Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters
By Abigail Shrier
When independent journalist Abigail Shrier published Irreversible Damage in 2020, the reaction from the legacy media was identical to the reaction that greeted Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s The Real Anthony Fauci the following year: resolute silence. In some influential corners, there were actually demands for censorship and book banning. Even so, The Economist (hardly known for its bold stance on social issues) rated Irreversible Damage one of the “best books of the year,” and active grassroots promotion by parents who had witnessed the transgender craze “up close” turned it into a quiet bestseller.
Shrier traces these events in a brief 2021 foreword to the paperback edition, while pointing out that “additional confirmation that the book’s claims were correct” keeps on coming, including of her principal assertion that the majority of teens involved in what she calls an “epidemic of trans identification” are now girls.
Shrier admits that she was not planning on entering the world of “transgender politics” when she wrote a free speech article for the Wall Street Journal a few years back titled “The Transgender Language War,” but when readers—parents of daughters caught up in tumultuous gender identity crises—began contacting her with their stories, her journalistic curiosity was piqued.
In addition to Shrier’s lively prose, one of the features that makes Irreversible Damage a riveting read are her efforts (to the tune of almost two hundred interviews) to understand the “trans” story from multiple vantage points. She shares not just the perspectives of unhappy daughters and their parents, but also of other key players in the transgender ecosystem—for example, YouTube “influencers,” therapists and school officials. Nonetheless, the drama at the book’s core is a family drama—one of shocked and traumatized parents and often high-achieving daughters suddenly become both literally and emotionally unrecognizable.
In one of the book’s later chapters, Shrier shares stories of young women who regret their “trans” detour—“detransitioners” who have taken the time to reflect on the intense all-or-nothing pressure that urges instant life-changing medical intervention, a force that many of them deem “cult-like.” One of Shrier’s respondents thoughtfully remarks, “There are varying de grees of dysphoria, but there are not varying degrees of treatment. . . . [W]hy is it for trans, the first move when somebody has dysphoria is to be like, ‘You need hormones.’” Changing one’s mind, we learn, takes courage because those who re-embrace their natal biology tend to become instant pariahs among those who formerly celebrated their transition. As these stories also poignantly illustrate, transgender decisions often worsen rather than improve the anxiety and depression they were supposed to improve. Another respondent told Shrier, “There’s so much depression, self-harm, and drug abuse in the trans community. They’re all goddamn miserable.”
In a chapter titled “The Dissidents,” Shrier shares the perspective of professionals who have a more nuanced view of gender dysphoria and its potential remedies. Many, however, have paid a steep price for their open-mindedness—suffering “ostracism, deplatforming, and public censure” or even losing their jobs. For example, one of the world-famed experts Shrier talked to “does not believe adolescent girls who suddenly identify as trans in adolescence necessarily have gender dysphoria at all.” (He posits that while a subset may go on to live transgender or gay lives, a sizable contingent may have “a kind of faux gender dysphoria, which they have identified as the locus of their unhappiness.”)
Shrier’s chapter on “the transformation” is one of the most sobering, delving into the nitty-gritty of the chemical and medical interventions that have become readily available. After wending her way through the dangers of so-called “puberty blockers,” testosterone, and “top” and “bottom” surgical options, Shrier shows that there are “vanishingly few gatekeepers,” and little to no sense of caution and restraint among the doctors and other professionals who offer these interventions. The result, sadly, can be “a lifelong medical dependency, the introduction of profound health risks, and a succession of dangerous surgeries with unpredictable long-term results.”
Shrier ends with some concrete advice for parents but acknowledges that her top recommendation will make many of them “balk” or “groan”: “Don’t get your kid a smartphone.” She also shares half a dozen other “don’ts,” all of which revolve around holding firm and retaining parental authority as a bulwark against the institutions—including schools, hospitals and even churches—that have let girls down. This timely and engrossing book may not be a joyful read, but it is an important one. A big thumbs-up.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2022🖨️ Print post