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Book Review of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage

February 17, 2022 Authored by: Rabinarayan Swain

“Between 2016 and 2017 the number of gender surgeries for natal females in the U.S. quadrupled, with biological women suddenly accounting for—as we have seen—70 percent of all gender surgeries. In 2018, the UK reported a 4,400 percent rise over the previous decade in teenage girls seeking gender treatments.2 In Canada, Sweden, Finland, and the UK, clinicians and gender therapists began reporting a sudden and dramatic shift in the demographics of those presenting with gender dysphoria—from predominately preschool-aged boys to predominately adolescent girls.”

What happens in a well to do white liberal progressive middle class family when suddenly their daughter Jenny announces that she identifies as a boy named Joel, ‘her’ pronouns are ‘he/him’ (Yes! Language fails in such cases).

Being progressive her parents accepts it despite having reservations. Then she wants to undergo hormone therapy, taking puberty blockers and then cross sex hormones to reflect her new identity, becomes more and more cocky. She will eventually go on to bind her breasts and may be willing to do a ‘top surgery’ that mastectomy among other surgery to get the desired body. Each step will lead to the next one while the parents watch helplessly.

The above template has become the story of many American families in the last decade. The book “Irreversible Damage” written by Abigail Shrier is nothing less than a horror book that illustrates how adolescents especially girls are becoming the victim of the gender activism.



As she found out in her investigation, girls of adolescent to late teen age group are becoming the primary victim of this transgender craze, Abigail Shrier has focused solely on girls in this book. In course of writing this book she has interviewed and interacted with several people from diverse backgrounds like parents of the girls, transgender influencers on social media, school authorities, therapists who hold positive views and those negative views about gender change, psychologists and behavioural scientists and presents why and how this should be a grave concern for every concerned person.

Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters“, a 2020 book by Abigail Shrier

Shrier begins with the story of Lucy (pseudonym). Lucy, from being a ‘girly girl’, became gender dysphoric and then moved on to identify as a transgender. What is this ‘gender dysphoria’? -Feeling extremely uncomfortable with the gender one is born in. “It is primarily seen in children aged two to four and may become more severe in adolescence.

However in 70% cases, childhood gender dysphoria resolves. It afflicted quite a small share of population, roughly .01 % and almost exclusively boys. The book mentions that before 2012, there was no scientific literature on girls of age 11 to 21 ever having developed gender dysphoria. Commenting on the fashionable disease of the day, Shrier says ,”Today’s diagnostic craze isn’t demonic possession—it’s “gender dysphoria.” And its “cure” is not exorcism, laxatives, or purging. It’s testosterone and “top surgery.”

All of those girls had striking similarities in their schooling, parenting and socialisation. Each of these, contain potential risk factors, we are going to see how and why.

The author quotes academic psychologist J. Haidt, that teenage girls of western countries like America, Britain and Canada are going through a lot of pain, “a mental health crisis”—evincing record levels of anxiety and depression.” Haidt is also quoted saying ,”the average rates of self-harm reflect the same spike: an increase of 62 percent since 2009—all among teenage girls. Among preteen girls aged ten to fourteen, rates of self-harm are up 189 percent since 2010, nearly triple what they were only six years before.”

For this Haidt blames social media. “By 2018, 95 percent of teens in America had access to a smartphone and 45 percent reported being online almost constantly.” This certainly is a serious problem. Online conversations doesn’t bring the same depth to friendship that face to face meet up does. It is also reflected in lack of maturity among American Zen Z teens. However, given her western background author links this anxiety, depression etc. to lack of adventurous spirit among them and also relate it to lack of sexual experience.

Citing therapist Sasha Ayad, she says that lack of sexual adventure makes them uncomfortable with their body. Throughout the book, though the author delves into several other factors, but she does mention that somehow teenage sex could have made things better (US is still in the top among the developed nations in teenage pregnancy.) Had she studied this phenomenon in non western cultures or orthodox Christian parenting of west she might have arrived at a different conclusion.

What are the other factors involved here? Author discusses influencers, school, parents and therapists. We will discuss their impact and role one by one.

Along with intersectional gender activism the number of influencers as well as the number of people they influence have skyrocketed. One Canadian female to male YouTuber; Chase Ross has more than a crore subscribers on his YouTube channel. The influencers define gender dysphoria so broadly that nearly every teenage behaviour will fall into that category. “So if you’re asking the question, ‘Am I trans?’ the answer is probably yes.” is the assurance given by one influencer.

They tell their audience about syntax binders, testosterone therapy, gender surgery as some sort of all problem solving pills, will tell them that their parents are bound to support their chosen identity if they truly loves them and also plants the idea that the person is susceptible to suicide in case her identity is not accepted. Online platforms provide an alternate family and alternate community to teens which become a cult afterwards but we will arrive there shortly.

” I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.”(Mathew: 10.35-36) Wait. This is not Jesus rather the American schools declaring.

Author informs that California state law already allowed “cis minors” to leave school to “receive hormones” (that is, birth control) without the barrier of parental permission. Judy Chiasson, the program coordinator for human relations, diversity and equity for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the U.S, openly acknowledges ,”Looking at schools as a source of social justice. Our role continues to expand. The outreach now is profound.” In schools children are being taught gender ideology whose material, curricula and teacher- everything is being overseen by gender activists. The horrible indoctrination is beginning from kindergarten itself. Kindergarten kids are being taught ‘Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity’ by Brook Pessin-Whedbee. The middle school curriculum instruct teachers to engage students in an “Imagining a Different Gender Activity”.

The high school version is teaching them all those unnatural acts of sex which would be obscene to mention here. This is not all. It is made sure that gender activism must be drilled into pupil’s brain through skull.

“Many schools insist that LGBTQ students be not merely treated equally and fairly, but revered for their bravery. The year-long Pride Parade often begins in October with “Coming Out Day,” “International Pronouns Day,” and LGBTQ History Month; November brings “Transgender Awareness Week,” capped off by “Transgender Day of Remembrance,” a vigil for transgender individuals killed for this identity. March is “Transgender Visibility Month.” April contributes “Day of Silence / Day of Action” to spread awareness of bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students. May offers “Harvey Milk Day,” dedicated to mourning the prominent gay rights activist; and June, of course, is Pride Month—thirty days dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ identities and decrying anti-LGBTQ oppression.”

The schools justify it in the name of anti bullying. But it is not hard to imagine the consequence of such educations.

Next we move on to the parents. Any Indian reader will describe the parentage these kids are getting with a single word: irresponsible. The parents being progressive and open-minded duly have handed their kids an I-phone. These kids probably have never heard a ‘No’ in their lives. All of the parents despite their scepticism have accepted their daughters changing her pronouns and name only for things to turn worse afterwards. A lack of authority and a politically correct- or should it be called ‘psychologically correct’ parenthood is much to be blamed for the conditions today. Once they accepted to the girl’s pronouns throughout the book we see them getting emotionally blackmailed by both daughters and therapists by threats of separation and suicide.

Some researchers suspect that these girls might be on the autism spectrum. The author interviewed a mother whose daughter was diagnosed with “high-functioning” autism later. However majority of therapists never consider any other option. ‘Kids know who they are’- or to put it in jargons ‘Affirmative Care’ is the adopted policy of most clinics. We got a glance at these therapists in our previous review of the book ‘End of Gender’. These therapists will personally guide the girls to the next steps of becoming who they “really” are and will even blackmail the parents. They will suggest puberty blockers while saying it is merely a pause button. Studies show that when a kid is put on puberty blockers, almost 100 percent will go on to do cross-sex hormones. Infertility is guaranteed even if one changes her mind about gender. From there testosterone therapy, binding breast with syntax binders to make it look flat, surgical removal of breast, phalloplasty etc. will follow.

While these procedures have there obvious side effects and in cases can become life threatening ; merely the ghastliness of the procedure should be enough for both the surgeon and the patient to normally rule these things out. However Shrier informs us about doctors who have recommend top surgery to even 13 year olds and who proudly flaunt that they have personally performed “thousands of top surgeries”. There are obvious dissidents who don’t agree with the trend. They have to pay the price for it. Some refuse to see adolescent in order to avoid a ban. Dr. McHugh, a renowned psychiatrist and behavioural scientist, believes “the transgender craze will likely end as the multiple personality craze did: in the courts, with patients suing their doctors.”

After one decides to join these gender activism it becomes apparent that it was a cult. It is not merely finding like minded people who share your issues rather a one way street, an Abrahamic faith where all non believer is destined to hell (here a transphobe) and anyone who leaves the cult is traitor (must be shamed and name called). If one is found to be following or engaging with unwanted people one risks his/her (or ‘xer’) status as a member of group, mass blocked and being shamed by friends.

The author also explains how in case the girl no longer feel as an trans or discontinue the therapy its still not easy to live a normal life. Some of the therapies leave permanent effect. Its either case very hard to become a misfit in both the worlds.

In the end, Shrier shares some tips for parents like not handing the kids a smartphone, asserting some authorities as a parent, not supporting Gender Ideology in child’s education, allowing some privacy for the kids, stop pathologizing girlhood and to take big steps like physically moving the daughters away from the schools, the peer groups, and the online communities in case their girl falls for the craze. In fact throughout the book it can be seen that those parents who have taken such big steps found their daughter returning to normal which also establishes that its more of an infectious ideology than any natural phenomenon. In Bhāratiya context we are also noticing these woke gender activism firmly making inroads in our campuses. It’s not late we will see these mania here too. While we can accept and discard the recommendations made here in our own cultural context, but the diagnosis of the subject demands serious attention.

Image courtesy:

https://thinkr.org/books/irreversible-damage-the-transgender-craze-seducing-our-daughters

http://commentary.jameswilsoninstitute.org/2020/07/podcast-abigail-shrier-on-irreversible-damage-the-transgender-craze-seducing-our-daughters/


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