I was talking to someone the other day about Obama’s order on transgenderism, and she said she it was hard to see how we could walk this one back.
My initial reaction was to say that medicine has to lead the way, since they validated it in the first place. Stop with the junk diagnoses and acknowledge that there are several different things going on here:
1. People have genuine severe body dysphorias (rare) and want surgery to remove parts.
2. Men with autogynephilia (crossdressing sexual fetish) are increasingly being allowed in under this validating umbrella, a fetish that is correlated to some extent with the committing of violent sex crimes, and these men are treated as misfortunates who need support.
3. Lesbians are socially pressured into medical transitioning if they do not perform femininity.
4. Adolescents don’t feel comfortable with their changing bodies and/or their personalities don’t align with socially enforced gender expectations and they are encouraged, often by strangers online, to believe their distress with feelings of physical and social displacement would be alleviated by medical transitioning. These feelings of displacement are also experienced by older people but the Internet has made the concept of medical transitioning much more available to children.
Clearly these are not all the same kind of problem, and arguably only #1 is a medical problem at all. #3 and #4 are related and constitute cultural failures to accommodate diversity (not to mention remembering that adolescents routinely feel uncomfortable with their bodies). #2 is a culturally generated sexual paraphilia.
Then I thought some more, and realized I was wrong. The first thing that has to happen to walk this back is for the left to admit what’s going on, that it is increasingly experiencing a schism on this subject and is adamantly silencing any dissent that doesn’t align with the narrative, which is that transgender people are what they say they are and this not only must be respected, but that anyone who even questions it will be punished.
So people on the left are mostly afraid to talk about it. In New York City, it’s increasingly even illegal to talk about it. Discussing it with a patient is being outlawed as “conversion therapy” in some parts of the country. Feminists who challenge the narrative online frequently are harassed and threatened. Many use pseudonyms for fear of such actions. They (we) are often accused of being conservatives, though real feminism is an extension of leftism that recognizes women as an oppressed class, and is anything but conservative.
The occasional professional organization challenges the narrative, but these challenges don’t get much attention.
The right suffers no such prohibitions, but what they have to offer in turn is yet another bad narrative, which actually aligns with the transgender narrative, but they mostly haven’t worked that out yet in the USA because the right still greatly conflates “transgender” with “homosexual.” My small-town paper here in Little Texas recently reported on local reaction to the Obama order, and quoted a woman saying she didn’t think “men with men” was right.
Fighting transgenderism because what you really are is a homophobe isn’t difficult when homosexuality and transgenderism are so popularly associated. And when your agenda is to enforce conformity, to enforce gender stereotypes, you are not really all that far away from alternately disallowing any challenge to the idea that a gender defiant person is the opposite sex if they say they are, which in turn can easily morph into a gender defiant person being forced into the opposite sex class one way or the other, whether they like it or not. This isn’t that difficult to do if you start with them when they’re children.
But, as a gender abolitionist, I certainly don’t want people punished for not doing gender right. I don’t want criticizing transgenderism to be used as an excuse for a backlash from the right against homosexuals, but it has a good chance of playing out that way, because the left can’t own the discussion because the left won’t allow the discussion to happen. And I don’t want anyone, male or female, abused for not doing gender right, but insisting we play along with this game of make-believe is so clearly just another kind of enforcement.
It’s been said that this conflict is about who owns gender, and that has a certain wisdom to it. But it’s also about who owns the left. I’ve always considered myself a leftist and now the very left I was raised to love and respect and identify with is trying to silence and slander me, and is using this transgender narrative to disrupt social justice and environmental activism groups everywhere I look. How is this progressive?