From Adult Males To Teenage Girls – The Movement From Etiology To Ideology


teenage girls
Referral rates of boys and girls to the Tavistock clinic


(Referral figures from Tavistock GIDS)

In the late Sixties, 90% of transsexual adults were male. Fifty years on and the latest published figures from the Tavistock clinic indicate that child referrals are almost 70% female.

In the year 2011/12 the overall referral rate of girls overtook boys for the first time. The latest referral figures saw the number of girls increase to more than double the number of boys and girls overtook boys in the under-12 age group for the first time (51.1%).

But it is in the 12 – 14 and 15 – 17.9 age groups that we see the biggest jump in referrals of girls: 74.4% and 71.4% respectively. Teenage referrals are over 70% girls. What we don’t know is the referral rate of girls over 17 years and 9 months who go straight to adult services but are still teenagers.


teenage girls

(Figures taken from FOI request)

Why is a condition historically associated with adult men manifesting primarily now in teenage girls? And what is the etiology which connects them?

The Blanchard typology of transsexualism in males presented two distinct etiologies: the homosexual male who is typically ‘feminine’ in childhood who ‘transitions’ early and ‘passes’ as a woman and the autogynephilic heterosexual male who is sexually aroused by the image of himself as female, who is typically ‘masculine’ and transitions later in life, often after a very ‘macho’ career. The term ‘autogynephilia’ was coined in 1989 by Ray Blanchard, but the idea of an erotic component to transsexualism has been around for over a century.

The fact that the majority of transsexual males are autogynephilic has been posited as a reason that transsexualism is far less common in women, as autogynephilia is unheard of in females. Although the ‘two type transsexual typography’ has been supported by research and accepted as credible by professionals and some autogynephilic transsexuals themselves, the idea has been eradicated from public discourse for political reasons.

Nevertheless, it is the only etiology we have and it is based on decades of clinical research and observation. What do we now have to replace it? Enter gender identity politics. Not an etiology but an ideology promoted by activist groups and campaigners, identity politics makes the claim that ‘gender identity’ is the true distinction between men and women. The political campaign for trans rights began by redefining the condition to make it more palatable to the public and, unlike ‘autogynephilia’ and ‘transsexualism,’ ‘gender identity’ and ‘transgender’ are sex-neutered terms which can therefore be applied to children.

There were no gender clinics for children in the UK in the Sixties; the first, the Tavistock, was established in London in 1989. Consistent with the adult male/female ratio, the service catered mainly to boys and referral numbers remained stable over the first two decades. Referrals began to rise more steeply from around the year 2009, the year that the Tavistock first received public funding. Since then referrals have increased by around 50% year on year until the year 2015/16 when numbers sky-rocketed.

teenage girls

Although actual numbers of boys and girls in the under-12 age group are not that different, in terms of the overall percentages of male referrals compared to female referrals since 2012, boys are proportionately more likely to be referred pre-puberty. According to Blanchard’s typology, these younger ‘feminine’ boys are likely to be ‘homosexual transsexuals’ in adulthood, or, far more commonly, simply gay men. According to the ‘gender identity’ model, they are ‘girls.’

teenage girls

The following graph makes clear that the pattern of referral for girls and boys is in direct inverse ratio based on the percentage for each age:

teenage girls

So what is the explanation for all these teenage girls who are suddenly inflating the referral figures?

The usual explanations for the overall rise in numbers (more visibility and acceptance of ‘trans’ people, more knowledge about services) do not suffice. They do not explain this huge discrepancy between boys and girls in the teenage years. Referring to this group as ‘young trans people’ just makes these girls invisible.

Only one part of Blanchard’s typology potentially fits: homosexual transsexualism. Lesbians with a history of childhood ‘cross gender’ play and interests could be said to have a similar profile to the young ‘feminine’ boys who grow up to be gay men or homosexual transsexuals. But how to explain the sudden recent increase in the number of lesbians who now see themselves not as lesbian but ‘trans guys’? Blanchard’s etiology has no answer to that. And what about the increasing number of teenage girls with ‘sudden onset’ gender dysphoria who were more typically ‘feminine’ in childhood and don’t fit any etiology?

In his talk at the Hot Topics in Child Health conference, Dr Thomas Steensma informed us that 10 – 13 years is the crucial period for gender identity development because of various social and developmental factors, including romantic and sexual attraction. If a girl who is being ‘affirmed’ as a boy feels same-sex attraction at this age she is likely to understand it as confirmation that she really is a boy. Added to the existing discrimination against lesbians is the fact that trans politics ensures that no-one will dare to suggest to her that this is what she is. There are no lesbian organisations going into schools to educate girls that ‘cross-gender’ preferences are more predictive of same-sex attraction in adulthood, not transsexualism. Some heterosexual girls, meanwhile, may try to hide their ‘cross-gender preferences’ (such as having an opinion or being good at Maths) in order to get a boyfriend, while others will find that denial of the self is too difficult. If it is in the early years that ‘cross-gender preferences’ are unacceptable in boys, for girls it is in the teenage years that non-conformity meets societal disapproval.

Another factor is the anticipation and experience of body changes. If puberty is ‘psychological torture’ for ‘trans kids’ as we were told at the GIRES presentation, that’s a description not unheard-of amongst women looking back at the time when their bodies first started betraying them to the world as female. ‘Gender dysphoria’ itself could be an apt description of what many girls go through during normal puberty and adolescence. Medicine is historically based on the male body and once again it seems that there is little attention paid to the female experience of puberty as distinct from the male.

What we do know is that teenagers are the group most likely to go forward to adult services and that there is a high incidence of significant associated difficulties in this group, such as self-harming behaviours, suicidal ideation, mental health issues and a link to autism spectrum disorders. We have written before about troubled teenage girls and the mental health problems which were unfortunately established long before girls started having ‘gender identity’ issues.

In the past, there have been some escape routes from the oppressive gender and sex-role stereotypes society applies to females. In the Sixties girls could embrace androgyny, in the Seventies Punk provided a way out. In the Eighties New Romantisism and gender-bending were the alternatives and in the Nineties into the Noughties Goths, Emos and Geeks were the tribes to join. But as popular culture, and in particular youth music culture, has become more hyper-sexualised for girls, escape routes have not only been closed down, but youth culture itself reinforces the sex-role stereotypes oppressive to teenage girls. Porn on smartphones passed around in school is now what they’re up against. Did cutting and self-harming evolve as a rejection aimed inwardly towards the self in place of the previous outward expressions of rebellion open to teenage girls?

Along comes a movement which deliberately confuses biological sex with the gender and sex-role stereotypes society attaches to each sex, and girls are misled into thinking that to reject the stereotypes means not only rejecting their actual sex but changing it to the opposite one. There has never been an escape route so complete, nor a tribe which welcomes you so enthusiastically, affirms both your specialness and your misunderstood victim status and promotes self-harming and drugs as the answer. The perfect cocktail for troubled adolescents, ‘trans’ is the latest teenage tribe to join for all kids who don’t fit in and it is obvious why it appeals to teenage girls more than boys. Everywhere a teenage girl looks today she is confronted by images of women groomed, waxed and toned to within an inch of their lives just to be ‘acceptable’ enough to appear on TV or in a magazine. Instagram celebrities set the bar even higher. You cannot be what you cannot see: gay men now have some cultural presence,  but where are the butch ‘dyke’ lesbians? Where are the women who simply refuse to conform to these impossible ‘ideals’? Today the most visible young women throughout the media who dare to completely reject the performance of femininity, and are celebrated for it, are ‘trans guys.’

Teenage girls are also the largest users of social media and the only counterpoint to the selfie culture girls are caught up in today is the ‘trans’ culture promoted across the internet as progressive, daring and subversive. If you are seeking out an alternative culture, this is the only one you will find. If you look to gaming communities, manga enthusiast groups, feminist groups (the ‘liberal’ kind which is mostly what you will see) or LGBT societies you will find that all these groups are devoted disciples of gender ideology. The only alternative is radical feminism but radical feminists are ‘bigots,’ everyone knows that. The internet is packed with cool, edgy YouTube videos with hundreds of thousands of followers, all extolling the virtues of being ‘transgender,’ such as this one. Unless you want to be seen as a boring conventional girl, today you have to have a ‘gender identity’ which does not ‘match’ the sex you were ‘assigned at birth.’

Not only is this new regressive ideology promoted as the only ‘counter-culture,’ packaged and sold to young people as a ‘youth movement,’ the idea behind it (your identity is what makes you a boy or a girl, your biological sex is irrelevant) is actually supported as the new truth by the media and society. Unlike other self-harming practices of recent decades, this one is sanctioned and trans activists are given free rein to persuade kids that medical transition is the only answer to common teenage angst.

In place of an etiology we have a new political orthodoxy which bypasses the need to find any explanation for the surge in ‘trans’ teenage girls. The agonies of female adolescence, the effects of porn culture on girls, the social isolation of non-conforming and ASD girls, the adolescent need to find a tribe and to fit in, the social hostility towards lesbians, teenage vulnerability to indoctrination and social contagion: everything we know is irrelevant and no exploration is necessary. The new ‘gender identity’ model allows only one explanation: these teenage girls are really boys.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Born Skeptical

    This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for writing this. The reasoning here is so sound. Of course, our teenagers are blind to these arguments, but why do the media, the mental healthy community, and the general public largely fail to recognize that something besides “born in the wrong body” is clearly going on here? Our kids have an excuse. The adults who buy into and further propagate this ideology don’t.

  2. LindaW

    It is so disturbing to me that if I was a teenager today, I would be identified as a boy by teachers, parents, counselors and others who are either caught up in or bullied into submission by the current ideology. Their discomfort with me seemed to stem from my refusal to act feminine (I didn’t do make-up, high heels, or anything like that). I wanted to be a scientist in a family where the only acceptable choice for a girl was to grow up and marry a doctor. I got a lot of grief for all this. If the transitioning to male option was available at that time, I think the attitude of the adults would have been that I was getting what I really wanted or deserved for being so obstinate in my behavior. I did grow up to be a scientist and also a wife and mother. I wonder how many of these child and adolescent transitions stem, at least in part, from adults who are not comfortable with a child’s behavior.

    1. Nicole

      Unfortunately, I am the mother of one of these teen girls who suddenly decided she was trans…completely out of the blue. I thought it was a phase, as I know at least 3 girls at her school acting the same way (and these are just kids I know that hang out with my kids, not to mention all the kids who claim to be bi, gay, and all the other labels I cannot remember). I was willing to try to let it play out (like her emo phase and her vegetarian phase), but when she still seemed miserable, talks about taking t when she turns 18 and now wants to shop in the men’s section, I decided I needed to do a little more research about the cause of this sudden onset of trans amongst teen girls.

      It is funny, because I wonder if I contributed to this due to not being feminine enough! Did I not expose my daughter to enough female behavior? I barely wear makeup (mascara and powder) to work and not on the weekends, don’t wear dresses or high heels, have an engineering degree (though I switched to teaching special ed when my daughter was in 6th grade), and I am the “math and science ” person in our family. I help my husband with construction projects around the house. We have never “assigned” gender roles in our family. My son did gymnastics for years. My “redneck” husband will be singing along the Mama Mia track while building a pergola. I would think we set up our kids to define stereotypes and embrace their interests, regardless of gender.

      So, I guess that leaves me with the other thought that being trans, bi, gay (and my daughter insists she likes boys, apparently she likes gay boys) is very prevalent and accepted on the web and at her school. We have taken away her internet. But, now I struggle with what to do about her school environment. In California, she can decide to be a boy at school and, by law, the school cannot tell me. Thanks, California.

      Anyhow, thank god that sites like this exist and let parents who know something is amiss that there is more than the simplest (and most prevalent) answer: your teen girl must transition to find life fulfillment. Now to figure out how to help her without a therapist (who will simply just agree with her, especially in California where other solutions are seen as “conversion therapy” and illegal.

    2. Braden

      Speaking as a transgender child (I found this article while trying to research legal issues relating to child social transition I am not here to attack anyone) you would not have been identified by teachers as a boy. I spent some years known as a girl who was a tomboy before I came out last year, and not a single adult ever suggested to me that I might be transgender. When I was perceived as male by other kids and teachers who didn’t know me, someone (never me!) always corrected them. They were defensive of my right to exist as a masculine female. It was very nice of them, and they couldn’t have known that this was at odds to what I actually wanted. In short, though, no one is getting diagnosed as transgender because they are noncomforming with their birth sex.

      1. LindaW

        I don’t know about your situation except for what you have written. But, I DO know that many people who are non-conforming with their birth sex are identified as transgender. Your thinking is too simplistic.

  3. MrsDK

    This applies to the situation in the U.S. in spades. Thank you so much for pulling this all together. So many parents have been absolutely abandoned by the schools, universities, scientists, and the entire medical community when faced with the unquestioning affirmation of this all-pervasive ideology. When will the facts finally be allowed to speak?

  4. Paul

    Thank you for the article. In the US on the West Coast Female to Male trans is pretty much an epidemic. In my relatively small community there are three kids I know of, including my daughter/son who are caught up in this trend. Six months ago I never really thought about this stuff as it did not interest me but now it is a daily chore.

    Having read at least four books on the subject (Diane Ehrensaft makes me ill), I really think that Janice Raymond nailed it – My largest concern is the medicalization of transgenderism. That this stuff is covered by health insurance is absurd which my friends are startled to hear. A quote from that article

    “The medical model is also a disease model. And here exactly is the rub. If transsexualism is treated as a disease, then does desire qualify as disease? As Thomas Szasz asked in his New York Times review of The Transsexual Empire, does an old person who wants to be young suffer from the “disease” of being a “transchronological, ” or does a poor person who wants to be rich suffer from the “disease” of being a “transeconomical”? Does a Black person who wants to be white suffer from the “disease” of being a “transracial”?

    All these questions, of course, raise larger social and political issues and remove these conjectural “diseases” from the medical/psychiatric framework.”

    My kid does not talk to me now. It reminds me of when my brother got involved in the Moonies in the 80s. Talk care everyone. The road will be rough. The drug companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

  5. sonia climes

    while no female i know is sexually excited by the thought of herself as a woman, i do think autoandrophilia might exist.. many examples of ftt in ‘gay’ marriages with men who are clearly not sex dysphoric getting pregnant and ‘chestfeeding’ the way they behave and selfishness, the relentless snowflake attention-seeking, the narcissistic rages and wanting the whole world to validate them by depriving women of their words… the sheer narcissism of it.. idk.. but it strikes me as awfully similar behaviour to the Agp’s cluster b personality disorder.. this does not include Ftt previously identitfying as lesbian though.. so i think there are definitely comparisons to the male trans demographic, but i think the ratios of het to homo are inverted..?

  6. sonia climes

    ..and why is anyone surprised that girls do not want to become women given the choices in this culture?

  7. KS

    Thank you everyone. I have been absolutely FREAKING out since my beautiful ONLY daughter who has been away at college for 2 years suddenly “came out” to me as “non-binary”. I am a physician for one of the finest hospital systems in this country, and I had ABSOLUTELY no idea what she was talking about. She is wearing male clothing, had her hair undercut (shaved at the bottom), and is wearing a Star Wars ball cap in the house, sideways. She is attending gay pride rallies and now is a member of the LGBTQIA community (there are more letters, but I just can’t keep up). She speaks of wanting to get her hands on testosterone, now buys only male fragrance items, and binds her chest. This is a child who played with baby dolls until she was 12 years old. My husband and I both behave in gender-neutral ways around the house. My husband was a stay-at-home dad when I was in medical school, and enjoys cleaning the house and doing laundry. He also loves muscle cars and every sport on television. I enjoy heavy-duty landscaping, light wood working, and refinishing furniture. I also love cooking and sewing, and I wear makeup, dresses and heels when I go to work. I know there are truly cross-gender people out there, as I was friends growing up with both a male and female who were non-gender conforming since they were 3 years old. I have read about the “transtrender” or “gendertrender” movement, and I believe this is what we are looking at. I find it interesting that one of the commenters said this was like when his brother joined the Moonies, because I was just speaking with my sister, and I told her that I think the LGBTQIA movement has become a cult, of sorts. I am so glad that I am not the only person in absolute despair about this situation.

    1. Paul

      I feel your pain. Just so you feel better there is nothing that you have done to make your child non-binary or trans. It is simply very fashionable now to pursue being gender-fluid with young people today. Unfortunately it is often seen as a medical condition, which is simply unethical and a bizarre notion when you step back and look at what is most often really going on with the person.

      My kid is back from college and now finally staying with us after burning a few bridges around town. I try to simply listen and keep the communication open. It is all you can do really, and realize that now is the time to for you to be selfish and enjoy your pursuits and spend time with your spouse. As a parent you have done all you can. I have written many letters to the local health care provider questioning the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. This may have had an effect, but modern medicine can seem like the dark ages in terms of transparency and communication.

      I do find it extremely strange that drug companies and studies are spending a lot of resources looking at the “outcomes” of things like testosterone therapy but do not even consider what are the causes – etiology. I agree with Paul McHughs with the quote below.

      “In an interview from his home in Baltimore, where he still sees patients, McHugh explained that the “duty of all doctors who propose a treatment is to know the nature of the problem they propose to treat. The issue of transgender [people] is, the vast majority coming for surgery now don’t have a biological reason but a psychosocial reason.”

      McHughs, a physician is a democrat, catholic and socially conservative. I do think he nails it here Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme.

      I am a feminist and love women. Hang in there. Strange times.

  8. Kristin

    So I’m up late for yet another night just trying to find clarity around parenting a teen daughter who sounds amazingly identical to everyone’s here. I absolutely think there is value in hearing we are not alone, but goodness, what do we do about it? I too find this extraordinarily painful, but I’m tired of being fearful and sad and whiny and just want to find some constructive ways to act.

    I began interviewing therapists today for our daughter. I’m terrified about connecting her with someone who will perpetuate the lie she has come to believe about herself. I started with a call to a general therapist that specializes in teenage girls. She was lovely in that she validated my position as a parent but went on to say that a gender identity specialist was more appropriate. Anyone else’s thoughts? What to do when apparently the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria limits ones skepticism by defining GID as a condition based solely on a teens opinion and the degree to which it is a long held opinion or a persistent pursuance of non-conforming behavior? Sort of seems like therapy then has a predetermined outcome…called…transition.

    If we parents, the only people who have known these girls longer and care for them more than anyone in the world, believe in our gut, that they are absolutely female, yet our daughters are equally determined in their position that they are male, what is our course of action? Is there a path, a framework, a method of regularly communicating with these teens, that teaches them to do some critical thinking and encourages them to also be skeptical?

    1. Paul

      DO NOT take your kid to a mental health professional. I would limit Internet use, make sure she gets plenty of sleep (yes, a bedtime) and a healthy diet. Spend quality time with her together away from the digital world. Go out in nature together without phones and distractions. The modern psychologists will simply want to look at this as a medical issue and prescribe hormones which is absurd. Psychologist have forgotten the confirmed scientific fact that human brains are not fully developed until they are 25.

    2. LW

      I agree with Paul, do NOT take your daughter to a gender therapist or any regular therapist. They cannot be trusted to do even a cursory evaluation of your daughter’s mental health, they will only confirm her trans identity. The only thing that I know of that seems to work is to find other teens who have been through the trans phase and either desisted from transition or detransitioned. Find her some peers who have taken another path.

    3. Nicole

      I think you know your daughter best and the best way to reach her. I have personally limited the net (told her to stay off trans videos and she has agreed), switched to independent study/charter school that meets 2x week, so less social pressure (which she also agreed), explained my position to my daughter, and showed her different articles. I tell her how much I love her. I tell her everything I do is to keep her safe and healthy. I have recently stopped talking about the trans stuff, as I can tell it annoys my daughter. My daughter seems like she is in a better place, but it is a work in progress.

      Oh, and no therapy for us. In California, anything not supporting the child is seem as “conversion” therapy and is illegal.

  9. Morag Kerr

    Free “rein”. Like with horses. Not reigning like monarchs. Just saying. #petpeeve

    1. Transgender Trend

      Noted and corrected, thank you. Don’t know how that stray ‘g’ got in there…

  10. ScaredMum

    My daughter will be referred to an adult gender clinic. She is 19. But her medical records and passport say she is male (all she needed was a letter from her gp). So how will the adult gender clinic record her? As male or female? We may never know. Statistics will be meaningless

  11. Jack Robinson

    Hi. Is there any statistic to prove “the age distribution of childhood referrals is different for girls compared to boys”. The graph on the left shows the age and gender split for the number of referrals, but I see no statistic on the tables that explains the graph.

    1. Transgender Trend

      Referral figures were from Tavistock GIDS and a FOI request – links added into the post!

      1. Jack Robinson

        Many thanks!

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