Rising to the challenge
Genspect's Gender Framework counters ideology with depth
For many years, trans lobby groups have blocked any attempts to challenge the theory and practice of modern gender ideology, despite the damaging impact on the health and welfare of children and adolescents, on families when a child suddenly declares they are trans, and on the sex-based rights of women.
The suppression of scrutiny has taken many forms, including—
threatening parents who do not accept their child’s sudden belief they are trans with removal of the child
pressuring parents to agree to the medical interventions of “gender-affirming care” (GAC) with the threat that otherwise their child would suicide
workplace sanctions, including loss of employment, for anyone disputing aspects of gender ideology or GAC
refusal to publish any articles in the academic and popular press that raise any concerns about GAC
The emotional manipulation used with parents extends to the broader community: trans people are supposedly the “most vulnerable”, they are “harmed” by “anti-trans” words, and it is “hate speech” to say that a person’s sex can’t change or that a woman is an adult female human. From 2016, “protect trans kids” became a slogan used to silence any critics; it was printed on shirts, banners and stickers so that the message could not be ignored.
Yet people who come to regret transition and return to their birth gender are still trivialised as rare, and often vilified as traitors, thus stifling the opportunity to identify risk factors suggesting a poor outcome for GAC.
This lack of challenge to gender ideology has allowed what I can only describe as increasingly bizarre ideas to grow and take root, to the point that even highly educated people embrace them as foundational truths—
Sex isn’t binary: yet every person on the planet exists because a female egg was fertilised by male sperm
A person’s sex can change: generalising from rare disorders of sexual development where in some cases a person’s sex may initially appear uncertain
Sex is a spectrum: a spectrum is a variable which shifts with logical progression from one end of the spectrum to the other, and for sex to be a spectrum, this would mean that XX chromosomes slowly morph across the spectrum to XY, which does not happen
Sex is a social construct: apparently there is no reliable way to identify a male or female, yet humans have been remarkably effective in choosing partners to procreate a child
Gender is innate: it’s claimed that even a young child knows their gender, as if we should ignore the well-established and distinct stages of a child’s biological, cognitive and social development
It seems odd to me that despite trans activists’ fascination for pushing cultural boundaries with sex and gender, they seem to find the fact that sex is about reproduction disturbing and off-limits. Recently, I was told I am a “bio-essentialist” for holding these views, which I think is meant to be an insult.
“Biological sex is fundamentally defined by male and female reproductive anatomy. Attempts to recast biological sex as a social construct, which then becomes a matter of chosen individual identity, are wholly ideological, scientifically inaccurate and socially irresponsible.”—Project Nettie, statement of scientists supporting biological sex, 2019
Video: Biologist Heather Heying talks about the science of sex
Will to power
We have not yet made sense of how and why gender ideology has become so powerful around the globe.
As a clinical psychologist who has always worked with gender-questioning clients, I know there are people who do well when they transition to their preferred gender; these people typically accept that they haven’t changed biological sex and they do not greatly care whether or not some people “misgender” them.
Unfortunately, in the last several years, the no-debate demands of gender ideologists have had wide-ranging negative consequences across western society. As alarming as the impact on young people and their families has been, equally disturbing is the tearing down of sex-based rights which have protected females of all ages across the world; males do not suffer the same vulnerabilities.
Two recent Australian examples show the extent to which the denial of biological reality has effectively led to the erasure of females as a distinct biological group, with trans activists insisting on the use of the prefix “cis” to imply there are “ciswomen” and “transwomen” who are equal subsets of “women”. As a result, the balance of power has swung to give a group of people born male more rights than those born female.
Based on the mantra that transwomen are women, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Dr Anna Cody, ruled that lesbian organisations must keep their events open to males who identify as women with a “same-gender” attraction—so called “transbians”.
Dr Cody based this decision on federal anti-discrimination law which was amended a decade ago to deny the biological reality of sex and to enshrine the concept of a “gender identity” which may bear no relation to sex.
The commissioner claimed that—
“… the word ‘sex’ is not a biological concept referring to whether a person at birth had male or female physical traits. Nor is it a binary concept, limited to the ‘male’ or ‘female’ sex. ‘Sex’ can refer to a person being male, female or another non-binary state. It is also broad enough to encompass the idea that a person’s ‘sex’ can be changed.”
Effectively women no longer have the right to meet under any circumstances without men present.
If transwomen are accepted as women—many retain male genitalia—then his penis becomes her “girldick”. And so, a “same-gender attracted” male with a penis cannot lawfully be excluded from an event for lesbians.
This ideological belief has disturbing effects elsewhere. For example, the chief justice of South Australia, Chris Kourakis, has claimed that “the use of preferred gender pronouns is a matter of respect and is an important component of ensuring public confidence in the proper administration of justice.” This suggests that a rape victim may be subjected in court to the humiliation of being required to refer to a rapist, who identifies as a woman, as “she” and to acknowledge “her penis.”
Video: Zhenya Abbruzzese, from the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine, analyses the puberty blockers experiment
Fortunately, people with similar concerns about the impact of the trans phenomena on all levels of society —individuals, families, workplaces, health services, education facilities, sports, events venues, and more—have begun to make contact and form more structured associations to raise concerns about these impacts. This has led to the formation of two organisations that now lead the challenge to gender ideology and its consequences.
The Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine is a non-profit organization that formed in 2019. Those associated with SEGM include health professionals experienced with gender-questioning clients. The group’s aim is to promote safe, compassionate, ethical and evidence-informed healthcare for children, adolescents and young adults with gender dysphoria.
Genspect is an international organisation founded in 2021 by the Irish psychotherapist Stella O'Malley. Genspect’s work with gender-distressed and gender-questioning individuals, their families, and professionals has led to an understanding of gender that points away from medicalised approaches to gender distress and identity, and towards social, psychological and cultural solutions to the difficulties individuals and families are facing today. The aim is to foster a deeper understanding of gender and identity.
As the title suggests, this document is not a set of health care guidelines for clinicians who work with gender-questioning clients. The intended readership is much wider. The authors have collated the latest knowledge in this field, while acknowledging that there is still much to learn and that political conflicts have shaped the research and discourse in this area.
The introduction to the framework says—
“This document is for anyone who is seeking a deeper understanding of gender and identity and looking for a new and different conceptual framework. It is for people questioning gender for themselves, parents, families, teachers, therapists, journalists, professionals in health and social care, policy makers, politicians, academics, and social commentators. It is for anyone who has ever wondered whether there might be another way forward on gender.”
“Accuracy in language is imperative if we are to provide a reliable foundation on which we can build a road forward. The Gender Framework aims to clarify and address the recent challenges that have emerged due to the recent emphasis on gender identity rather than the natal sex of an individual. This sea-change has been further complicated by nebulous language as there are seldom accepted terms or definitions that are universally accepted. We attempt to resolve this issue with a glossary that offers the most widely accepted definitions.”—Genspect’s Alasdair Gunn, opinion article, Reality’s Last Stand, 9 November 2023
The Gender Framework is comprehensive and includes extensive reference lists. It is so information rich that no summary will do it justice. Rather, I have cherry-picked a few topics and used some of the many quotes I highlighted during my reading of the text, with each quote being a tiny snippet pointing to in-depth examination of the evidence. I encourage you to take the time to read the complete document.
Sex and the body
“… it is no accident that a deep-rooted interest in sex is ingrained in our genes… Nature’s obsession with sex is clear and pervasive. From the tiniest insects to the largest mammals, from the most delicate flowers to the grandest trees, the drive to reproduce shapes behaviours, appearances, and entire ecosystems. It is a testament to reproduction’s fundamental importance in life’s grand tapestry.
“In anisogamous systems, the larger gamete is called an egg or ovum, and the smaller gamete is called a sperm or spermatozoon. The sexes, male and female, represent these two distinct reproductive roles in anisogamous species. Males are defined as the sex that produces numerous small gametes, or sperm. Females, conversely, are defined as the sex that yields fewer but larger gametes, or ova.
“Since there are only two types of sex cells in anisogamous systems—sperm and ovum—there are only two sexes.
“However, chromosomal combinations beyond the common XX and XY do not denote additional sexes beyond male and female. Instead, they signify chromosomal variations within the two sexes.
“The mere fact that [secondary sex characteristics such as height] exhibit some overlap between the sexes does not mean that sex itself exhibits overlap. Regardless of the degree of overlap in these secondary sex traits, there are still only males and females.
“Morrow (2006) explained how gender identity theory is based upon a belief that everyone has a personal, subjective, and unfalsifiable gender identity. There is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
“Similar in concept to the religious notion of a soul, the belief in the invisible gendered identity is often the cornerstone of disagreements between believers of gender identity theory and non-believers.”
Child and adolescent development
“The developmental approach to gender-related distress suggests that every person undergoes certain stages of development as they grow and mature and, within this model of understanding, gender dysphoria can evolve as a result of difficulty at a stage of development.
“… children go through stages as they complexify their understanding of sex and gender.
“The child’s understanding of what it means to be a boy, or a girl develops between the ages of roughly five and eight and they begin to realise, for example, that a boy does not become a girl simply by changing his hairstyle or his clothing. They also begin to understand that a person’s sex remains stable, no matter what happens or how masculine or feminine they appear to be. In this context, a child will then recognise that a girl is still a girl even if she dresses like a boy and uses he/him pronouns.”
Sex role stereotypes
In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, feminists sought to loosen the restrictions of stereotypical gender roles. Trans activists undermine this achievement.
The Gender Framework notes that—
“Gaining a more comprehensive grasp of their biological sex and expected gender roles can pose challenges for gender nonconforming children as they may feel burdened by societal expectations. This can be a difficult experience for some children as they may feel oppressed by these expectations.
Some little girls do not like playing with dolls and want to climb trees; some little boys want to wear dresses and other pretty garments. If society dictates that only girls can play with dolls and wear fairy dresses, and only boys can engage in rough play, some stereotypically feminine boys and stereotypically masculine girls may feel profoundly uncomfortable with these gender norms and develop gender-related distress as a consequence.”
The framework document then discusses in depth different theories of child development, and adds a summary of Dr Lisa Littman’s theory of Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)—
“… the ROGD hypothesis arguably offers a viable explanation for the extraordinary rise in adolescents suddenly seeking medical transition and the similarity in presentation.”
The stereotypes that feminists opposed are on display in the diagnosis of gender dysphoria found in the diagnostic manual DSM-5, where the criteria for the condition are—
A strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that one is the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)
In boys (assigned gender), a strong preference for cross-dressing or simulating female attire; or in girls (assigned gender), a strong preference for wearing only typical masculine clothing and a strong resistance to the wearing of typical feminine clothing
A strong preference for cross-gender roles in make-believe play or fantasy play
A strong preference for the toys, games or activities stereotypically used or engaged in by the other gender
A strong preference for playmates of the other gender. In boys (assigned gender), a strong rejection of typically masculine toys, games, and activities and a strong avoidance of rough-and-tumble play; or in girls (assigned gender), a strong rejection of typically feminine toys, games, and activities, or in girls (assigned gender), a strong rejection of typically feminine toys, games, and activities.
As a tomboy I broke my left arm twice and my right arm once by the age of 10; on one occasion because I was dared by a boy to see how high I would go on a swing before I jumped off. I hate to think how I would have fared in today’s world.
Impact of gender issues on families
Genspect’s Gender Framework wisely advocates for family-centred care—
“One criticism from many families seeking care for their child or adolescent with gender concerns is that the response has often been child-centred, not family-centred. The individual child is considered the authority, effectively removing that child from the family unit and its social parameters . . . This is an unnatural system that places children at the head of the family, a responsibility they are not prepared to shoulder. Further, it contradicts well-accepted frameworks of child and adolescent development.
“Over time, legislative changes, legal challenges, and systematic pressures from school and medical clinics on children and adolescents experiencing gender issues have gradually eroded parental authority . . . Professional considerations should support parental authority and focus on the long-term health and well-being of the family system, which in turn will support the young person’s long-term well-being.
“Professionals should not encourage parents to meet their child’s demands, but rather assist them in assessing the child’s needs and wants, responding in ways that support a child’s or adolescent’s functioning while keeping long-term health and well-being in mind.”
There is so much that I haven’t had the space to mention, especially the sections on transgender ideology in schools, and the impact of gender ideology on society. My one and only minor criticism is that the section on cognitive dissonance in trans identities doesn’t address the issue of men with a paraphilia or fetish using self ID gender to facilitate their desires, so that in effect paraphilias such as exhibitionism and voyeurism are decriminalised, and female rights to privacy are ignored.
To see the depth and diversity of the Framework, just take a look at the index.
This isn’t a quick and easy read, but for anyone impacted by the gender culture, it is worth taking the time to work your way through it, even those sections that don’t seem relevant to your individual situation.
When I reviewed the 8th edition of the standards of care from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, I came to the conclusion that if that had been a graduate dissertation, I would have given it a bare pass, compared to the Gender Framework, which deserves a high distinction.
*Dr Sandra Pertot, an Australian clinical psychologist, recently retired after 50 years of clinical practice specialising in human sexuality, including sexual dysfunction, sexual orientation and gender diversity
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