Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts on Trans Activism

Reading Lindsay Bentley's excellent post just now has reminded me that I should probably share my own viewpoint on the whole transgender issue:

The primary beef I - and other conservatives - have with trans activism and its demand that we 1) open up bathrooms, locker rooms, sports leagues, etc. to people who "identify" as a particular gender and 2) use everyone's "proper pronouns" or else be subject to legal penalties is that absolutely no objective standards of accommodation have been offered beyond a person's say-so. And yes, it is entirely reasonable to worry that these new licences will be abused -- not by actual trans individuals, but by other skeezy - or power-hungry - folks who find it convenient to take advantage.

Regarding the above, I have a sneaking suspicion that no objective standards have been offered because no objective standards exist. Seriously, think about this: How do you know you are a particular gender? In reply to this question, what trans activists have offered me is a contradictory muddle. On the one hand, "Clothes have no gender, and I can wear whatever I want!" On the other, "Johnny likes dolls and dresses, so Johnny must want to be Joanne."

Speaking of which: The article I linked above resonated very strongly with me -- and it probably resonates very strongly with other women who also happen to be Odd. I definitely remember wishing I could be a boy. Mind you, I did have some girly interests. I did like caring for my baby dolls, and I loved Strawberry Shortcake. But while other girls were often inscrutable to me, boys were perfectly sensible, and I often preferred their company. Back in my childhood, this was called being a tomboy; today, I'd probably be encouraged by activists to identify as "gender fluid" or "neuter" or something else in their Baskin-Robbins-style menu of gender flavors.

Personally, I think many trans activists confuse gender identity with gender expression a whole hell of a lot. Why can't a little boy who likes Barbies just be considered a boy who likes Barbies? Why do we have to slap new labels on everybody when we can just accept that kids are individuals and are going to express their genders in different ways?

But I digress. The second big issue I have with trans activism is the same issue I have with all other forms of hard-left activism: its embrace of cognitive distortions that are elsewhere found among the mentally ill. Mind-reading? Yep: If someone uses the wrong pronoun, they are automatically assumed to be transphobic instead of sincerely mistaken. Catastrophizing and fortune telling? Yep: Trans activists obviously believe that allowing a thoughtful dissenter like Jordan Peterson to speak on campus will result in - oh, I don't know - a massacre of the gender nonconforming? Whatever they think is going to happen, it must be terrible; nothing less than the threat of death would justify their behavior. Blaming? Yep: If a trans activist doesn't feel good about herself/himself/themselves, it must be the fault of Others. There is no recognition whatsoever that you can in fact control your own emotional state and not allow every asshole in the world to get you down.

I myself am a fairly liberal person (in the classical sense). As such, while I have doubts about sex-reassignment, I have sympathy for those who genuinely feel they've been born in the wrong gender, and I'm willing to accommodate quite a bit. But the best way to sort this out, I feel, is through two-way dialogue, not categorical demands. We have to be allowed to be skeptical and to ask questions. We have to be allowed to demand proof. And we have to be allowed to say no sometimes when a person who's very clearly a dude wants to enter the ladies room. Otherwise, suspicion and resentment will only grow -- making the lives of trans individuals who just want to pass and be left alone even more difficult.

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