My teenage daughter has decided that she is “trans”. So have all her friends. Not some of them. Not most of them. Every. Single. One.
She had never heard of trans, and had no signs of gender dysphoria, until she was moved to a new, cool trans-friendly school by her unsuspecting, politically liberal parents. There she met a group of geeky (or dare I say nerdy?), smart, slightly (but not very) gender nonconforming, artsy kids. As I understand it, they all discovered “trans” together. The old “cis” friends were swiftly discarded in favour of this exciting new peer group.
Exploring “trans stuff” online with friends is a source of great interest and excitement—a real social event. What’s not to love about 245 gender identities, complete with their own unique flags? Then there are those cool neo-pronouns. Forcing your out-of-touch old parents to refer to you as “ze” or “ey” (how do you pronounce that again??) in the name of “inclusivity” is just too delicious to resist. The manga, the cute avatars in computer games, the blue or pink hair—all part of the fun as well. Mocking the outgroup (in this case so-called “cis” people in general and the dreaded TERFs in particular) is also good for a laugh—especially if they happen to be your parents as well.
There is even a special vocabulary with lots of new terms—deadnaming, misgendering, sex assigned at birth, and much more. If these concepts need to be explained to your uncool parents (accompanied by eye rolls of course), so much the better.
Bonding with friends, searching for their identity and place in life, working out their sexuality, separating from family—these are all normal developmental tasks for teens. For many, youth subcultures can be a natural part of that. Some are harmless. Some, like drug use and extreme dieting, not so much. But in the case of the latter, sensible adults usually intervene to help steer the young people in the right direction. Not in the case of trans.