Teenaged Girls in Progressive America

It’s not easy to be a teenage girl.  Nor is it easy to be a teenage boy.  The years-long passage from the shore of childhood to the opposite shore of adulthood can be a rocky passage.  Very rocky indeed.  As many of us remember.

A generation ago, tens of thousands of young girls (probably more) were troubled by anorexia or near-anorexia.  Thin girls developed the weird idea that they were significantly overweight.  And so they reduced their consumption of food.  In extreme cases, ultra-skinny girls tried to stop eating altogether.  Many began to look like prisoners at Auschwitz.  They were on the verge of death by starvation.

Today great numbers of teenage girls are being tormented by a newly fashionable idea, the idea of transgenderism, the crazy idea that, despite the fact that they have female bodies, they are, in truth, not girls but boys.  Somehow, they happened to get born into the wrong body.  This misfortune having taken place, it’s now imperative, they believe, that they be allowed to transition from female to male.

And they believe that adults around them – especially their parents, teachers, and doctors – have a duty to help them make this transition.  Help them, for instance, by treating them with “gender-affirming care” – male hormones, puberty blockers, or bodily mutilation, i.e., surgical amputation of their emerging breasts.

If the adults refuse to help, it must be – they’ve also been convinced – from “hate.”  Not only do these girls feel that they’re in the wrong body; they also feel that the adults who should most protect them are their great enemies.  How horrible it all is!  Many of these pitiable/crazy girls threaten suicide, and more than a few attempt it.

Boys, too, are trapped and tormented by this transgender lunacy.  But my guess is that the problem is far more common on average for girls.

Psychologically speaking, there’s a great similarity between the old anorexia craze and the new transgender craze.  That may give us reason to be optimistic.  The old lunacy faded away, so may the new lunacy.

But there’s a gigantic difference between the two lunacies.  In the old days, nobody affirmed the afflicted girls in their anorexia.  Nobody said to a girl who was as thin as a toothpick, “Oh dear me!  You are so fat!  How disgusting!  Don’t eat breakfast.  And if they force you to eat, try to throw up as soon as you’re finished.”


Nowadays, however, nearly half the nation affirms these poor girls in their lunacy, the “progressive” half, the ideological half that approves of and promotes the LGBTQIA+ agenda.  These are the same people who strongly approve of other odd things: e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage, open borders, atheism, and the idea that most white Americans are anti-black racists – and anti-brown racists to boot.  Transgenderism is part of that “progressive” package.

It’s these progressives who dominate America’s great organs of moral propaganda –journalism (print and electronic), the entertainment industry (TV, movies, popular music), higher education, public schools (many expensive private schools too), the pulpits of “liberal” religions, and the Democratic Party (my former party).

President Biden, our fellow Catholic, is the commander-in-chief not only of the armed forces, but of the progressive powerhouse.

The Catholic Church in the United States is not (at least not yet) a “liberal” religion.  But it’s halfway down that road.  To date (unlike truly liberal Protestant churches), it refuses to endorse the progressive agenda (except perhaps open borders), but it’s reluctant to condemn it.

Our bishops, with a few honorable exceptions, remind one of the bishops of King Henry VIII’s day.  Except for one (John Fisher of Rochester), they sat by timidly as the king closed the monasteries and de-papalized the Church.  By and large, our Catholic bishops do little to defend the Church against its progressive enemy.  Especially noteworthy is the silence, and sometimes muted progressivism, of the cardinals appointed by Pope Francis: Tobin of Newark, Cupich of Chicago, Gregory of D.C., and McElroy of San Diego.

And so here are these poor girls, in great daily pain because of their crazy belief that they are not girls at all, but boys.  And the most authoritative voices of American society, the voices of our cultural elites, instead of saying to these girls what was said to the anorexic girls of a generation ago, “You are mistaken.  You are suffering from a delusion.  Let us help you” – instead of saying this, our progressive elites say, “Many people are born into the wrong bodies.  You may well be one of them.  Let us help you with gender-affirming care.  Let us, for instance, provide you with a surgeon who will remove your breasts.”

For many years I have believed that the ultimate aim of present-day progressivism is the ruination of Christianity, Catholicism in particular.  Transgenderism goes a step beyond that.  Underlying Christianity are two fundamental beliefs expressed in the first article of the Nicene Creed: (a) the belief that God exists, and (b) the belief that God created an intelligible world that can be understood, at least in part, by the human mind.

The transgender ideology is an attack on the idea that the world is intelligible.  Instead, the ideology is an affirmation of the opposite idea, namely that the world has no objective existence.  Instead, things are what we SAY they are.  If we say that a girl is a boy, then she’s a boy.  And if we say that an unborn baby is not human, then it’s not human; and if we say that same-sex marriage is perfectly natural, then it’s perfectly natural.  Reality is what WE think it is, not what God thinks it is.

We haven’t yet reached the point at which progressives say, “2 plus 2 equals something other than 4.”  And some pushback to the trans craze has begun over the mutilation of children. But we’re close, and without strong leadership by the Church and other institutions, that’s where we’re headed.


*Image: Hot Wind by Charles Conder, 1889 [National Gallery of Australia, Canberra]

You may also enjoy:

Congregation for Catholic Education’s Male and Female He Created Them

Brad Miner’s Sex and Sport in Transition

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, and most recently Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church.