How anti-trans activists misrepresent science in order to oppress transgender children

Jack Molay
3 min readApr 21, 2022

Anti-trans activist deliberately mix up different scientific approaches to gender variance in order to invalidate transgender kids and get their parents to dismiss their identities.

One of the most difficult parts of the transgender debate is that the complexity of the medical and scientific discourse regarding gender dysphoria and gender incongruence makes it hard to grasp what the terms mean, what they entail and what the status of research is as far as these topics are concerned.

This is made even more difficult as so many have a rather simplistic understanding of the scientific process, not grasping that science is always a work in progress and that scientists may be as biased and prejudices as the rest of us.

The editions of the American psychiatric manual differ greatly

The development of the various edition of the American psychiatric manual, the DSM, gives a clear example of this, as its various incarnations (DSM-III, DSM-IV and DSM-5) reflect different approaches to what makes trans people trans and what to do with it.

Researchers from the Toronto CAMH, including transphobes like Ray Blanchard and Kenneth Zucker, did for years try to hold back progress in this area, introducing — for instance — terms like “autogynephilia” to raise suspicion of the motives of trans people. Blanchard is currently helping transphobic activism by writing articles for TERF web sites and being interviewed by white supremacists.

Part of the narrative promoted by these and others is that there is an 80 percent desistance rate among transgender youth. That would mean that eight out of trans kids “get over it” eventually, and will thrive as cisgender. The idea is that their transgender phase was all about different shades of gender expression, not gender identity.

Parents who fear for the safety of their transgender kids lap this up in a false hope that it will go over and that everything will go back to normal.

The fact is that the real desistance rate among gender dysphoric kids who persistently and intensely insists on their gender identity is close to zero.

The misunderstanding is caused by the DSM-IV definition of what was then called “gender identity disorder”. This edition had such a wide definition of “gender identity disorder” that kids who violated traditional gender norms and expressions without having a trans gender identity were included.

Gender identity disorder vs. Gender dysphoria

The DSM-5 rectified this. The term “gender identity disorder” was abandoned, as being trans is not a disorder. And the term “gender dysphoria” covers a much smaller percentage of gender variant kids than the previous term.

Anti-transgender activists ignore this. Indeed, most of them continue to refer to the DSM-IV and the misleading research on desistance among trans kids. And researchers like Blanchard and Zucker, who represent a tiny minority in this field, help them.

Transadvocate has published an article that in detail documents the way transphobic activists and researchers manipulate science in order to get the narrative they want.

Transadvocate writes:

Pretending that DSM-IV GID [gender identity disorder] research applies to a DSM-5 GD [gender dysphoria] diagnosis is more than irresponsible, it’s possibly deadly. We’re no longer talking about a mixed group of non-GD GNC kids with a relative few GD kids mixed in; we’re talking about a group comprised of 100% GD kids.

People like Anderson and groups like Transgender Trend are actively preying on vulnerable parents, who are oftentimes both worried and confused. They lie, telling them that DSM-IV GID research proves that around 80% of DSM-5 GD kids will stop being transgender, facilitating the placement of these kids directly into the at-risk pool.

We may never know the suffering these ideological hucksters cause as they target vulnerable children and families…

Promoting DSM-IV GID data as if it were DSM-5 GD data isn’t only irrational, it’s dangerous. We are no longer talking about a mixed DSM-IV GID group comprised of 70% non-GD GNC kids and 30% GD kids, we’re talking about a DSM-5 GD group comprised of GD kids. Lying about this fact will result in needless and avoidable trauma and possibly death.

Read the whole article here.

What the DSM-5 says about gender dysphoria

Illustration: Lyudmyla Gutsol

Originally published at on April 21, 2022.



Jack Molay

Writer and news curator looking at everything transgender, nonbinary and queer.