When I first learned of extreme body modification, I found it fascinating: facial tattoos, skin implants, tongue splitting… the guy who removed part of his nose so he would look reptilian… I wondered how body mod enthusiasts got started down that path, how they might feel about the things they’ve done to themselves; whether they are able to get along fine in society despite their distracting appearances, or whether their intense focus on cultivating self-image is isolating. I also wondered where they found surgical mercenaries willing to deconstruct people according to their creative whims.
Years later, I am waking up to the reality that our culture has been infiltrated by a body modification cult that is somewhat more subtle at first glance, but no less extraordinary. This cult does not produce lizard-men: instead, it convinces young people to remove their reproductive organs. If, like the tattooed and studded body mod subculture of old, this new cult had stayed on the fringes of society, it probably would have raised some eyebrows; but what is most appalling about the contemporary body modification movement is that it is being endorsed (and even forced!) by mainstream society seemingly at every level. We call it “trans” and this cult is actively recruiting through the mass media, universities, the military, and perhaps most shockingly, public schools, and your therapy sessions. The modern body mod cult pushes a worldview that says children can be born trans, and that teachers and counselors are duty-bound to affirm, encourage, and facilitate body modification as a medical rite of passage for the “trans child.”
Is trans a process or a fundamental state of being? Ask a trans activist to explain this, and they will probably tell you that it is the latter. In fact, in a fit of exquisitely ouroborosian illogic, they may even tell you that it is so deeply innate that the word “transgender” is itself transphobic because of the implication that you were once one thing and have changed to another. In accordance with the cult’s dogma, today’s graduate schools are teaching counseling students that children can be “born trans.” Statements like this are upheld as truth based on sleight of hand that tucks the trans agenda along with legitimate sympathies for gays and lesbians into the LGBT envelope. Indeed this is a particularly insidious bit of trickery: the only true relationship between gay and trans is that gay and lesbian adolescents are among the most likely to become victims of the trans cult.
While there is some evidence that environmental and genetic factors influence one’s propensity for gender dysphoria, “trans” is a contemporary social and medical phenomenon that represents one way of responding to that dysphoria. It is a cash-cow for the medical mercenaries who are salivating at the chance to play Frankenstein with a generation of lonely, confused, and anxious young people. It also represents a cult-like movement that aims to recruit more and more members and drown out all other options for gender dysphoric individuals, including self-acceptance.
In truth, children are no more “born trans” than they are born tattooed lizard people. Many of us experience body dissatisfaction during our lives—it is part of the human condition. Some have excruciating battles for self acceptance, and some never find it at all. While men are not immune, women and girls across the lifespan are more likely to suffer from the anguish of wanting to be more beautiful: the girl with facial asymmetry, a flat chest, or large nose that she just hates; the middle aged woman who cringes and smooths back her jowls every time she looks in the mirror; and, the overweight young woman who has tried everything to look more like the slim bodies she sees all around her. These are not just trifles; for many they can be an all-consuming torment (hence the term “dysphoria,” the opposite state to “euphoria”). And cosmetic solutions abound, from less permanent options like hair-dye, botox, and expensive creams to surgical procedures such as breast augmentation, butt implants, gastric bypass, face-lift, rhinoplasty. There has long been a thriving market available for people who can’t accept their bodies and faces.
Self-Acceptance vs Cult Recruitment
How one deals with body acceptance issues is hugely individual, and is influenced by messages in one’s environment. If the girl with a big nose is shown that her worth is based on much more than her facial features (that being smart, caring, athletic, creative, funny, or kind, etc, are just as attractive as being physically pretty), not only might she accept herself as she is, but she might not get hung up on her perceived cosmetic flaws in the first place. On the other hand, if she learns that beauty is a woman’s most important asset, she might agonize over her looks and opt for plastic surgery to make her appearance match her desires and expectations.
I am not judging the decision to alter one’s appearance, nor am I naive to cosmetic procedures myself. Just as there are times when we can help the mind to accept the realities of the body, there are times when it may make sense to instead alter the body to fit the expectations of the mind. This is a very personal and individual calculation, and it applies to issues of gender identity as well as other forms of body dissatisfaction. Some people will feel so uncomfortable with their gendered appearance that they may decide that altering it via hormones and/or surgery will be helpful and bring them peace—and perhaps they are right.
But what is NOT acceptable is the encroachment of the body modification trans cult into our cultural institutions where it intentionally pushes vulnerable people into only one way of interpreting their dysphoria: validating their rejection of self and encouraging radical permanent alterations without serious exploration of consequences and alternatives. It is particularly condemnable that children are being targeted by the body mod cult. No group is more fraught with self-acceptance challenges than those whose identities are still forming. Going through puberty in a stew of hormones, competitive same age peers, and glossy filtered social media imagery is almost unbearable even for kids who fit in relatively well, let alone those who are painfully aware of how they are different. Chubby kids, neuro-divergent kids, kids who are becoming aware that they are same-sex attracted, effeminate boys, and girls with insecurities about their looks are all doom-scrolling through Instagram and the abundant free pornography that serves up an endless stream of reminders that they don’t resemble society’s ideal.
Today’s adolescents have been locked into their homes with nothing to do but stare at screens and obsess over themselves. And in the midst of that, schools have begun a program to transform the way our young people understand themselves and the world via Social Emotional Learning and Comprehensive Sex Ed curricula that invite children to question their gender and celebrate them for being “courageous” when they declare themselves anything other than “cis-heteronormative.” To be “cis-het,” according to trans cult recruiters, is to be boring, vanilla, and worst of all, oppressive to “marginalized folx.“
As schools introduce “gender diversity” concepts and reward kids who get on board the trans train, therapists are right alongside helping to reinforce the message. Today’s counseling programs train new counselors to be “social justice activists” above all else, teaching clients to understand their own “privileged and marginalized identities” including gender. These counseling students are taught to latch onto and affirm any suggestion of gender confusion that allows them to steer clients away from the dreaded cis-het. Furthermore, in some US states (including my own), “conversion therapy” laws that were originally written to protect gays and lesbians have been amended to include gender identity. These laws now prohibit counselors working with gender confused kids from taking an exploratory approach that is not explicitly affirmative; thus effectively limiting the tools of even well-intentioned and classically trained counselors.
For reassurance and understanding of how the world works, young people look to their elders, especially those who are there in a guidance capacity. When a child says, “I don’t feel good about my [insert nose, weight, gender, etc.],” we are in the position to validate their feelings while helping them gain a bigger perspective regarding their reality and identity. What too many of today’s counselors and teachers are doing by taking a strictly affirmative approach to gender is equivalent to saying “Yes, your nose is unacceptable as it is. If you had to continue living with that nose you might just kill yourself. Let’s look into rhinoplasty asap.” Or even worse: “You’re feeling like you don’t fit in? Have you considered that you might be too fat? Gastric by-pass surgery is an option to think about, even though your body is still developing. Let’s set you up with a specialist.” And unbelievably, these cult recruiters also actively interfere with parents’ ability to assist their children in finding self-acceptance by colluding with confused and vulnerable minors to keep parents ignorant of their issues until, through consistent affirmation and encouragement, the child’s new “identity” is consolidated.
Thus begins the unthinkable: kids who are still sexually immature are having their breasts and penises amputated. Their uteruses removed. Their forearm skin and sections of colon harvested to create pretend penises and vaginas with high rates of complications that may smell bad and hurt and lack proper function. They are given drugs that carry significant risks and may shorten their lifespans. These young people are not changing their sex: they are embarking on a life of infertility and ongoing medical procedures in exchange for looking superficially more like the opposite sex or like some bespoke “non-binary” creation; and they are doing so before they can experience what it is like to be an adult with a mature mind in a mature body. They are delivered into the arms of Dr. Frankenstein by the very adults who are supposed to be there to protect them, and who are tasked with making sure children understand the long-term repercussions of their choices.
The sad truth is that the body modification trans cult doesn’t care as much about the long-term wellbeing of the people it “transes” as it cares about pledging allegiance to the concept of trans. In a morbid inversion of the gay rights movement that was all about acceptance and tolerance, this cult preaches intolerance of the very bodies into which we are born and convinces its victims to mutilate and medicate. How many more of our young people are we willing to sacrifice before we come to our senses and excise this horror from our cultural institutions? If you are blessed with the opportunity to influence children, help them learn to navigate the world with openness, resilience, and acceptance of life’s imperfections. They may grow up and opt for gender transition surgeries, Brazilian butt lifts, or even reptilian body modifications, but it is reprehensible for you to lead them into these decisions or prevent them from seriously exploring consequences and alternatives. Teachers, counselors, take a stand now and stop recruiting surgery victims for the body mod trans cult!
By Leslie Elliott, a holistic wellness coach in Washington State with an educational background in clinical mental health counseling. She works with clients using an existential, person-centered approach.