Miriam Grossman joins Leor Sapir to discuss her book Lost in Trans Nation: A Child Psychiatrist’s Guide Out of the Madness. The book is available in hard copy and audio editions, and more on Miriam’s work can be found at https://www.miriamgrossmanmd.com/.
Leor Sapir: Welcome back to the 10 Blocks podcast. This is Leor Sapir, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributor to City Journal. I’ll be filling in today for Brian Anderson on this episode. Joining me today on the show is Dr. Miriam Grossman. Miriam is a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. She’s the author of five books, one of which—You’re Teaching My Child What?—published in 2009, was one of the first to raise alarm about the intrusion of gender ideology into American schools. Miriam has also testified before Congress and the British House of Lords, and she was featured in Matt Walsh’s documentary, What is a Woman? Miriam’s new book is Lost in Trans Nation: A Child Psychiatrist’s Guide Out of the Madness. It’s an excellent book that I recommend to all of our listeners. It’s a book that covers not only the ideological origins of so-called gender-affirming care in the medical field and the relevant research on this issue, but also a book that gives parents concrete advice for how to navigate difficult conversations with their teens and how to deal with dishonest, misinformed, or incompetent healthcare providers.
So Miriam, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Miriam Grossman: Oh, it’s my pleasure, Leor. Thank you for having me.
Leor Sapir: I want to start off and just dive right in and ask you to explain to our listeners who John Money was and what the significance of his experiment on David Reimer was, because this is how you open your book.
Miriam Grossman: Yes, I open my book with John Money and the story of the experiment on the twins because he is so central to this current fiasco, this current medical scandal that we are in right now. John Money was a psychologist in the ‘50s and ‘60s and later of course, at Johns Hopkins. He came up with this revolutionary idea that a person’s identity as male or female could be completely separate from their biology. He proposed that we are all born gender-neutral with the potential of identifying later on as either male or female.
Now of course he acknowledged that there are some anatomical differences between boys and girls, men and women, but he said that everything else besides those anatomical differences, and besides of course, the fact that women get pregnant and give birth and nurse and menstruate, but aside from those things, male and female is basically a social construct, meaning that it’s created by society.
So, John Money said if you take a boy, he could be raised as a girl, if from an early age he was given a girl’s name and put into dresses and given dolls and told that he was a girl. “He would do just fine,” John Money said, “as a girl and as a woman.” Now, this was his theory. It was a revolutionary theory, certainly. It sought to really take down the entire structure and Judeo-Christian values of society. What I mean by that is that John Money was one of a number of people, he was a disciple of Alfred Kinsey, for example, another—I would say wicked, Leor, I’m going to use the word wicked. Both John Money and Alfred Kinsey were social reformers. They wanted to remove any aspect of Judeo-Christian values from our culture. They were child molesters, they were pro-incest, and they themselves were extremely disturbed individuals. I explain this in the book.
But getting back to your question, what John Money did with David Reimer, and it’s a fascinating story that everyone should be familiar with. David Reimer went through a circumcision when he was about eight months old, and because of a malfunction of the equipment, his penis was burned off. This was in the 1960s. His parents were at a loss of what to do. Obviously, desperate. David also had a twin brother who was fine, who did not undergo the circumcision. His parents heard about John Money and John Money’s insistence that a boy could be raised as a girl if the process was started early enough. They packed up from their home in Winnipeg, Canada, they were a young blue-collar couple in their early twenties. They went down to see John Money in Baltimore, and they looked up to him as if he were a God.
He was an extremely sophisticated, well-spoken, eminent psychologist at the time, a Ph.D, a doctor. He told them that they needed to raise their son as a girl, that he should be castrated, and that they should take him home, tell everyone that he’s a girl, give him a girl’s name, put him in dresses, and give him dolls. So in today’s vocabulary, we would say that David Reimer had the ultimate social transition, right? Social transition, meaning when a person changes their presentation to the world in terms of their sex. They begin to present as the opposite sex in terms of their appearance, their name, their pronouns, and so on. So David Reimer, at the age of about 18 months began, of course, his parents, not him, his parents socially transitioned him, presented him to the world as a girl. They would go down every year to visit John Money, and John Money, after a few years when the twins were five or six years old, reported that this experiment was a complete success.
He reported that Brenda, not David, Brenda was successfully living as a girl, that she was thriving, that she was comfortable in her identity and doing well in school, socially, at home, and so on. He continued to report this to much fanfare. He became famous not only in the professional world but in the lay public. Time Magazine and other publications reported on this experiment. He became famous. He reached levels of fame and wealth that were significant.
Now, it sounds like it was a happy story. It sounds like he was able to prove his theory that this little boy had been born gender-neutral with the potential of being a girl, but that wasn’t the case. What happened was that this little boy was actually miserable. He never felt comfortable being a girl. He used to rip off his dresses. He preferred his twin brother’s trucks and toys.
He was very, very masculine. He was aggressive and he was masculine even in the way that he walked, he talked, his gestures. Kids called him cave woman. He wanted to be a sanitation worker when he was in first or second grade. He was an extremely masculine child. He was more than just a tomboy, but Dr. Money continued to report that his experiment was a success. And then finally, I’m telling this, this is a whole long, complicated story, which I’m trying to just put within a few minutes for you, Leor.
But when David got older and entered puberty, and by that time he was on estrogen, thanks to John Money, he was growing breasts. John Money was trying to convince him to undergo surgery, a vaginoplasty in order to construct a fake vagina. David became suicidal. He had been depressed for a very long time, but he became suicidal. He also realized that he was romantically attracted to girls.
His psychiatrist at the time, in Canada, told his parents that they must reveal to him that he is actually a boy, even though John Money had warned them to never do so. They went ahead with trepidation. They sat down the boys individually and they explained to them their history. David said that at that moment when he was told that he was actually a boy, his primary emotion was overwhelming relief. He said later on, I think it was in an interview with Oprah, that he realized at that moment that he’s not crazy. That his feeling acutely uncomfortable as a girl, was real. He was not a girl. He immediately went back to living as a boy. He took the name David, his name before the social transition under John Money had been Bruce, but he took the name David, Leor, and he picked that name because he felt that up until that point, he was like David battling Goliath, in his life. That’s why he picked the name David.
He went on to have a number of surgeries. He had a phalloplasty, a phallus that was constructed. He obviously went off the estrogen and he began living as a boy and later a young man. He got married. He adopted his wife’s children. It sounds like it could have had a happy ending, but it certainly did not. This is a family that was destroyed by John Money. The boys, every year when the parents took him down to Baltimore, they had been sexually abused by John Money. They were disturbed young men. David’s twin died of an overdose in his thirties, and two years later David shot himself at the age of 38.
There are many lessons to be learned from the story about John Money and the twins. But the primary lesson, I believe, within the context of the whole transgender cult, the transgender madness that we’re now in, is that the source of it, John Money’s theory over the years that David was suffering, and his story only came out, by the way, in the late 1990s, so over all those decades, John Money never reported the truth about his experiment, about what happened to David, even though he knew. David’s mother contacted John Money when David was 14 and returned to living as a boy. She let John Money know that, but he never reported it. He let his theory stand, and he continued to make claims that a boy could be raised as a girl and a girl as a boy. This formed the basis, Leor of the entire gender ideology all these decades. So it is based on falsehood. It’s based on fraud. That is the most important message, I believe, of this story.
Leor Sapir: Yeah, that’s really interesting. Fast-forward two and a half decades from the tragic collapse of this experiment. A term I encounter a lot in your book is the Castro consensus. We hear nowadays that most medical associations in the United States support so-called gender-affirming care for kids, that it’s settled science, that anybody who disagrees with it is driven by prejudice, bigotry, ignorance. What do you mean by a Castro consensus? Can you explain this term to our listeners?
Miriam Grossman: Of course.
Leor Sapir: How does it exactly describe what’s going on in pediatric medicine today?
Miriam Grossman: Yes. Well, the term Castro consensus, I did not make it up. I don’t have it on the tip of my tongue who did make it up, but I don’t want to take credit for that. A Castro consensus refers to the fact that all the decades that Castro was in control in Cuba, every few years, I guess, there used to be elections. The thing is, though, that the candidates that would go up against Castro all had to be vetted by his people. And then lo and behold, every single time Castro would win the elections and he would advertise to the world that there was a total consensus that the entire population of Cuba, or near to total population of Cuba had voted him back in. And of course, this was just all falsehood. It was ridiculous. There was no genuine election. There was no genuine candidate competing with Castro for the position. It was all rigged. It was a false consensus. So the term Castro consensus is used to indicate a fake consensus, an absence of real consensus. And so I use that to refer to exactly what you just described, Leor.
What’s going on in our professional medical associations, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, and many, many other large, eminent, previously trusted organizations?
What has happened is that small groups of activists within those organizations take over the committees that are charged with coming up with policy statements on certain issues. The issue of transgenderism is one such topic in which the committees, or sometimes it’s just one person. With the American Academy of Pediatrics, as you know all too well, and you’ve written extensively and excellently on this issue, Leor. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2018, had a policy statement published that had just one author, just one.
And because it has the name on it that it’s a policy statement and that it’s coming from the American Academy of Pediatrics and it’s published in their journal of Pediatrics, of course, the entire world is going to think that there’s a consensus, and that the American Academy of Pediatrics must have looked at this issue long and hard, and looked deeply into all the research and what the research shows. They must have had debate, and they must have had lengthy discussions and analysis, and maybe they even had a vote of the 67,000 members of that organization.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a Castro consensus. They have a small number of people within the organization that are driven by ideology, and they successfully present their arguments as if it was the entire organization that was behind it. But we know now, we know well from pediatricians who have tried to oppose this approach toward gender ideology of gender-affirming care in which you put a small child, often a child with mental illness in the driver’s seat, and you listen to what the child says and wants, and then you provide it to the child. That’s gender-affirming care, complete insanity. That is the agenda. That is what gender-affirming care is, and it’s held up as being backed by all these prominent organizations. But the only reason it’s backed up is because of this Castro, or fake, consensus.
Leor Sapir: So Miriam, what advice could you give parents of children or teenagers who are distressed about their sex? I ask this because your book contains a lot of really wise advice. If somebody were to corner you for an elevator pitch, if you could just summarize very, very quickly, what is the most important thing that you think parents should know when it comes to dealing with a kid who says, “I think I maybe have been born in the wrong body.”
Miriam Grossman: As you said, a good part of the book provides this sort of guidance. An elevator pitch, I would say first of all, if you do get such an announcement at your house, which by the way, I hope you can avoid, and my book has a lot of guidance on how you can avoid that from ever happening, but if you do get such an announcement, you want first of all to take it very slowly. You want to make sure that your child understands that you love them and that you want to help them, and that you want to learn as much as you possibly can about this issue before any changes are made. And that includes a change of name, a change of pronouns. This may sound, and it’s presented to us as if it’s just a minor issue, an issue of just respect and kindness. It is much more than that.
Using a new name and pronouns is a big deal. It’s not something you want to immediately do at all. So I would say that you first want to get educated. You want to learn what these ideas mean, where they come from, why they are based on falsehood. You want to understand that this is an ideology. It is not science. It’s an ideology which may have convinced your child that they can deny the material reality of their bodies. They can deny the sex that they have been and will always be since the moment of conception. So parents need to understand that this is a dangerous ideology. It’s a belief system. It is not based in science, it is not based in medicine. There is a lot that you can do to help your child get out of it.
Number one, you have to examine what’s going on at school. What sort of messages is your child getting at school? There are activists that are in our schools, and they are trying to influence your child. The teachers, the guidance counselor, clubs that exist at schools that are influencing children from a young age. You have to be vigilant, and you have to understand and identify who is the influence in your child’s life that’s bringing this up.
Now, I am not talking about if your child is two or three or five years old. I’m talking about the preteens and teenagers and young adults, because they’re two separate populations. Very important to understand that. But getting back to schools, I have a whole chapter on schools as well as an appendix written by attorneys who will instruct you on ways that you can be proactive at school.
The other thing that I want parents to be aware of is the overwhelmingly huge impact of the internet and social media. You must have control over your child’s internet use. I have another appendix with practical advice and guidance written by an IT specialist on how parents can be in control and monitor their child’s internet use. Many kids that I’ve seen have been pulled into this way of thinking by individuals that they have met, strangers that they have met, on the internet who present themselves as friends, as people who just want to guide them and help them, and the end of the story is tragic.
Leor Sapir: Okay, so if you haven’t done so already, make sure to order Miriam’s book, Lost in Trans Nation. I highly recommend it. You can follow Miriam on X. Her handle is @Miriam_Grossman. And as always, if you like what you hear on the podcast, to give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Miriam, thank you so very much.
Miriam Grossman: Thank you, Leor. Thanks so much.