This is the second part of this discussion of similarities between the sex abuse scandals of the 1980s and 1990s and the current transgender mass hysterias. I want to repeat that I do know that children are sexually abused and that adults who have been sexually abused as children may suffer many consequences of that abuse in their adult lives. Likewise, there are some people for whom sex reassignment medical treatments are their best option for a happy and productive life. However, these blog posts are focused on the fact that in ritual sexual abuse/recovered memory cases and in the current burgeoning of transgender diagnoses and treatments there is a significant element of mass hysteria that ends up causing a lot of harm to patients, families, and institutions while making it more difficult for patients to get good treatment. The first part can be found here.
There will be two more parts, one more on important similarities between the two cases and one that looks at important differences and distinctions. All page numbers are from Richard Beck, We Believe the Children: A Moral Panic in the 1980s, 2015.
Organization of key players into official groups that promote their agenda
In the field of child sex abuse, there was the Pre-school Age Molested Children's Professional Group (p. 40) which spread the sex abuse narrative. In the case of ritual abuse the first conference "Day Care Center and Satanic Cult Sexual Exploitation of Children" was organized by the FBI in 1985. Once people came together "a scattered collection of rumors took on an official institutional reality that it never would have acquired without the FBI's help". Lists of ritualistic indicators were distributed. "In classic paranoid style, these lists made the ordinary ("singing", "ropes", "jewelry") ominous through cataloguing and classification." (P.121). The FBI started doing trainings and handing out credentials which helped validate local police's belief in ritual abuse (p.123).
Likewise, "....the professionalization of the Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) field helped to make therapist's beliefs more durable". Peer review made it possible for MPD advocates to create an echo chamber in which their beliefs were validated.The people and organizations who support the conferences mentioned above are all making their careers on the identifying and transitioning an ever growing number of people and are focusing on acquiring younger and younger patients, so that children as young as two (and their parents) are brought into the transgender fold. For instance, at the conference "Clinical Essentials for Increased Understanding of the Diverse Transgender Community" in 2016, parents were told by a physician that their pre-verbal children are trying to communicate that they are transgender. Evidence includes little girls taking barrettes out of their hair and little boys unsnapping their onesies.
In a similar way, transgender ideology and practice has been greatly amplified by the many groups formed and conferences held where the transgender orthodoxy is spread and affirmed. With almost no good research to support the definition and diagnosis of gender dysphoria, no good research on the drugs and surgeries used for the purpose of medical transition, and no long term studies of psychological outcomes for those who medically transitioned as opposed to those who chose not to, belief without knowledge is what is being transmitted through the transgender organizations and conferences. WPATH is a leading organization which holds conferences and accredits transgender practitioners. As with MPD patients and their sexual abuse narratives, the lack of any clear definitions has led to a slippery slope of medical treatment for sex reassignment to medical treatment for any kind of variant gender identity or body dysphoria as can be seen in these analyses of the conference held in 2017. Conferences are monitored to make sure that no alternatives to the reigning narratives are presented. For instance, The 2017 Philly Trans Health Conference initially accepted panels on detransition and alternative ways to treat dysphoria, but cancelled these sessions two weeks before the conference citing terrorist threats as their reason, but later also saying that only people who have passed ideological muster can present.
Many professionals made their careers by first creating the sexual abuse scandals and then becoming part of the "solution". Beck's chapter 3 deals with the zeal of prosecuting attorneys who bent all rules of common sense and evidence. They succeeded in destroying families as children were taken from accused parents and placed in foster care. These children were interviewed constantly until they broke down and began to tell the stories that prosecutors wanted to hear. Many children later recanted their false testimony. One child said "I figured I'd never be able to go home now. I mean I'd just called my parents everything from sexual abusers to murderers, I mean it wasn't real, it was like being in a movie, it wasn't real" (p. 90).Janet Reno made her career prosecuting a case against a couple in Miami who ran a daycare center. The whole abuse narrative had worked its way into law enforcement, science, medical and psychological practice by this time. "The speed and efficiency with which Janet Reno was able to obtain her convictions indicated just how much the legal, medical, and psychiatric professions had learned, how enthusiastically they incorporated what had recently been fringe ideas as part of standard procedure" (p. 145).
The Psychologists and Doctors
One important factor in the growth of the sexual abuse scandals was the "discovery" that adults did not consciously remember abuse. Multiple Personality Disorder filled that gap by positing that people could have multiple personalities and only one of them, often deeply hidden, would have knowledge of the abuse. MPD was first listed in the DSM-III. This allowed for the founding of The International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation" which "set out to lend a credentialed air, if not actual credentials to its members." Soon there were journals and special clinics at medical centers to treat patients with MPD (p. 127). Psychologists were soon finding patients with ever more personalities who described increasingly bizarre childhood traumas.
"The revised DSM-III showed just how far MPD had come." MPD became more prominent and more exciting with therapists discovering not just two but even over 100 personalities in a single person. It was also linked more absolutely with childhood sexual abuse. (p. 129).
"That the "true believers, as they were sometimes called, remained at the center of the MPD movement for so long makes little sense from an academic perspective; medicine is supposed to test new theories and dismiss those that don't make a passing grade, and MPD could have been dismissed rather easily. Medicine, however, is also a profession with political interests and considerations like any other..."(p. 130). The variations and changes in the terms "dissociation" and "repression" made it tricky to determine the scientific validity of MPD (p. 225).
The use of unverified medical theories to prosecute cases of sexual abuse was rampant. Without any control group, appearances of children's anuses and hymens and other physical signs were declared evidence of sexual abuse. Doctors who had done actual research on the variation in children's genitals were excluded from testifying at trial (p. 202).
Clinics opened across the country treating MPD, making certain that patients were dependent and in contact with the therapists and that patients were constantly in contact with each other. Patients came to see themselves as betrayed by their families and created surrogate families of those like themselves who were seen as the only ones they could trust (p. 223).
Research that makes little sense or isn't really relevant to the issue is cited again and again as evidence for MPD and its symptoms. Research on recovery of memories of childhood events could not be replicated and were arbitrary hypotheses meant to support a given thesis (p. 226-228).
Checklists of symptoms that indicated whether people might have a repressed memory of abuse made everyone a potential patient, helping to draw people in. Such lists include "an interest in religions, preference for baggy clothing, promiscuity, celibacy, workaholism, breast lumps, trouble sleeping, fear of closets, fear of coffins, alertness, vagueness, gambling, etc. etc. (p. 231).
The example of Loni, a patient who became totally dependent on her therapist and her narrative of MPD and sexual abuse, who realized during a period away from her therapist that she did not really have MPD, is indicative of the need for therapists and patients to be in constant contact in order to sustain these narratives (p. 235).
This Episode of This American Life from 2002 "An Epidemic Created By Doctors" documents a patient who had, under the influence of her therapist, come to believe she had been abused by her father, the destruction of the father's career and of her family, and her eventual realization that these recovered memories were false. Her father is also interviewed. There is also an interview with a (different) therapist who had been trained in helping patients recover memories who eventually came to the conclusion that she had been complicit in the recovery of false memories. Both the patient and the therapist interviewed here realized the harm they had caused to families.
Those who have followed the rise of transgender ideology and practice will recognize many parallels with the rise of MPD that Beck documents. Clinics are opening all over the country and the world to diagnose and treat gender dysphoria. The number of clinics and the number of diagnoses has gone up exponentially, with a 1,000% rise in transgender diagnoses in the UK in just five years, and over 40 clinics in the United States dedicated to gender transition services, most opening in the past five years. Cross sex hormones can be accessed with only self diagnosis much more widely, for instance Planned Parenthood has become the major provider in the United States.
Why has a formerly rare condition become so much more common? Why have the criteria by which sufferers are diagnosed continued to change so rapidly? No longer does a person need to spontaneously announce at a very young age that they are "really" the opposite sex and persist in that belief into adulthood and go through several years of therapy and live as the opposite sex for an extended period before receiving sex reassignment surgery. Now, there are no requirements, no evaluation, no waiting period--all these are denigrated as "gate keeping" and professionals are expected to just accept whatever a patient says at face value and provide the treatment that is asked for. Now, a person's feeling of their gender is seen as both fixed and immutable, such that a two year old is seen as having a fixed gender identity. Assertions about the essential quality of gender identity exist side-by-side with assertions that gender identity is changeable from day to day. A recent Internet post reads "....when I'm male, I go by Steve. When I'm female, I go by Amy. When I'm neither or both, I gov by Amy-Steve...." There are over one hundred gender identities listed on Genderfluid Support. and doctors who before were treating people who felt like they were the opposite sex. Doctors like Olson-Kennedy will provide drugs and surgeries for any identity they are presented with, as people go on their "gender journeys" as this excerpt from the 2017 UPATH conference shows. Not only are there over one hundred gender identities, there is also the new phenomenon of adolescent girls becoming transgender in a group, so a group of four girlfriends suddenly are a group of four boyfriends. I've talked with a parent in my community about a parallel situation to the one reported in the letter documented above. This proliferation of genders and of diagnoses and treatments really should raise some red flags, as they are increasingly in the realm of the absurd.
Do people who have sex reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments to change their body so that it corresponds to the "real" gender in their minds then go on to live happy lives? Some seem to. However, these treatments often do not lead to the "cure" that was promised. Even after years of drugs and surgery, patients may remain unsatisfied. One transwoman later had their nose and ears amputated. People who are fully supported by family and friends still go on to commit suicide, indicating that likely there were undiagnosed and unexplored mental health issues. You can read some of these stories here, here, and here.
Many people have changed their minds about their diagnoses, gender identity ideology, and their own transitions. Such a change would be impossible under the theory that biological sex is a social construct and gender identity is an immutable aspect of the brain. Those who detransition frequently speak of other conditions that they now think motivated their desire to transition. What I Needed: An Open Letter to Therapists From A Detrasnsitioner, gives a good idea of how therapists can fail patients who present with self diagnosed gender identities. This survey of 211 detransitioners gives a good overview of the experience of females who transitioned and later re-identified as female. Detransitioners often come to believe that transgender ideology is a cult. Discussion of transition regret, of people who are happy that they did not go through medical transition and no longer identify as transgender, and of detransition is actively suppressed by transgender activists and ignored by psychologists, and surgeons. Two scheduled panels at the recent Philly Trans Health Conference that dealt with detransition and alternative way to handle gender dysphoria were cancelled at the last minute under pressure from transgender activists. Here is a report on what happened by one of the presenters who was banned.
None of this has been taken seriously by the liberal media or by the professionals who are profiting in both money and fame. This in itself is a sign that we are in the grip of a mass hysteria.
The first part can be found here.
The author is a scientist. She has a child who identifies as transgender. She knows that this is a complex and difficult subject and welcomes reasoned discourse.
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