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Gender dysphoria is an expression of the narcissism that characterizes our society.

INTERVIEW. At a time when Spain has just passed a law allowing minors to make a gender transition without their parents' consent, two psychologists are sounding the alarm.

Propos recueillis par Leonardo Orlando

By denying the biological reality of the binarity of sex, gender ideology cancels out the concept of woman, erasing the claims that are specific to her, and reintroduces sexual stereotypes that were thought to be a thing of the past. This, in any case, is the view of Spaniards Jose Errasti and Marino Perez Alvarez, psychology professors at the University of Oviedo, in Nadie nace en un cuerpo equivocado. Éxito y miseria de la identidad de género (Nobody is born in the wrong body. Splendors and miseries of gender identity) (Deusto, 2022), a bestseller in the land of Cervantes. With as much courage as humor, the two psychologists show how gender ideology endangers society, targeting children and teenagers in particular, and warn of the "inquisitorial censorship" this ideology exerts on institutions and public debate. Interview.

Le Point: The "trans law" has just been adopted by the Spanish Parliament. What are its implications and consequences?

Jose Errasti (JE): In Spain, the law now states that gender is a subjective variable, chosen by the individual as he or she sees fit and not linked to any biological, genital, reproductive or hormonal criteria. This law has a thousand implications. For example, educational: we explain to children that they can freely choose the sex they want. As clinical psychologists, what touches us most is applying an affirmative approach to what the teenager says, when he says he feels his body doesn't correspond to who he really is. From now on, the therapist can no longer do what he must do with any other problem, i.e. explore it, discuss it, look for its causes and propose solutions. They are now obliged by law, on pain of a 150,000-euro fine, to confirm the person's self-narrative and provide whatever they ask for. Affirmative therapy thus becomes compulsory. This is a serious mistake.

Isn't this law supposed to represent a step forward for the rights of trans people?

Marino Perez Alvarez (MPA): Far from being progressive, this law is retrograde. It reintroduces sexual stereotypes that were thought to be a thing of the past, to establish that, for example, a girl who behaves like a boy, who likes what boys typically like, would be a boy. Likewise, it is retrograde because it reintroduces the idea of the soul, which we took for granted: the soul embodied - or rather, disembodied - in the sense of gender identity and self-determination.

L'idée de genre qui est à la base de cette idéologie annule le concept de femme et d'homme. Il n'est plus question que de sentiment : être une femme, c'est se sentir femme. Au-delà de son caractère tautologique, cette formule vide le concept de femme, car c'est un sentiment que tout homme pourrait avoir. Cette idéologie impose ainsi une novlangue, comme le « sexe assigné à la naissance », énoncé tout aussi pédant qu'inadéquat : le sexe n'est pas assigné, il est constaté avec une précision de 99,98 %.

What has the situation been like in Spain so far?

JE: The trans law is nothing more than the culmination of what's already happening in Spain's autonomous communities. They already have their own trans laws, which go in the same direction, for medical care or for the way teachers have to deal with the presence of trans children in the classroom. For example, in the vast majority of autonomous communities, teachers are obliged to pay attention if a pupil "displays behavior that is not typical of the sex assigned to him or her at birth". But what was missing from these autonomous laws was this touchstone: that I could go to the prefecture and declare myself a woman, so that I could be recognized as such without any requirements. This is now possible.

What is Spanish society's reaction to the trans law and gender identity?

JE: Society doesn't know what's going on. The subject of gender identity is sold as just another case of LGBT issues. People are for it, because they're in favor of freedom of sexual orientation. But as soon as you start digging, you can't help but be frightened by the delusion involved. You realize that sex can't be a variable you choose freely at any age, or that you can't be forced to have sex based on the other person's gender identity and regardless of their genitals.

What is the main message of your book?

MPA: The book argues two things that seem incredible to have to formally affirm. The first is that there are only two sexes, not an infinite number. The second is that the soul does not exist as something internal to the body, as its motor or vital source. It's mind-boggling that we need to write a book about this today.

You also put reproduction back at the heart of the question of sex and gender identity.

JE: People believe that we have eyes to see, stomachs to digest, lungs to breathe, but genitalia... by a quirk of nature. Biologically, sex is first and foremost a reproductive fact, and no one can claim that reproduction is not binary. Consequently, sex is also binary: in 99.98% of cases, people are either male or female.

Where do you think the explosion in gender dysphoria comes from?

MPA: We don't think it's due to greater permissiveness and tolerance. We believe it's actually an expression of the individualism and narcissism that characterize our society. Desires are transformed into demands and these into rights, which our neoliberal society satisfies with surgical and pharmacological interventions that can cause more harm than good.

From this perspective, gender dysphoria is a phenomenon linked to individualism rather than the emergence of something that has always been repressed. This doesn't mean that the discomfort felt by teenagers, for example, isn't a very real experience. And that's where psychology and psychiatry come in, to analyze the origin and nature of this malaise. This is opposed by gender ideology, which prevents us from analyzing these problems of personal suffering. For this ideology, anything that comes with the label of gender dysphoria, or rather with the self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria, has all the evidence it needs to dispense with the analysis any clinician would make in any other type of case. Desire is thus transformed into right, and this right into pharmacosurgical intervention.

You also devote part of your book to the phenomenon of trans children.

JE: The phenomenon of trans children is growing spectacularly in Spain. Recent surveys by the Catalan trans service have shown an increase of up to 5,000% among children and teenagers! Transsexuality in children is real, but until now it has been an extremely rare, infrequent phenomenon: a researcher or clinician could spend his or her entire professional career without ever encountering a single case. Nowadays, these cases in children are multiplying ten or twenty-fold, so we have to suspect that we're dealing with a social fad, transmitted by social networks and the media. At school, children are told that sex is something they can perfectly well choose. They're told the story of a little girl who liked to paint a moustache on her face, who liked to play soccer, and who was very sad, until it was discovered that she was a boy, and from that day on, she became very happy and everything went well. It's entirely possible that a boy might come home after this story and say he's a girl. What happens next will depend on his parents. Some, for example, may have heard that if their children aren't confirmed in these ideas, they'll commit suicide. Or there are those who simply like to be the most advanced, and have a son who embodies in his body the most sophisticated social demand in the world. They experience this as if it were revealed to them that they had a child marked by the gods. And they immediately begin a process of affirmation.

And if it's not gender dysphoria, what could be the cause of this increase in the number of children and teenagers who believe they are trans?

MPA: The problem with the epidemic of gender dysphoria in childhood and adolescence is that it is secondary to two major conditions. On the one hand, prior pathologies, as has been observed, such as autism, traumatic emotional experiences or school bullying problems, etc. On the other, there's the turbulence of adolescence itself, which is a conflicted and problematic age, due to all the bodily, hormonal and existential crisis that characterizes it. Here, gender dysphoria conceals problems of a different nature and origin.

JE: And there's also the question of sexual orientation, of gay boys and lesbian girls who believe themselves to be trans. We often find that so-called gender dysphoria disappears when a person acknowledges a sexual orientation that they hadn't previously assumed as such. The person understands himself to be, for example, a gay man, perhaps displaying more feminine stereotypes, but without actually being a woman.

How was your book received?

MPA: We had a great publishing success, with 12 editions sold out in 12 months and over 16,000 copies sold. Trans activism condemned it before it was even published. But many people read it and saw that it's not transphobic at all, that it just says things that people already think, or that if they stopped to think about it, they'd think along the same lines, and there they found them exposed and supported by scientific literature. The type of population that automatically positioned itself against this was the high school and university age group, who assume that gender ideology is a good thing. This didn't surprise us, because we're university professors. So we dedicated the book to students, precisely to destabilize their preconceived ideas. Opinions which they believe to be progressive, but which, after a little quiet reflection, might appear to them as the translation of an ideology which goes in the opposite direction to what they assume.

Have you encountered any violence or censorship?

JE: The general tone of our presentations has been very pleasant, and for the vast majority they have been calm. But there were three incidents. In Mallorca, at the University of the Balearic Islands, a group of trans activists threatened to attack the conference, and messages were intercepted clearly indicating how they were going to carry out their attack. The university rector gave in to the threats and suspended the event rather than call in the police. He then issued a statement saying that the conference was suspended because he could not guarantee the safety of the participants, while making it clear that, at his university, they were not transphobic. In Barcelona, during the book presentation, trans activists barged in and threatened to burn down the bookshop where we were with us inside, so the police intervened. At Madrid's Universidad Complutense, a group of activists took our book, ripped out pages and made posters threatening our lives.

How does this ideology manage to impose itself?

JE: The only way they can impose their madness is by morally censoring us. Their usual strategy is to counter arguments with moral declarations. Instead of refuting ideas, they discredit you as a person by saying you're hateful and transphobic. And people are terrified of being thought so. This is what we call "transphobe-phobia" in our book.

The academic world and academics seem to be textbook cases of this "transphobe-phobia".

JE: Yes, that's why a lot of people keep quiet at university, making excuses, saying things like "it's a very complicated matter". It reminds me of a professor of geology who, caught up in the polemic between the flat earth and the spherical earth, would say that it's a very complicated question, because the earth is a little flattened at the poles, so he doesn't want to take sides between extreme positions. The university, the Spanish one and I imagine the French one too, is a place where cowards thrive. It's a place for people who want to guarantee their social relations, who want to publish in important journals and who, to do so, know they have to defend the dominant ideology. Nobody wants to lose what they have as a teacher, nobody wants to get into trouble. It's a real shame, because a lot of people are keeping quiet, whereas if they spoke up, they could put an end to a problem that's hurting a lot of young people. And they don't have this cowardice on the other side: trans activists don't see the complexity of the problem, they don't think, they attack and they come at you.

You, on the other hand, have decided to talk about it.

JE: How can we remain silent on this issue? It's as if a professor of "earth form" were silent in the face of terreplanism! A minimum of coherence obliges us to speak out publicly, because everyone else is silent.

MPA: As academics, it's our responsibility to face up to realities that may be uncomfortable, whatever the consequences, and always faithful to truth and reason.


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