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A Controversial Trend on Israel’s Doorstep: Ms. Abigail Shrier Brings the Transgender Debate to Tel Aviv
Ms. Abigail Shrier held an event in Tel Aviv to celebrate the Hebrew launch of her book, "Irreversible Damage", while hundreds of activists protested outside the venue.
“Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters”
“Transgender Ideology” is an issue that’s delicate, and painful for many involved. I attended a book launch event that took place in Tel Aviv last week for a book that discusses this complicated topic.
“Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” was written by journalist and author Ms. Abigail Shrier, and thoroughly explores a sharp increase in young girls identifying as transgender.
As written in the book, (p. 26) “Between 2016-2017 a number of gender surgeries for natal females in the U.S. quadrupled with biological women”. Ms. Shrier states that while gender dysphoria has a 100-year history of diagnosis, it has historically presented mostly among very young boys, usually between the ages of 2-4 years old. Some boys grew out of their gender dysphoria, some grew up to be gay men, and some remained what used to be called “transsexual”. The explosion of gender reassignment surgeries among adolescent girls suggests that there’s something going on beyond classic clinical cases of gender dysphoria.
Ms. Shrier’s book is an investigation into why so many girls are suddenly deciding they have a problem with their gender, and why it’s so relatively easy for them to obtain hormones and puberty blockers, which are made available in some cases to adolescents after one visit to a health practitioner. Ms. Shrier explores the path, that she calls a “social contagion”, which leads a growing number of girls towards gender transition. That path includes a steady stream of messaging on social media from transgender influencers with huge reach making the journey look attractive to youth. At the same time, a growing number of medical practitioners, therapists, and educators actively encourage adolescents to explore this path, despite the lack of data about the long-term harms that come from physical interventions.
The book also discusses the difficulty that faces those in the medical field who attempt to bring attention to the potential risks of physical transitioning. In addition, Ms. Shrier speaks with people who regret physically intervening in their natural growth process, and the hardships they endure as they try to undo the harms that were done to them.
From the book description:
“Until just a few years ago, gender dysphoria—severe discomfort in one’s biological sex—was vanishingly rare. It was typically found in less than .01 percent of the population, emerged in early childhood, and afflicted males almost exclusively.
But today whole groups of female friends in colleges, high schools, and even middle schools across the country are coming out as ‘transgender.’ These are girls who had never experienced any discomfort in their biological sex until they heard a coming-out story from a speaker at a school assembly or discovered the internet community of trans ‘influencers.’
Unsuspecting parents are awakening to find their daughters in thrall to hip trans-YouTube stars and ‘gender-affirming’ educators and therapists who push life-changing interventions on young girls—including medically unnecessary double mastectomies and puberty blockers that can cause permanent infertility.”
Ms. Shrier Speaks in Israel
“Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” was recently translated into Hebrew and released in Israel. The publisher of the book, Sella Meir, held an event together with Ms. Shrier to celebrate the launch of the book. As news of the event spread on social media, calls to remove the book from bookstores and to protest the event venue grew. The booked venue backed out of the event, as did the second venue, due to the pressure. A third venue stood strong and hosted the event.
The venue was a small and quiet room with modest refreshments, filled with interested and concerned Israelis, most of whom came to hear what Ms. Shrier had to share. Some were parents who observed the trend beginning among their own children or their children’s peers. Some were there to challenge Ms. Shrier on her statements about the dangers of “transgender ideology.” Others in attendance were advocates or attorneys for “de-transitioners” who had gone through a physical gender transition and are now suing the practitioners who performed the irreversible medical practices.
What follows is a description and video of the event as I experienced it.
Transgender activists and their supporters showed up to protest the event. A crowd of hundreds waving flags of all stripes and colors chanted, shouted, banged drums, and sounded sirens outside the venue where the event was held. Security barriers separated the protestors from those attending the event, and, upon presenting confirmation of ticket purchase with a police officer, ticket-holders for the event were escorted into the building, and the ruckus outside continued throughout the entire event.
Less than five minutes after Ms. Shrier began her presentation, a teenage front-row attendee approached the stage, wearing a backpack. She took a couple of steps toward Ms. Shrier, and then up onto the stage where Ms. Shrier sat, saying “Hello Ms. Shrier. I was wondering-“. That’s as far as she got before the crowd intervened, shouting at her for interrupting. Two men sitting in the front row physically prevented the protester from reaching Ms. Shrier, who instinctively cowered defensively in her seat as the protester approached her. The scene quickly turned into a shouting spectacle in which both the young protestor and the audience were yelling about trans rights, bodily choice, and “murderous bigotry”, while the men managed to physically remove the protester and her companion from the room.
The teenage protester apparently uploaded a video of the event on Twitter, along with what unfolded from her point of view:
Watch! (Out of respect for the age of the protester, who is a minor, parts of the video are concealed)
The presentation continued with an informative and lively discussion about challenges, trends, and what the actual practice of “transgender ideology” and medical transitioning entails. Ms. Shrier emphasized how important it is for the people of Israel to reject “transgender ideology” before it has the opportunity to wreak “irreversible damage” on countless girls, destroying their families in the process as well.
Ms. Shrier was well-received, with multiple rounds of applause and cheers for various statements related to staying grounded in reality and raising independent children. During the Q&A, a respectful young adult pushed back on Ms. Shrier’s conclusions and called her credentials into question by pointing out that Ms. Shrier is not a licensed therapist. Ms. Shrier took the questions seriously and responded with a detailed explanation as to how she came to her conclusions, which includes speaking to a thousand parents, doctors, therapists, and others. She practiced journalism and stumbled into a fast-growing, dangerous trend. When Ms. Shrier was asked why doctors themselves aren’t speaking out she responded, in a theme that’s become familiar lately, that doctors would be risking their careers if they push back on this issue.
Leaving the venue was as challenging as arriving, with hundreds of protestors shouting extreme epithets, tossing water, and following guests away from the venue. A few police officers escorted as many people as they could as far as they could, but they couldn’t prevent one protestor from breaking through the barrier and hitting a guest as he walked away from the venue.
All in all, I left the event informed and a bit shaken. The nature of the protest felt militant and well-organized, and the deep hatred some protesters had for people walking into the event was palpable.
This is not the sort of environment we’re used to here in Israel. We can be loud, chaotic, argumentative, realistic, unrealistic, very passionate, and we protest things at the drop of a hat, but attempting to shut down speakers and successfully pressuring venues to cancel events is a new level of societal hysteria.
Trends in Israel often lag trends in the US by at least a few years, and it appears that the concerted effort to envelope society in an ideology that actively encourages youth to “explore their gender identity” has arrived on Israel’s doorstep. While transgender people in Israel have always existed, similar to the thesis of Ms. Shrier’s book, there has been an explosion of attention, politics, and events surrounding the topic of transgender people and transgenderism in recent years.
I did some basic digging to understand what kind of physical interventions are available to transgender adults and minors in Israel, if any.
Gender Transitions in Israel
There is one major Transgender Health Clinic in Israel, under the auspices of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Though most of the Ichilov website has an English version in addition to the Hebrew version, the Department of “Transgender Health” is only available in Hebrew, and in fact, is only accessible through the Hebrew version of the site.
A 2016 article featuring the Ichilov Pediatric Gender Clinic titled “How one controversial Tel Aviv clinic is helping transgender youth” stated the following, quoting among others, Dr. Asaf Oren, then-director of the Ichilov Transgender Pediatric Health Clinic who tacitly admitted that kids as young as 11 were receiving puberty blockers, which he claimed were reversible with “virtually no side effects.”
A deeper look into the trail to access the pages for transgender care at Ichilov reveals a seemingly deliberate attempt to keep access only to Hebrew speakers, buried far in the site.
Adult Transgender Health Clinic – Hebrew vs. English:
The path to reaching the Hebrew version of the Transgender Health Clinic department is as follows:
Homepage -> Internal Medicine -> Endocrinology -> Transgender Health Clinic.
As seen in the screenshots below, the English version of the trail stops cold at Endocrinology. Once on that page, a search for “trans” brings up zero results, as opposed to the Hebrew version of the page which brings up two results, the second of which is a link to a page explaining transgenderism, which then finally has a link to the Transgender Health Clinic.
Using Google Translate, the homepage of the Transgender Health Clinic looks like this:
Pediatric Transgender Clinic – Hebrew vs. English:
The path to reaching the Hebrew version of the Pediatric Transgender Health Clinic is as follows:
Homepage -> Dana Dwek Children’s Hospital -> Pediatric Endocrinology ->Pediatric Transgender Health Clinic.
Similar to the adult version, the English trail to the Pediatric Transgender Health Clinic runs cold at Pediatric Endocrinology. There is one mention of “transgender” on the English site, without a link.
Using Google Translate, the automatically translated version of the Pediatric Transgender Clinic homepage into English looks like this:
This medical practice is new. The medical treatments on minors can be, as Ms. Shrier’s book explains, irreversible. At the absolute least, the Israeli public is owed an honest conversation about what the practice entails and how the social aspect of it is affecting the youth.
Ms. Shrier’s appearance in Tel Aviv marks a recognition of a dangerous trend that’s already present in Israel, and awareness of the topic brings with it an opportunity to “arrest the trend,” as Ms. Shrier put it in her presentation. As described earlier, Israeli society lags behind the U.S. when it comes to all sorts of trends, from fashion to social. The struggle people are currently having with “gender ideology” that’s flooded cultures all over the Western world is intensifying and spreading. Israel is no exception, and a light should be shined on both the social trend and the irreversible physical interventions that are available to Israeli youth.
As painful as this issue is, only free and open debate can address its complexities properly, and attempts to suppress discussion harms everyone involved.