These days there seems to be a proliferation of organisations involved in the curious business of transgenderism. One I came across recently is called Genspect. Since it’s based in Ireland it’s not surprising that the people who devised the content of their website appear to have kissed the Blarney Stone.

This is what they say about themselves (paraphrased), with my comments below:

Mission: To champion a healthy approach to sex and gender

There’s nothing wrong with that, whatever they mean by ‘healthy’.

Vision: A world where people are free to present and express themselves in a manner that is healthy, safe and not constrained by gender stereotypes

‘Healthy’ means the same as ‘safe’, but they’ve already said that, so we can omit it. Then we’re left with, ‘A world where people are not constrained by gender stereotypes.’ But what do they mean by ‘constrained’ and ‘gender stereotypes’?

Values: Honesty, integrity, authenticity, excellence in healthcare, high-quality research and diversity of thought

Is there anything they’ve left out?

The next item, ‘Objectives’, similarly, is comprehensive in its scope and as it’s quite long, I’ve shortened it for readability:

Promote a comprehensive understanding of sex and gender; champion a healthy model of care for gender-related distress; encourage clinicians to employ the least-invasive approach as the first treatment intervention when working with gender-related distress; disseminate high quality research to serve as a foundation for evidence-based laws, policies and practices; understand and communicate the social, cultural, and medical implications of gender-related distress and gender-based stereotypes; help educational establishments and other institutions to address gender diversity and gender-related distress in healthy ways; offer guidance, information and support to individuals and their loved ones who have been impacted by gender-related distress

See what I mean about the Blarney Stone? Let’s slim it down some more by leaving out unnecessary words, avoiding repetition, and simplifying what I think they’re trying to say:

Promote understanding of the difference between sex and gender; encourage non-invasive treatment for gender-related distress; disseminate evidence-based research in gender-related distress and gender stereotypes.

Perhaps I should not wield Occam’s razor too much, so let’s go back to what they want to encourage clinicians to do, namely, ‘employ the least-invasive approach as the first treatment intervention when working with gender-related distress.’

If this isn’t careless writing, then what they’re saying is that the first approach to treating gender-related distress is invasive to some degree. This usually means surgery – a literal ‘invasion’ of the body by cutting with a knife – or it could mean at least giving an injection, presumably of a hormone. But why should gender-related distress – a problem affecting the mind – need invasive treatment at all, and once you start, where does it end?

In no other field of medicine does one talk of ‘affirmative’ care or treatment. Even if you think you have appendicitis, you don’t go to a surgeon for affirmation that you need your appendix removed; you consult a surgeon for an opinion on whether you need your appendix removed.

But if you think you have gender dysphoria, putting aside the question of whether or not this is a diagnosis, you can go straight to a so-called gender specialist for affirmative treatment, which means drugs and surgery!

Here’s another example. It’s from a paper of 2016 but the problem it illustrates is particularly relevant today. It was published in – where else? – the International Journal of Transgenderism and written by Az Hakeem and others. The title, which also has a touch of the Blarney Stone, is ‘Development and validation of a measure for assessing gender dysphoria in adults: The Gender Preoccupation and Stability Questionnaire’. All that work, but the conclusion is qualified by the words ‘appears’, ‘believe’, ‘potential’, and ‘preliminary’.

The problem with this is that the concept of gender dysphoria is taken at its face value and assumed to be amenable to assessment by a questionnaire! There are fourteen questions with suggested answers: ‘never’, ‘seldom’, ‘sometimes’, ‘often’, ‘very often’, and from these a score is generated. But the authors are attempting to measure something that doesn’t exist except as an idea in the mind of so-called transgender people.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

The photo shows Blarney Castle in Ireland. Credit Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash.