Book Review of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigail Shrier

I first heard about this book when I was watching Joe Rogan’s podcast. It’s such a controversial book that this was one of the first of Rogan’s podcasts to be removed from YouTube. The next time I heard about it was from a colleague who recommended it to me as was recommended to him by another mental health care professional.

The culturally controversial aspect of this book is that it takes a deep dive into questioning whether transgenderism is the best and safest path for as many as seem to be on this path today. It takes a hard look at real consequences such as irreversible physical changes that occur with gender reassigning hormones and surgery. The author asks the tough question of whether or not changing genders is solving the mental health dilemma of so many girls today and whether patients are fully educated in their choices. Abigail, the author, has been called transphobic for asking these questions but, for the safety of the girls, I wonder why asking questions is so taboo.

Examples of risks of gender transitioning hormones include permanent voice changes and infertility. Testosterone can also increase the risk of heart problems and depression. Examples of risks of gender reassignment surgery include permanent inability to sexually climax and physical scarring. While affirming one’s gender may seem to help in the moment, for some, it could be a temporary band aid that covers other issues without fixing them. Social influencers on Tik Tok and YouTube don’t lay out risks but primarily showcase transitioning as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a grand spectacular event to be celebrated. There are also professionals that affirm and validate without weighing the pros and cons of transitioning or questioning the root cause of the desire for transitioning. For example, there are clinics in the U.S. where minors can easily get testosterone without the protective measures of a psychological exam, therapy, or follow up.

There is a risk worth noting that has been highly utilized to support transitioning. Well, is it a risk or a threat or both? Suicide. Many parents are truly scared for their child’s mental health if they don’t assist in, accept, and affirm the transitioning process. Is enabling happening in this situation? Manipulation? Is it truly in the best interest of the child long term? Are the people that ask these questions bad people, bad parents? To me, the beauty of this book is the encouragement of these conversations, the attempt to normalize the questioning itself. You don’t have to agree with everything the author says but she has things to say that are worth pondering.

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