We are told that we now live in a post-truth world. Things which we used to call “facts” no longer require evidence or verification; they merely need to engage the emotions and feelings. Something becomes true because I feel it to be true, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary.
So in the Brexit campaign it was a fact that the UK would recoup £350m a week from the EU – enough to build many new hospitals and adequately fund the NHS. Even though reputable bodies challenged and decried this fact it remained on the Out Campaign’s battle bus right to the end.
The recent US presidential election was characterised by post-truths too numerous to mention (mainly by the Trump camp), and millions of otherwise sensible Americans still believe that President Obama was born in Kenya and that his birth certificate is a forgery.
While post-truth fits well with modern politics, it becomes equally applicable to much of the modern zeitgeist where feelings, self-determination and subjectivity are paramount on almost any issue of note. Since there are no absolutes (we are told) and everything is now relative, you have your facts and I have mine.
A story earlier this year, which was largely drowned out by other news (it has been a busy year), was a letter sent by the Brighton and Hove City Council in April to the parents of four-year-old children due to start primary school. The letter asked that the children be allowed to choose the gender “they most identified with”.
Gender dysphoria (GD) in young people is a highly unpleasant, but uncommon, psychological condition. The American Psychiatric Association list it as a recognised mental disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), the critical element for diagnosis being the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition. This distinguishes it from the gender confusion that may affect some children, although the vast majority identify with their biological sex after passing through puberty.
But the concept of widespread gender fluidity is fast becoming a cultural phenomenon which is gaining the status of an ideology rather than a psychological condition; and woe betide anyone who challenges this.
However this is exactly what the American College of Pediatricians (sic) has done. In August 2016, it published a position statement titled, “Gender ideology harms children”. It states, “The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.”
And also, “Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.”
Wow, child abuse! This is strong stuff, but reflects the growing disquiet that transgenderism is being politicised in a way which is not based on facts and clinical evidence, but rather on what people wish to be true. The recent parliamentary debate was actually a non-debate, merely a bunch of politicians virtue signalling but with a complete absence of challenge or questioning.
The ACP article is tightly argued and should be studied carefully by all with a vested interest in this issue; it is a highly respected academic body, and the views expressed should be considered seriously.
There is still very little long term outcome data on current treatments for GD. The largest study in Sweden, probably the most sexually tolerant country in the developed world, shows that those who have undergone gender re-assignment continue to have high rates of mental health issues including depression, self-harm and suicide. Yet this is never discussed or mentioned by the liberal elite.
Seen against this background, the actions of the Brighton and Hove Council amount to nothing more than social experimentation, based on no evidence, and inflicted without consent on the most vulnerable members of society – children. There is no reliable research on the long-term effects of teaching young children that they may ‘choose’ their gender, and it seems that no consideration whatsoever has been given to the possible physical, psychological and sociological consequences of so called “gender fluidity”.
Indeed any meaningful debate on the issue is generally closed down by howls of “phobic”!
This is post-truth at its worst, and in my view is not just misguided but is wicked (yes, I believe in absolutes).
Surely it is now time for clinicians and institutions such as the Royal College of Paediatrics in the UK to take a stand and challenge this profoundly non-clinical and unscientific view of gender.