How To Change The Mind Of A Liberal About Kids And Puberty Blockers
A clinic by 'Billboard Chris' Elston
On Tuesday, I had an opportunity to watch Chris Elston, known as Billboard Chris, do what he does best: say reasonable things to people and let them make up their minds about a contentious issue.
Calvin followed us from the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where a crowd of 40 to 50 young people had gathered around Chris like a magnet until campus security told us to leave.
When we found the Jehovah’s Witnesses recruiting across the street from the campus, we knew we had found a safe space for free speech again and rested outside a convenient restaurant. That’s where Calvin caught up to us.
He wanted to ask questions, and Chris asked if it was okay to record. You can watch their entire conversation in the above video. My overlong write-up of the experience follows.
I sat close by, sending a tweet and keeping an eye out for anyone who might approach us. Colin Wright of Reality’s Last Stand sat down with us to observe. He is a scientist. I am an historian. Chris is a successful businessman. All three of us are atheists. Our natural politics are in the liberal spectrum. We are united against the cult of Gender Moloch.
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult, too,” Elston confides in me. We are discussing the hard fact that belief systems form around the most bizarre ideas humans can imagine. I write about that history and historiography here at The Distance. Elston understands the problem without knowing the academic language to describe it.
As I explained to him, he has followed a “heuristic.” An evolutionary shortcut. He is a dad, so he has honed his sense of what is good for children, and he is horrified by pedicatric transition.
He did not have to think his way through the problem. Instead, he started talking his way through the problem. And it turned out that he is a natural at speaking to the liberal mind.
“Feminine boys and masculine girls exist,” Chris constantly says. Sometimes kids want to reject their bodies before they even understand what it means to have one. Usually there is some unrealistic confusion. Gender ideology targets this magical thinking in the unfinished brains of children. Children young enough to believe in Santa Claus are also being told that he gives out hormones to the good little boys who do “girls stuff” and the girls who like “boy stuff,” whatever that is.
Until a decade or so ago, children like this were left alone. “The cure for gender dysphoria is puberty itself, it’s the hormones that come with puberty,” Chris says. Why alter bodies to fix minds? This approach is not used in any other kind of medical endeavor. Why is this one allowed to be different from all the other medical fields, immune to standards of proof?
Left alone, “eighty to ninety percent” (his words, backed up by real science) outgrow their gender dysphoria, and mostly they turn out to be gay or lesbian. Somewhere between a third and one-half present signs of autism. Worse, like many social contagions, the transgender medical fad is hurting the most vulnerable girls at the worst moment in their lives. “Anorexia has been replaced by gender dysphoria,” he observes. Too often, sexual abuse plays a role in detransitioner stories. Young people trying to escape their predators through self-harm is as old as time.
“You wouldn’t want to put anybody in a position where they would have to change” as a result of abuse or other problems, Calvin agreed.
All of this intervention is premised on the idea that an innate, invisible, immaterial “gender” makes us want to wear certain clothes, appear a certain way, love a certain kind of person, take up a certain hobby, or have a certain job, or avoid a certain kind of attention, or attract a certain kind of attention.
“What the heck does your job have to do with your gender?” Chris asks. “We’re stopping the development of children with a chemical for the first time in human history, and its never been approved, there’s never been a clinical study.”
Indeed. Dr. Wright did not speak to Calvin, but he could talk at length about the science underlying the medicalization of “gender nonconformity.” Wright speaks more eloquently than I ever could on the utter hokum and nonsense at work in this booming field of “medicine.” How the Dutch protocol was invoked, but also ignored, and free reign given to a pseudoscientific approach based on evidence that the Cass review of the UK’s Tavistock clinic GIDS program called “low to no quality.”
Even if we accept the argument that advocates of this insanity make, “cultures never sterilized their children with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones” until now, Chris says.
As a historian, I am qualified to say that this is not the first time in history that parents sacrificed children or their genitals to gain status. The cult of Moloch is one such example, but the practice of castrating boys to make eunuchs for the imperial court of China is probably more applicable. American judges have set aside jury verdicts for parents who let their children die for a belief that modern medicine is evil. The list of these atrocities is long, for we value faith more than facts.
We follow our heuristics first, then we use our cognition to explain and excuse ourselves.
So I am not surprised, simply saddened, by the appearance of the “trans child” phenomenon. This is America, the land of circuit tent revival-and-patent medicine shows.
Nor is scientific medicine exempt from prior scandals, such as Thalidomide and lobotomy, that were profitable fads until a generation had been scarred by the experiment and the evidence was allowed to be empirical.
As Dr. Wright can attest, “experiment” is not the right word to describe what gender ideology does to children, for experimental science keeps actual data.
Precise data on pediatric transition is decidedly difficult to obtain, deliberately so, despite hundreds of clinics around the United States offering puberty blockers, effectively upon demand.
Chris points out that the Florida Board of Medicine recently reviewed the existing evidence-base for this horror show and ended all pediatric transition without strict research protocols.
In doing so, they joined Finland, Sweden, France, and the UK in a growing reaction against pediatric transition across the western world, wherever medical authorities take genuine stock of the actual evidence.
“Whether you believe in God or evolution, this makes no sense, because if you believe in God, you’re saying well, God made a bunch of kids wrong. And if you believe in evolution, you’re saying that a billion years of natural selection has failed us, and for the first time in human history, a pharmaceutical company is here to help us be ‘who we truly are.’”
Speaking the language of someone advocating climate science, or tobacco science, Chris says “we need to follow science, but ideology has taken over.” I thought immediately of Joe Camel, cancer link denial, climate change denial, elections denial. During our own conversation one on one, I explained to Chris that heuristics take over immediately when presented with a moral threat, and that ideology is how humans explain violence to themselves after they do it.
The three of us — me, Chris, and Dr. Wright — observed an example of that phenomenon at the very entrance of the campus. We were still on the public sidewalk when an individual ran up behind Chris and, as I watched, placed Their phone an inch from his nose, denounced him as “evil,” and then accused Chris of assuault when he gently pushed their hand away from his face. Thereafter, they tried to cover up the camera he wears on his sandwich board.
Chris has been assaulted multiple times in public. His arm has been broken by an assailant who refused to engage in any conversation, because this is not a debate, naturally. So he attacked Chris with a traffic cone instead.
“The rubber bases on those things are pretty solid,” he says. A bone was broken blocking the blows.
So I immediately took photos of the assailant outside the entrance of Vanderbilt University and then began taking video. I won’t share any of it, as I only kept them for safety’s sake. But when They accused Chris of assaulting them, I immediately contradicted the lie. When they threatened to call police, we all three said to go ahead. Do it. Please. Be our guest.
Make our day.
“Are you transgender?” Chris asked.
Shock. Awe. Their face was a meme about fragile college kids. I use the ambiguous pronoun here out of respect for their privacy, and for their choice of non-answer, which is perhaps too telling about the heuristic that might be involved in their behavior.
Seeing that I was now recording, They pressed their own phone towards my face, so I maneuvered my own phone around theirs. When they protested that They did not want to be recorded, I paused recording and assured them that I would not record them any more unless They pulled further shenanigans.
We are here to have conversations, we said.
their verbal aggression continued.
So. Then. Having been attacked from behind, with our faces towards the campus, and aggressed with our backs to the campus, by an evident lunatic, we did what comes naturally.
We stepped onto “private property” in order to escape the frenetic, angry person we had encountered. Survival mode kicked in. We are only human.
So if anyone is to blame for the scene that followed on the Campus of Vanderbilt University this Tuesday, blame Them, and Them alone.
They did it. Only Them.
They tried to follow Chris and walk up behind him on the footpath. Unsteady on my feet after such a traumatic encounter, and unbalanced at normal times due to my service-connected issues, I accidentally slowed and swung into their way, preventing them from another cowardly act on Chris.
“You’re in my way,” they complained. “Let me get to class.” Only the third person pronouns change, but I did not make the observation aloud.
“Oh. Am I in your way?” I said. “That’s terrible.” The stress of Their aggression caused me to swing in front of Them again.
They called me a terrible person now. “I am such a terrible person for being in your way,” I agreed, avoiding eye contact this entire time.
I did not address Their ableism or ageism, as I was already close to a panic attack and short of breath, going uphill, being old and weakened, and all that.
I was feeling unsafe from this literal violence.
At this point, thank goodness, a young woman of color intervened. “I am making sure this person can get to class,” she said, and so I moved aside. Instantly. No argument.
Good on this person, by the way. She (I use the appropriate pronoun for this intervener) understands what nonviolence is. The “triggered” do not understand nonviolence, nor are they continent enough in their self-regulation to engage in real nonviolence, and they are being enabled in this by a permissive culture of liberal denialism.
Antifa tactics are all the rage among the gendered, as They demonstrated. For all their talk about fascism, I remember when the effects of crime and leftist violence led frustrated voters to elect Ron DeSantis, excuse me, Ronald Reagan, who was accused of being a fascist, too. Sorry about that. It feels so similar that I confuse the two moments, historically speaking.
We might all be confusing them again in a couple of years, since Governor DeSantis followed his heuristic urge to ban puberty blockers for kids, and the state Board of Medicine has achieved the same end based on an evidentiary review. One wonders whether DeSantis might be on the actual right side of history, and whether it will make him president.
After all, Joe Biden has swallowed the proverbial gender Flavor-Ade™ and married Democrats to pediatric transition as “the civil rights cause of the 21st Century.”
Could there be dire political consequences for the woke culture revolution, comrades? Or am I just too old and senile to understand that history never, ever rhymes at all?
I wonder if that brave young woman of color who stepped in so deftly has noticed yet just how many straight white males have restored their status in the progressive movement hierarchy with the advent of transgenderism. Perhaps, having encountered Chris and his sandwich board, she might have a think, and realize that Dylan Mulvaney and Rachel Levine and Charles Clymer are all nonentities — mediocre white men who elevated themselves over her on the oppression ladder just by calling themselves “woman” for a few months. Lots of women of color depend on sports scholarships to access higher education at schools such as Vanderbilt. What does she make of their being forced to endure Lia Thomas cheating in the pool, or strutting through the women’s locker room with his swinging dick?
I might have enjoyed that conversation with her, if we had spoken. Being an academic on a campus filled with leftish types, queer theorists, and such, she would probably understand what Foucauldian postmodernism is, and how it analyzes power structures to discover how they maintain themselves by evolving new outward forms, such as neologisms and genders and pronouns, to justify their existence again under the pressure of social change.
History departments are full of people who know that, for example, Medieval flagellant cults were a middle class phenomenon in a Catholic society that discouraged profit, dealing with their social anxiety through occasional pogroms and symbolic submission to abuse for the remission of sins rather than therapy. Hegel understood the role sex difference plays in new religious movements and Marx wrote about the economy of sex difference underlying civilization. Vanderbilt is full of people who know things like that, and I could talk to such people all day long, for they might be amenable to a dialectic of material class analysis, but alas, it was not to be.
Meeting that kind and brave de-escalator gave me real hope that all is not lost, especially when she joined joined the gaggle of students who gathered around Chris and Dr. Wright and myself in a quad.
We had no idea where on the campus we were. Chris liked the spot. He began right away.
My two companions wore sandwich boards. I held my phone up instead, unencumbered. When one of the students expressed a wish not to be recorded or photographed, I answered with my military voice on quarter-volume that I was not recording at the moment, and that people have physically attacked Chris Elston before, so I am just standing by, just in case there was nother act of literal violence.
Ground rules thus established, there was a questioner. He was nervous. I don’t blame him. He asked Chris about his board. Chris explained that puberty blockers are not reversible.
The next question was “who pays you?” At which Chris laughed and I laughed and Dr. Wright laughed and we all looked at each other grinning. Chris replied “no one,” since he has yet to make back what he has spent travelling across North America having conversations about puberty blockers.
In receipt of this information, he was encouraged to get a real job. Such elitism from the woke!
A woman asked about the word “sterilize.” She was concerned that to use it in regard to sterilized children is “stigmatizing” them.
All three of us were unanimous that sterilizing children is inherently stigmatizing of them.
For an example of stigmata, look to genderism and the performance of spectral harm. It is one of the most indicative characteristics that genderism is a belief-system.
When the victims of Salem spoke in their own defense in 1693, the young girls who served as witnessses sat in the court where they could take signals from the prosecutor-judge.
On cue, they stabbed themselves with needles and bit their wrists to draw blood, howled that demons and witches were in the courtroom torturing them, right then and there, via the very words of the accused, which were the blackest satanic magic.
“Trans” is filled with performative trauma. For example, when They saw Chris at the gate of the academy, They performed trauma right away, registering the spectral harm committed upon Them by the mere suggestion that sterilizing children is bad.
That same outrage was performed again as the crowd formed. The exact mechanism of this alleged harm is never explained by those who recite the New Age pop psychology cant of gender woo.
What causes They to react this way? Do they feel like They might go to pieces if children are not sterilized? Why? And how is it materially different from supposing that Moloch will withhold the rain and the crops will fail unless we sacrifice the genitals of his children in the fire?
Like Calvin, the young man who spoke to Chris on video, someone asked whether a person who is eighteen years old should be able to have a sex change. Duh. Yes, it’s a free country.
In America, a person of eighteen years age is normally considered an adult — someone mature enough to give informed consent.
Chris replied that of course, no one can stop an adult from doing what they want. I bit my tongue rather than chime in: here in the United States, an 18 year-old is allowed to join any cult they want.
Suicidality is complex, Chris says, and it is high in the transgender population. The trouble is, no long-term study has ever produced evidence that medical transition reduces that suicidality, or even gender dysphoria. On the contrary, the most rigorous and best-evidenced study to date shows a massive increase in suicidality, post-transition.
Magic isn’t real. Gender-magic doesn’t work. When people undergo complex, life-altering surgeries, becoming lifetime medical profit-centers to the tune of $500,000 or more, not adjusting for inflation, it does not actually change their sex.
All three of us — me, Chris, and Dr. Wright — know and amplify more transgender people today than we did three years ago, by objective accounting, because their stories are crushing to hear.
Procedures are grueling, have near 100 percent complication rates, and seldom resolve dysphoria. They even increase it. This is definitional iatrogenic harm. A placebo effect can stave off the worst mental effects of the post-transition process, but after 7-10 years, many say they would not go through it all again.
We could have kept pressing Calvin with these realities but instead, Chris gave the nice young man exactly as much time as he wanted and let him go.
Calvin had met The Devil, found him reasonable, and escaped with a thrill to report. It’s college, good on him.
I let Calvin go with a polite handshake and a goodbye rather than tell him that I am old enough to remember Jonestown, so I know what sort of “social movement” threatens suicide if they don’t get what they want, right now, without a debate.
Young people with problems outside of gender are not going to have those problems resolved by a “gender transition.” If suicide is the disease, then transition is decidedly not the cure.
No form of magical thinking about human biology can overcome the sheer, reductive, material power of the human lifespan. Puberty is an evolved stage of the human organism. You cannot mess with it and expect to never, ever harm anyone. The harm is intrinsic to the supposed cure.
Whatever our laws say, the human prefrontal cortex that governs logical decision-making does not fully develop until 25. This is a sex-specific, hormone-driven process of brain development. How is such a person supposed to give informed consent to lifelong medicalization and infertility?
Even if we set aside this argument, to tell someone that young a lie about themselves is a form of abuse all by itself.
“What an abusive thing to say to a child: Calvin, you were born in the wrong body. How does that make you feel?” Chris asked him. A sensible question with only one answer.
Nor is the soft approach an improvement. Chris explains how children put through so-called social transition are simply being fast-tracked to despair. It is absolutely harmless to let 4 year-old Jazz Jennings wear the sparkly swimsuit if he feels like it. Telling Jazz that his body is wrong, installing a puberty blocker implant at age eleven, and then surgically mutilating his penis and part of his intenstine into a “neovagina,” is abuse. Full stop. As in, we are here to stop this.
“I prefer the words psychological transition, because that’s what this is you’re doing, a psychological intervention on a child,” Chris says of that approach. With the new identity solidified, puberty blockers will be the next step in nearly 100 percent of cases, and then cross-sex hormones and surgical interventions are also close to 100 percent likely.
Sex lobotomy. Gender Thalidomide. The catalog of side effects is at least that awful: more than forty times the increased risk of diabetes in females on testosterone, equivalent increased heart failure risk in men on estrogen. Wherever people with objections to gender ideology gather in public, you will find a handful of transgender people there, usually in their late 20s or 30s, some already using a walker because of osteoporosis.
I am sometimes asked whether I even know any transgender people, dude, and I always think of the young man huddled under the blanket in his dorm kitchen with the A/C on full blast, complaining to the management that it wasn’t cold enough, because he was having hot flashes from the hormones, unable to attend class or function socially. Living his best life, hooray?
For me, one detail stood out on Tuesday. Before we ever approached the campus, every adult who passed by us as we walked around the hospital thanked Chris. God’s work, they said. I agree, they said. It’s a crime, they said. They wore scrubs and tags. They know the truth because they see it. They understand what is happening better than the kids going through it, and they are appalled.
Chris says that this happens at every children’s hospital where he shows up. You may have seen that a slew of hospitals have come under scrutiny for sterilizing minors. The first was in Boston, and Chris is the one who made that scandal happen by way of social media.
He says it has galvanized Republicans against pediatric transition. He wishes the Tories of Canada had half the courage of Ron DeSantis.
The attacker in Vancouver was never arrested. Police were decidedly unhelpful and “lost” CCTV footage from a number of cameras.
Chris got less time to speak to that small campus crowd than he had for speaking to Calvin, but he said at least as much before the security guard arrived to ensure we left this zone of un-safety without being harmed. Thank you, Offficer Friendly!
Chris invited everyone to come talk with us. We accompanied the security guard to a different entrance than the one we had come in and left him there, sternly demanding our identification. He was kidding, obviously. What a kidder.
As we walked towards the nearest place we could sit down, a pair of campus conservatives thanked us for what we had done. A young man was actually wearing a College Republicans shirt for Election Day. These days, that requires courage. A young woman told us it was incredible to see people stand their ground without fear. Maybe now people who agree with us will speak up on campus. Courage is contagious.
“That was great,” Chris says, meaning it. He is thrilled. It was a huge group, he says. Walking onto the campus for a few minutes has worked. He did not change their minds. He only began to change their minds. Confronted by his message, they are forced to speak absurdities, to hear themselves utter inanities, and perhaps think.
It may take time, Chris says, and he will not reach them. He might only ever reach half of them, eventually. This is about what I think, too. About half of all liberals are reachable, and they are mostly men.
Women of college age make up 98 percent of the people who do argue with him in public, Chris says. Even the man who broke his arm arrived on the scene with a woman, who attacked him first. Like it or not, avowed feminists are leaders and agitators in this strange, sinister movement. Third wave feminism has groomed them to embrace pornification, celebrate OnlyFans success, and make the world safe for the new class of de-sexed god-children. Young women are the choir in the Church of Our Ladyboi of Perpetual Hormone Replacement Therapy, just as they are the unseen force in plenty of new faith movements throughout history.
Like any human mind, the mind of a liberal follows heuristics first (because it is easy) and performs cognition later (because that is hard). We were accused of playing politics when we said nothing about politics — a heuristic response to our message.
We were talking about damaged childen, not politics. So we said that in response, and then we talked about the damage.
They listened. They did listen, and some of them will think about it. At least Calvin will. Chris is happy changing one mind at a time, the old fashioned way, by speaking rational sense. It works for him. It also works as cognitive politics.
Like all the best radical change agents, Chris intuits the rules that Saul Alinsky introduced in the title of his book about progressive issue organizing. Chris did not know who Alinsky was when I mentioned him, nor that Alinsky advised the agitator to go outside the enemy’s area of expertise. He did not spend years in the progressive organizing trenches as I did. Yet he does this effortlessly, with a sandwich board, as though by instinct.
Puberty blockers sterilize kids. Sterilizing kids is bad. People cannot defend it.
Instead, they lie. “Puberty blockers are reversible,” we heard in that scrum, because John Oliver said so.
“You assaulted me,” They said, because angry people have no sensible argument, only feelings.
“Children can so consent to sex change,” we heard, because kids who believe in Santa Claus are old enough to believe in gender-fairies, too.
“Pedophile” we heard muttered, because only a freak would oppose sterilizing children on principle, apparently.
Lying to yourself is easier than changing your mind. Liberals are supposed to be the ones who understand this. Universities are supposed to welcome such discussions. People can only lie to themselves so much. Chris understands that if he can be heard, he can change minds.
You can support Chris through his website.
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How To Change The Mind Of A Liberal About Kids And Puberty Blockers