When Matt Walsh reported that Vanderbilt Hospital was performing double mastectomies on minors, “critics” said his reporting was “going to get people hurt or even killed.” Others said he was “targeting” the clinic. And similar reporting yielded accusations that Walsh was committing “stochastic terrorism.”
The typical response to reporting like Walsh’s had been to suggest that it was not true. Last year, GLAAD claimed that there was “[zero] evidence” that minors “take hormones or receive transition-related surgeries.” In March, the Human Rights Counsel denied that transgender surgeries were being performed on children. Alejandra Caraballo, a prominent trans activist, said the idea that anyone was “performing surgeries on children” was a “complete lie,” and the Boston Globe scoffed at the notion that surgeons were “‘carving up’ children to change their sex.”
But on Monday, the New York Times reported on the very same fact pattern Walsh identified at Vanderbilt, except at national scale. In a piece titled “More Trans Teens Are Choosing ‘Top Surgery,'” the Times confirmed that “top surgery”—removing the breasts of otherwise-healthy female patients confused about their sex—is performed on children across the United States. The practice is not rare, nor is it limited to 17-year-olds. One doctor told the Times that she had removed the healthy breasts of patients as young as 13 and 14 years old. A plastic surgeon said the number of top surgeries for minors at her clinic had “exploded” in recent years. Several of the hospitals interviewed by the Times “reported long waiting lists” for minors seeking top surgery.
The piece itself, written by Azeen Ghorayshi, is more balanced than most national reporting on trans issues. Ghorayshi mentions, for example, that some children regret having had the surgery. She also admits the limitations of some of the studies cited by trans activists. But the piece is generally favorable to their cause. She argues that studies show that for adults, top surgery “relieves body-related distress, increases sexual satisfaction and improves overall quality of life,” and can have “similar benefits in the short term” for minors.
Ghorayshi and Walsh were observing the same fact pattern. But Walsh, noticing and condemning the same development that progressives welcome and celebrate, was called a terrorist. It is a textbook example of Michael Anton’s “celebration parallax”—a fact is deemed either true or false based on whether the person observing celebrates it.
Trans activists are making similar moves in response to Ghorayshi’s piece. Caraballo, for example, now insists that no one claimed “top surgeries don’t happen.” Instead, she says, activists are “saying genital surgeries don’t happen with minors.” That’s not true—as Libs of TikTok reported, and for which they were ultimately suspended from Twitter, some hospitals do, in fact, perform “gender-affirming” hysterectomies on children as young as 16. Like Walsh with top surgery, anyone who notices and fails to celebrate this new frontier will be met with a chorus of denials and denunciations.
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It is worth considering why the Times, which is politically and philosophically wedded to the claims of transgenderism, would run a piece admitting that top surgeries are being performed on minors across the United States. Perhaps they did so to get out in front of what they suspect is a coming deluge of regret and recriminations from young people sold a bill of goods by the trans lobby. More likely, I think, is that they want to frame the coming debate in terms favorable to their side: should we start carving up “trans people” at 17 or 18?
That framing is not favorable to our side. Neither is it grounded in truth. There is no such thing as a “trans kid,” who needs to be “protected” from puberty. In fact, there is no such thing as a “trans person”; there are people who identify as “trans,” and people who have gender dysphoria. There are people with chromosomal abnormalities, people with psychological scars, and people swept up in a social contagion. But there is no essential category of being denoted by the word “trans.” There are men, and there are women, real people, children and adults, with gender dysphoria who deserve better than lies and mutilation.
One girl who underwent top surgery told the Times that the surgery took from her “something about myself that I could have loved, I could have enjoyed, I could have used to feed children.” She exists, even if the critics say she does not.