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A tangled web

We’ve made a mess of sexuality

For years, we’ve gazed with dismay at the phenomenon of the vanishing man—in family life, on the university campus, and in responsible positions (or in positions acting responsibly). Could it be that men no longer know how to be men?

We should be asking that question about women. 

One of my relatives (I’ll call her Anna) has weathered some serious storms in her life, including divorces, health problems, substance abuse, and financial instability. To her credit, she’s overcome many of these setbacks to establish a successful business and a home. I’m proud of her for that, but even prouder for something else. About two years ago her youngest, a girl then in her early teens, decided she would be much happier as a boy. Probably hoping for some rational, informed dialogue, Anna took her daughter to the family doctor. Instead, the doctor suggested hormone therapy. Anna said, “No way.” 

The next few months were tense. Though I was not privy to the altercation, I know something of the temperaments involved, and it was probably fiery. But then the girl just let it drop. Last I heard, they’ve had other dust-ups, but the trans issue seems settled.

Generations, after all, depend on men and women being fathers and mothers.

Anna’s firm stance on gender mutilation may be more the exception than the rule. Trans identity is still very much the cause célèbre here in the United States (although in the U.K., as WORLD has reported, opinions are beginning to shift). A boomlet in “transsexualism,” as it was called then, flourished in the late 1960s and early ’70s, but it was more a sideshow of the sexual revolution. Larger developments were playing out on the main stage, like abortion, no-fault divorce, and increasing single parenthood. Now that those former transgressions are established as normal, trans ideology emerges again, this time as the main event. But where only a few years ago it affected mostly males, girls have jumped into the lead with “sudden onset gender dysphoria” (SOGD)—that is, teenagers who had never expressed discomfort with being girls, deciding en masse to be something else.

Abigail Shrier, in her book Irreversible Damage, details how trans culture subtly, or not so subtly, influences this dissatisfaction. In a podcast interview, Shrier offered some thoughts on how such an irrational desire could gain a foothold. It’s not so much that these girls wanted to be men, she said. It was more that they didn’t want to be women.

What, exactly, is so unappealing about being a woman? Might it be that feminism, while opening up opportunities for women, has in the process devalued womanhood? It’s not new—I recall a radio promotion for the Girl Scouts, over 20 years ago, that made the organization sound like a support group for an oppressed minority. 

Decades of negativity may have found one outlet in SOGD, but there are other forms of gender nonconformity. Elsewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum, trends are even more striking. Last summer Democratic data analyst David Shor conducted a private poll that indicated around 30 percent of American women under 25 now identify as lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. That’s almost one-third.

Even if the numbers aren’t that high, and even if (as I suspect) that disturbing percentage owes more to the current cool factor than genuine inclination, and even if many of these young women will eventually marry suitable men, this kind of statistic doesn’t bode well for the next generation. Generations, after all, depend on men and women being fathers and mothers, preferably in the same household. The sexual revolution, with its intense focus on personal satisfaction, results in massive dis-satisfaction working its poisonous way through marriage, parenthood, sexual attraction, puberty—finally striking at the root of identity in a human body: “Male and female He created them.”

If God is gracious, “sudden-onset” may just as suddenly fade away. I certainly hope so, for the sake of thousands of girls who aren’t as fortunate as Anna’s daughter. But the tangle we’ve made of sex and gender will take a miracle to unravel.