Even today, in fact, the most in-your-face and high-profile transgender figures are men calling themselves women, like Bruce Jenner, Jazz Jennings, Lia Thomas, and Dylan Mulvaney. Concerns over privacy in bathrooms and fairness in sports are overwhelmingly (for obvious reasons) concerns about men entering women’s spaces.
However, the rate of Gen Z women identifying as men has skyrocketed to about twice that of Gen Z men identifying as women. This is roughly quadruple the rate of millennial women who identified as male. In fact, almost 1 in 30 Gen Z women now identify as men, and a further 1 in 25 identify as nonbinary. To paraphrase Christian author Samuel James on Twitter, the trans revolution has, in just the last few years, become a girls’ revolution.
The unprecedented spike in girls who don’t want to be girls is what caught the attention of Lisa Littman, then assistant professor at Brown University, when she coined the term “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” She was seeking to explain why clusters of girls, often in schools and peer groups, suddenly had decided together they were trans.
Based on her research, Littman theorized that this flood of gender confusion was, in fact, a “social contagion” spread by influence and example rather than because of some innate trait. This “maladaptive coping mechanism,” she suggested, may be a response to the stress of life and adolescence, and perhaps even to a form of self-harm, like cutting. Her suggestions are still hugely controversial.
However, more governments and doctors in other parts of the world are also concluding that gender ideology is beyond the bounds of responsible medicine. Last summer, Britain’s largest gender clinic closed after an independent study cited “a lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria” and appropriate treatments offered. That clinic, by the way, had seen a 4,000% increase in referrals for girls in its last 10 years!
The outbreak of gender confusion among Gen Z women runs counter to the prevailing assertion of the LGBT movement: no one “becomes” trans but is instead born that way. The common explanation, that most such individuals were “closeted” in the past and are now finally able to tell the world who they always were, cannot make sense of the data we are seeing.
In particular, the startling “hockey stick” of young women suddenly announcing that they’re not women is making that explanation difficult to believe, especially when placed alongside the similarly dramatic graph portraying the crumbling mental health among Gen Z women. Facts must force experts and activists to reckon with the widespread harm being done to young women. As one book on the subject puts it, the damage being done to women’s lives and bodies is “irreversible.”
We all must, as individuals, families, and a society, reckon with why so many girls no longer want to be girls, especially considering the things that form the bulk of Gen Z’s information diet: social media, television, movies, magazines, apps, and pornography. Is it any wonder that so many girls think that the best way to not be sexualized is to not be female?
This generation of young women needs to see, whether through the “hockey stick” graph or some other tool, that the prevailing “wisdom” about who they are is dangerous nonsense. Even more, they will need a better vision, one big enough to ground the inherent dignity shared by all human beings, male and female. In all human history, only the vision of the imago dei has been able to pull that off.
This Breakpoint was co-authored by Shane Morris. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.