Claim: “Transgender isn’t a thing, being trans is just a trend”

I’ve seen this argument thrown about more and more on the online space. The idea that being transgender is a trend. This is an essay response.

Defining Truth

One thing is clear to all that exists in this physical space. The world’s perception usually consists of between three and five states of information. Truth, truth-based opinion, opinion, untruth-based opinion, and untruth. Of course, this is all just linguistics, and as such, we need definition. The word truth as we know it in everyday use is:
noun: truth – the quality or state of being true
It comes from the Old English trīewth, which means “faithfulness”. Ultimately it is the state of not being untrue.

On the other hand, untruth is defined as:

a noun: untruth – the quality of being false.

This also comes from the Old English untrēowth, the opposite of faithfulness, or “unfaithfulness”.

However, such abstract concepts needn’t be defined as two separate entities, in my opinion, but rather are better understood when used in coalition with each other. For example:


noun: truth – the quality of not being untrue


I say this because to define something that is to be perceived so differently amongst so many people, one must describe what it is not, rather than put it in a box that is corrupted by my own preconceived notion of what truth already is.

Of course, until something is proved to be neither true nor untrue, it cannot be assumed one or the other because there is a 50% chance that the box it’s placed in may be incorrect. Therefore opinion must exist as a state for information to be neither right nor wrong, but more the notion of one’s head. A throwaway thought. A disregarded political stance. The opinion is to the calm ocean of justices an unbalancing storm of fact and fiction. Untameable. However, once a statement is proven untrue, it must be regarded as such, and the same goes for if it is proven true.

I could write pages on the state of information and the linguistics we use to dance to the concrete and abstract concepts of truths and opinions. Still, for the sake of argument, I will present two more states of information, truth-based and untruth-based opinion. Opinions lean towards what is true and what is not, but not far enough to be declared one or the other. They are not objective but riddled with personal bias and half-facts that have made their way into an individual’s head.

Apophatic theology

Oscar Wilde said, “to define is to limit”, and although he did not refer to a deity, Apophatic theology or negative theology attempts to describe God in this way. It accepts that God is transcendent, and thus we cannot hope to understand them, so we must therefore know what they are not. For example, it argues that we know [in a fundamental un-theological sense] that God must be metaphysical because we cannot see him physically etc. Apophatic thought such as this was described by Fagenblat to be “as old as philosophy itself,” [1] and it is with this approach that I shall apply to “truth”.

Looking at Truth Apophatically

I have already said that the concepts of truth and untruth can be used together in a coalition to better understand the true abstract nature of truth. To define what is true, we must understand what is untrue. For example, we can observe that humans who don’t drink water die, so, therefore, we require water to live – I understand that the colloquial nature of this analogy may be offputting and inaccurate. Still, in terms of building my argument here, the details of humankind’s nature with water is irrelevant.

In brief, to understand what is true, we must know what is not valid, which by definition is anything that holds the quality of being false.

Addressing the Claim

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists [TERFs] will commonly claim that being transgender is a trend that attacks young women, playing into their insecurities and forcing them to make irreversible changes to their bodies.

The Trend

Abigail Schrier, a Journalist and author of “Irreversible Damage – The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters”, states in an interview with podcast host Joe Rogan that this trend is “not about adult transgender people” but in fact, teen girls getting “seduced” into making “irreversible damages” to their bodies because they are insecure, claiming they are the “same girls that would have been anorexic or bulimic”.

Claim: Young girls are convinced and decide with their friends that they are trans because they are insecure.

Response: There is no evidence to suggest this claim, despite the plethora of information on transgender mental health out there. The author claims that insecurity causes people to think trans when the evidence indicates the opposite. According to the National Health Service, gender dysphoria in teenagers can cause “a strong desire to hide or be rid of physical signs of your biological sex, such as breasts or facial hair” [2], which to an ignorant outsider can just look like mere insecurity. Furthermore, anxiety and depression do not cause people to transition. Still, they are again byproducts of gender dysphoria, considering that “27% of trans young people have attempted to commit suicide and 89% have thought about it. 72% have self-harmed at least once” [3]. To claim that being insecure can cause someone to transition is factually wrong; therefore, the claim holds the quality of being false, which makes it an untruth.

Of course, debunking one author’s claims about trans youth seems a waste of time whilst addressing such a big issue. The trans trend painted by TERFs such as Schrier usually follows this same path. That young women are being coerced away from womanhood in some form of sexist attack. That “all over the country, teenage girls [are] all of a sudden deciding with their friends that they’re trans, wanting surgeries and hormones and getting them” [4], which is an untruth. One does not decide that one is trans. We are now seeing a rise in the number of trans people because young people finally have the language with which they can express their gender identity. No one’s being coerced or convinced; in fact, in America (where Schrier is based), hate crimes against trans people are on the rise [5], so now is a worse time than ever to “decide that you’re trans”.

Furthermore, a study from the TransYouth Project [6] found that trans children as young as 5 years old respond to psychological gender-association tests, which evaluate how people view themselves within gender roles, as quickly and consistently as those who don’t identify as trans. If kids as young as 5 identify as trans, is it really a trend attacking teenage girls? No. Is transitioning a response to insecurity separate from being transgender? No. Is it something we can observe in children who are too young to be pressured into society’s standard for women? Yes.

So, why are TERFs so adamant that being trans is somehow an attack on womanhood? Why do they think a trend (if they genuinely think it’s a trend) threatens them? Why do they have this fixation on AFAB [Assigned Female at Birth] trans people as if they are tempted by the dark side, but they’re just child predators when it comes to AMAB trans people? To me, it’s simple and can be summed up in one tweet from Schrier’s fellow TERF Arilelle Scarsella, “Much respect for @TheElliotPage for coming out as trans. I still wonder where all the lesbians are going?” [7].

AMAB trans people are predators, and AFAB trans people are victims of a trend. They’re transphobic, but their issue is not actually with trans people at all. A TERF needs a concrete idea of men to point the finger at. It’s my opinion that TERFs exclude trans people from womanhood and then attempt to justify it with name-calling and false information because they are so blinded by their hatred of men. They need to direct it, so they choose a group whose voices are less heard than theirs. They’re an easier target. So, Claim: It’s feminism to focus your attention on another minority group that is slightly less accepted in society to push your own political agenda by calling it a trend.
Response: Evidence shows that to be an untruth. [8]

Do trans people exist?

Claim: Transgender people do not exist.
Response: According to the UK government, approximately 200,000-500,000 trans people in the UK (at the last count) [9]. According to the UCLA School of Law, Williams Institue, there are 1,400,000 transgender adults in the USA [10]. Evidence of their existence proves that they do, in fact, exist; therefore, the claim is an untruth.

I’m being deliberately patronising. The idea that being transgender is not a thing is the most basic transphobic argument out there now. Of all the layers of creativity, the view “this thing I can observe that exists doesn’t exist” is so dull and repetitive and, more than anything, uncreative. We know transgender people exist, and an opinion cannot change that. It is an untruth.

Conclusion

I know that last bit may have been petty, but I’m going to be truthful here, which may cause me to slip into colloquial language for a second. The claim is utter bollocks. There is no trans trend. There is no wave of insecure girls being convinced that they’re trans. This is the truth. Not a truth-based opinion. Truth. I will always point out an element of perspective in what one may consider accurate. Still, some things, especially concerning the existence of others and whether or not their presence should be accepted, is not up for debate. I don’t care if Schrier has trans friends. I don’t care if a reader’s daughter was trans and that that somehow means that all young women are “turning trans” [11], which they’re not. The existence of trans people is indisputable, and the idea that it is somehow a trend is transphobic and an untruth and, therefore, should be regarded as such.

It is not fair on the trans community that TERFs single us out. Their opinions are based entirely on untruths and myths, not reality. If they aren’t coming from a place of intelligence and knowledge, which they are not, they are coming from a place of hate and misinformation. Their damage is not and should not be the burden of the trans community, and yet we are forced to bear it. Gatekeeping womanhood based on genitals is not feminism, and it never will be. However, it will always be transphobic.

-Io

Bibliography

[1] Fagenblat, Michael, ed. (2017), Negative Theology as Jewish Modernity, Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-02504-3
[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/symptoms/
[3] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/trans_stats.pdf
[4] https://youtu.be/6MYb0rBDYvs?t=121
[5] https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2020
[6] https://depts.washington.edu/scdlab/research/transyouth-project-gender-development/
[7] https://twitter.com/ArielleScarcell/status/1333849113029435394
[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism
[9] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/721642/GEO-LGBT-factsheet.pdf
[10] https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/trans-adults-united-states/
[11] https://youtu.be/6MYb0rBDYvs?t=102


One response to “Claim: “Transgender isn’t a thing, being trans is just a trend””

  1. […] No argument will convince me or any other trans person that the Tories aren’t transphobic. They have ignored our pleas to legally recognise non-binary genders, they have delayed medical access to gender transition treatments, they have thrown money at our problems time and time again, and now they have decided that we are the only part of the LGBTQ+ community that deserves to be tortured by people who think we are broken. […]

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