At 15, I cropped off my long hair. The result was exhilarating. Not long after, I rented a tuxedo for my high school dance, a first for a girl at my school. Excited yet apprehensive, I couldn’t wait to try it on. Any qualms I had were quickly swept aside by how much I enjoyed the feel of each suit piece and how it made me look.
I walked and carried myself differently. Wearing a tux and tails felt much more “me” than any of my awkward attempts at wearing a dress. I was secretly same-sex attracted, deeply confused about my identity, and more and more preferred a masculinized version of myself. I described myself as “androgynous” and papered over the pain I carried with a bravado of pride in being a “non-conformist.”
Fast forward 30-plus years to Time magazine’s cover story of Ellen Page’s transformation into Elliot, including top surgery, and my heart both resonates and breaks. Had my younger self been part of this generation, I could have easily gone from gender non-conformity to lost body parts, in search of an elusive self-transformation to escape the pain I was experiencing. Laying aside all else, even if the still beautiful Page finds improved happiness post-transition, the objective fact remains that most don’t.
Moreover, Page is making these decisions as a 34-year-old adult. Yet how many more people — most of them younger — will be influenced by the media’s unrelenting celebration of transgender identity? How many young women (and young men) going through the “hell of puberty,” as Page puts it, will look and find yet another famous herald for an alluring gender “journey” cure-all? In a single day after the transgender announcement, Page gained 400,000 Instagram followers.
Undoubtedly with good intentions, Page is speaking out to condemn bills meant to protect minors from these irreversible procedures. Yet the delayed transition in Page’s life preserved full fertility, bone density, and sexual function. As a famous actor, Page will get a cover story and a voice; Keira Bell, the brave detransitioned woman who won her lawsuit against a gender clinic for improper care of minors, will not.
A Generation Made, Not Begotten
How shall we describe this generation? First, they are a generation intentionally being made, and both social media and legacy media outlets are major players in the game — though certainly not the only ones, depending on the school district your child attends.
In May 2014, Time’s cover featured Laverne Cox and declared a “Transgender Tipping Point” (in her Time cover story, Page mentions Cox as an inspiration), which went on to win a media award from the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD. GLAAD has just republished its “accountability project” after admitting errors.
Less than three years later, in March 2017, everyday young people were featured in the cover story “Beyond He or She,” declaring that this generation was redefining gender and sexuality, pointing out that non-binary expressions are “increasingly moving from the margins to the mainstream.” The article noted Facebook having “about 60 options for users’s gender” to illustrate this trend. The bulk of the article goes on to give details of a GLAAD-commissioned study shared exclusively with Time.
GLAAD’s website includes a timeline of its accomplishments, including a meeting with Time seeking more LGBT coverage in 1999. There is also an entry for February 2014, highlighting “Facebook Gender Options: GLAAD works with Facebook to expand gender options, making the platform more inclusive of transgender and gender non-conforming users.” Thus, GLAAD specifically worked to multiply gender identity labels with Facebook and Time featured an article celebrating that Facebook “gender revolution” when it occurred.
Three years later, the Facebook expansion of the “gender lexicon” is cited as evidence this generation is “re-defining” gender and these identities are becoming more mainstream. This engineered social change, and subsequent reporting on it, deliberately drove yet more social change. As GLAAD’s motto reads: “Leading the conversation. Shaping the media narrative. Changing the culture. That’s GLAAD at work.” GLAAD has been hard at work indeed.
Thus, with 1.8 percent of Generation Z identifying as transgender and 1 in 6 self-identifying as under the LGBT banner, it should surprise no one the actor formerly known as Ellen Page now graces the cover of Time as a transman.
A Generation Unlike Us
We should indeed acknowledge how Generation Z is unique. Never before has a generation in the United States been raised so fatherless, born under more existential threat from abortion, had almost all forms of sexuality normalized and expressly promoted to them, and exposed to more explicit sexual imagery so young. This is the “iGen” — with smartphones that put porn at their fingertips and hook them to social media, like patients chained to a constant IV drip.
Crucially, no generation has ever had “the normalization of body dissociation” directly marketed to them for profit. Doctors use Instagram to market top surgery, and hormones are available essentially on demand. Similar to the ubiquitous commercials directing us to “ask our doctor about the purple pill,” the array of options for medicalized identity interventions are finding their target audience, primarily the young. The generation that tipped transgender has been, and is being given, a monumental and non-stop shove.
In all the discussions of coming to self-acceptance and celebrating self-determination, those who reject the material reality of male and female are inevitably at war with their own selves.
For those who choose to undergo any degree of medical alteration, even if they temporarily achieve the psychological results they desire, their bodies are objectively less healthy. The well-being of the mind pitted against the well-being of the body and mandating medical harm for mental wellness makes individuals houses divided against themselves.
Thus, in many tragic ways, Gen Z is a groundbreaking generation due in part to our sins. The whirlwind we now reap is filled with the fragmented identities of our sons and daughters who will acknowledge themselves to be neither.
For people of faith, let us begin with repentance: Acknowledging our own sins will enable us to respond to those of this generation. We will pray more effectively for the children of this age when we admit our own waywardness and contribution to theirs.
Amplify Voices of Reason
What else then shall we do? Predictably, the same media and tech conglomerates pushing the trans narrative suppress and vilify any balanced or nuanced voices of reason. Of the most egregious instances, GLAAD’s “Accountability Project” targets objectors so media can consider whether to “quote them” or continue to give them “unchallenged air time or ink.” Its initial release provoked understandable ire, and its updated edition includes J.K. Rowling.
Abigail Shrier’s name was listed, so please read her book, educate yourselves on the irreversible damage being done, and warn and inform others, such as the professionals at the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and others are doing.
Read Walt Heyer as well as Ryan Anderson’s Amazon-banned book. Learn from Jennifer Bilek’s excellent writings and research into the profit motives. Beautiful reasoning can be found in psychiatrist Stephen Levine’s description of the complex process of consent, including a detailed discussion of 12 specific risks, that has been cast aside in favor of patient desire and autonomy as the sole requirement for accessing treatment (excellent and accessible summary discussions of Levine’s work are available here and here).
I wish Elliot Page all the best, but might even famous adults be casualties in this rush to affirm transition and lack of truly informed consent? As Levine writes, “There is much to suggest that the patient does not always know best — for example, post-transition depression, detransition, suicide rates both before and after surgery, and that researchers have concluded that postoperative patients need psychiatric care.”
Might a woman who experienced the constant spotlight on her body for the public gaze from girlhood have other motivations to remove her breasts and declare a male identity in a world where, as the Time article put it, “men’s bodies are less policed and scrutinized,” that at least deserve to be explored?
Among Levine’s overarching questions for truly informed consent are: “What do you understand about the common and rare, short- and long-term medical and health risks of hormone and surgical interventions?” and “What have you considered the nature of your life will be in 10 to 20 years?”
Recent research continues to show that it is often vulnerable minors with psychiatric co-morbidities and adverse childhood experiences presenting at gender clinics, and there is no Instagram filter to sift the influences directing them to the panacea for the emerging pandemic of being “born in the wrong body.”
Keep reaching across the aisle, as Scott Newgent and others are doing, to join with all people of goodwill for the sake of protecting children from medical transition to which they cannot consent. For those of faith, pray as never before for the body-soul integrity of your children and grandchildren to be preserved. “You have been a shelter, Lord, in every generation” — including this one.