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Mosby's Journal
Mosby's Journal
February 23, 2022

Escape from Womanhood

Helena Kerschner is a 23-year-old detransitioned woman who identified as transgender during her teenage years and was prescribed testosterone shortly after her 18th birthday. After being on testosterone for a year and a half, she realized that transitioning was a misguided way of dealing with her social and emotional struggles. Now, years later, she is interested in exploring the cultural and psychological factors that contribute to the sharp rise in the number of adolescent girls identifying as transgender and choosing to medically transition with hormones and surgeries.

In my efforts to understand the personal factors that led me to identify as transgender and eventually decide to mistakenly transition, I’ve always been struck by the overwhelming role the internet has played in my life.

Online pornography, which studies show most kids are now exposed to by the age of 13, has become virtually inescapable. Faster than we can even measure its impact, this new world of porn is drastically changing how young people form their perceptions of sexuality and adult relationships. It would be foolish to think that it wouldn’t have major consequences. In my own life, I can see how being inundated with pornographic imagery as a young woman, much of it violent, and being repeatedly told that this was normal and even cool led me instinctively to look for an escape from womanhood.

Pornography isn’t what it once was. Fifty years ago, young boys could find a stash of magazines and become enthralled by the sexual images within them. But these still photographs, which needed to be sought out, are only loosely related to the novel phenomenon of pervasive online pornography. MindGeek, the company that owns many of the most popular porn sites, including Pornhub, boasts 125 million daily visits and quietly collects massive amounts of data from its users, which it uses to sell targeted ads and to create content that appeals directly to younger audiences. Many porn users attest to a “tolerance” effect, whereby they no longer feel sufficiently stimulated by scenarios that were once arousing and are motivated to seek ever more extreme content. To keep their audience’s attention, the endless quantities of new porn being produced are eternally novel. Without even looking for it, anyone can now stumble on footage so grotesque and abusive to the people involved, a person who does not have a porn “tolerance” would likely be mortified.

Alongside this ever-increasing normalization of pornography usage by young children and adolescents, there has been an unprecedented explosion in the number of children and teenagers identifying as transgender. Official British government figures from 2018 show that in less than a decade, the country saw a more than 4,000% increase in the number of minors being referred for gender treatments, including hormone injections. Most of the increase was driven by girls. In the year 2009-10, only 40 girls in England sought gender reassignment, but by 2017-18, the number had ballooned up to 1,806. In the United States, a 2019 report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that gender-confirming surgeries (GCS) were a “rapidly expanding field. Of all procedures recorded by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), GCS was among the most rapidly increasing from 2016 to 2017.” The most rapid increase, according to the ASPS, was among women transitioning to men: a 289% increase in one year.


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