Scrutinizing the claims of gender ideology, it soon becomes apparent how incoherent they are. On the one hand, we’re told that men and women are the same — that the differences we observe in professional outcomes and sexual behavior are the result of sexist stereotyping. And yet, they are different; and men can really be women and women can really be men, by appropriating opposite-sex stereotypes.
For years, editors and journalists at the New York Times have been uninterested in skeptical views of transgenderism, dismissing them as bigotry. That’s beginning to change, as I write about in the forthcoming issue of the magazine But whatever took them so long?
In 2018, when the Times was uncritically circulating transgender myths, we at National Review were battling the disinformation. And this is just one of many areas where NR has fought to be a voice of truth and reason.
Here are just some of the myths that we’ve busted so far.
MYTH 1: We All Have a ‘Gender Identity’
Gender-identity theory originated with clinical experiments in psychiatry and surgery in the latter half of the 20th century. Later, in the 1990s, this theory evolved into gender ideology under the influence of academic leftists. It entered the mainstream via the internet in the 2010s and, with the help of political activists and lobbyists, morphed into the modern transgender movement. In its current manifestation, gender-identity ideology holds that everyone has a “gender identity” — an inner sense of being male, female, or something else — which is distinct from sex and capable of overriding it.
In activist lingo, a person who accepts their anatomical sex is “cisgender” while a person who rejects their anatomical sex is “transgender.” Really, though, a person who rejects their anatomical sex (i.e., reality) is mentally disturbed — deserving of compassionate help — while a person who accepts their anatomical sex is not.
This is what Ray Blanchard, a sexologist, explained in 2019, during an interview with National Review. Blanchard considers “gender identity” to be an unhelpful concept for “normal people” since “cross-gender identity is a constant preoccupation with, and unhappiness about, the individual’s gender” and not, as activists claim, “a normal gender identity which has found itself lodged in the wrong body.”
MYTH 2: Puberty Blockers Are Safe and Fully Reversible
The website of Britain’s National Health Service, whose main gender youth clinic was closed earlier this year after an independent investigation confirmed concerns over patient safety, formerly read: “The effects of treatment with GnRH analogues [puberty blockers] are considered to be fully reversible, so treatment can usually be stopped at any time.”
But in 2020, the NHS changed this entry to reflect the reality that “little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria.”
What took them so long?
Susan Bradley, a child psychiatrist with 40 years of clinical experience and research, told National Review in 2018 that “we know from multiple studies that around 80 percent of gender dysphoric children will desist from cross-sex identification in childhood to identify with their natal sex. Most of these will grow up to be gay or lesbian; a substantial minority have also been diagnosed with autism.”
For years, we at National Review have recognized the so-called “pause button” in the context of “gender-affirmation” for what it truly is — a nuclear button.
MYTH 3: There’s a Medical Consensus in Favor of ‘Gender-Affirming Care’
Biden’s assistant health secretary, Rachel (formerly Richard) Levine, falsely insists that there is a medical consensus favoring medicalized transitions for minors. He claims, “There is no argument among medical professionals.” That is an unsustainable falsehood in 2023 when even the New York Times concedes there is a “Battle Over Gender Therapy” within the field.
At National Review, we have been closely following the medical profession’s debate for years, noting the recent developments in Sweden, Britain, and various American states as they move toward a more evidence-based approach.
MYTH 4: Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria Can Be Dismissed as ‘Anti-Trans Propaganda’
When the medical doctor and Brown University assistant-professor Lisa Littman posited the idea of social contagion as a factor behind the sudden rise of transgender identification among teenage girls with no prior history of gender dysphoria, many liberal media outlets dismissed her work as “anti-trans propaganda.” At National Review, we responded differently. As soon as the controversy began, we investigated the phenomenon, which we found to be credible. Social contagion is now widely accepted among clinicians who cite it as a reason to support a more cautious approach in treating gender-distressed youth.
MYTH 5: Hormone Suppressants Level the Playing Field between Male and Female Athletes
The activist mantra that “trans women are women,” end of discussion, is perhaps most obviously absurd in the context of sports when males are stripped of their female costumes and starkly showcase their advantages in strength and speed. Activists have tried to get around this by claiming that testosterone suppressants somehow reverse the advantages bestowed by male puberty. Setting aside the sexist idea that an impaired or mediocre male can be made equivalent to a female, there is no evidence to support this assertion. In fact, the single study cited to support it has been thoroughly debunked.
Indeed, just watching Lia Thomas thrash his female competitors — as I did, on a National Review reporting trip — is enough to debunk this myth.
Trans women are women? Sex isn’t binary? Refusing to “affirm” a transgender identity will likely result in suicide?
Reporting from National Review.