Gender theorist questions transgender "phenomenon"

April 29, 2014 by Ryan Sheales
Gender theorist questions transgender

A respected feminist theorist is calling for a radical rethink of society's acceptance of transgenderism.

In research presented in the new book Gender Hurts, University of Melbourne sexual politics lecturer Professor Sheila Jeffreys described transgenderism as a "hugely harmful phenomenon".

Transgenderism—when an individual identifies with a gender other than their biological one—has been a widely recognised condition for several decades, and can be treated with hormone therapy or surgery, if the individual wants.

Professor Jeffreys believed increasing campaigns for "transgender rights" have been extremely damaging.

"Transgenderism is invariably born of severe psychological distress, but society's response to it actually creates new harms," she said.

"Gender Hurts highlights the distress caused to the partners and families of transgender people, and the agonizing regret sometimes felt by people who switch gender."

Dr Jeffreys also argued transgenderism undermines women's rights by seeking to expand entry into 'women only' spaces, such as toilets, changerooms, women's shelters and even rape helplines.

"One of the central problems with transgenderism is that it's based on the outdated notion of gender," she said.

"Radical feminism considers gender as a sorting system for male domination, something that provides 'the bars of the cage' that imprison women in their daily lives.

"Without , transgenderism could not exist.

"As such, when transgender rights are inscribed into law and adopted by institutions, they promote ideas harmful to women's equality."

Professor Jeffreys has researched transgenderism for several years. Gender Hurts is based on original interviews and a critical analysis of a wealth of literature from the fields of history, medicine, the law and sociology. 

Explore further: Transgender controversies can lead to 'gender panic,' study finds

Related Stories

Transgender controversies can lead to 'gender panic,' study finds

November 5, 2013
When New York City moved in 2006 to make it easier for transgender people to revise the gender on their birth certificates, the proposal was widely expected to pass.

Study finds link between discrimination and suicide attempts among transgender people

January 29, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—An analysis conducted by UCLA's Jody Herman and collaborators at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that transgender people who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, ...

Do degrading TV portrayals of women cause gender harassment?

December 16, 2013
A new study in Psychology of Women Quarterly considers whether objectifying women in television and harassment are causally linked. Researchers Silvia Galdi, Anne Maass, and Mara Cadinu designed two experimental studies that ...

New study to focus on understanding challenges of transgender children and their parents

March 21, 2014
Amy Przeworski, assistant professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, and graduate student Jennifer Birnkrant will lead an online study that captures the experiences of transgender and gender variant children ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

AkiraMS
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2014
What a load of twaddle. Where is the academic support for outlandish assertions such as "Transgenderism is invariably born of severe psychological distress"? I could equally make the ridiculous statement that homosexuality is invariably born of severe psychological distress. How on earth does she call the notion of gender outdated and then talk about women's rights? It is clear that the world, her included, use the notion of gender so how on earth can she call it outdated? I actually wish it were, so people could just be who they want, but it is not and to suggest otherwise indicates a complete separation from the real world.
eddington_john
not rated yet May 02, 2014
What a bunch of worthless research. The areas that need to be researched are cancer, HIV, heart disease, and Alzheimer's Disease. This is a first world problem and one which is not killing people left and right.
ZoeBrain
not rated yet May 04, 2014
"Transgenderism is invariably born of severe psychological distress, but society's response to it actually creates new harms," she said.

Professor Jeffreys has been peddling the "I know best" line for the last 40 years

To quote a review by Roz Keveny of one of her previous books:

"Most of what Sheila Jeffreys is worried about is a matter of people refusing to allow her to interfere with them; she seems to hate the idea of people doing things without her permission. Of course, that is not what she says - she goes on about the harm they are doing to themselves by failing to understand their own needs as well as she does....When black women do not agree with Sheila Jeffreys ... it is of course quite a different matter; poor darlings, she says, they don't understand their own oppression properly. It is the elitism and knowing better than anyone else as much as the polemical tantrums and self-portrayal as a victim that make Sheila Jeffreys the Violet Elizabeth Bott of feminism."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.