Typo? "Unfortunately, watchful waiting and compassionate support is not a practice that WPATH does not appear to recommend to medical and psychological practitioners ..." Do you mean "Unfortunately, watchful waiting and compassionate support is not a practice that WPATH [delete does not] appear to recommend to medical and psychological practitioners"?

Expand full comment

Yes, fixed. Thanks

Expand full comment

To head off potential confusion: The way you structured the sentence in paragraph 3 about the pantheon of popular delusions reads as if Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) is included in the delusions, but I’m certain you mean that the spike in Trans Identification is the delusion. In paragraph 6 you make it clear that ROGD is the rational observance of the phenomenon of primarily teenage females suddenly claiming transgender identities in droves. Thanks for all you have done to shed light on this lightning rod of a topic!

Expand full comment

You raise some valid points here. Unfortunately, your post fails to capture the complexity of the issue because, as long as it is, it overlooks one simple word.


And therein lies the problem.

I'm sure there are plenty of people in the medical profession who are too eager to do gender therapy. They think they're doing something noble, and they get carried away. It happens. Same reason why some (not all) climate scientists get carried away and go beyond the "look, this is happening, and it's going to require some serious adjustments" pragmatism to "OMGZ EARTH WILL DIE!" hyperalarmism.

But you simply can't talk about this issue without discussing the main impetus for considering gender therapy before age 18.

Again ... suicide.

I have a close relative who came out at age 14. Talk therapy started immediately. Hormone therapy didn't start for a few more years. She may be 21 before she gets surgery.

She's alive today because she learned in her tweens that there are other people like her. Take away that information, and she's probably dead.

This is an anecdote, yes. But the stats on suicidal ideation suggest she's not alone.

Does that mean we need to start giving 8-year-olds a bunch of hormones? I doubt it. But do we need to have deliberate, cautious conversations when kids are 14 or even 12? Of course.

I'd like to think that the amount of research time you spent on this post would suggest you're taking this topic seriously. Alas, no. To quote: "presumably to enhance his—sorry, her—erections."

Ha ha ha ha. That's funny. Except that the very simplest of gestures -- not surgery, not hormones, but simply acknowledging how someone's brain is wired and respecting it -- can be the difference between life or death.

We may not have all the details on that. I doubt the medical community has studied the brains of people who took their own lives while struggling with their own gender issues. Decades ago, they never would've voiced those issues at all, so they struggled and died in silence.

Skepticism sometimes means recognizing that no one knows everything, and we all have to approach the issue with humility. That's not what I'm reading here. I hope you can show that you're capable of this approach, or I'll need to take my leave of your work.


Expand full comment

Beau - first let me say that I have deep compassion for anyone struggling with suicidal ideation. I don't speak for Michael Shermer, but I believe that he does too. But I must address the thrust of your comment, which is predicated on the belief that trans-identified people are highly likely to attempt suicide if not affirmed in their identity. This is simply false, and it is a dangerous narrative to perpetuate. Here is a link to one of many sites that analyzes the research and debunks the "trans suicide myth": https://www.transgendertrend.com/the-suicide-myth/

Expand full comment

There are a few issues with that post -- mostly the word "myth." The gist of it lies on a fallacy: It has not been proved to my satisfaction; therefore, it is false.

The studies cited raise a few reasons why this is indeed very complex. Do transgender people have other issues -- autism, depression, etc. -- at higher rates than cisgender people, and if so, does that alone account for differences in suicide rates?

Not an easy question to answer. We would need decades of data and analysis that don't currently exist. We may need to know precisely what's different (or not) in the brain of a transgender or gender-questioning person.

To me, the data would suggest being cautious. Hormone therapy at age 8? No -- instead, try to be supportive as this person explores gender without doing anything that could have long-term physical effects. Wait until 18 to do *anything*, even just talk therapy and letting someone identify by chosen pronouns? I don't see evidence to suggest *that* is a good idea, either.

See this NIH survey, which essentially says, "Studies show an increase in suicidal ideation BUT more research is needed." OK. But the first part can't be ignored. And Michael ignored it here.


Expand full comment

Beau - first, I appreciate your balanced reply. This issue is such a volatile one that discussions often devolve quickly into misinformation, hyperbole, and snark.

I believe we agree that youth, young adults, and anyone who is psychologically vulnerable and seeking medical intervention should be treated with compassion but should also be treated with evidence-based care and should never be coerced into treatment.

I am the father of a trans-identified female, and was asked by an "expert" at a gender clinic, in my daughter's presence when she was 14, whether I preferred a live son or a dead daughter. This is emotional blackmail at its most egregious. And it is simply untrue. The only quality studies we have right now indicate that the rates of attempted and completed suicides among trans-identified people is no higher than the rates among people with the same co-morbid psychological conditions that typically accompany trans-identification. Any suicide is one too many, but instilling fear in parents that suicide is highly likely if gender interventions do not take place? And even worse, suggesting to teens and young adults that they are likely to commit suicide if they don't transition?

I have devoted the past 4 years to learning absolutely everything possible about gender medicine, and as the WPATH files elucidate, the scientific foundation of gender interventions is worryingly weak. So I could not agree more with your words about caution.

I believe as we learn more over the next decade about the ramifications of the "gender affirmative" model of care, this is going to become the most devastating medical scandal ever to affect teens and young adults. I wish I were wrong, but I fear I am right.

Expand full comment

I hope you're wrong. Either way, all the best to you and your daughter.

Expand full comment

Great recapitulation. I'd almost forgotten some of these once-popular misconstrued destructive cultural trends. I had a friend who was steam-rollered by

the multiple personality scam thanks to an unscrupulous psychiatrist called Eugene Bliss. He wrote a book titled "Andrea Through a Prism" that described Mary R as a multiple personality, though she denied it. She was a brilliant dedicated person who was, ironically, a pioneer for protecting women with mental illness in supportive housing. Not long after the book was published i think she committed suicide although her cause of death was not disclosed.

Expand full comment

Great piece overall, but I don't think a witch craze is an example of an economic bubble. No big deal, but it is a bit distracting.

Expand full comment

I must have missed the phenomenon some years ago when a number of people who would later go on to join WPATH must have clearly been - "assigned idiot" - at birth. The amoral recklessness exhibited by these "professionals" is really quite breathtaking. Needless to say I long to hear their testimony as part of class action lawsuits files agains WPATH and ANY organization utilizing their protocols.

Expand full comment

Agree with many posts here. Think people involved in this issue, once adults of “sound mind” should be able to do what they decide with their own bodies/personhood. I’m 75 years old; and I do wonder why/how this issue has grown to such proportions, pretty much only over the past 10-15 years, tho. “Something” has changed…

Expand full comment

It's about social media hits, the dumber, crazier, scarier the more clicks! More Clicks= more $$. Always been this way. See " National Enquirer" in the 80s

Expand full comment

That is correct. The part of the brain that controls physiological responses is called the hypoyhalamus, and if its normal development during gestation is interfered with, the result can be inappropriate sexual responses and emotions later in life.

Chemical released into the environment from plastc manufacturing are so much like estrogen that if a woman eats or drinks something containing them at the critical stage of her pregnancy the fetus gets a false signal and fails to develop proper sexual responses.

Autopsies done on homosexual men show malformation of the hypothalamus compared to normal men. That is why homosexuality is so resistant to treatment by psychological means. So far, no effective treatment is known. Much research needs to be done, but it must be done by neurologists and biochemists, not psychologists.

Although untold numbers of homosexuals and other sexually confused individuals are already adults and probably cannot be cured, such disorders could be prevented, at least in large part, by tight environmental protection legislation.

These chemicals have been put into our food and water supply in huge amounts over recent decades and the great increase in the number of people suffering from homosexuality and delusions of belonging to the other sex is a direct result. Homosexuals and so-called ''transexuals'' should be considered as victims of environmental pollution, not as a social or psychological issue.

Expand full comment

The statement you've provided contains several inaccuracies and misconceptions about the causes of homosexuality and transgender identity, as well as misunderstandings about the role of the hypothalamus in sexual development. Here's a breakdown of the errors:

Hypothalamus Misconception: The hypothalamus does play a role in regulating certain physiological responses, including some aspects of sexual behavior. However, the statement oversimplifies its role and the complexity of sexual orientation and gender identity development.

Chemicals and Development: While it's true that certain chemicals can act as endocrine disruptors and potentially affect fetal development, there's no conclusive evidence linking exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy to the development of homosexuality or transgender identity.

Autopsy Studies: The statement about autopsies showing malformations in the hypothalamus of homosexual men is misleading. Some studies have suggested differences in certain areas of the brain, including the hypothalamus, between homosexual and heterosexual individuals, but these findings are not universally accepted and do not imply malformation. Additionally, sexual orientation is not solely determined by brain structure.

Treatment of Homosexuality: The notion that homosexuality is a disorder that requires treatment is outdated and incorrect. Major medical and psychological organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization, no longer consider homosexuality a mental disorder and do not endorse attempts to change sexual orientation.

Prevention through Legislation: The idea that sexual orientation can be prevented through environmental protection legislation is unfounded. Sexual orientation is a complex trait influenced by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors, and it is not considered a disorder that needs to be prevented.

Environmental Pollution: The claim that the increase in the number of people identifying as homosexual or transgender is due to environmental pollution is not supported by scientific evidence. While environmental factors may play a role in health and development, there is no direct link to sexual orientation or gender identity.

23rd commenter

Expand full comment

If you disagree that sexual disorders are caused at least in large part by environmental factors, what do you think is responsible? And if your reply is, ''Psychological factors'', why do you think so?

Humans are first and most importantly, a biological species, an animal, not a socio-psychological construct. It is common among intellectuals, a small sub-culture with an exagererated idea of their own importance, to ignore the fundamental biological nature of man and imagine that humans are born as a blank slate and society through their upbringing can write what ever it pleases on it. This is a common leftist falacy held for obvious political reasons by the late Soviet Union and not suported by science.

If you think there are other BIOLOGICAL, PHYSICAL, PSYSIOLOGICAL factors involved in causing sexual devience, please be explicit. What are the other factors? If you are refering to social or psychological factors, I regard those as mere fanasies, not suported by solid evidence.

You cite two organizations with zero credibility. Of course a psychological organizaation would push the idea that a disability is within their area of claimed expertise. That people with a vested interest in psychology make such a claim does not make it true. And the WHO is a political organization that has no standing to determine what is true or false in scientific fact. That can only be established by open debate in scientific journals among people doing research in the field. An appeal to authoriy is not a valid argument in science.

Sexual problems such as homosexuality and other sexual disorders are a medical issue and should be treated like any other birth defect. The fact that no successful treatment is currently known is a reason to conduct research to find a cure, not to abandon all hope of ever finding one by bowing to demands of fanatical homosexuals who want the normal members of society to accept them as normal.

There are deaf people who want to accepted as normal also, and refuse to admit they have a defect; do you think being deaf is as good as being able to hear? Homosexuality is a serious birth defect, the most serious of all from a species-centric standpoint since it prevents reproduction and there is no rational reason to accept the victims of this and related conditions as anything other than disabled.

If I was asked to have a talk with a young person who was confused about his or her gender identity, I would tell them they were abnormal just as a child born with no arms or legs is abnormal. It is not an insult to say that victims of thalidamide are disabled because they were exposed before birth to a drug that made them defective. Why is it considered a reproach to say the same of a person born without a normal set of sexual feelings?

And I would NEVER, EVER, validate their feelings or show ''respect'' for their fantasies, That might seem the kindest thing to do, but in the long run it is the abandonment of a search for a cure that might be found someday.

Expand full comment

Yes, I agree with you, it is biological; it makes sense. Exactly what who knows but as you said there are a lot of chemicals in our environment now. It may be the same thing re autism (but vaccinations seem to have been ruled out).

Expand full comment

According to your graph 2010 is where the switch between more females experienced gender dysphoria. Your words say 2015. You would think an article talking about sloppy science wouldn't be sloppy?

Expand full comment

Hi James, I'm curious to know...whether it was 2010 or 2015, how do you react to the knowledge that historically over 90% of people presenting at gender clinics were male and that in the past 15 years that has changed to over 80% female? Whether or not M. Shermer made an error, this is a much more substantial question. How do you respond?

Expand full comment

In 2010 it shows like 15 TOTAL patients. With a population over 300 million in the US , TBH, this subject is a who cares in my book. If 10 out of 350million people chose a different life path then me.. who cares and why does Shermer Care. It's an overblown, made up issue!

Expand full comment

James: You are correct in that it is not just difficult but nearly impossible to acquire accurate data about medical care outcomes (including satisfaction, complications, and regret rates) for trans-identified people in the US. There are a variety of reasons for this, primarily because US healthcare is privatized. The most reliable data available comes from countries with nationalized healthcare, such as the UK, the Scandinavian countries, and the Netherlands. In response to your second comment, where do I come by my statements, here is a link that will help you understand that this is far from an "overblown, made up issue": https://statsforgender.org/demographics/

Expand full comment

Where you come by your statements?

My doctors office doesn't track patients on a daily basis by sex? Historically 90% male is a fishy stat? Who does the counting by sex? It's not available at CDC site?

Expand full comment

How the f--- does a skeptic un ironically quote the phrase "moral arc"? A modicum of skepticism should not let that concept survive.

Expand full comment

The problem with including DARE into this list is that EUDAP's drug prevention program: Unplugged, is effective and uses a very similar educational curriculum.

Expand full comment

So disappointed. I was very excited to learn about Skeptic.com recently, as this world is so full of gaslighting, snake oil, and selfishness.

I was shocked by the lack of professionalism in this article. It is so clear that the author has an agenda and is cherry-picking juicy items, often without sharing context. I appreciate these comments, which appear to have taken more time and thought to complete than the article (including those in support)!

Compare his piece to this article on the same topic: https://www.erininthemorning.com/p/fact-check-216-instances-of-factual

Does Erin have a “side” in this? Sure she does. But note the attempts to be scientific, thorough, and Skeptical. I would have expected a sober, balanced discussion considering the risks and benefits of gender-affirming care from a self-proclaimed skeptic. Just another hack with his own personal agenda. Unsubscribe with me, y’all!

Expand full comment

once you read the actual evidence and not the highly editorialized content, this amounts to a large pile of much ado about nothing. What you end up with is a rather normal set of discussions among clinicians about best practices and specific patients/cases of interest or focus.

I am disappointed that you are disrespectful of the people you write about, use inflammatory language, appeal to emotion, and misrepresent and mischaracterize the content and evidence, and add your own rather loaded commentary that is there to be hurtful and inflammatory. You very carefully select your straw men to knock down, to say nothing of the complete lack of a constructive approach.

You have fallen short of not only your own position as a skeptic who follows the data/evidence/science, but also short of your own ever expanding moral circle. In doing so you ultimately undermined the article's credibility and potential to contribute to a meaningful discussion on the topic, as well as your own.

I now find that it is reasonable to question whether your approach in this article reflects a broader pattern in your work or if it is an isolated incident. One hopes the latter, but expects the former.

The only thing you do manage to highlight, as do the professionals in those screenshots, is that there is a gaps in data that is being identified and filled. But as opposed to helping with that endeavor, or making a call for others to help so we can do this better and do it right, I suppose it is easier to insult, denigrate, and induce fear, uncertainty, and doubt to fuel the clicks and stoke the fires of anger. So not a skeptic, but cosplays as one while grinding your axes.

Expand full comment

Excellent, as usual. Thanks.

BTW, you write, "Unfortunately, watchful waiting and compassionate support is not a practice that WPATH does not appear to recommend to medical and psychological practitioners; instead, “gender affirming care” calls for them to go along ..."

I believe you have one too many "not"s in the above.

Expand full comment

There is another aspect to this subject that is seldom mentioned: the biological pre-natal brain damage caused by a pregnant woman ingesting hormone-mimicking chemicals released into the environment in the manufacture of plastic. If taken in by the fetus at the stage when the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls physiological responses, including sexual response, is forming, these artificial substances can affect sexual behavior in the adult.

These environmental contaminants have multiplied enormously in recent decaeds, and the huge increase in numbers of homosexuals is a predictable result. The more recent phenomena of people thinking they belong to the other sex is likewise a symptom of pre-natal poisoning. Both homosexuals and ''transexuals'' are victims of the rush to deploy new technologies before there is sufficient information on potential consequences.

Expand full comment

This claim is baseless and perpetuates harmful myths. There is no scientific evidence linking environmental chemicals to homosexuality or transgender identity. Sexual orientation and gender identity are complex traits influenced by a variety of factors, and it's incorrect and offensive to label them as the result of "pre-natal brain damage" or "poisoning." Such statements only serve to stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals. Let's focus on facts and respect, not unfounded theories and prejudice. Social contagion is a real phenomenon you ignore.

Expand full comment

You say, "brain damage caused by a pregnant woman " hmm.

Expand full comment

First I agree with your hypothesis, but how do we study that? We all start Female.. many plasticizers mimic estrogen so I could see the male fetus developing female traits but doesn't explain women becoming men. Unless adding so much estrogen causes overproduction of testosterone in developing female fetus? It's not anything I ever here discussed on this issue which is unfortunate.

Expand full comment

Wrong. Female is not the default se of embryos.


Expand full comment

The egg prior to fertilization is female..

Expand full comment

You did not read the link.

Embryo has both capacities inherent.

Not a female default.

Expand full comment


Actually you misunderstand my comment, all Eggs are Female. It's not until a Y chromosome from a sperm gets expressed do you have a male. Embryo is a stage after fertilization for the first 6 weeks we are female.

Expand full comment

The embryonic stage is being poisoned with all sorts of endocrine disrupting chemicals at this stage, its not amazing we have gender dysphoria.

Expand full comment

Aside from gender disorder there are numerous other forms of what in any other species would be called ''environmentally-induced reproductive failure''. Low sperm counts, miscariages, stillbirths, birth defects, childhood cancer and leukemia, etc. All of which are linked to exposure to environmental toxins.

Plus, the more than 4,000,000 prescriptions a year for viagra, the world's best selling drug. A man needing viagra before the age of 80 is seriously ill, even if he has no other symptoms.

Gender confusion is only one of the many symptoms of the toxic world we live in as a result of the mad rush to utilize every new technology. Taken together, they spell out a major decline in fertility in the most industrialized countries, where fertility has fallen below replacement rate and population growth is driven only by immigration from less developed countries where fertility remains high.

The view that low birth rates are due to ''empowered wemen'' choosing to use contraception is not correct. It fails to take into account the vast increase in infertile couples resorting to artificial fertility help and the survival due to modern medical interventions of many infants who are born with less than normal immune systems or other defects and would die under natural conditions. If not for those two factors the fertility crisis would be even more obvious than it is.

Modern civilization has made a Faustian bargin and the sudden prevailence of gender confusion in seemingly healthy young people is one of the many symptoms of this suicide on the installment plan.

Expand full comment