Gender & Culture

Trans issues are affecting more and more areas of life. Yet many don’t know the real story behind what’s happened in the last ten years.
In this not-quite-timeline, we break down for you the key events, why they matter, and where we fit in. We’ll also provide you with some useful supporting resources along the way.

About a decade ago, something strange started to happen.

Across the English-speaking West, there was a huge surge in the number of young people being referred to gender clinics, hoping to undergo medical transition. They tended to be girls.
This demographic was starkly at odds with previous decades, where almost everyone who transitioned was male – and hardly any were adolescents. Something new was going on.
And the parents of these kids all seemed to be noticing the same thing: the new transgender identity followed a heavy period of obsessive social media use.
Anime culture seemed especially influential, with many kids devoting huge amounts of time to creating and consuming anime art. It almost seemed to be more important than their real lives.

But that wasn’t the only thing these kids had in common.

They shared the same personality traits: smart, quirky, yet socially awkward kids, disconnected from their bodies and living almost entirely in their own minds.
More worryingly, a huge proportion of them seemed to have comorbidities – co-occurring conditions, such as autism, depression, disordered eating or a history of self-harm.
In fact, in a paper by American Public Health Researcher Dr. Lisa Littman, 62.5% of the young people whose parents were surveyed had at least one mental health or neurodevelopmental issue.
Littman’s paper was vociferously challenged by activist academics, yet has stood the test of time – and the test of peer review.
(You can find out more about the statistics by visiting Genspect’s sister website, Stats for Gender.)
A long time before Littman’s paper, the first voice to speak out was 4thWaveNow, a community led by a mother whose daughter had rapidly developed a transgender identity. In the fight to improve healthcare, 4thWaveNow is nothing short of a pioneer.
(By the way, that daughter no longer sees herself as trans.)
Watch 4thWaveNow founder Denise discuss recent developments in the US, with prominent podcaster Benjamin Boyce:
Another pivotal figure – this time in the UK – was Stephanie Davies-Arai. She founded Transgender Trend, an organisation which sought to raise awareness of the spiralling numbers of teens experiencing gender dysphoria.
Today’s campaigners for better healthcare owe a debt of gratitude to Stephanie – a debt which was recently reflected by an honour conferred by the British State.
A key moment came in 2018, when Irish author and psychotherapist Stella O’Malley (who would go on to found Genspect) released Trans Kids: It’s Time to Talk, a documentary investigating this new and under-studied cohort.
Across the Atlantic, American journalist Abigail Shrier was receiving so many emails from people who were concerned about the new surge in gender distress that she wrote a book about it. Shrier’s Irreversible Damage quickly became a best-seller.

The parents were extremely worried. They just didn’t believe that their kids’ problems would be resolved by hormones and surgeries.

So they started to organise.

Women’s rights campaigners like Jane Clare Jones – author of “The Annals of the TERF-Wars” – had already observed a sharp increase in intolerant rhetoric, emanating from certain trans rights activists. These activists take issue with women simply for stating immutable biological facts.
In one case, philosopher Kathleen Stock was hounded out of her job at a university, after a prolonged and targeted campaign of harassment. Her book Material Girls cast a critical eye over what’s happening to young women in today’s culture. Like Stephanie Davies-Arai, she was honoured by the British State.
In another case, tax expert Maya Forstater was sacked for saying that “men cannot change into women”. Forstater took her employer to court, and eventually won. She then went on to found campaigning organisation Sex Matters.
Most notably, author J. K. Rowling received numerous death threats for writing an essay that was “intolerant” towards trans people – even though no-one seems able to quote anything intolerant from it.
Every movement has its mavericks – and the fightback against gender ideology is no exception.
One canary in the coalmine was a woman called Kellie-Jay Keen, also known as Posie Parker. She was a leading voice on Mumsnet, where mothers were noticing the attempt to redefine the word “woman” – and she wasn’t having any of it.
Kellie-Jay went on to found Standing for Women, a campaign group seeking to protect the definition of “woman” as an adult human female.
Another maverick voice came from Graham Linehan, an Irish comedy writer. He was determined to stick to Joan Rivers’ first rule of comedy: nothing is off limits! Yet hyper-sensitive activists saw things differently, eventually “cancelling” Linehan and expunging him from the comedy world.
Today, comics like Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle can include trans themes in their work, albeit with controversy. But it was Linehan who softened the ground they land on.
Just like the parents seeking better healthcare for their kids, campaigners for women’s rights have organised. They’re pushing back on the erosion of women’s sports and spaces – and they mean business.
But there’s one big difference: most parents can’t speak publicly, as this would reveal the identities of their distressed children.

That’s where we come in.

Genspect was originally founded in June 2021 to provide a voice for parents of gender-questioning kids. Stella O’Malley decided to create an organisation for parents who didn’t feel that they could speak up.
Since our launch, we have helped to lift parents’ voices in a number of ways, including media appearances, our ROGD Awareness Day event, our Parent Advocacy Programme, and our sister website Genspect Unheard.
But that’s not all we’ve been doing. Right from the beginning, we’ve been supporting detransitioners behind the scenes, ensuring that their experiences are not overlooked by policy-makers, educators and journalists.
On March 12th 2022, we hosted an online event to mark Detrans Awareness Day. This gave detransitioners a platform to speak about their own experiences, in their own words.
Check out some of the clips, below.
All this culminated in our Beyond Transition Project, designed to help not just detransitioners but trans people dissatisfied with their medical care.
We’ve also been working with a range of other people, including teachers, educational support staff, journalists, producers, writers, therapists, doctors, social workers, and politicians.
We want to raise the bar on what constitutes good evidence for medical transition …
… and we want a healthy public debate about trans issues, inclusive of all voices.
In this fast-paced world, important decisions can be made in haste. We believe it’s time to slow the conversation down – and open the conversation up, as well.
And we think that most people – if fully informed – would share our rational approach to gender issues.

We’d love you to join us.

By joining Genspect, you’ll receive email updates, and advance notice of any upcoming events. You’ll also have the chance to subscribe to our online Community Forum, where you can meet people from all walks of life who share your outlook.
But most importantly, you’ll be part of a global movement to push for positive change.

Also, don’t forget to follow us on social media: we’re available on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

In the meantime, check out our resources.
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