics selected from an unimaginative Left food-truck menu of platitudes: “multiple intelligences, multiple genders and the dangers of standardisation and stereotyping”.
Breaking through the standardisation and stereotyping practised by progressives themselves is Lisa Littman, assistant professor at Brown University School of Public Health. The originator of the term and discussion about “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”, she is a researcher who trans activists have attempted to silence. In a Quillette interview she outlined the problem which would not be familiar to those who only hear the arguments of transgender activists:
The descriptions of multiple friends from the same pre-existing group becoming transgender-identified at the same time were very surprising. Parents reported that, after announcing a transgender identity, the kids became increasingly sullen, withdrawn and hostile towards their families. They also said the clinicians they saw were only interested in fast-tracking gender-affirmation and transition and were resistant to even evaluating the child’s pre-existing and current mental health issues.
Her academic research points to the influence of friends and the internet in the spreading of gender dysphoria through adolescent groups—“social and peer contagion”. School teachers, school librarians, invited school speakers, children’s authors and publishers could be added to her list.
Before the recent New South Wales elections a clickbait headline on the News.com.au website read, “One Nation and Australian Conservative candidates slammed over ‘terrifying’ trans kids comments”. The report was based on a Centre for Independent Studies election forum, “Do Third Parties Matter?”
The “terrifying” comments didn’t seem so scary. Australian Conservative candidate, and Quadrant contributor, Greg Walsh had proposed that gender dysphoric children should be allowed to “develop naturally and when they go through puberty these issues will resolve”. He suggested a national inquiry into the treatments they are receiving. Mark Latham, the One Nation candidate who went on to be elected, pointed to elitist gender fantasies which have resulted in children “changing their gender every other day” and becoming “mentally ill because they are confused about their gender”.
Journalist Ben Graham contacted a person he described as an “expert”, Eloise Brook, secretary of the board of directors of the New South Wales Gender Centre. He asked her to comment on what she hadn’t heard—for his story does not mention that she was actually present. As a publicly funded organisation the Gender Centre should be open to discussion and its staff trained to speak publicly without bullying. The journalist moved things in the right direction: “Their comments have been met with scorn by Ms Brook”. She said the statements were “terrifying” and that word was repeated six times in the article and heading.
Brook made the incorrect claim that doctors and scientists are “100 per cent in agreement” about treatments for gender dysphoria, but the journalist did not find this error terrifying. She warned that an “epidemic on mental health issues and suicides” would eventuate if these bad ideas were enacted. With the numbers of children being treated for dysphoria wildly rising perhaps her good ideas are not working, for we already have an epidemic.
Brook was reading from a familiar script activists rely on for closing and thus evading debate. Whitehall had previously described the familiar tactic: “Accept the pathways of ‘medicine’, we are urged. Welcome transgender as but one hue in a natural rainbow. Or the children will kill themselves.” Even as she was attacking political candidates to the parliament which provides her organisation’s funding she was also pleading for more of their money: “We currently have one case worker helping 130 families, we’re supposed to see 65 per case worker.”
In the 2016 census the number of trans people in Australia is given as 1260. A Gender Centre statement, endorsed on Eloise Brook’s Twitter account, states that the true figure is closer to 200,000. With these figures childhood gender dysphoria is a crisis graver even than AIDS—or are they exaggerating?
Detransitioning is the process whereby a person who has made a gender change then decides to return to their biological gender. It is a lonely and frightening process with little help available from trans-promoting groups. A search of the Gender Centre website does not reveal a single mention of detransitioning.
The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne received their first referral for gender dysphoria in 2003. Six years later the number of referrals began rising and in 2017 (the latest figure available) it is in excess of 250 patients—these are children and adolescents up to the age of seventeen. The Hospital’s Gender Service informs parents that children “begin expressing their gender identity at two or three years of age”. A wait-and-see attitude does not seem part of their DNA.
Progressive culture shuns and silences dissident voices. On the dark side of the culture we are not always great at aiding and promoting each other—something the Left do very well. In the incredibly cruel drama which is being performed in front of us there are voices talking clear sense we should be noticing—John Whitehall and Greg Walsh in Quadrant, Todd Whitworth in Quillette, Madeleine Kearns in National Review and the beleaguered Lisa Littman.