Popular dog website releases guide for “transgender dogs”
Wag! is an online service that allows people to book trusted walkers for their dogs on-demand. You’ve probably seen their advertisements on television, YouTube, or maybe around the internet. Perhaps, like me, you’ve even considered employing their services. After all, they seem genuinely dedicated to the well-being and proper care of your beloved pooch. There are even ample resources on their site for both the general public, and their walkers, to answer important questions like “Can Dogs Digest Bones?” and “Can Dogs Feel Claustrophobic?”
Oh, and let’s not forget that important piece of information everyone is always dying to know: “Can Dogs Be Transgender?”
The article notes a case of canine hermaphrodism in which a dog was born with both male and female genitals and was taken to a vet to surgically alter the dog’s sex in order to eliminate any future medical complications.
This was reasonable enough, until it launched into a history and science of “dog transgenderism,” noting that while there was “no evidence” that dogs felt the same desires as humans to “explore their sexuality” and be more “self-expressive,” “conversations on dog sexuality and identity are still a hot topic.” The article then goes on to note a cluster of other animals which experience sequential hermaphrodism, or the ability to change their sex, calling this “examples in the animal kingdom of fluid genders.”
Now, do I believe the writer, Charlotte Ratcliffe, truly believes that dogs can be transgender? Absolutely not. She attempts to politely and passively counter-claim any such ideas in the very first paragraph, and if that were where the article ended—fine. But it didn’t end there. It went on to kowtow to those ideologically-minded dog owners who might genuinely believe that their dog could, possibly, be transgender.
Pointing this out is far from a slam against Wag! or their writer, but an attempt to note how progressive politics are so virulent that no entity—whether government or corporate—is free from being forced to indulge their insanities, no matter how potentially harmful. The article concludes with two “checkmarks” on seeking vet advice for gender reassignment surgery and a final plea for dog owners to just accept their dogs as they are. Thank God for that.
While Wag!’s post might have just been a desperate attempt to keep happy a small population of their potential clientele, know that they are not alone in their pontifications on the subject. There is a very real population of people who genuinely believe the biological function of animal hermaphrodism is an indicator that it applies equally to humans.
In 2017, Vice (who else?) posted an article discussing this, noting that “People find it easier to empathize with dogs and stuff like that rather than other people, so let these animals be your guide to understanding this concept” before listing off a number of fish, birds, and wild dogs who had both male and female sexual capabilities.
Completely absent from Vice’s always-spectacular logic is how the entire populations of the animals they listed were sequential hermaphrodites – not just a small percent—and that they always had the natural physical bodies to match with their sexual functions (both male and female genitals or male and female reproductive capacities). In short, that their biology completely matched with their sexual and behavioural attributes at all times.
In honesty, I am floored by the fact I am even having to point this out, let alone write a piece that began with the acknowledgement of an actual article titled “Can Dogs be Transgender?” Please note that I did reach out to Wag! for comment, but I did not hear from them by the time this article was due for publication. A subsequent article, or edit including their comments, may be posted in the future.
We are not even 5 months into 2019, and we are already having to try to save the animals from human sexual ideologies. But then again, I suppose, we couldn’t even save preschoolers from it. How are we supposed to save the dogs?
Counselling your child against serious health risks of changing gender not 'family violence': BC court ruling
Lawyer John Carpay is President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which intervened in the BC Court of Appeal in the case of AB v. CD.
In the case of AB v. CD, the BC Court of Appeal has allowed a 15-year-old female-born minor to continue receiving puberty blockers and testosterone, which will likely lead to the irreversible destruction of the minor’s sexual function and fertility.
The Court has deemed AB to be sufficiently mature to consent to the risks of taking testosterone, about which the BC Children’s Hospital has warned: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, decreased good cholesterol (HDL), increased bad cholesterol (LDL), emotional change (anger and irritability), and vaginal abrasions and tears.
The Hospital warns that the body sometimes converts testosterone to estrogen, which may increase the risks of ovarian, breast, cervical and uterine cancer. The Hospital states that the long-term effects of testosterone and puberty blockers on younger adolescents are unknown, and that the safety of testosterone is not fully understood. Girls who take puberty blockers and testosterone will develop into adults who may look and sound like men, but lack male genitalia. Even after gender re-assignment surgery, as adults they will not be able to father children. Nor will they likely be able to get pregnant and bear children, with natural female sexual maturity having been prevented. CD, who is the father of AB, is devastated.
Neither the lower courts nor the Court of Appeal have grappled with the compelling evidence showing that gender identity confusion usually goes away by itself. The vast majority of boys and girls revert to identifying with their natal sex by the time they are 18, if they are allowed to go through puberty naturally and receive appropriate encouragement and support to embrace biological reality. With psychological counseling instead of hormones and drugs, the success rate ranges from 70 percent to 90 percent, depending on which of the many studies that one relies on. This has been demonstrated by Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Susan Bradley, who ran the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) in Toronto from 1981 to 2015, successfully treating hundreds of children struggling with gender dysphoria.
The courts have also failed to take heed of a 2011 Swedish study of 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males), which shows that the long-term outcome of such treatments resulted in life-long psychological trauma and increased chance of suicide. Even in a progressive and socially liberal country, the suicide rate in these patients was 19 times higher than the general population, as these individuals passed through a post-treatment period of relative happiness but then began to experience significant morbidity and regret. Across the world, a growing number of transgender adults are warning that gender re-assignment surgery has brought them inexorable misery.
Without delving into these concerns, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that deference must be given to healthcare professionals, whose decisions made under the BC Infants Act about whether minors are able to consent to particular treatments, and whether those treatments are in their best interests, are only reviewable by the courts in very limited ways. Yet many of these health practitioners are on an affirmation-only bandwagon, or are afraid to speak out against it. This ensures that many young teens are moved along a path toward transition as soon as they step into a “gender identity clinic.” Parents with serious concerns about social contagion, or other mental health concerns prompting their child’s sudden desire to transition, will find little comfort in this ruling. Hopefully a future case will put evidence of these concerns before the courts.
The small silver lining on this very dark cloud has come by way of this Court now modifying the lower court rulings that drastically restricted CD’s parental rights and his freedom of expression.
Justice Gregory Bowden of the BC Supreme Court issued an Order that CD could not attempt to persuade his female-born child to pursue any treatment other than puberty blockers and testosterone. Justice Bowden further ordered CD not to address his child by the child’s birth name, or to refer to his female-born child as “she” or “her” in any conversation with anyone. Justice Bowden went on to declare that violating these draconian measures would constitute “family violence” under BC’s Family Law Act.
The BC Court of Appeal overturned this order in part, ruling that “there was insufficient evidence in the unique circumstances here to ground a finding of family violence—that is, emotional or psychological abuse—as defined in the Family Law Act.” The Appeal Court added that Justice Bowden “raising the issue of family violence in the context of this case caused the parties to become increasingly polarized in their positions, thus exacerbating the conflict and raising the stakes in the litigation. We see none of this to be in AB’s best interests.”
The father is now once again entitled to communicate his views about the risks and dangers of AB’s current treatment to AB. The Appeal Court noted that AB is a mature minor with capacity to make medical treatment decisions, and this capacity “includes the ability to listen to opposing views.” AB’s capacity to consent does not remove all parental involvement from medical decisions: “Parents can be involved in the process of explanation, instruction and advice leading to the obtaining of the informed consent of the child. They should be involved as part of that process wherever possible.”
Regarding CD’s freedom of expression, the Appeal Court noted that “the values underlying the right to freedom of expression include finding the truth through the open exchange of ideas, which extends to protecting minority beliefs that the majority regard as wrong or false.” However, the Court also ruled that the father’s right to express his opinion publicly and to share AB’s private information to third parties “may properly be subject to constraints aimed at preventing harm to AB. The Court will not restrict “CD’s right to express his opinion in his private communications with family, close friends and close advisors, provided none of these individuals is part of or connected with the media or any public forum, and provided CD obtain assurances from those with whom he shares information or views that they will not share that information with others.”
While AB continues to receive testosterone injections, this Appeal Court ruling at least shows greater respect for freedom of expression and for parental rights than did the lower courts. But it’s a small victory in the overall context of this sad case.
MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who twice broke an opponent’s skull to win a match, has been called the bravest athlete in history. Fox, a male to female transgender athlete, destroyed Erika Newsome in a Coral Gables, FL, MMA fight during which she “secured a grip on Newsome’s head… With her hands gripping the back of Newsome’s skull, she delivered a massive knee, bringing her leg up while pulling her opponent’s head down. The blow landed on Newsome’s chin and dropped her, unconscious, face-first on the mat.” That was Newsome’s last pro fight.
But to Outsports, a male-bodied person beating a female bodied person unconscious constitutes bravery. Not only has Fox beat up women in the ring, won every match but one, but has weathered online attacks from the likes of Joe Rogan. I think we can all agree that getting back online after Joe Rogan has knocked you down is far braver than facing another male-bodied of your own muscle mass and size in a fight.
Fox also beat Tamikka Brents, giving her a concussion and breaking 7 orbital bones. But that’s super brave, too, taking an unfair, male-bodied advantage and using it to give female-bodied opponents brain injuries.
Vice defended Fox, saying “Fallon was born with a peen. No one’s perfect. I throw away too much salad. She was raised as a dude, as I am told is traditional in Ohio for babies born with outwardly expressive genitalia. But that peen never did sit right with her and, since 2008, she has been a woman in mind, body, and soul.” Brents was not told that Fox was trans before the fight.
“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night,” Brents said, recounting her experience fighting Fox. “I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right… I still disagree with Fox fighting. Any other job or career I say have a go at it, but when it comes to a combat sport I think it just isn’t fair.” Vice said this was just “whining.”
There has been much debate over what makes a woman, since the early poets all the way up to Vice Magazine. While the consensus used to be that they were mystical, mysterious, coquettish beings who ruined men with their wily charms, beings to be possessed, owned, sold, and abused, the women’s suffrage movement and the fight for women’s rights came along and vanquished the old ideas, claiming instead that women were just people, people with female bodies.
Thanks to the trans movement we can get back to the original notion that to be a woman is to possess a special kind of soul that makes you want to be oppressed, beaten, bloodied, and cared for. Ah, progress.
There is no consensus among sporting organizations as to what gives a man enough of a disadvantage to compete against women. The International Olympic Committee says that a male needs to suppress testosterone to be at or below 10 nanomules per litre of blood for a period of one year prior to competition. Females who take testosterone would need years of hormones to get up to that.
Muscle mass does not substantially decrease with hormone treatment. Eradication of genitals does not diminish bone density. There are no cohesive Federal laws in the US to determine what makes a male eligible to compete against women, and while males have won women’s championships, female-bodied athletes have not risen to the upper levels of male competition.
Speaking to Outsports, Fox says “My teammates had no idea I was trans. They recognized my endurance, my strength, my ability to cut weight in the same category as cisgender women. There was no idea in their minds that I didn’t belong. They weren’t thinking, ‘oh my God, she’s going to kill somebody.’” That Fox can pass as a woman doesn’t negate her male advantages, nothing can.
Fox was outed against her will, which led to her induction into the LGBT Sports Hall Of Fame. This is where Fox’s bravery came into play. When the UFC and MMA promoters like Invicta declined to let her compete against women, Fox determined to keep beating up women anyway. Time will tell if MMA gives her another chance.
“Detransitioning” is a touchy topic for the trans community. Individuals who medically transition only to figure out later that they were never truly trans are a probably unsurprising phenomenon. It’s only common sense that a certain number of people who take the leap into hormone treatments or cosmetic surgery may end up having a change of heart.
In the last few years, there has been a huge statistical rise in young people identifying as transgender. According to The Children’s Gender Service at the Tavistock in Britain, there were just 77 trans children at their clinic in 2010. By 2019, there were 2,950 patients with 3,000 more on the waiting list to be treated.
Many young adults are turning to vlogging their detransition experiences and stories on YouTube. As a trans woman myself, I remember these stories being rarer in the past. A few years ago, there were a few detransitioners on Youtube talking about their experiences, but not many. Now, there appears to be almost as many people talking about their transition failures as there are people talking about their transition successes.
What’s the explanation for this? I have a few theories, the first being the overdiagnosis of mental disorders in children today. Now more than ever in history, we’re quick to throw a kid who’s disruptive in class or rowdy during recess on medication. As hormone replacement therapy becomes more commonplace, specifically for teens, it only makes sense that a certain number of those being overdiagnosed will end up on it.
Many of the teen detransitioners on Youtube cite falling into trans activist circles online as a contribution to the mistake they made. This brings me to my next theory, which is that transgenderism has become a fad for some. What used to be a medical issue that a small but very real segment of the population sought help for has now become politicized and popularized to the point where you’re not TRULY WOKE unless you have some sort of alternative gender identity. I see this online all the time, and you know you do too. Don’t lie.
I spoke with one teen detransitioner, Elle Palmer, whose YouTube video about her journey from female to male, and then back to female, is garnering quick traction on the website. Our interview is fascinating, and she corroborates my above theories as to why this is happening more frequently.
“My puberty was medicalized”, states Elle. “From a young age, I dealt with mental health problems that ultimately put me on a path of trying to fix myself- to figure out what was wrong with me”. She goes on to cite the deepening of her voice and growth of facial hair as huge regrets as a result of taking testosterone.
This puts a hole in the argument that children should be able to transition, which is predicated on the belief that they are always right about their feelings of belonging to the opposite sex. This is simply not the case, and we must exercise extreme caution.
Author’s note: I am grateful to the recently-launched caWsbar (Canadian Women’s Sex-based Rights) for bringing the McLean Clinic, and its aggressive marketing techniques, to my attention, as well as for files they contributed to this column. Dr. Alicia Hendley, Phd in psychology and founding member of caWsbar told me: “We’re very alarmed about the current trend of young women having double mastectomies to treat their dysphoria. We urge medical professionals to move beyond the external pressures they are being faced with and to put into action their most sacred principle—first do no harm.”
The rapid escalation of gender-fluid identification amongst young people in the West is nothing short of astounding. Adolescent females are now in a majority of those seeking transition. An Ottawa clinic, CHEO, used to see one or two patients a year. Last year it saw 189. It’s the same in other provinces:
Girls who are dissatisfied with their post-puberty bodies and wish to present as boys, naturally focus on their burgeoning breasts. They may use binders to flatten them, or they may seek surgical removal, referred to in the gender-fluidity world as “top surgery.”
Until fairly recently, a patient needed to undergo psychiatric testing before receiving OHIP approval for funding. Now a patient can be diagnosed by a GP or any other “expert” in gender health. Effectively, OHIP is now approving funding for any teenager who self-diagnoses as gender dysphoric, since Ontario law forbids any health professional from practicing “conversion therapy.” That is, any attempt by a doctor to inquire into contributing factors such as autism, anxiety, sexual preference, depression or other influencing factors could easily be construed as illegal.
The primary destination for top surgery in Ontario is the McLean Clinic, run by Dr. Hugh A. McLean, who has himself performed hundreds of top surgeries and who is not shy about promoting his clinic as a place where gender-fluidity dreams come true.
On the clinic’s Instagram page you can see dozens of photos of post-op FTM (female-to-male) clients posing bare-chested and happy. The clinic cheers on their patients—and prospective patients—with encouraging posts such as “Postop one day! What a way to start the holiday season. Nice job, Dr. McLean!” and “Ready for a topless summer.” Some of the females seem extremely young. Other adolescents comment, “I can’t wait to have this surgery too!” “I’m jealous!” In one photo, fellow surgeon Dr. Giancarlo McEvenue (more on him anon) wearing a mask and a Santa Claus hat holds up two buckets labelled “Breast tissue,” accompanied by a Dr McLean post: “For all you good boys, Dr McEvenue is not bringing gifts, he’s taking them away!”
We already know that adolescence is a notoriously labile period in the maturation cycle, and that teenagers under the age of 18 (at a minimum—our brains are not fully mature until 25) cannot be assumed to be making momentous decisions with truly “informed consent.” This Instagram page straddles a line between affirmation and recruitment.
Dr. McEvenue, Dr. McLean’s (until recently) colleague at the McLean clinic (he is listed as a surgeon here now), is as well a paid consultant for Johnson & Johnson, whose products and services are employed in these surgeries. Under their sponsorship, Dr. McEvenue participated in a gender reassignment surgery panel last September in Markham, Ontario. You can watch the panel and his performance here.
In the video, you see a marked transformation in Dr. McEvenue’s pitch. He’s jettisoned the Instagram-friendly Santa hat and the buckets of breast tissue. He is now the smooth, Madman-esque embodiment of Corporate Guy, representing a mammoth company that brands itself as so LGBT-friendly they are bursting with Pride and self-congratulation.
Dr. McEvenue tells us that there could be as many as two million people with gender dysphoria in Canada – about 1.5% of the population – considerably more than the DSM-5’s estimation of .002-.003%. Not only is the wish for top surgery not indicative of a disorder, he says, but it is even “not a distress,” and in fact it may not be necessarily exclusively related to gender dysphoria. Sometimes it is just “breast dysphoria,” he says, a term new to me, which turns out to mean that “you don’t like your breasts.” If that is your issue, Dr. McEvenue is there for you, and will remove them. Because he has a “passion” for what he does.
At the 14:30 minute mark, Dr. McEvenue inadvertently demonstrates the health community’s general dumbing-down of the transition process that he is abetting.
He says, “Believe it or not, when a patient wanted top surgery five or ten years ago, they had to go to a psychiatrist to get diagnosed.” (Here he grins, presumably at the craziness of the very idea that a woman wanting to lop her breasts off might benefit from sorting through her motives with a mental health expert). He continues, “If a woman comes to me for breast augmentation, I don’t make her go to a psychiatrist. I say, okay, are you an adult? Do you understand the surgery?” (laughter, applause. This audience really really wants to believe that top surgery on teenage girls is no big deal.)
So let’s unpack these statements. Dr. McEvenue is comparing breast removal to breast augmentation as though they were two sides of the same coin. But they’re not. The parallel to a breast augmentation is a breast reduction. Both surgeries are performed on women who identify as women, but for reasons of comfort (reduction) or perceived enhanced sexual allure (augmentation), seek surgical alterations. Of course such women do not require psychiatric evaluations. How is augmentation in any way logically comparable to top surgery for transitioning girls who want their breasts removed so they can present as male? It isn’t, unless you are attempting to trivialize both the operation and its psychological implications.
Furthermore, he asks his augmentation patients, “are you an adult?” But from the photos on the Instagram account, a great number of Dr. McEvenue’s patients are not adults at all. How does he know they truly understand what they are doing? Why wouldn’t he want them to see a psychiatrist beforehand? If they are sure of what they are doing, what harm can deeper exploration do? And if they are not sure, what’s the down side of them changing their mind? There is a long waiting list at the McLean Clinic, according to Dr. McEvenue. If one or two drop off it after consulting with a mental-health expert, where’s the tragedy there? Dr. McEvenue claims it is a matter of “respect” not to challenge his patients’ self-diagnosis. And at the 18-minute mark, he says, “Why would I send [a patient] for a second opinion?” Yet “second opinions” are standard in every other field of surgery, and no other surgeons consider them a sign of disrespect. (I guess it’s a good thing Dr. McEvenue isn’t an oncologist.)
Dr. McEvenue enthuses about the benefits of Instagram (“Instagram has been huge for us”) and boasts of the clinic’s 14,000 followers. He claims that he doesn’t moderate the discussion generated, although, “If I see a negative comment, I delete it.” The McLean Clinic is certainly dedicated to FTM transitioning as a “fun” experience.
Representing the patient experience on the panel is a likable transman, Yuri, who is warm, amiable and articulate, clearly at home in his new persona and eager to extol the benefits of his top surgery. Notably, he is now 30 years old, and had the surgery in his 20s. So he is hardly representative of the growing demographic that is seeking the surgery. If all the clinic’s patients were in their 20s, this panel wouldn’t have been needed. The subject is only controversial because the age of those undergoing it is moving downward. Parents are of course concerned, confused and occasionally desperate for objective advice.
They won’t find objectivity on this panel. Two of the speakers, the J & J host and Dr. McEvenue, are stakeholders in the business end of top surgeries. One of the panellists is a mature patient who had gone through years of reflection as an adult before doing it, and the last panellist, Melissa, is the parent of a child to whom she has given her full affirming support since her (then) daughter was four years old and refused to dress in princess clothes.
Melissa, unfortunately, plays the “suicide” card, saying, “I’d rather stand beside my son than over top of his grave.” Suicide is a “big possibility,” Melissa says, and a parent’s job “isn’t to understand, it’s to support” the dysphoric child. Dr. McEvenue reinforces her message with, “a lot of time this is a life-saving operation.” But since he is committed never to second-guessing the patient’s self-diagnosis, he cannot be sure that psychiatric help wouldn’t be equally life-saving.
Brown University researcher Lisa Littman, who coined the term “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) found that many adolescent girls with problems other than gender dysphoria—autism, anxiety, depression—glommed on to gender dysphoria as the source of their troubles through sites like Reddit and Tumblr, where “social contagion” took hold of them. These sites school new adherents in the kind of tropes—such as threatening suicide—that are sure to get their parents on board and assure instant affirmation from therapists. Parents should know this.
So just how real is the risk of suicide if a young girl does not get her double mastectomy? In a very recent article published in Quillette, psychoanalyst Marcus Evans, who formerly served as Consultant Psychotherapist and Associate Clinical Director of Adult and Adolescent Service at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, the Tavistock Clinic being England’s premier public gender clinic, has this to say on the subject of suicide risk: “Those who advocate an unquestioning ‘affirmation’-based approach to trans-identified children often will claim that any delay or hesitation in assisting a child’s desired gender transition may cause irreparable psychological harm, and possibly even lead to suicide. They also typically will cite research purporting to prove that a child who transitions can expect higher levels of psychological health and life satisfaction. None of these claims align substantially with any robust data or studies in this area. Nor do they align with the cases I have encountered over decades as a psychotherapist.”
What else is missing from this panel presentation? Questions that weren’t puffballs. For example, nobody asked whether Dr. McEvenue had ever had to reconstruct breasts after a client felt regret over the top surgery? (The McLean Clinic website says that “very few trans folk regret their decision to undergo top surgery as part of their transition to their experienced gender,” but they do not reference any studies.) Regretful detransitioners abound, and many of them want to be heard, but trans activists make life difficult for them when they speak out. Or another unasked question: Do you talk to these adolescent girls about their sexual preferences before planning their surgeries? Some girls presenting as trans are in fact merely lesbians who have difficulty processing that notion. In such cases, transitioning is neither required or advisable. But the subject did not arise on the panel.
As noted in a balanced, in-depth Atlantic magazine article on the subject by seasoned researcher Jesse Singal, the American Psychological Association’s guidelines observe that “adolescents can become intensely focused on their immediate desires.” It goes on: “This intense focus on immediate needs may create challenges in assuring that adolescents are cognitively and emotionally able to make life-altering decisions.” The McLean Clinic is marketing itself to this demographic, and far from appearing to see “challenge” in this demographic’s vulnerability, they show every sign of seeing only market opportunity.
It will be clear to any objective observer that the McLean Clinic’s “fun” approach to top surgery and its dependence on social media promotes a perspective that underplays the complexity of the issue and overplays the magical-solution angle. The McLean Clinic’s bruited compassion for their patients is commendable. But their Instagram culture makes a mockery of the “informed consent” they claim to respect.
From a business perspective, the Mclean Clinic’s long waiting list is a sign of success. Their marketing techniques are not illegal. But are they ethical? That is a subject the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons might wish to take under deliberation.