Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier

   I was surprised when I found this book in my library.  ‘This is allowed?’  But I was also pleased.  It was a book I very much wanted to read, and I won’t deny that I got a rebellious thrill in checking it out.  I knew, though, that it would be a difficult topic to read about.  But even then, I didn’t expect such intensity… or hope.

“Whether or not you have an adolescent daughter, whether or not your child has fallen for this transgender craze, America has become fertile ground for this mass enthusiasm for reasons that have everything to do with our cultural frailty: parents are undermined; experts are over-relied upon; dissenters in science and medicine are intimidated; free speech truckles under renewed attack; government healthcare laws harbor hidden consequences; and an intersectional era has arisen in which the desire to escape a dominant identity encourages individuals to take cover in victim groups.”

   Shrier does not deny that gender dysphoria exists, and neither does she deny that some (prepared) people may be helped by transition.  What she does do is raise the questions of if we are properly diagnosing this very real issue, if we are carefully making and following studies, if the doctors and teachers are putting politics over children’s well-being, and if there is any way we can know the truth and act on it.  The world is no stranger to aesthetic fads that turned out harmful—corsets and anorexia nervosa to name just a couple—and this boom of transition in teenaged girls (a minority in classic gender dysphoria) seems to be yet another risk-laden trend. 

  “If this sudden spike in transgender identification among adolescent girls is a peer contagion, as Dr. Littman hypothesized, then the girls rushing towards ‘transition’ are not getting the treatment they most need.”

  This is not a polemical book.  Shrier speaks respectfully of her interviewees, even the trans-influencers who do a better job of offering emotional support than medical advice.  I thought I sensed a tone of impatience, however, when she mentioned the professional adults in health and education.  Nobody really expects the internet influencers to be held accountable when they encourage unhealthy behaviour and deception.  Many of them are just hurting kids taking solace in contacting other hurting kids.  Shrier is certain to remind readers that these kids need grace rather than condemnation.  But teachers and therapists who encourage unhealthy behaviours and deception, these adults who are entrusted with safekeeping of kids, ought to know better.  More than once the current trans trend was compared to a cult, more of a religious matter than a medical matter.  The traits are indeed similar, with ‘love-bombing’, isolation, and even thought control.      

  “He was like, ‘if you talk to these people, what they have to say to you will make you suicidal.  You will lose your identity, you will stop being trans.  You will literally die if you talk to these people.’”

  It was distressing to read the many testimonies of grieving parents, ostracized doctors, and detransitioners who bore the scars—emotional and physical.  But I had heard similar accounts before-hand, and so wasn’t too surprised.  But Shrier had interviewed many more, and I found that the current trans trend had a wider impact than I first thought.  Tomboys no longer exist, apparently, and even lesbians are in decline—seen as a sort of lower class, for not being able to admit they’re actually trans.   Individuals who had transitioned long before all the hoopla are suddenly put under the microscope, embarrassed by the alleged support of activists.  People were being hurt, and neither prestige nor political affiliation could protect them. 

  “Buck faults the trans community for not being more skeptical of the sudden epidemic of adolescent girls claiming to be trans.  “How can we not question it?  How can our own community not question it?  That’s the part that I’m a little bit upset about; my own community not saying, Hey, we need to take responsibility for these children.””

  Since the passing of Bill C-4 in Canada, to offer a trans-identifying youth another option is not only looked down upon, but condemned.  How can we now defend our friends and daughters without running afoul of the law?  Shrier ends her book with some advice.  For some advice, it’s probably too late—but most is still applicable, and common sense besides.  Addressing the struggling trans youth, Shrier reminds them that—despite what they may have been told—they are still loved by their parents.  She urges broken bonds to be mended.  The final chapter revisits the interviewed families.  With these stories, Shrier reminds us healing and help are possible.  I predict that C-4 will leave many broken hearts and broken bodies, but there are still ways to help.  And if we go to jail for it, then we go to jail for it.  But we must not underestimate the impact and endurance of truth and love.   

Similar resources: Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey; Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Butterfield; Sermon from Jan 16:   Such Were Some of You – YouTube

One thought on “Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier

  1. Dearest Shennachie, Thank you for reading, thinking, and commenting so broadly and deeply, always keeping in mind the dignity and complexity of the human and the call God has on our lives to care for one another.


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