Tag Archive for: gender dysphoria

J. K. Rowling’s courageous stand for truth

This year’s was a particularly memorable April Fools’ Day.

First, Scotland’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into force, making it illegal to “stir up hatred” against people based on their age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or other protected characteristics.

It’s a fool’s errand to try to police hatred — a subjective and internalised feeling if ever there was one — not to mention the even more ambiguous “crime” of stirring up hatred.

But fools rush in, and thanks to the new woke law, anyone found guilty of sufficiently hurting another person’s feelings in Scotland, even in their private residence or online, will face up to seven years in prison. A fool’s paradise indeed.

Into the breach

In response to all this foolishness, bestselling author J. K. Rowling, who calls Scotland home, shared her own April Fools’ joke in the form of a lengthy X thread.

“Scotland’s Hate Crime Act comes into effect today,” she began. “Women gain no additional protections, of course, but well-known trans activist Beth Douglas, darling of prominent Scottish politicians, falls within a protected category. Phew!”

Rowling’s words captioned two screenshots of social media posts made by Douglas that show the trans activist wielding knives and axes, and stating that “direct action gets the goods” and “you can take the change by force”.

But Rowling wasn’t done.

“Lovely Scottish lass and convicted double rapist Isla Bryson found her true authentic female self shortly before she was due to be sentenced,” wrote Rowling, posting photos of an evidently male criminal who apparently hoped for lighter sentencing with a newfound trans identity.

“Misgendering is hate, so respect Isla’s pronouns, please,” Rowling added sarcastically.

Eight more tweets followed, cataloguing an assortment of sporting opportunists, undeserving women’s rights appointees, and convicted criminals.

Then for the punchline:

“April Fools!” Rowling declared.

“Only kidding. Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren’t women at all, but men, every last one of them.”

She ended her post with a thoughtful critique of the new law, which, she argues, prioritises male self-identification over the rights of actual women, and that will inevitably hurt girls, incentivise abuse, scramble crime data, silence dissent and outlaw biology.

Then came her most courageous words:

I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Rowling’s parting remarks won praise from all corners of the internet, and for good reason. It was a brilliant play — arguably a first-move checkmate that neutered Scotland’s dystopian law out of the gate.


By very unambiguously and very publicly breaking the Hate Crime Act on its very first day, Rowling cornered Scottish authorities, forcing them to respond in one of two ways, both equally fatal.

Option one would be to enforce the law, arrest Rowling, and shine an international spotlight on the law’s abject insanity. Option two would be to not enforce the law and thereby render it as worthless as the paper it’s written on. Heads she wins, tails they lose.

They lost.

Within a day, Police Scotland had announced that Rowling’s post was not being treated as criminal.

Rowling welcomed the news, writing,

I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women — irrespective of profile or financial means — will be treated equally under the law.

In response to the fear that Scottish authorities will still target people who don’t have the means to defend themselves, Rowling announced,

If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I’ll repeat that woman’s words and they can charge us both at once.

It is difficult to overstate the heroic courage of J. K. Rowling. She was willing to put her freedom, wealth and remaining good name on the line, venturing where angels fear to tread, in order to speak the truth and defend the vulnerable.

By doing so, let’s just hope she has inspired a generation of young women to do the same.


Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.

EDITORS NOTE: This Mercator column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

An open secret: Social contagion is driving the astronomic rise in teen gender dysphoria

And adults are not immune either.

Social contagion is at least partially responsible for the upsurge in gender dysphoria in the past three decades, but this is vehemently denied by most social institutions charged with the safeguarding of children and young people, including governments, universities and schools, human rights commissions, legal institutions, and sporting bodies.

The misguided adherence to a scientifically bankrupt gender ideology has had, as yet unfathomed negative impacts on young people, their families, and the wider society. The reason that this phenomenon is never debated is that it would detonate and topple the edifice of gender ideology.

The prevailing view regarding this unprecedented upsurge is that the social and cultural milieu into which the current generation of children and adolescents has been born has permitted disinhibition of expression of their transgendered identity in the same way that left-handedness and homosexuality were permitted freer expression in previous decades, hence leading to increased numbers of those “coming out.”

This explanation is unsatisfactory and alternate explanations for this 21st century phenomenon of gender dysphoria and transgenderism must be canvassed. Social contagion is the prime candidate.

What is social contagion?

The term “psychic epidemic”, now called social contagion, describes the “spread of phenomena (e.g., behaviours, beliefs, and attitudes) across network ties.” Members of a network play different roles in the dissemination of innovations. A small number will adopt early (i.e., early adopters). Some of these will become opinion leaders who are central to the network, who contaminate their “peers” who in turn will influence others at different levels of the network. Networks with high centrality are the most effective in disseminating information or innovation.

Other characteristics of networks include cohesion (number of connections within a network) and shape (distribution of ties within the network).  A key example with respect to this discussion are the gender affirming organizations that have achieved remarkable success in a short time in changing health care, educational practices, and legislation related to transgender declaring young people.

With the arrival of Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that there would be an “infodemic” of misinformation spawned by social contagion. This did in fact occur, but those false beliefs did not take centre stage and sweep all science before it in the manner of transgender ideology because it was contained by responsible social and governmental bodies.

Not so for gender dysphoria.

What are the mechanisms of social transmission?

Social contagion in several adolescent behaviours (e.g., mood and emotion, eating disorders, drug use, self-harm, and suicide) has been well established empirically. For example, Madelyn Gould  concluded that… the existence of suicide contagion no longer needs to be questioned. We should refocus our research efforts on identifying which particular story components promote contagion under which circumstances and which components are useful for preventive programming.

Four mechanisms that may be involved in the social contagion of these behaviours and gender dysphoria are:

  1. Peer contagionPeer contagion is a process of reciprocal influence to engage in behaviours occurring in a peer dyad/group.  By middle childhood, gender is the most important factor in the formation of peer associations, highlighting the significance of gender as the organizing principle of the norms and values associated with gender identity.
  2. Deviancy training as a mechanism of social contagion: A process whereby deviant attitudes and behaviours are rewarded by the peer group. Young people are particularly vulnerable to peer contagion if they have experienced peer rejection, hostility, and/or social isolation from the peer group.
  3. Co-rumination as a form of social contagion: A process of repetitive discussion, rehearsal, and speculation about a problematic issue within the peer dyad or peer group that underlies peer influence. It is more common among adolescent girls. Being in a friendship that engages in perseverative discussions on deviant topics has been associated with increased problem behaviour over the course of adolescence.
  4. Social media: Nathan and Kristina have argued that: “…[u]nlike the broadcasts of traditional media, which are passively consumed, social media depends on users to deliberately propagate the information they receive to their social contacts. This process can amplify the spread of information in a social network.”

Targeted marketing campaigns on and offline generate additional influence. Peer influence and homophily (intrinsic peer similarity) are major factors influencing the behaviour of those embedded in social networks. Peer influence is more likely to trigger positive, self-reinforcing feedback loops, where the imitation of the target individual’s behaviour by peers enhances that behaviour in the target individual so that s/he does more of the behaviour which becomes more extreme over time, creating a social multiplier effect.

This effect also occurs in online communities which is enhanced by introducing certain features into the market design of products, such as, in this case, puberty blockade, cross sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgery, and identifying the influential and susceptible users.

Online activity enables, enhances, or triggers potential risks of “copycat” behaviours such as self-harm, suicide, and eating disorders through the normalization of pathological behaviours, or vicarious and social reinforcement of these behaviours.

Is gender dysphoria socially contagious?

Given the strong evidence of social contagion in suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, and emotion/mood, especially among adolescents, the role of social contagion in gender dysphoria demands urgent attention. There are already strong indicators in the affirmative. For example, positively framed media reports of transgender issues result in increases in referrals of self-declaring transgender and gender diverse (TGD) children and adolescents to specialist gender services.

If we examine the gender dysphoria epidemic in social network terms, we see several features operating. It is an open-system network with nodes and ties expanding across the oceans to the USA, UK, Asia, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand. Most countries are reporting sharp increases in the number of young people seeking services and treatment for gender dysphoria. Many are ramping up services and setting up new gender clinics to cope with demand, despite the recent closure of the Tavistock Gender Identity Service in the UK following the Cass review. This network is highly centralised with only one voice–unquestioning gender affirmation.

Opinion leaders of this position operating at the centre of these networks are very influential. The level of density in a network has two effects–firstly, it enhances the circulation of information between members and secondly, it blocks the introduction of dissenting ideas and evidence.

Peer contagion may be a relevant factor in the sharp increases in young people presenting with gender dysphoria. There are a number of mechanisms.

Low gender typicality, peer victimization, ingroups and the “trans lobby” *. Low gender typicality (i.e., perceived lack of fit within one’s binary gender) has a significant impact on social acceptance within one’s peer group. As children progress to adolescence, peer as opposed to parental acceptance becomes paramount. Peers therefore take over the role of gender socializing agents from parents. Adolescent peers tend to be critical of behaviours, dress, mannerisms, and attitudes that are not gender typical as a way of policing and reinforcing gender norms and respond with criticism, ridicule, exclusion and even intimidation of non-conformers.

Perhaps these groups of young people, searching for homophily (i.e., like peers) started to exaggerate their points of difference from their gender-conforming peers rather than to hide and minimize them to avoid being bullied and excluded. In so doing, they left the “outgroup” of nonconformers and formed an ingroup of extreme gender-nonconformers, transcending the gender barrier altogether and declaring themselves transgender. Suddenly, the discomfort and fear of not being gender typical becomes a virtue and rather than fearing the disapprobation of their peers, their open revolt in declaring themselves transgender is valorised by a politically powerful transactivist lobby.

Ingroups behave in stereotypical ways with respect to outgroups – they favour ingroup characteristics, assigning more positive attributes to its members and derogating outgroups in order to enhance the status of their ingroup.

It is not surprising, then, that members of the transgender ingroup exaggerate the characteristics of the “trans” gender they take on – becoming more “feminine” or “masculine” than heteronormative groups of cismen and ciswomen. Transactivist groups have proliferated and consolidated in a short time frame by exploiting the characteristics of ingroups and outgroups. For example, social projection (i.e., the belief that other members of the group are like oneself) has been a powerful integrating process that simultaneously creates protection for its own members and distance from outgroup members. Those disagreeing with the ideology of the trans lobby are labelled “transphobic” and publicly denounced.

Rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) and the role of social media: There has been a disproportionate increase in the number of female adolescents, and a change in the historically greater ratio of preschool boys compared with adolescent girls in earlier decades. Rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) figures from the Tavistock gender service in Britain 2019-2020 show a peak in presentations at 14-15 years, comprising mainly girls.

DSM 5 (2013) estimated prevalence at one in 10,000 males and 1 in 27,000 females. Now studies are frequently recording incidence of transgender young people at 1-2%. Current adolescent estimates are between 140 (males) and 350 (females) times higher than that for transgender adult males and females. Social forces must be at play to account for this unprecedented overall rise and increase in female prevalence in transgender declarations over the past decade. Pang et al. concluded that… increased media content (specifically via social media) might act as a … means of social contagion, whereby some individuals erroneously come to believe through exposure to such media that their nonspecific emotional or bodily distress is due to gender dysphoria and being transgender/gender diverse (p. 7).

Regret and detransition

Trangender proponents argue that social contagion is not at play because regret/detransition rates are low. However, Vandenbussche observed that the average time lag from transition to detransition was five years and that any study reporting on shorter time periods would underreport the true rates of detransition.

The 237 detransitioners in this study reported receiving no medical assistance with their medical detransition (e.g., how to safely stop cross-sex hormones) or with the complications arising from “gender-affirming” surgery. The majority reported lack of support and other negative experiences from their former treating medical and mental health professionals and from the LGBT+ community generally. The reason? They are bad publicity for transgender apologists.

A profiling study of 100 detransitioners reported that 70 percent were white female college graduates, 56 percent of whom reported experiencing pre-pubertal gender dysphoria. If gender dysphoria and gender transition are socially contagious, particularly among adolescent females, it would be expected that there would be a greater proportion of female detransitioners and this in fact the case. There was an average of four years between transition and detransition for the female participants.

Social contagion also affects doctors, professional bodies, legislators, courts, sporting bodies, educators, and parents

Social contagion is by no means limited to vulnerable, suggestible children and adolescents. Social contagion has been documented in medical practice, professional bodies, law and legislation, sport, education, universities, and politicians. We live in a “woke” society and have adopted a fearful herd mentality when it comes to speaking out against scientific fallacies like gender identity and the gender spectrum when personal loss is at stake.

Despite a lack of consensus internationally regarding safety, ethics, and benefit of the global trend to prescribe puberty blockade to increasingly younger patients, prescription of GnRHa has steadily risen over the past decade on the unfounded assumption that placing puberty on hold affords time for children to “decide” their “true identity,” while reducing suicide risk, although recent evidence confirms that puberty blockade conveys no benefit in reducing suicide and puberty blockade actually derails the normal developmental trajectory.

Many professional bodies that should be thought leaders appear less concerned about scientifically verifying their stances regarding the transgendering of young people and more concerned about falling foul of the dominant political stance of gender affirmation since they rely in a circular manner on a small oeuvre of flawed transgender affirming “research” that is underpinned by the essentialist notion propagated by trans ideologues that gender, not sex, is primary.

According to DSM 5 (APA, 2013), 98 percent of gender confused boys and 88 percent of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty. However, the American Psychological Association (APA, 2015) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) (2023) ignore the evidence in favour of appeasing an increasingly strident trans lobby.

Legal protections for children have been progressively eroded internationally, with the courts withdrawing from their gate-keeping roles and legislators being persuaded to mandate treatment of “transgender” children using only gender affirmation pathways. They have also been successful in lowering the age at which young people can access sex re-assignment surgery without parental consent. Some courts have ruled that “a mature minor” is capable of giving consent to transgendering medical procedures.

Bills have also been passed allowing transgender people to change their birth certificates without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery. Under the legislation a person can self-nominate their sex and list as male, female or any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their choice. Children can alter the sex on their birth certificate with parental support and a statement from a doctor or registered psychologist saying the decision is in the best interests of the child.

Medical, legal, and human rights organisations have been acting synchronously (i.e., contagiously) to produce their position statements, denying the science of biological sex, and abrogating their duty of care to young people. The Australian Human Rights’ Commission has provided guidelines about sports participation that clearly disadvantage natal females, and which may well have a profound effect on female participation in sport.

Education curricula internationally are introducing elementary school children to concepts like the gender fairy, the gender unicorn, the rainbow spectrum, and the freedom to choose their gender. These biologically incorrect precepts are instilled unchallenged in vulnerable, receptive audiences, a clear demonstration that educationists have succumbed to social contagion to adopt these policies. School principals have discretion to socially transition children at school without their parents’ knowledge or permission, undermining parental authority and setting a dangerous precedent allowing children to make decisions about their wellbeing for which they are not prepared.

In Bostock vs Clayton County (2020), the US Supreme Court held that an employer who terminates an individual’s employment merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII (p. 4–33). “Transgender” became a legally protected category for employment purposes. By analogy, this ruling implies that schools should treat trans students in a similar manner.

There are now strict policies within the police and media that there will be no reporting in the press or digital media of youth suicide. The reason: publication of the details of a suicide spawns copycat suicides in the same age groups of young people. So, there is no mention in the media of these tragic events. We are very aware as a society of the potential for social contagion in all our behaviours and the best way to stop the contagion is to remove social exposure.

When it comes to transgendering children and young people, it appears that we are unable to learn from history. As Ryan T. Anderson (2018) concluded:

The [transgender] movement has to keep patching and shoring up its beliefs, policing the faithful, coercing the heretics, and punishing apostates, because as soon as its furious efforts flag for a moment or someone successfully stands up to it, the whole charade is exposed. That’s what happens when your dogmas are so contrary to obvious, basic, everyday truths. A transgender future is not the “right side of history,” yet activists have convinced the most powerful sectors of our society to acquiesce to their demands. While the claims they make are manifestly false, it will take real work to prevent the spread of these harmful ideas.

Fortunately, and belatedly, social contagion can serve a positive function in this debate. A class action of 1000 families treated by the Gender Identity Disorder Service at the Tavistock Clinic in London has just been announced. This will be the first of many class actions against gender clinics as the long-term devastation wreaked by the worst medical experiment in history unfolds.


Dianna Kenny

I use this shorthand term to describe the multitude of organizations that have policies and practices associated with unquestioning gender affirmation


EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

$30K a year, and my kid can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl

Parents must hold their local school systems accountable for what is taught to their children.

Everything has a price.

Like every American family, our family runs a constant cost/benefit analysis on our lives. There are the small decisions: is it worth the time to drive to Target for the cheaper diapers? Or should I just get the pricier ones at the grocery store? And there are the bigger ones: like, should I live in the suburbs and pay lower taxes but more for car expenses and gas? Or flip that decision?

For our family, one of the toughest decisions was where to send our kids to school. We could send them across the street to the poorly performing public school for free. They’d meet a wide variety of kids and learn some valuable self-advocacy skills, but they would not be academically challenged. For $30k, I could send them to the nearby private school, where they’d benefit from engaged teachers, kids, and families. We’d have to drop the music lessons and fancy trips, but hey — I don’t like Disneyland anyway.

So, with some scholarships, sacrifices, and family assistance, we made the choice to send our kids to a fancy private school. The benefits have been great: warm, caring, patient teachers; outstanding academics; beautiful buildings; even a pretty good lunch. But there’s been a hidden cost, beyond the incredibly painful tuition bills: my kids can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl.

This seems shocking, I know. How can a concept so obvious, so instinctual that nearly every 2-year-old on the planet can master it, be an idea that my very expensively-educated children don’t understand?

Simple-minded educators

Because some teachers don’t understand it. Because some administrators don’t understand it. And this is where I have to remind myself of something true: half the world is dumber than average.

I know this sounds incredibly snobby. I know this sounds judgmental and awful, but this is true. And this fact helps me take a breath, find some compassion, and slow down.

These teachers are good people. They are kind. They like kids, and want the best for children. They believe that education can make the world a better place. And additionally, they were hired for their people skills: they are empathetic, good communicators, patient, and open-minded. Those are exactly the skills my tuition dollars are paying for.

But these teachers are not well-trained critical thinkers. They were not hired for their ability to analyse complex research studies, nor to follow the various paths of different complex scenarios. They are not philosophers, ethicists, or religious scholars. They are not lawyers or developmental psychologists. They are not endocrinologists or pediatricians. They are experts at connecting to kids and explaining the types of K-12 content that kids should learn. Thank god for teachers and their talents and skills. Our society needs them. But they are not the experts here. They are just trying to do their jobs.

So when faced with the concept of “gender identity” — the idea that “people have an innate feeling of being female or male,” the typical teacher will say “Sure — that makes sense. I’m female, I know it. That’s not a controversial idea.”

When faced with the diagnostic definition of “gender dysphoria”, the idea that “some people have great distress with their biological sex, and wish they were the opposite sex,” these teachers say, “Sure — I know about Jazz Jennings and Caitlyn Jenner. That’s a real thing.”

When faced with the fact of “Disorders of Sexual Development” (formerly known as Intersex conditions), the scientifically observed and natural phenomena of various biological sexual characteristics and markers, teachers say, “Yep — I learned about that once.”

And when urged to consider the negative impacts of the difficulty of being an outlier, and the impacts of social isolation and/or ostracism, the teachers say, “Not on my watch. My cousin was gay and poorly treated. I won’t let any of my kids be bullied or left out.”

So when teachers combine all these ideas and impressions and blend them into their natural “be nice” personalities and “open-minded” natures, they are primed to become believers and advocates of transgender ideology. If Johnny likes skirts and thinks he’s really a girl inside, who are we to judge? We really can’t blame the teachers. They were born this way.

So our society has laid yet another burden of expectation on teachers. They must educate kids, they must socialise kids, they must address and resolve the emotional and behavioural dysfunctions of these kids. And now they must be responsible for nurturing, protecting, and advocating for the “internal feeling of being female or male” for a kid, otherwise they’ll be held responsible for the kid’s ostracism.

This is nuts. These teachers don’t stand a chance.

To the top

So we can’t fight the teachers. We’ve got to get the administrators and school boards to stop, listen, and think. These people were hired to be critical thinkers, to balance different opinions, to consider the different consequences of different choices. They still aren’t likely to read the studies or think through the ethical or philosophical consequences of different complex scenarios, but they are primed to consider one thing above all: legal threats.

Right now, principals and school boards are hiding behind the guidelines that WPATH (an activist-led organisation), the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals have created. These organisations have good intentions, but they are also human and flawed (and remember — half their members are below average). Even the ACLU seems to have lost its mind on this topic.

I suggest American parents adopt the “Maya Forstater Approach.” This strategy, based on the case in England, relies on fundamental and constitutional American legal rights: free speech and free religion. I don’t care if you haven’t been to church ever. This is what you say to your school board:

“For scientific, religious, and social reasons, I do not believe that you can change your sex, and I do not want my children to be taught “gender identity”, the belief that you have a gendered soul, and that your gender soul feelings trump your biology. How is your school protecting my family’s religious beliefs and our right to be free from compelled speech?”

Ask your school’s principal this question every Fall. Send it as a statement to your kids’ teachers every fall. Tell them to inform you of any lesson on gender identity before it happens so that your children can have a substitute lesson. Ask them what their policy on requesting pronouns is, so that your child does not feel compelled to use certain speech. Ask them how they balance different opinions on this topic in the community.

I can guarantee you they do not see this as a religious issue, but as a social justice issue. Say the magic words “freedom of religion/freedom from religion” and “freedom of speech” and see if that works. We’ve got a long history of protecting underdogs in this country, and right now the culture glorifies the status of victim. Use this knowledge wisely.

And here’s the thing: this is going to cost you. Be ready. Do the cost/benefit analysis. Whether your kids are getting a free public education or an expensive private one, when you ruffle the feathers of the principal, the winds blow. Then again, if you remain silent, your kid may not understand that sex never changes. Be prepared. Everything has a cost.

This article has been republished from Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT).


Anonymous author

In exceptional circumstances, MercatorNet allows contributors to publish articles anonymously. Sometimes the author’s privacy or safety might be at risk. More by Anonymous author.

RELATED ARTICLE: “Without Logos, the West is lost”

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.