Letter from Gerard O’Brien

Dear friends,

I pray you’re going OK through another lockdown. It was so encouraging to see how our church family cared for one another through the last lockdown. Please continue that care through this one, especially of those who are on their own. And if you need help yourself, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us in the office.

I recently read a book by Abigail Shrier called Irreversible Damage: Teenage Girls and the Transgender Craze. It was voted one of the books of the year by The Economist (2020) and The Times (2021). Shrier has conducted some very helpful research into the transgender phenomenon gripping teenage girls and I’d recommend the book to anyone trying to understand it. I thought I’d share a few summary quotes with you (references are to the Kindle index location):

Gender dysphoria—formerly known as “gender identity disorder”—is characterized by a severe and persistent discomfort in one’s biological sex … in most cases—nearly 70 percent—childhood gender dysphoria resolves. Historically, it afflicted a tiny sliver of the population (roughly .01 percent) and almost exclusively boys. (loc. 128).

In America, Britain, and Canada, teenagers are in the midst of what academic psychologist Jonathan Haidt has called a “mental health crisis”—evincing record levels of anxiety and depression.
Between 2009 and 2017, the number of high schoolers who contemplated suicide increased 25 percent. The number of teens diagnosed with clinical depression grew 37 percent between 2005 and 2014. And the worst hit—experiencing depression at a rate three times that of boys—were teenage girls … the average rates of self-harm reflect the same spike: an increase of 62 percent since 2009 …
Why the sudden spike in anxiety, depression, self-harm? “Social media,” was Haidt’s immediate reply. 
(loc. 264).

Dr. [Lisa] Littman [ob-gyn turned public health researcher] began preparing a study of her own, gathering data from parents of trans-identifying adolescents who had had no childhood history of gender dysphoria …
Two patterns stood out: First, the clear majority (65 percent) of the adolescent girls who had discovered transgender identity in adolescence … had done so after a period of prolonged social media immersion. Second, the prevalence of transgender identification within some of the girls’ friend groups was more than seventy times the expected rate …
If this sudden spike in transgender identification among adolescent girls is a peer contagion, as Dr. Littman hypothesized, then the girls rushing toward “transition” are not getting the treatment they most need.
 (loc. 611)

This is how gender ideology is taught in schools: with the materials, curricula, speakers, and teacher training supplied by gender activists. Kindergarteners are introduced to the “Genderbread Person” and “Gender Unicorn.” Kindergarten teachers read from I Am Jazz, and the little ones are taught that they might have a “girl brain in a boy body” or vice versa.
Schools that administer this instruction never acknowledge that, as a scientific matter, it’s gibberish. It is biologically nonsensical to suggest that a girl’s brain—every cell of it stamped with XX chromosomes—might inhabit a boy’s body. No mention is made of the fact that there are no diagnostic or empirical criteria for deciding that a biological girl is in fact “really a boy.” Nonetheless, this drivel is taught with the same sobriety and apparent thoroughness as facts about human reproduction and sexually transmitted disease. 
(loc. 1262).

Given the power [the threat of a teenager’s suicide] has to disarm and disable parental judgment, there is something a little disturbing about the fact that so many therapists feel comfortable trotting it out …
But is it true? Are transgender-identified youth likely to kill themselves? …
In a recent academic study, Kenneth Zucker found that the mental health outcomes for adolescents with gender dysphoria were very similar to those with the same mental health issues who did not have gender dypshoria. In other words, we have no proof that the gender dysphoria was responsible for the suicidal ideation or tendency to self-harm. It may have been the many other mental health problems that gender dysphoric adolescents so often bear.
 (loc. 2091).

The dangers are legion. The safeguards absent. Perhaps the greatest risk of all for the adolescent girl who grasps at this identity out of the blue, like it is the inflatable ring she hopes will save her, is also in some ways the most devastating: that she’ll wake up one morning with no breasts and no uterus and think, I was only sixteen at the time. A kid. Why didn’t anyone stop me? (loc. 3196)

Each of the desisters and detransitioners I talked to reported being 100 percent certain that they were definitely trans—until, suddenly, they weren’t. Nearly all of them blame the adults in their lives, especially the medical professionals, for encouraging and facilitating their transitions. (loc. 3496)

I hope that’s a helpful taster. As I said, I’d recommend reading the whole thing.

In Christ,

Gerard O’Brien