In Europe, the Transgender Movement is Facing an Enormous Backlash
A subset of the French elite is taking a stand against gender ideology. In September, over fifty medical professionals, prominent academics, legal experts, doctors, philosophers, psychiatrists, judges, and psychoanalysts published a scathing open letter condemning aspects of gender ideology and gender transition in children. Published through the Observatory of Ideological Discourses on Children and Adolescents, the letter laid out their concerns.
In less than a decade, the transgender movement has taken the West by storm. Gender ideology spread swiftly from campuses to public schools; the media obediently changed their language and their ledes; the entertainment industry flung themselves enthusiastically into producing propaganda for all ages. There was a sudden rise in female rapists who looked suspiciously masculine; women were told to shut up and welcome their new penis-packing sisters into female-only spaces; religious people were informed that they were guilty of a brand-new phobia, having just gotten used to the previous ones.
But most worryingly, untold thousands of children—usually girls—became convinced that they were born into the wrong bodies. A medical industry sprang up almost overnight to remedy this, providing double mastectomies, sex change surgeries, and hormone blockers to transform their human subjects into the people they thought they were. There were dissenting voices—they were shouted down. Heads of state obediently fell into line, conditioned to snap to attention when the ever-expanding LGBT movement informed them what was next on the agenda. Suddenly, parents were faced with girls who insisted they were boys and boys insisting they were girls, and everyone was telling them to head down to the new gender clinic to get the drugs and snips their children needed.
It was staggering to see how swiftly dissent was crushed and gender ideology became a new dogma. And yet, in the last several years, there have been signs of hope—cracks in the transgender narrative. Those cracks are growing across Europe, and there is a very real chance that this horrifying civilizational medical experimentation on the young may finally be forced to face the facts.
In the United Kingdom, gender ideology spread far and fast. Even Boris Johnson transitioned, backing away last year from plans to ban sex change surgeries for minors at the behest of trans activists and, according to some Tory parliamentarians, due to influence from his millennial live-in fiancée, Carrie Symonds. Prince Harry, the Windsor wokeling, endorsed the radical transgender charity Mermaids, which promotes sex change treatments for children. Feminist critics of the transgender movement were attacked: J.K. Rowling was doxed and received death threats; philosophy professor Kathleen Stock resigned from the University of Sussex after a wave of harassment and intimidation from trans activists.
But while it is too early to say that the tide is turning, there are indications that the trans movement has hit the high-water mark. In 2020, the UK government announced that it was scrapping plans for “self-identification,” which would have allowed people to change their gender via a statutory declaration as opposed to attaining certification from the Gender Recognition Panel. LGBT activists decried this move as “a major blow to LGBTQ rights.” Trans activists are also warning that opinion may be turning against key elements of their cultural project, especially gender transition for children.
This aspect of the pushback bears the face of Keira Bell, who went to the Tavistock clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service in London at age 16. Bell, struggling with gender dysphoria, was promptly prescribed puberty blockers, which stop natural physical development. Trans activists claim that puberty blockers give children time to grapple with their gender identity and that they can resume puberty if they choose, but the reality is these drugs can have permanent effects. By age 20, Bell had her breasts removed and the treatments she’d taken had given her body hair, a beard, a low voice, and impacted her sexual function—and she realized that none of it had helped her.
“What was really going on was that I was a girl insecure in my body who had experienced parental abandonment, felt alienated from my peers, suffered from anxiety and depression, and struggled with my sexual orientation,” she wrote later. “As I matured, I recognized that gender dysphoria was a symptom of my overall misery, not its cause.” Bell became what is known as a “de-transitioner” and once again lives as a woman. She took the Tavistock clinic to court, where her team argued that “Tavistock had failed to protect young patients who sought its services, and that—instead of careful, individualized treatment—the clinic had conducted what amounted to uncontrolled experiments on us.” Bell won a unanimous verdict.
To the horror of the trans movement, the judges ruled that children under 16 could not give consent to puberty blockers, and clinics seeking to prescribe these drugs to 16 and 17-year-olds might need to obtain permission from the courts. Mermaids called the judgment a “devastating blow;” Stonewall, a UK LGBT charity and the largest gay rights organization in Europe said it was “stunning.” Earlier this year, an appeals court overturned the judgement, and Bell is seeking leave to take her case to the supreme court. The futures of thousands of children hang in the balance.
Bell’s case broke through the monolithic discussion on gender identity, which for several years has been almost totally dominated by trans activists. The BBC and other major British media outlets have reported on Tavistock scandals, medical misdemeanours, and dozens of resignations from gender clinics. Criticisms of trans ideology that would never get published in countries like Canada now appear regularly. Slate even asked in 2019 “how transphobic discourse has become so mainstream in the UK” and called the UK “the motherland of ‘gender criticism.’”
In a little-noticed but significant event, last month Vice reported that the BBC is planning to withdraw from “Diversity Champions,” a program run by Stonewall.