Apologetics,  Culture,  Current Events,  Health,  Paul Backholer

Can Boys Become Girls? Gender Dysphoria: Is it Rooted in Childhood Abuse, Social Contagion or Confusion?

A shocking report from the Biden administration in June 2023, reveals that underlying trauma, including childhood abuse, occupies a significant role in the mental health crisis which is disproportionately affecting LGBT+ people. Could this report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2021-22 study), reveal the key to the confusion of the LGBT+ community?

But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female

– Mark 10:6

Gender dysphoria is a complex condition that involves distress caused by a discrepancy between one’s feelings of gender identity and biological sex. This condition has gained increased attention in recent years due to the growing number of people identifying as transgender or non-binary.

However, there is still much debate and controversy over the causes of gender dysphoria, with the suggestion that evidence points to it being rooted in childhood abuse, trauma, social contagion or societal confusion. In order to understand the origins of gender dysphoria, it is important to explore these different perspectives and examine the available research on the topic.

Asking difficult, potentially offensive questions in order to protect vulnerable children should not be controversial or labelled as hate speech

Asking thorny questions is essential in a rational society. These questions concerning science, morality, society, family, religion, and theology ought to be able to be distinguished from one another, without being construed as an attack on another. Being honest and questioning is not hate speech.

It has been the great tragedy of our time that people were taught to read and not taught to reason

– G.K. Chesterton

Society needs a scientific inquiry to learn why gender dysphoria, confusion and LGBT+ identification are growing, especially with vulnerable children, and why there’s a meteoric rise in the American States where it’s promoted. In May 2022, the comedian and Real Time host Bill Maher suggested we all need an inquisitive spirit.

If something about the human race is changing at a previously unprecedented rate, we at least have to discuss it. Broken down over time, the LGBT population of America seems to be roughly doubling every generation… According to a recent Gallup poll, less than 1% of Americans born before 1946 – that’s Joe Biden’s generation – identify that way, 2.6% of Boomers do, 4.2% of Gen X, 10.5% of Millennials and 20.8% of Gen Z, which means if we follow this trajectory, we will all be gay in 2054. I’m just saying that when things change this much this fast, people are allowed to ask, ‘What’s up with that?’

– Bill Maher, Real Time, May 2022

Bill Maher’s thoughts were labelled as provocative and controversial, why? The evidence suggests societal pressure from the elite is silencing scientists and the fear of asking ‘the wrong questions’ has resulted in the decline of curiosity, comprehension and learning. If findings are likely to be contentious, funding for the research is denied; therefore, there are truths that refuse to be identified.

No society that censors free speech and curiosity has ended well

Before the age of politically-correct wokeness, researchers were willing to propose contentious questions. But now, instead of science as a quest for truth, the sciences are increasingly being viewed through ideological prisms. Woke warriors are also cleansing research from offensive results, which negates the purpose of the study. If you’ve predetermined what you want to find, studies are pointless.

Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage

– Winston Churchill

The Tavistock Gender Clinic is a UK-based organisation that provides gender identity services to children and adolescents. It is set to be closed due to concerns over the long-term effects of the treatment, as well as claims that it was overly influenced by woke political correctness. Lawsuits have been brought against the clinic, including accusations that it has not properly assessed patients’ mental health before prescribing hormone therapy and that it failed to obtain informed consent from patients and their parents.

President Biden’s meeting with Dylan Mulvaney proves the politics of garnering votes by affirming gender dysphoria has become more important than protecting vulnerable children on TikTok

In an age where choosing the popular is preferred over the right, whistleblowers and free thinkers are demonised. David Bell, a psychiatrist and the whistleblower at the scandal-hit Tavistock Trust clinic describes how the Trust tried to immobilise him by instigating proceedings to silence him. Silencing critics thus become more important than protecting vulnerable children.

Those who lose the scientific argument are tempted to censor freedom of expression to strengthen their position

The rise of social media had led to a confused generation. Deeply troubled children and young people are now encouraged to ignore searching for the root of their problems and instead follow trends.

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free

– John 8:32

Social contagion is a phenomenon where behaviours, emotions or ideas spread rapidly and contagiously throughout a group of people, as they mimic each other for social acceptance, higher status or by submitting to herd mentality. Vulnerable children are especially at risk of following harmful trends to appease their inner longing to belong. It is the process by which individuals adopt the attitudes, beliefs or behaviours of others within a social network, leading to a chain reaction that causes the behaviour to spread like a virus.

In one study, 72.6% of parents agreed that stressful events contributed to the onset of gender dysphoria and the study found social contagion theory particularly effects adolescent girls

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases, Suzanna Diaz & J. Michael Bailey, Springer Link

Social contagion can express itself through self-harm, such as the desire to mutilate one’s body because it’s fashionable to be a victim who hates one’s body. Also, an outcast from society suddenly receives special recognition and societal protection by identifying as LGBT+. When an ‘odd’ person is bullied, it does not generate headlines, but if an LGBT+ child is bullied at school, everything is thrown at protecting that child and affirming the new identity. Thus, gender dysphoria becomes a passport to acceptance.

Social contagion is therefore contributing to the rise in self-identification

Ronald Fairbairn was a prominent Scottish psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known as the ‘Father of Object Relations.’ He was fascinated by Freud’s studies, but believed there was more to understand beyond a Freudian understanding of the mind. He’s been identified as the link between Freud and Bowlby.

In his pioneering study The Repression and the Return of the Bad Object, published in 1943, he found that children who suffered from abuse struggled to cope with identifying their abuser’s behaviour as fundamentally evil. To help the child cope with the trauma they experienced, they internalised the suffering and end up projecting it onto themselves.

The study found that abused children began to hate their bodies due to the abuse

In other words, abused children begin to hate themselves and their bodies as a direct result of struggling to understand how the ‘good’ parent abused them. The child concluded, it must be my fault and therefore I am in the wrong, and I need to punish myself for drawing this attention.

In today’s society, self-hate and self-harm are multifaceted. It hides with Freudian concealment. It could be cutting oneself, piercing oneself without restraint or aggressive tattooing; it could also be a young woman shaving her head or dying her hair multi-coloured because her beauty drew an abuser; or it could be a promiscuous teenager declaring it doesn’t matter who she sleeps with because she feels, “I’m worthless anyway,” or calls it freedom, identifying as a hard-core feminist.

The patient becomes peopled with devils which are too terrifying for him to face

– Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality by Ronald Fairbairn, 1952, pp. 69–70

Fairbairn possessed a deep Christian faith and whilst working as a doctor at the University of Edinburgh’s Psychological Clinic for Children, he noticed abused children created in their mind, ‘The Moral Defence.’ To cope with abuse, the mind exonerates the abuser and chastises oneself for the abuse.

His conclusion was that abused children began to hate themselves, instead of their abuser because, ‘There are no other parents that the child in an abusive family are able to run to: he has no other mother or father, the neglectful and the harmful people in the vicinity are the only figure he has to cling to. Lose faith in them and one is done for. No wonder if one opts to reinvent who they might be.’

He described his study with spiritual words saying, ‘It is better to be a sinner in a world ruled by God, than to live in a world ruled by the devil.’ For Fairbairn, this meant children try to create an order in their mind to make sense of the suffering. ‘A sinner in a world ruled by God may be bad; but there is always a certain sense of security to be derived from the fact…there is always a hope of redemption.’

Due to the abuse, the sense of self a child has is warped by their suffering and the child begins to despise themselves. Fairbairn’s published works are useful for gaining insight into the growth of gender dysphoria, self-harm, depression, the mental health crisis crushing young people today and the rise of LGBT+ and self-identification. Have things changed since then?

One study found that 54.8% of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals admitted to experiencing childhood abuse

Transgender Health Disparities: Comparing Full Cohort and Nested Matched-Pair Study Designs in a Community Health Center, National Library of Medicine

Fairbairn’s findings are still playing out today. The 2011, Systematic Review Study, The Prevalence of Sexual Assault Against People Who Identify as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual in the United States, describes a horrifying account of childhood abuse in the LGBT+ community. Also, the Trevor Project has found that LGBT+ youth are at a high risk for sexual violence and are three times more likely to contemplate suicide, and by comparison to heterosexual youth are five times as likely to attempt suicide.

One study found 85% of women who identify as lesbian or bisexual have endured some form of sexual assault

The Prevalence of Sexual Assault Against People Who Identify as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual in the United States: A Systematic Review, Sage Journals

Biological reality declares there are only two genders and trauma-related confusion is a large contributing factor to confusion. Extreme loneliness, rejection from peers, puberty chaos and physical, mental, and sexual abuse are all possible causes of this trauma-based sexual confusion.

In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created

– Genesis 5:1-2

Ronald Fairbairn’s studies found that children at war with their own bodies and minds need love, care and generous attention. By helping them separate their abuse from their personhood, they can enter a new sense of freedom. Fairbairn said doctors should be concerned, not only with ‘the forgiveness of sins,’ but also with ‘the casting out of devils.’ By being honest about what they experienced and forgiving the abuser, they can enter into freedom.

Adults and children alike must learn to accept their bodies and make peace with their personhood as God’s creation

When we bring the results of all these studies together, we find a worrying chain of events. It is a feedback loop of abuse. The victim behaves in this fashion: abuse was perpetrated upon me, I therefore loath my body and I mutilate it as a result.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh

– Leviticus 19:28

As we described, mutilation of the self can manifest in many ways. The abused female feels she drew the abuse with his looks and kindness; suddenly she embraces a drastic change in appearance: a brutal haircut is embraced, with aggressive multi-coloured styling, abundant piercings follow, then demonic tattoos, escapist sexual promiscuity is justified and in extreme cases, gender mutilation and a change of sexual identity.

The servants of Baal cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lance

– 1 Kings 18:28

Not all people struggling with sexual identification have experienced abuse, but it is odd that the implications are being ignored. The reason? When science defies ideological beliefs, they redefine the definition of meaning – biological reality transforms into ‘gender is a social construct.’

It is unacceptable for a medical professional to affirm the body dysmorphic disorder of a self-harming patient, why is it different when affirming gender dysphoria?

People who leave the LGBT+ community and become Christians, centralise their self-identification upon the teaching of Christ and testify that physical, mental or sexual abuse was a prevalent factor in their past. They explain that God’s love drew them to repentance and every Christian that treated them with kindness and grace, helped them onto a path of turning back to God. The Church needs to exemplify God’s love to a hurting world. Speak the truth in love.

Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

Sources and Notes

  • Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Behavioral Health: Results from the 2021 and 2022 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, June 2023, US Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA, store.samhsa.gov/product/lesbian-gay-and-bisexual-behavioral-health-results-2021-and-2022-national-surveys-drug-use/pep23-07-01-001
  • Tavistock trust whistleblower David Bell: ‘I believed I was doing the right thing’ www.theguardian.com/society/2021/may/02/tavistock-trust-whistleblower-david-bell-transgender-children-gids
  • – Bill Maher, Real Time, May 2022
  • The Repression and the Return of the Bad Object by Ronald Fairbairn, published in 1943
  • Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality by Ronald Fairbairn, 1952, pp. 69–70
  • The Prevalence of Sexual Assault Against People Who Identify as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual in the United States, Systematic Review Study, 2011
  • The Trevor Project
  • Transgender Health Disparities: Comparing Full Cohort and Nested Matched-Pair Study Designs in a Community Health Center, National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219512/
  • The Prevalence of Sexual Assault Against People Who Identify as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual in the United States: A Systematic Review, Sage Journals https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1524838010390707
  • Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases, Suzanna Diaz & J. Michael Bailey, Springer Link
  • New study supports social contagion theory for surge in teen girls identifying as transgender https://thepostmillennial.com/new-study-supports-social-contagion-theory-for-surge-in-teen-girls-identifying-as-transgender
  • The Repression and the Return of the Bad Object, by Ronald Fairbairn, 1943
  • BBC: LGB people ‘more likely to have mental health issues’ bbc.co.uk/news/health-57739132
  • ‘I was referred to Tavistock trans clinic at age 15 – I feel like a mutilated experiment gone wrong’: Girl who detransitioned after deciding to identify as a boy and have a mastectomy blames professionals for letting her go ahead with it. dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12212009/I-referred-Tavistock-trans-clinic-age-15-feel-like-mutilated-experiment-gone-wrong.html
  • ‘Treatment through Tavistock gender clinic ‘left me feeling mutilated.’ thetimes.co.uk/article/treatment-through-tavistock-gender-clinic-left-me-feeling-mutilated-vf9t6tfjl
  • Closure of Tavistock gender identity clinic delayed. bbc.co.uk/news/uk-65564032

By Paul Backholer. Find out about Paul’s books here.