Six Impossible Beliefs and the Damage They Have Done

Impossible beliefs have a history of causing immense suffering. Janice Williams present six examples of which transgenderism is just the latest.

*Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” 

From ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ by Lewis Carroll.

We are currently asked to believe that men can literally change into women. There is no scientific evidence for this – yet we are asked to give these men the courtesy title of women. Some might see no harm in this, seeing it as a way to help a small group of suffering people.

But colluding in transgenderism brings many harms to women: it erases lesbians who only want same sex relationships, obscures male violence against women, (since the violent male may now claim to be a woman) and puts men into women’s sport, where mediocre males easily beat the best female athletes. It also stops women having their own spaces to give them privacy or protection from men. It has been invaded by sex offenders who see it as a route to a cushy sentence in a women’s prison, and is also used by paedophiles to groom children via Drag Queen Story Time.

Believing the impossible has a long history and often masquerades as doing good. Impossible beliefs have often been indirectly used to reinforce people’s prejudices and power bases, usually to the detriment of the most vulnerable. In ancient times people believed strange things because they didn’t have investigative tools, because of religion or because their lords and masters told them to, though there were always sceptics. Here are six examples.

1: Choreomania – ‘She Can’t Stop Dancing!’

By the 16th century European universities had been turning out learned men for centuries when, in difficult times of famine and challenge to established religion, people in towns across Germany started dancing, dancing dancing until they dropped. The craze caught on, people appeared to be in a trance and danced deliriously day and night for weeks, sometimes to the point of death. The authorities in Strasbourg might earlier have consulted the church (who blamed immorality, a curse, or St Vitus, patron saint of dancing). Now they consulted doctors who, at a loss, consulted astrologers, who recommended… dancing, on the principle that if you really, really overdo something, you never fancy it again. Dance halls were set up, food, drink and even musicians and dance partners were provided, and of course the many desperately starving poor joined in for what they could get. 

Things got worse, not better. Indulging it didn’t work, any more than letting an anorexic person starve will work. They had to ban dancing altogether for two months, took the diehards on a pilgrimage to St Vitus’ shrine, and gave them each a pair of red shoes. This worked well. The dancing stopped and did not start again.

As John Waller, author of a study on this, says, ‘Afflictions that depend on the power of suggestion cannot survive without the beliefs that underpin them’. The response that worked was one that operated where the impulse originated, at a psychological level within the religious belief system of most people at the time.

The strange belief that people can change sex may also wither away once we abandon narrow sex stereotypes, realise it has no scientific base and count the true cost of the damage to women and girls. 

We would now call choreomania a sociogenic illness stemming from distress and anxiety and spreading by social contagion. There are many other examples.

2: Maleficophobia – ‘A Witch Has Bewitched Me!’

This is ‘fear of witches’ – again, it sounds more real in Latin. From 1645, also in times of plague, famine, tempest and strife, the witch craze broke out and get-rich-quick witch hunters travelled the land torturing women to make them confess that they had bewitched their neighbours. Even the King of England joined in, publishing a book on the subject. Fearful of being accused themselves, neighbours informed on each other and confessions of flying through the air or having sex with the devil were used as evidence against victims, who were often burned alive. Women were named by those who had been rejected by them, would inherit from them, who had quarrelled with them. The whole Europe-wide episode (which also crossed the Atlantic) targeted women because of their sex.

Sadly witch-finding still goes on in some countries today. It was (and is) misogyny dressed up as doing good. In this it has much in common with transgenderism, where men who claim to be women cherry-pick aspects of woman portrayed in pornography (and acted out in prostitution) and seek to identify into the oppressed class from which they can, as men, always conveniently opt out again whenever they choose. This is especially true of the overwhelming 90% of them who keep their male reproductive organs and the 100% of them who keep their male privilege-based behaviour patterns.  

3: Koro – ‘Help! My Genitals Are Retreating Into My Body!’

Koro (not the same as kuru) or Genital Retraction Syndrome is a socially contagious delusional disease, often epidemic, found in both ancient and modern times on several continents. Symptoms, mostly in men, are anxiety that the genitals are retracting into the body, that they will disappear completely, and, often, that death will swiftly follow. We now call this an anxiety disorder, often triggered by guilt or shame, for example following an extramarital affair, or a lack of sexual confidence. 

Men’s genitals do retreat slightly when they are anxious.  Koro sufferers believe this continues and worsens. It’s a delusion spread by social contagion, often blamed on women or guilt at how the man has treated a woman. It thus shares in the misogyny of other false beliefs covered here.

4: Hysteria – ‘Her Wandering Womb Makes Her Mad!’

The ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed that a woman’s womb (hyster in Greek) could wander around inside the body and make her mad. She might also be called a witch. Maybe it was just an excuse to discredit what women said, or, as we might now say, a mega-mansplain. Hysteria, disease of the womb, came to mean madness, sudden change of character or ungovernable emotional excess and was a common diagnosis for women until this century. Suffers might be given a hysterectomy or lobotomy or put into an insane asylum. Clearly such distressed behaviour in women might stem from their abuse or oppression, yet the diagnosis was still being used mid-20th century.

Hysteria was obviously a tactic to shut down women’s genuine distress. It allowed men to continue to abuse, oppress and exploit women for profit without them being able to protest for fear of incarceration. Similarly transgenderism, by promoting the idea that men can be women, erases the abuse of women by men and enables it to continue unabated.

5: Lobotomy – ‘She’s Mad, Let’s Cut Into Her Brain!’

In 1949 Portuguese neurologist Antonio Egaz Moniz shared a Nobel Prize for the discovery of lobotomy, a method of cutting into the brain said to help with psychiatric conditions, mainly in women and also used on homosexuals as a conversion therapy. People were often left in a permanent mindless daze, or totally incapacitated and needing institutional care. Numbers gradually dropped, but only after many thousands had been ‘treated’ worldwide, with occasional cases as late as 2010.

Lobotomy was a seemingly well-intentioned procedure which gained scientific endorsement without proper research studies to support it. Profitable quack cures originally designed for the rich often bypass this essential step and are sold to ordinary people on the (false) assumption that the rich always know what is best for them, or that you get what you pay for.  It usually ends in tears only after much damage has been done. See below.

6: Transgenderism – ‘If I’m Unhappy With My Body, I Can Change My Sex!’ 

You can’t actually change sex. You can get surgery on your external body parts, and hormones to make physical changes, but you cannot ever change your chromosomes which will, for all time, identify you as male of female as you were born. Nor can you undo the socialisation you experienced as a boy or girl growing up.

Pretending to believe that people can change sex is attractive, sounds liberating and is highly profitable for pharmaceutical, surgical and psychological professionals, as well as for manufacturers who provide binders, large ‘feminine’ and small ‘masculine’ clothing for transitioners. 

The seemingly positive agenda is similar to those outlined above – on the surface of it we liberate unhappy people from being the sex they were born and make them happier. However, although many studies of transitioners have been started, not one single reputable study has been completed to show that transitioning makes people generally happier long-term. Like lobotomy, it was first sold to the rich who could afford to pay for it, and then cascaded down to ordinary people without proper research.

Lots of people are changing their minds about transitioning, learning the hard way via nasty effects of the drugs and surgery that after the first euphoric attention spike when your body changes, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The vast numbers of people approaching the newly-founded Detransitioners Advocacy Network is testament to this. 

Meanwhile, women are being harmed in numerous ways, setting back the grindingly-hard work of getting equal rights by decades. For example, if you accept the mantra that ‘transwomen are women’, you will classify crimes committed by men who call themselves women as female crime. Currently hardly any women commit violent sexual crime, but after a few years of classifying transwomen’s crime as female, the statistics will appear to show that women are just as violent as men, and the reality of male violence against women will be unevidenceable. 

Women’s changing rooms, toilets, rape crisis centres, schools, scholarships, prisons, reserved jobs (eg Women’s Officer) are all open to men who call themselves women, thus subverting or removing the very real problems they were intended to solve. 

Believing the impossible might seem like a positive act of faith in a better world, a liberation for unhappy people and a kind and generous impulse, but, as with all the impossible beliefs we have considered, it is important to look deeper. There is enough misogyny in the world. We don’t need any more. 

Dancing doesn’t make you happier long term. Going along with it only makes it worse. 

The witch hunts were based on a fantasy and killed millions of innocent women. 

Koro is based on emotions of fear, guilt and shame. 

Hysteria is a made-up disease which helped men silence women for centuries. 

Lobotomy was never properly researched and harmed thousands of people, mostly women.

Transgenderism has never been properly researched and brings fat profits to many businesses. People who fall for it are victims of a scam and may well regret it later. 

We believe that in 50 years’ time transgenderism will be as outdated as lobotomy or witchcraft. We OBJECT to transgenderism because it is a lie like the other issues above.

While we are busy falling for these wonderful-sounding but untimately unfruitful ideas, the real issues of society go on unchecked. Sexism and racism would be top of my list.

Janice Williams is the Chair of OBJECT!

This author has not submitted a biography yet.

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