Deborah Soh’s The End of Gender is a balanced overview of the controversies over sex and gender – an important tool for young people and their families.
The End of Gender: Debunking Myths About Sex and Identity in our Society provides an accessible and balanced explanation of sex and gender, debunking 10 of the most common and pernicious myths about gender currently promoted in the woke dominated media and public discourse. Soh defines her terms and then devotes each chapter to debunking a common woke myth about gender and sex. Her writing style is casual and inviting and she discusses complex sensitive issues with ease and compassion. The deluge of wokified scientifically unsound information flooding popular culture and sweeping children, parents, educators, therapists, and even health care professionals into a harmful cultish mythical vision makes it difficult for the general public to distinguish scientific fact from woke fiction. These days you cannot necessarily believe it even if a nursing professor or a doctor tells you it so, such is the power of woke dogma and the extent to which it has seeped into universities and academia.
When Tyler Black, medical director of CAPE at BC Children’s Hospital, is promoting Jack Turban’s woke health care activism and vilifiying Abigail Shrier’s diligent work in Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters and when child educators and popular culture are teaching dysphoric children they might be in the wrong body, we know we have reached a grave crisis in society—the media and publishing industry values woke social justice narratives over objective truth and the well being of children and youth and even the voices of those damaged by these narratives. WPATH, (World Professional Association for Transgender Health), formerly the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, dominates and steers the discussion of gender health. Harry Benjamin is the father of the term transsexualism who was a zealous advocate of cross hormones and reassignment surgery, an advocate of transitioning who did not believe traditional psychotherapy had any benefit. His techniques were viewed as contrary to the principles of psychiatry by mainstream practitioners and in fact his former colleague Charles Ihlenfeld has written critically about Benjamin’s approach.
It seems historically WPATH has been an ideologically steeped institution that rejects psychotherapy as an option for gender discordance. Transgender health care involves puberty blockers and cross sex hormones, two costly pharmaceuticals—a lot of money firmly backs this very questionable approach to the care and treatment of gender discordant individuals. Parents find themselves in an impossible situation with dogmatic propaganda such as SOGI123 thrust onto their children in public schools with no possibility to opt out and then an unending stream of gender dogma pumped through YouTube 24/7 and targeting suggestive young minds. Debra Soh’s book provides a welcome disruption and a clear balanced voice in the woke storm of swirling emotionally manipulative rhetoric. I believe and hope it’s a book families can experience together.
Sometimes precision and simplicity can seem like a tradeoff and chapter one suffered from that a wee bit. Sex is defined by gametes and not chromosomes, writes Soh. Indeed, this is true—there are two gametes, and therefore two sexes. Chromosomally, more than one karotype (karotype is an arrangement of chromosomes) exists for each sex because of the existence of disorders of sex development, and so even though there are six or more possible karotypes, there are still only two gametes, and therefore two sexes: a human with an XXY karotype is still a male and not some chimeric male-female intersex organism. Saying that sex is defined by gametes and not chromosomes sometimes leads people to think that menopausal women are not female, the number of people who think this surprises me.
Soh actually mentions this and I found her treatment of the issue unsatisfactory—seriously why are menopausal females still having to claim our humanity in the year 2020? Yes, I am a post menopausal woman, and yes, I am still fully female despite the fact that I no longer menstruate—this isn’t rocket science and I wonder if society will ever consider women like me humans. People without gonads maintain their sex, because sex is also chromosomal—this seemed like an obvious and also important statement to need to mention in any discussion of the definition of sex. What leads people to believe sex is spectral is the conflation of karotype and sex and I feel like this chapter could have also benefitted from that discussion. Sex is not spectral because there are two gametes and because karotype is not sex. Soh’s discussion of the biology of sex sacrificed too much precision to achieve its simplicity.
Soh provides an objective definition of gender, describes why gender is not a social construct, and deftly explains why sex and gender are not synonymous. Prenatal hormones determine gender, whereas chromosomes and gametes determine sex. Gender identity is how an individual feels about their sex, as in one’s own psychological response to their sex. Because gender is inextricably linked to sex, gender is binary and not spectral. Certain areas of the brain exhibit sexual dimorphism and in the majority of humans, this corresponds with a chromosomal/gamete sex. So in most people gender identity and sex are synonymous. In cases where a discordance exists, the result is gender dysphoria. Gender isn’t fixed until puberty, gay brains differ from straight brains, and the vast majority of gender discordant children desist and those who don’t end up being gay.
Some of the same brain structures implicated in gender are also implicated in autism and Soh mentions Simon Baron-Cohen’s theory of the extreme male brain of autism in females. Soh describes with ease the connection between the evolutionary roles of males and females and sexuality. The female reproductive cycle influences female sexuality and has implications for partner selection. Generally speaking males tend toward narcissism and psychopathy and females toward neuroticism (negative thinking) and agreeability (passivity). This makes sense when you consider females have historically had to be alert to threats in their environment, being overwhelmingly the victims of violence in every human society around the globe and throughout history.
Men and women possess different reproductive systems, meaning male and female sexuality differ completely from one another. It follows that they have evolved to possess different skill sets and desire certain qualities in a partner. The woke neo-creationists loathe to consider the important role of evolutionary psychology in helping us understand ourselves, as anisogamous sexually reproducing primates, however this discussion underscores the reasons why feminist devaluation of femininity and denial of sex differences harms women in the long run. Women and men are different, they should not need to be the same in order to be equal, true equality for female people would be valuing male and female people for their differences and helping female people overcome the barriers which their female physiology erect.
Soh describes Ray Blanchard’s typology of male transsexualism—HSTS, homosexual transsexual and AGP, autogynephilia, a sexual paraphilia, in which a heterosexual male is aroused at the image of himself as a female. These two describe descretely different processes at work—the brains of HSTS and AGP transsexuals differ in the sexually dimorphic regions of the brain, while the brains of AGP transssexuals and non transsexual heterosexual males do not differ in the sexually dimorphic regions of the brain, but show differences in other areas. This points to an underlying cause that contradicts the theory of feminine essence commonly promoted in woke circles. Soh discusses the stigma attached to AGP, which is vilified and denied by trans extremists and mocked and derided and misunderstood by radical feminists. AGP itself does not involve sexual coercion, and Soh tells readers that antisocial traits (disregard for the wellbeing of others) are the biggest predictor of sexual offending and abusive behaviour.
Soh briefly mentions the bathroom controversy and acknowledges that third spaces are the answer and also that gender activists aren’t satisfied with that because they demand inclusion, as defined by admission into female spaces. She personally thinks trans women should be allowed into female bathrooms yet also acknowledges in plain language that transitioning does not change an individual’s sex. I fail to see why so many intelligent people have trouble acknowledging that single sex spaces are a basic human right that no one should question and that their existence is not a threat to anyone, so I definitely disagree with Soh on this detail. I personally believe the current debate pitting trans against female rights distracts from the real issue of integrating tran people into society, namely vital statistics nomenclature which would preserve sex whilst honouring gender identity; dedicated health, housing, social services/facilities for trans people that do not encroach upon or diminish analogous female services; and support for evidence based research and care conducted by knowledgeable, trustworthy, and ethical scientists who can work without the repressive watchful eye of the woke KGB.
Paraphilias are fixed and not all males with AGP want to transition, and in some, the traditional requirement to live as a woman for a year or two has helped AGP males come to terms with their own feelings about their sexuality without having invasive reassignment surgery. Self ID and the urgency to railroad people through the process threaten this careful and balanced approach, built upon vast and lengthy valid and reliable clinical observation. Sadly, the woke culture’s glorification and near fetishisation of transgenderism—in some weird guilt motivated over correction for the past persecution of gay people combined with a woke queer theory variant of transubstantiation—has caused evidence based treatment to take a back seat to the social justice sacredness of affirmation at nearly all cost. In many circles Blanchard’s work is misrepresented or vilified and radical feminists in particular cruelly misunderstand and persecute AGP transsexuals. Blanchard’s work makes it clear though, that AGP is not about predation, and in fact, the desire for the image of oneself as a female can choke out any sexual attraction for any female.
Soh discusses the research and science of gender discordance and transsexualism and the insidious way in which woke authoritarianism has infiltrated academia and prevented studies from even taking place because of the potential threat to political correctness and the fact that anything which does not affirm trans people’s identity—ie any science which attempts to understand the underlying causes of gender discordance—is seen as ‘transphobic.’ The oppressive nature of woke activism is hurting science and it’s hurting gender discordant people, and Soh discusses the way in which the movement has betrayed girls and young women and the describes the growing movement of desisters and detransitioners demanding answers and a way forward which includes non invasive ways of treating gender dysphoria, which has misguidedly been declared conversion therapy by woke gender zealots.
Detransitioners have begun to ask why surgically excising healthy body parts and encouragement to view their bodies as hostile territory were offered as the answer. Detransitioners have begun asking why didn’t therapists and medical professionals challenge them more? And, many observers want to know—why are so many young women deciding that the answer to sexism and the objectification of the female body is to become a man? These are very good questions which we all need to begin addressing. In this over-corrective woke crusade to affirm trans people and recognise gender discordance the most vulnerable and in need of real care are being sacrificed at the altar of the gender cult to the point that parents actually consider raising their children without a gender.
Throughout the book Soh reminds us that wokery is really about parents, medical professionals, academia, and educators—everyone really—wanting to be seen to do the morally right thing. Soh discusses the gender neutral parenting fad and the need of many parents to be seen as special or progressive. Since gender is innate, children will eventually gravitate to their innate preferences, regardless of how parents socialise them. So, a little girl who is not allowed to play with dolls at home will end up playing dolls at her friend’s house—if she likes playing with dolls, she won’t be stopped by her parent’s woke attempts at steering her preferences.
Soh mentions the case of David Reimer, a boy who lost his penis in a botched circumcision and was raised as a girl, at the urging of John Money, who convinced the Reimers to allow him to perform sex reassignment on David at 22 months of age. David became Brenda and his twin brother remained Brian, who served as the perfect control subject for Money in his gender reassignment experiment. David suffered from dysphoria and became suicidal at the age of 13, and eventually reverted back to being a male after his father told him about his reassignment. David’s twin developed schizophrenia and died of an antidepressant overdose in 2000, and David died of a self inflicted gun shot wound four years later.
John Money went on to enjoy a lucrative career as the father of gender reassignment and was considered a leader in the field of sexology. Gender, one’s feeling of what sex one is, is indeed innate and not socialised. Children’s neuroendocrine systems aren’t Netflix shows we can pause and change at whim. Norman Spack is wrong, we cannot simply change the body to match the brain—this dualistic thinking which lies at the heart of western psychiatry distorts clinical vision and ultimately harms patients. And because children are suggestive and affectively overvalue the present desire over any future risks, they lack the emotional capacity to consent to grave decisions such as medical treatments which risk their fertility and cause irreversible long term medical consequences.
Soh debunks the pernicious myth of constant, persistent, insistent child gender dysphoria—as mentioned earlier gender is not fixed until sexual maturity. Children learn and discover through role play and because of their developing brains they lack emotional maturity to assess risk and exhibit lability and plasticity as they grow into themselves in prepubescence. Again, gender is tied to sex, and therefore cannot be established until after sexual maturity. Chapter 5, the chapter on transitioning children, really is the most important chapter of this book given the current climate which seeks to force invasive experimental treatments on gender discordant children by law under the guise of affirmative suicide prevention, which has been scientifically disputed and debunked.
Still the myth about trans children persists because of the campaign of cultish manipulation. Soh highlights the way in which gender zealots misuse statistics to engage in a campaign of fear mongering and emotional manipulation—would you rather have a trans child or a dead child. In fact the common statistic quoted is from a small study of transsexual adults who were asked about their experience with suicide across their life span and therefore no inference can be made about causality, other studies are showing invasive treatment is actually associated with higher incidences of suicidal ideation, when individuals realise that surgical alteration and hormone treatments did not fix what ailed them. There are no studies on gender conversion therapy in children. Emotionally blackmailing parents and terrorising gender discordant children is cruel and abusive.
Puberty blockers for gender dysphoria is an off label, ie experimental, use. Where clinicians and experts initially denied any long term effects, including risks to fertility, now endocrinologists are beginning to speak out about what the science really tells us about use of puberty blockers and also cross sex hormones in pre-pubescent children. Effectively, administering a puberty blocker to a pre pubescent child lobotomises the endocrine system, preventing the ripening of the gonads and the administration of cross sex hormones renders the child sterile. Puberty serves a developmental and physiologic purpose and depriving a child of this is a violation of bodily integrity. Children cannot consent to their own sterilisation and no adult should be making this choice. The evidence is very clear that the harms of invasive, so-called affirming, treatment by far outweighs the benefits, which the research has now shown is negligible.
Still, woke authoritarianism places enormous pressure on clinicians and parents to make decisions against the children’s best interests in the name of political correctness. We live in 2020 and think ourselves an evolved modern society free from medieval religiosity, and yet we are still Abraham, binding up Isaac to offer as a burnt sacrifice because a moral authority, ie god, told us to do so to prove our moral righteousness. We express outrage at the treatment of codebreaker and computer visionary Alan Turing, a WW2 hero who was punished with chemical castration for being gay, the effects of which were intolerable to him and caused him to take his life, and then we cheer on the very same hormonal treatment given to gender dysphoric children as affirming and progressive. Why? The priorities of the woke brigade seem grossly misplaced.
As mentioned, gender is flexible and not fixed in childhood and gender discordance is often a response to a trauma or life stress if it is not simply the result of being gay. There is nothing wrong with being gay and we should leave these children grow into themselves and support them without sterilising or performing surgery on them. Gender discordance has a strong correlation with eating disorders, sexual abuse, autism. Renowned trauma specialist Bessel Van der Kolk has said that trauma survivors feel inherently ill at ease in their bodies, they feel alienated and disembodied. The work of healing involves learning embodiment, learning how to feel safe at and at ease. Yet, gender discordant children are being taught to see their bodies as hostile territory and their treatment involves violating bodily integrity on several levels—this seems like the true conversion therapy. The connections between gender discordance and adverse childhood events beg to be studied so that gender discordant children can receive the best care. Yet this is not happening because woke authoritarianism has declared this off limits by labelling it gender identity conversion therapy.
As previously mentioned, and as James Cantor discusses in his reaction to the AAP guidelines, there are no studies on gender conversion therapy in children. And, as Soh mentions in her book, gender in children is flexible, not fixed—meaning there isn’t any such thing as gender conversion therapy for children, this is simply a false narrative created to manipulate and send children and their parents down the dangerous path of invasive therapy when a wait-and-see approach, recommended by experts such as Ken Zucker, is what the evidence demonstrates most effective. The phenomenon of ROGD and the controversy surrounding and results of Littman study, and the observation of the exponentially growing number of young autistic women transitioning points to something very wrong happening to young women and to a very perfidious toxicity in the movement. The most alarming thing about this movement to me is its resemblance to a dystopian redux of 19th century hysteria. The sensationalisation of transitioning proves powerful and seductive to young psyches and the trans community provides a sense of belonging alienated young people crave. Once inside the cult, it’s like Hotel California.
Essentially, we live in a culture with a chaotic and alienating social and political landscape which is teaching children and young people to view their bodies as hostile territory, further disembodying them. It’s easy to fall into despair and feel a deep sense of urgency as you get deeper into the book, to the misuse of statistics, the fear mongering, and finally to where Soh tells the tales of the many scientists—Michael Bailey and Ken Zucker to name two—who have been canceled by the trans extremists. She describes a repressive system of activism which has muzzled academic freedom and essentially alienated all evidence-based scientists from the field of gender discordance and transsexualism. And she tells stories of a stifling and wokified academic atmosphere that make universities sound like they’re LARPing Stepford Wives. Yet she tries to remain hopeful that truth eventually comes out.
I want to believe Debra Soh is right about the truth emerging, as I see Abigail Shrier’s book gain traction, and one of it’s biggest woke critics and WPATH cultist Jack Turban, revealed to have received funds in the amount of $15k from Arbor Pharmaceuticals, a puberty blocker manufacturer, without making conflict of interest declarations. I want to believe the truth is emerging when I read about the resignations of James Cantor and Jack Drescher. I want to believe the tide is turning on gender extremism as I see the APA quietly publishing a correction of the largest longitudinal study of gender discordant children of its kind, after a review of the data revealed that affirming treatment had no effect on depression and suicidality over a non invasive approach. Transitioning saves lives has been patently been disproved. I want to believe a change lurks on the horizon as I watch Kiera Bell, a detransitioner, launch her lawsuit against the NHS. Kiera, like every detransitioner, wishes the adults and experts had challenged her more.
Debra Soh set out to write a book that would arm the average person with scientific fact in order to navigate the battles in their own lives and families and workplaces and communities. She has achieved that aim, debunking the 10 most common myths about sex and gender and essentially demystifying sex and gender in under 300 pages. It is an important and accessible and compassionate book, I think it could become one of the most important books of the year for young people, their parents, and their families.