I was this week given cause to reflect how many years it has been since I read the story of Hansel and Gretel. I am fifty in just a few months, so it would certainly be over forty years. Yet while scrolling through Twitter, I came across a creepy gender cultist, singing to children about the joy of being found and not lost. My first thought was that this person lived in a house of sweeties.
For those who don’t know the story of Hansel and Gretel, you can Google it, but I’ll summarise either way. This famous 1812 Brothers Grimm tale is of a brother and sister who were abandoned by their weak father and their dominating heartless stepmother in a huge dark forest, due to extreme poverty. Starving and exhausted, the siblings come across a house made of bread and sweeties and begin to feast on it. The evil witch who owns the house lures the unsuspecting starving children inside with the view of fattening them up and eating them. Gretel outsmarts the witch, who meets a fiery end in her own oven. The children then loot the witch’s wealth and find their way back to their father. Their father is deeply repentant, and we are relieved to learn the stepmother has died. We leave the children and their father in a happily ever after scenario.
There is a house made of sweeties being built in our society. It is beautiful on the outside, it is most attractive to vulnerable children, but inside lurks, at best a lucky escape, and at worst a catastrophe. Gender ideology has now saturated our culture and government departments, with little scientific backing but accompanied by a compelling saccharine exterior.
In the transgender debate, we are so often given a story instead of a sensible argument. We are most frequently presented with a beautiful male child who passes seamlessly for a girl. We are told that the beautiful male trans-identified child has a girl soul, and will grow up, with the help of medical science, to be a woman, their true self. We are encouraged to see with our own eyes, that this child was born in the wrong body.
The latest Human Rights Campaign – a Washington based LGBTIQ organisation – is a perfect example. The online campaign is for the inclusion of trans-identified male children in female sport. The promotional video shows Rebekah, a strikingly attractive sport-loving, feminine presenting male child who we are told is a 14-year-old girl. Rebekah is academic, not very good at sport, but loves the camaraderie of their team. The mother does make a good point by saying that accepting the child in every part of their life as a girl but not in sport, is contradictory. Rebekah finds the questioning of their gender “violating and embarrassing”. Who, we ask ourselves, would violate this innocent child?
With the help of puberty blockers that male child will never develop the sex characteristics of a man and will be able to “pass” well as a “woman”. After years of puberty blockers and then cross-sex hormones, some of the characteristics they may never develop are a full-size penis and testes, fertility and sexual function.
The star of “I am jazz”, Jazz Jennings, has experienced well-known complications with “gender confirmation surgery” because puberty blockers prevented the development of a full-size penis and testes. This means that there is not enough tissue to create a neovagina, and they have had to use tissue from the stomach lining to create what is referred to, but is not, a “vagina”.
Jazz cuts a sympathetic figure. Many transgender advocates place these young people out front, precisely for this reason. They don’t want us to be frightened. Unfortunately, the saturation of these young feminine males terrifies a lot of gay men, like YouTuber Arty Morty.
Arty often comments that he was a very feminine boy, and it was a painful life. Despite the difficulty of being gender non-conforming, he is now very thankful for being a full-bodied gay man. He is thankful, that in his dark forest of pain and isolation, he didn’t come across this house made of sweeties that is modern gender affirming medicine. Arty and other gay men are wondering if the transitioning of feminine boys into trans girls, is based in our social discomfort with the feminine male child. In other words, in systemic homophobia. In a world of so much talk of systemic discrimination, this is surprisingly not a conversation many are prepared to have.
The thing with sweets, is that they look very appealing, and they give an immediate rush of acceptance and joy, but they contain almost no nutrition. The long difficult path that often awaits a transgender person is shielded from the young by the media and well-funded medical marketing. Given that up to 90% of gender dysphoric children will accept their natal sex through puberty, if encouraged to do so, many are asking why we have taken the “affirmation” path. Are we transitioning children to alleviate our own discomfort? Are we as a society fundamentally uncomfortable with the feminine boy and the masculine girl?
It is no longer a majority of male children that are being enticed into the house of sweeties, and they are not necessarily even gender dysphoric, nor will most of them turn out to be same sex attracted. There is a massive surge in girls identifying as transgender in what has been labelled a social contagion similar to anorexia. There is debate around this increase, but very little government-sponsored research or mainstream media curiosity. In the recent landmark Bell v. Tavistock judgement in the UK (completely ignored by the Australian national broadcaster), the judges found the lack of data analysis and investigation by the gender clinic surrounding the spike in referrals, particularly the ASD component, “surprising”.
Surprising is a more amiable conclusion than my implication that a cannibalistic witch is luring the vulnerable with deception. But for Scott Newgent, a 48-year-old trans man, this is not a stretch. Scott, a natal female, engaged in a series of surgeries that literally involved ripping the flesh from his body to feed an industry that gave him little perceivable benefit. He remains living as a transgender person but is fervently against the medical transitioning of children. He wrote in Newsweek about having; “seven surgeries, a pulmonary embolism, an induced stress heart attack, sepsis, a 17-month recurring infection, 16 rounds of antibiotics, three weeks of daily IV antibiotics, arm reconstructive surgery, lung, heart and bladder damage, insomnia, hallucinations, PTSD, $1 million in medical expenses, and loss of home, car, career and marriage.”
Of course, there are some success stories for the current “gender affirming” model of transgender medicine. The early use of puberty blockers in children to treat gender dysphoria is based on the “Dutch Protocol”, a method developed in the Netherlands. The case of patient “B” is cited by the Dutch research team as an early success story. “B” was a female to male transgender person who was one of the first to undergo puberty suppression to treat gender dysphoria. At the 22 year follow up in 2011, the cosmetic results for “B” were perfect. Cosmetic results are not insignificant in transgender medicine, as gender is largely the social and cosmetic expression of sex.
Despite good looks, “B” had persistent difficulties forming relationships with women due to feelings of sexual inadequacy, even in his thirties. Issues of long-term relationship happiness and the importance of sexual function, fertility and family formation are rightly being questioned as beyond the ability of a pre-pubescent child to consent to sacrifice for cosmetic results.
Some LGB activists, like gender dysphoria sufferer Lauren Black, argue that we must give gender non-conforming girls broader options. She advocates for “trashing the old fashioned, regressive stereotypes” that lock people in rigid gender roles. Lauren works to get the message to young dysphoric people that there is an alternative to “altering healthy bodies with drugs and surgeries in an endless quest to become someone that, in the end, you biologically can never be.” Lauren is happily married to her long-term partner and has children. She chooses to cling to these fulfilling realities of her life, refusing s to capitulate to incessant bullying to medicate her condition with hormones or treat it with surgery. Rather, she advocates for wider acceptance of masculine-presenting women and the rejection of defining human sex by gender.
Classic liberals, socialists and feminists are coming to similar conclusions about gender ideology, but with different approaches. The right frequently refers to the “cultural Marxism” that dominates gender ideology, while the gender-critical left sees it more as cultural capitalism. Genuine socialists are materialists after all, and don’t believe in the ethereal concept of a gender soul. They object to the unrestrained capitalist greed of the medical-industrial complex and the commodification of the human body. Radical Feminists oppose gender ideology because it seeks to remove the word “woman” from the biology that defines female reality. The removal of sex-based safeguarding from spaces and sport has long been warned of by heavily cancelled and censored feminists.
Across the political divide, we seem to agree we are dealing with a powerful oligarchy, if it is driven by ideology or greed, it doesn’t much matter to me. If we are to protect children and women’s rights, we need a united front. Such left/right association is being cast by the cultural left as an evil alliance in an increasingly polarised political environment. On the left, gender dissenters are being accused of alignment with the Christian right. Christian centrists like me are being accused by the progressive Christians on my left of abandoning compassion and by the right-wing Christians of capitulating to anti-man feminism.
Having lived on both sides of the political divide, I see the solutions to be found both in the principles of classic liberalism as well as some more traditional left–wing approaches. We need to insist on freedom of speech, separating ideology from government (the secular state), and the rule of law. Also, there is a need for more traditional left-wing restraining of the capitalist powers of the tech oligarchies and the medical industry.
We have to focus our alliance on a human level. Many of us know what it is like to be lost and alone in a dark forest. Hansel and Gretel is a human story of loneliness, abandonment and vulnerability. The house of sweeties is the glittering promise of salvation for children who lack an alternative source of nutrition. The witch is not transgenderism, or gender dysphoria, or gender nonconformity, but the lurking devouring monster that awaits children when they are abandoned by adults. We mustn’t continue to allow safeguarding to be removed around children’s education and safety. We need to listen to the Gretels, to Arty, Scott, Lauren and the growing ranks of de-transitioners, who have escaped, not entirely unscathed, from the house of sweeties. Most importantly we must equip our children with all the resources they need to find their way through the dark forest, to their adult selves.
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