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BOOK REVIEW | 'Irreversible Damage' and Self-Censorship in Japan

The canceled book "Irreversible Damage" warns against the transgender "trend" and the dangers of encouraging minors to make premature, life-altering decisions.



Cover of "Irreversible Damage" by Abigail Shrier (2020, Regnery Publishing).

Media heavyweight Kadokawa Corporation previously planned on publishing a Japanese translation of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze is Seducing Our Daughters (Regnery, 2020) in January 2024. The book was penned by American journalist Abigail Shrier.

However, in December 2023, Kadokawa apologized and stated that it would not release the book as planned. Kadokawa said that the book would "hurt transgender people."

Hiding Behind Excuses

According to the Asahi Shimbun, criticism of Shrier's book "spread on X […] and other social media." It stated that critics claimed that Irreversible Damage promoted "discrimination against transgender people." The Asahi did not point to any specific objections transgender people had to the book. 

Shrier has been the target of rants in the past. But how many ranters are also readers?

In the opening pages of her book, Shrier notes how her publisher was "flooded" with letters denouncing Irreversible Damage long before the book ever hit the stores (p xvii). The mainstream media, in keeping with their nebulous stance on free inquiry, studiously ignored her book. It is unlikely that her critics read her book and it is also unlikely that critics in Japan read her book. 

Shrier's American publisher has a steel spine, unlike Kadokawa. The Japanese publishing house merely translated Shrier's book. Kadokawa offered a feeble apology for doing even that and then collapsed like a melted Christmas cake in the face of a heated mob. Its capitulation is a sad day for Japanese academic and literary freedom.

By the way, Kadokawa's catalog openly offers what appears to be soft-core pornography, the type that reduces women to objects. Has Kadokawa at least offered an apology to women?

Kadokawa headquarters in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. (©Sankei by Takumi Kamoshida)

Social Media and the Explosion of 'Gender Dysphoria'

I have read Irreversible Damage. Shrier is not out to "hurt transgender people." 

She reports on a recent American wave of transgenderism, medically called "gender dysphoria," that primarily afflicts adolescent girls. Shrier empathizes with those diagnosed with gender dysphoria. She has invited transgender individuals to tell their stories: "I reiterated my desire to listen to anyone who had something to offer on this issue" (p xxix). Shrier is squarely on the side of transgenders in their "march under the banner of civil rights."

Despite her social justice bona fides, Shrier is the bearer of some politically incorrect truths. Shrier points out that the current wave of gender dysphoria in adolescent girls evolved in parallel with the rise of social media. She says social media amplified a distressing trend. 


In an era wherein everyone seeks and wallows in victimhood, some transgender activists have crassly turned a distressing psychiatric condition into a cudgel. They threaten all not only to recognize transgenderism but to embrace it beyond question. One could also point out a strong infusion of Sigmund Freud's thoroughly debunked notion that "male envy underlies female anxiety."

As a result, medical decisions are now made by children, rather than experienced and knowledgeable physicians. Shrier points out that most physicians, however, accede to their patients' requests. That is because, after all, "You are who you say you are, because YOU know best" (p 66). We read that physicians are either seeped in the prevailing ideology of inclusiveness, thus bowing to children's demands, or comply out of fear of being labeled transphobic.

Mental Illness and the Transgender Craze

Weaponizing gender dysphoria has ripped daughters from their parents. Shrier recounts their trying stories. She also documents the trying stories of transgender men who changed their minds and transitioned back to female.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition, the latest American Psychiatric Association's reference text for psychiatric disorders, gender dysphoria refers to a patient's belief in the incongruence between one's gender and one's sex at birth. Those presenting with gender dysphoria typically present with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, social anxiety, and self-injurious behavior, including suicidal behavior (p 117). 

Treatment ranges from "gender-affirming" psychiatric counseling, the off-label use of drugs to stop puberty, sex hormone treatment, and surgical alteration of secondary sex characteristics, such as mastectomy. Increasingly, these methods are stepping stones to full sex reassignment surgery, which includes the removal of reproductive organs (p 161, Chapter 9 "The Transformation"). 

Adolescents are not fully mentally as well as physically developed when they start drug treatments. While physical changes are evident during long-term drug treatment, there are nonvisible potential complications, such as stunted brain and bone development and sexual functioning.

Adolescent Girls Suffering

Most intriguing is what Shrier thinks is the source of the sudden surge in gender dysphoria in adolescent girls over the last decade. She notes that gender dysphoria patients in the West were historically almost exclusively boys. However, the "Western world has seen a sudden surge of adolescents claiming to have gender dysphoria" (p xxvii). Furthermore, "for the first time in medical history," adolescent girls constitute the majority of cases (p xxvii).

Shrier suggests, based on published survey results, that the basis for the surge is the exposure of highly impressionable children to social media. The children seek belonging and social media promises mental and social succor during a psychologically and socially awkward period. (Shrier points out that some mental disorders in the past, such as anorexia, have had a tendency to spread social or behavioral norms within a group of peers: peer contagion.) 


She calls out smartphones as the root source, pointing out the parallel between the availability of smartphones and gender dysphoria. This may not be surprising. As Shrier points out, for teenagers, "most of their life occurs on the iPhone" (p 6).

Shrier notes that highly impressionable and anxious adolescent girls are relying on dubious information and soothing words obtained from Internet strangers to make life-altering decisions.

Members of the Josei no Kenri to Songen wo Torimodosu Kai (association for reclaiming women's rights and dignity) demand the publication of "Irreversible Damage" in front of KADOKAWA’s headquarters in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. (©Sankei)

Protecting Daughters from Irreversible Damage

Historically, most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve over time and patients do not go through sex reassignment surgery (p 119).

However, the current wave of adolescent girls with gender dysphoria is pushing for permanent changes to their bodies, leading to demands for hormone therapy and surgery.  

In all of this, are parents aware of what is being done to their daughters? In the United States, schools and healthcare providers have effectively bypassed parents as guardians. Shrier bleakly notes that today, society, as well as children with gender dysphoria, view parents as "obstacles, bigots, and dupes" (p xxx).

Minors (those under 18 years of age) in the US are free to obtain hormone therapy and even surgery without parental consent. In addition, minors may freely leave campus to obtain treatment, without notifying their parents.

Social media tells young people to lie to their parents, to do and say whatever they must to get hormones or surgical treatment (p 52). Forces outside the family have quashed meaningful communication between gender-dysphoric girls and their parents. 

If the goal of progressives is to undermine civilization by attacking the nuclear family, then they have certainly hit upon a novel means to achieve this — inundate already anxious adolescent daughters with more anxiety.

Japan's Children at Great Risk

How translatable are Shrier's findings to Japanese dysphoric adolescents? As mentioned earlier, the spike in females with gender dysphoria in Western countries is a fairly recent phenomenon. Even before the widespread use of smartphones in Japan, however, more females than males have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. If in fact, Japanese females are more likely than males to express gender dysphoria, then why this is should be critically examined.


Interestingly, similar to what Shrier reports in her book, a 2019 study found that there is a higher prevalence of gender dysphoric Japanese girls than boys in junior high school and high school. Authors of Japanese studies of gender dysphoria have generally attributed differences between Japan and the West to differences in gender roles. Whether Japanese social media is involved, especially in junior high and high school female students, has yet to be investigated. 

For better or worse, Japanese physicians have the same set of beliefs as their Western colleagues. In 2012, Dr Mikiya Nakatsuka, dean of Okayama University Graduate School of Health Sciences, called for minors with gender dysphoria to receive puberty-blocking treatment and sex reassignment treatment. Like their Western colleagues, Japanese physicians have internalized the mantra: "You are who you say you are, because YOU know best."

Stand Up to the Transgender Activists

I envy American transgender activists a little. They make demands knowing that they will meet with little resistance.

Shrier points out that after Irreversible Damage was sold in an American department store chain, Target, for four months, Target pulled it from its bookshelves after receiving two Tweets that claimed that it was "notorious" and "harmful" (p xix). Following this, Shrier said letters poured into Target "demanding that the book be reinstated" and "within twenty-four hours," sales resumed (p xix). 

Two Tweets, or the safety of Japanese children? It is now time for concerned parents and supporters of children's rights in Japan to stand up and make their voices heard.


Author: Aldric Hama

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