PAMELA GARFIELD-JAEGER: It's just a pronoun—or is it?

The following is an excerpt from the new book, "A Practical Response to Gender Distress, Tips and Tools for Families”, available on Amazon.

New personal pronouns can seem harmless and fun, and they are considered inclusive by many people, such as teachers and medical professionals. However, it can be dangerous to tell young children that they can use any pronoun they want. As a seasoned mental health professional, let me explain some reasons why the use of new personal pronouns is harmful for developing children.

  • It’s the first step of being pulled into an ideology that can lead to dangerous and irreversible medical interventions. If a child is given praise for identifying as a different gender and called by a different pronoun or name from an early age, it’s more difficult to reverse that course as the child gets older and deeper into the ideology. The stakes get higher.
  • Alternate pronouns instruct children not to accept who they are, but to seek attention for being something they aren’t. This message is the exact opposite of what traditional feminists have been trying to give to little girls for years, which is to love and embrace themselves as girls. This is a harmful message to all young people during an impressionable time while they are forming their sense of self.
  • This practice is harmful to the small percentage of children who struggle with genuine gender dysphoria and need appropriate attention. If large numbers of children are using alternative pronouns for fun, leverage, or power, how can we know who needs the appropriate support? Many of these dysphoric children have sexual or other trauma in their histories, and they need to be addressed.
  • The introduction of a new pronoun is the first step in dividing children from their families. Families who don’t agree, or who simply have questions, often get torn apart over this ideology. Even families who initially agree with the premise of different gender identities later learn that their children are being groomed to view their own family as an enemy.
In the Substack “Parents With Inconvenient Truths About Trans,” a mom drafted an essay titled “How it Started: How Gender Ideology Has Ruined Our Right to a Family Life.”

Specifically, the mother writes: “Don’t get me wrong, it started off fun and interesting. Pride marches, badges, posters, music, and flags. So many flags! Then the lockdown happened. I started intensely researching and I, a lifelong, radical, alternative woman and feminist, did not like what I was learning. ... I am not denying anyone’s existence, we are still loving supportive parents, but I regret not realizing sooner what was going on. ... It became clear, despite all the support and information and discussions, that things were not improving, and we compromised and permitted them to use their new names at school.”

Using a new pronoun and new name divides children from their most important support system—their families—and aligns them instead with adults (such as teachers and therapists) who do not care about them in the same way.
  1. Changing pronouns prevents children from forming authentic social connections. If they are pretending to be something they aren’t just to fit in or get attention, children can’t form healthy relationships.
  2. Unchecked self-identification gives the message that anyone can enter private, vulnerable spaces. At best, allowing people to arbitrarily choose gender, or reinforce the concept that gender is fluid, makes many girls uncomfortable when they have to share their private spaces with people they wouldn’t otherwise. At worst, this opens a window for predatory boys and men who may take advantage. Unfortunately, these incidents have indeed happened. There was a publicized case in 2021 in Loudoun County, Virginia, where a high school boy who identified as a girl raped two girls in school bathrooms. The school attempted to cover up the incident.
  3. Choosing new pronouns provides an incredible sense of power. Under these new rules, not only can the child not be questioned about their choice, but they can also then wield that power over anyone whom they choose. This is especially enticing for a child who has a trauma history and already feels very powerless. Unfortunately, this type of power is not good for a floundering teen who needs guidance and structure.
  4. The notion of gender fluidity divorces children from reality, which is the goal in any “critical” theory. If a child can choose to be an obvious “wrong” gender, what reality do they have to accept? “Neopronouns” (or made-up words) are becoming more popular among young people and are blurring the lines between imagination and reality. The New York Times validated neopronouns in an article dated Aug. 12, 2023, titled “A Guide to Neopronouns, From ae to ze.” The article states that neopronouns include terms such as “xe” and “em,” and some of them even date back several centuries, when they were introduced by writers as a solution for referring to subjects without referring to gender. Other fictitious pronouns such as “frog/frog-self,” “peach/peach-self,” “ghost/ghost-self,” and other whimsical identities are being acknowledged as serious in certain circles.
  5. Changing pronouns encourages narcissism. This gives a message to the child that the world revolves around them, that their perspective is more important than everyone else’s, and that the child can dictate their own terms.
  6. Pronouns create social anxiety. Children feel pressured to choose a new pronoun, making them feel locked into an impulsive choice. In addition, with peers changing identities often, this is also a source of anxiety. The policing of the pronouns creates tremendous social pressure and division among youth.
Many people often think, “It’s just a pronoun.” But consider how chaotic and confusing it is for children who are growing up in a world where reality is being changed at every moment, teachers and friends are demanding speech, girls don’t feel safe, the people they care about are being divided, and they are being led down a path to a lifetime of medicalization.

As George Orwell said, “There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.”

Children need structure, and they look to adults to provide that for them.

Pamela Garfield-Jaeger is a licensed clinical social worker. She completed her MSW in 1999 from New York University. She has a variety of experience in schools, group homes, hospitals and community-based organizations as a clinician and supervisor. Pamela has dedicated herself to educate parents and embolden other mental health professionals to challenge the ideological capture of her profession. www.thetruthfultherapist.orgPamela is the author of the new book,"A Practical Response to Gender Distress" , available on Amazon.

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