One suspects many more people than admit it aren’t sure what to make of the push for “transgender rights” and just don’t want to have to deal with a battle over it at all. It seems to have come from nowhere; it affects a vanishingly small number of people; and yet, the cultural mandarins are demanding conformity to a shocking, intolerant degree. With the same-sex marriage movement, proponents at least seemed to have some appreciation for the right to have opposing opinions and to take time to adjust to a radical idea. Less so with this next step.
Somehow, that seems to be intertwined with the radicals’ purpose.
For a sweeping look at this landscape from a skeptical standpoint, read Katherine Kersten’s “Transgender Conformity” in the December issue of First Things (free online):
What’s behind the transgender movement, a cultural tsunami so powerful it can tear apart even so traditional an institution as Nova Classical Academy? Transgender ideology advances under the banner of progress and enlightened thinking. Yet its fundamental claim—that a human being can change his or her sex—“is starkly, nakedly false,” according to Dr. Paul McHugh, who served for twenty-six years as psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins pioneered sex-change surgery, but abandoned it in the 1970s after research revealed that it did not improve the mental health of patients.
Every cell in the human body marks individuals as either male or female, with males bearing an XY and females an XX chromosome. Sex is not “assigned” at birth. It is identified anatomically when an infant is in the womb and then confirmed at birth.
Kersten alludes to the financial and ideological incentives behind the movement. “Gender reassignment,” she reminds the reader, consigns its subjects to “lifelong dependence on the medical system” She notes that “LGBT groups have created a celebrity culture for these kids” who identify as transgender. And she describes the Orwellian gnosticism that disrupts society by declaring that which most contradicts nature the most “authentic,” “claiming the mantle of civil rights [to] enlist the power of the state to impose a political and cultural agenda.”
Most important, though, for those who are on the other side of the cultural fight, or at least are skeptical of the radical Left, Kersten highlights the solution of which we’re in danger of losing sight (emphasis added):
“Hardwired to Connect” warns that American children are facing a “crisis” of “mental and behavioral health.” Young people are struggling with anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse, behavioral challenges, and thoughts of suicide, all at unprecedented levels, the report’s authors say. According to one study, by the 1980s, U.S. children as a group reported more anxiety than did children who were psychiatric patients in the 1950s. The report attributes this, mostly, to the breakdown of the family and other fundamental social institutions, which has weakened moral and behavioral norms and deprived young people of the “authoritative communities” that have traditionally provided security, meaning, and purpose.
To the specific issue at hand, Kersten writes that a “child’s ability to resolve gender dysphoria tends to correlate with parental attitudes, with success much more likely if parents minimize the problem, which is exactly the opposite of what transgender ideologues … are doing.”
The attack is on our ability to process and act within reality. The solution therefore must begin with acknowledging reality. Not doing so pushes us farther down a path on which many vulnerable children and adults will be harmed grievously.