Progressives’ See-No-Evil Approach to Gender Ideology Will End In Tears
Common sense dictates that self-identification policies must come with reasonable limits. Activists who insist otherwise are discrediting the LGBT cause.
Over the weekend, Canada became the epicentre of an international social media uproar over the logical endpoint of trans self-identification, when videos and photographs were posted showing a trans-identified teacher at a high school in Oakville, Ontario wearing the kind of extravagantly-sized prosthetic breasts and protruding nipples familiar to devotees of hentai animé porn.
Many assumed it was a hoax designed to cast the trans and LGB communities in a bad light. But it wasn’t. Others tried to pretend that the behavior wasn’t objectionable—as with a column in Toronto’s progressive-leaning BlogTO, which concluded: “This is far from the first time that a woman educator has been criticized widely online for wearing something deemed ‘inappropriate’ or ‘distracting’ to work, nor is it the first time that a teacher from the LGBTQIA2S+ community been harassed for expressing their identity.”
Halton District School Board chair Margo Shuttleworth also supported the teacher, referencing human-rights law in her statement. And the school itself, Oakville Trafalgar, emailed a statement to families that read in part: “We strive to promote a positive learning environment in schools consistent with the values of the HDSB and to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students, staff and the community, regardless of race, age, ability, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, socioeconomic circumstances or body type/size.”
It is true that both Ontario human-rights rulings and the federal government’s Bill C-16 protect individuals from discrimination based on their self-identified gender identity and expression. It is also understandable that many trans people prefer self-identification to medical gatekeeping as the applicable standard in regard to how they are treated. But to many people—most, I dare say—this case appears to center on a disturbed exhibitionist using the law as cover to force others to indulge a sexual fetish.
We need an open an honest discussion on gender issues—not because of how one teacher in Oakville chooses to dress, but because the media was so scared of commenting on the issue that it took mainstream outlets the better part of a week to report on it, despite the issue having become the focus of extensive coverage on social medua and in international right-wing outlets. With their silence, mainstream media were engaging in a form of implicit gaslighting—nothing to see here, folks. And in this respect, their attitude reflects the widespread fears that served to silence the common-sense instincts of millions of ordinary Canadians when it comes to gender issues. Most people know that gender politics have gone too far, but don’t want to encourage a backlash among bigots, nor be targeted as bigots themselves.
Speaking as a gay man who’s been out and politically active since the 1970s, I believe that erring on the side of silence is a mistake. The backlash against trans radicalism is happening one way or another. Real “allies” mustn’t be seen as tacitly supporting clearly objectionable behaviour, including kink masquerading as legitimate workplace gender expression: This kind of see-no-evil attitude discredits us.
In finding their own voice, straight people may find it useful to understand that today’s militant gender activists are a subsection of a minority, and they speak only for themselves, even if their slogans serve to intimidate many others.
In the mid-twentieth century, LGB and T communities fought demonization, legal and social persecution, and the AIDS pandemic. Through hard work and persuasion, we not only survived, but won public acceptance and full civil and human rights, including the right to marry and adopt. When this was put on offer, most of us took yes for an answer.
But for many activists, the struggle had become their identity, and victory was an existential threat to their sense of self. Unable to let go, they have coopted the movement’s institutions and taken the fight in directions that have nothing to do with equality rights based on same-sex attraction, or acceptance of trans people with sex-based dysphoria.
Indeed, their current claims are the reverse: that sex and gender have nothing to do with anatomy, but are based entirely on personal feelings that everyone else must accept, including the right of intact biological men to access women’s sports, change rooms, and prisons. Further, that same-sex attraction doesn’t exist, either. Rather, human beings are supposedly same-gender attracted: Lesbians are pressured to have sex with trans women with penises (at risk of imposing a “Cotton Ceiling”), and gay men are subjected to attack for refusing to consider sex with transmen with vaginas (“the Boxer Ceiling”).
What makes these claims so extraordinary is that it they are completely at odds with the self-understanding of trans-rights pioneers. To this day, transsexuals (such as Buck Angel and Debbie Hayton) are clear that their biological sex is key to their need for surgical transition. Transgender pioneers were equally clear that they were either heterosexual or homosexual crossdressers whose affinity with the opposite sex was spiritual.
Yet their voices have been drowned out by more intransigent activists, supported by academics and career-minded bureaucrats, who’ve used social media to demonize anyone who challenges their orthodoxies, including lesbian sports icon Martina Navratilova and longtime ally J.K. Rowling. It’s surely unbelievable that the Big Lie monstering of Rowling began with her unremarkable tweet: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”
Rowling subsequently wrote about the trauma of sexual assault suffered during her first marriage, and how this has informed her objection to self-identification as the sole basis for male-bodied access to women’s spaces: Self-ID presents a loophole that will inevitably be (and has been) exploited by psychopathic men who cynically use claims of transgender status to facilitate access to victims. Trans activists have framed this perfectly logical fear as evidence of transphobia, and viciously defamed her—a rape victim who had just bravely exposed her trauma. To their discredit, media figures and celebrities have played along with the attacks on Rowling, perhaps themselves cowed by fear of social media fallout.
But ordinary people eventually grow resentful of being silenced and forced to accept the absurd and sometimes horrific: Lia Thomas as the face of transwomen in women’s sports; Karen White as the face of transwomen in prison; Keira Bell as the face of the Tavistock Centre mutilations; and now our Canadian shop teacher as the face of trans teachers in the classroom. Uncontained, the outrage that these and other similar examples provoke will poison the goodwill that once won the LGB and T communities our rights.
It’s easy to honour individual pronoun requests, and to accept trans women socially. Equally, to suggest accommodations such as open divisions in sport; provision of single occupancy change rooms; prison transfers restricted to transwomen convicted of non-sexual crimes. But these are insufficient for radical activists who insist on nothing less that the redefinition of women and sexual attraction to exclude reference to biology and anatomy entirely.
Claims, therefore, must be confronted. Speaking up is difficult when one risks being called a “transphobe” by the left, “pedo-adjacent” by the right, not to mention losing one’s job, reputation, and friends circle. Political silos are so entrenched that no one on wants to be seen giving aid and comfort to the enemy. But silence feeds the backlash.
For those who would like to speak but are afraid, here, are a few arguments that may persuade those who believe in both LGBT and women’s rights; and which may serve to protect against (or at least anticipate) the likeliest charges of bigotry:
Concerns for women’s sex-based privacy and sporting needs are not rooted in transphobia. If they were, there would have been similar complaints about transmen in men’s sports and change rooms. There haven’t been any. Nor have trans advocates ever demanded that convicted trans men serve their sentences in men’s prisons.
Protection of women’s change rooms does not equate trans women with sex criminals: Most men are neither rapists nor pedophiles. Neither are most transwomen. But 99% of all sex crimes are committed by biological males, no matter how they identify. Psychopaths lie, and predators go where the prey is. Self-ID allows any of them to access women’s private spaces. There is no way around it.
Trans people’s right to “exist” is not at issue, no matter how many slogans are chanted to the contrary. Christians, Muslims and Jews “exist” despite non-believers—and believers of those faiths do not demonize non-believers as Islamophobes and anti-Semites.
Non-judgmental, open-ended discussions with children who say they’re the opposite sex is not “conversion therapy.” Conversion therapy for gays and lesbians involved shaming, electroshock, and nausea-inducing drugs. Most dysphoric children grow into happy gay and lesbian adults. It is automatic “affirmation” and medicalization, ironically, that lie closer to what may fairly be called the de facto trans conversion of gender nonconforming kids.
If gender is innate, how can it simultaneously be “fluid”? If bodies are irrelevant, why are children referred for blockers, hormones, and surgery? Why do today’s transwomen typically keep their penises, while transmen typically lose their breasts?
It is inequitable for one group’s rights to override all others. During the AIDS pandemic, the Red Cross refused to accept blood donations from gay men and IV drug users. This made perfect sense. We were overwhelmingly the ones infected, and had no right to prioritize our potential stigmatization over the security of public blood banks. Indeed, deaths traced to our donations would have destroyed our moral and social capital.
Schools should never teach kids that activities are gendered: This is regressive stereotyping. It is also “sex assigned by gender theorists.”
Insistence on the blanket use of pronouns in email signatures is “cis saviourism.” It insults those who identify as trans and nonbinary by suggesting they’re too fragile to assert their identities on their own, without everyone else doing likewise—a laughable assertion when straights are adopting “queer” identities for social status, and celebrities such as Demi Lovato switch up their pronouns to boost record sales. (Besides, if the intention is really to make others feel welcome, shouldn’t one also add one’s race, ethnicity, religion and dis/ability status?)
In the language of the woke: Attacking the sex-based rights of women, lesbians, and gays is misogynistic and homophobic. Denying observant Jewish and Muslim women their sex-based privacy needs is antisemitic and Islamophobic. Risking the safety of women in prison, who are disproportionately Indigenous and Black, is anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. And pressing the claims of Western academic theorists internationally is colonialist cultural imperialism.
It is important that people of goodwill balance these arguments with counters against bad-faith right-wing actors, both on principle and to protect their reputation as honest brokers. So, it is important to note:
Teachers who respect student confidences are not “groomers.” Students may be afraid of physical harm if they are outed to their parents. More commonly, they may be afraid of losing their parents’ love. They need a trusted adult to talk to; a secular confessor honouring the confessional’s vow of silence.
Out LGBT teachers are no more “grooming” than heterosexual teachers. Their presence dispels negative stereotypes and provides role models, especially for fearful gay and lesbian students. (In 1994, I taught an inner-city grade 10 English class. One day, a smart-ass tried to put me on the defensive. “Sir, are you gay?” he asked, boldly. “Yes. And?” I shot back. That shut him up. By contrast, a hesitation or deflection such as, “That’s none of your business,” would have signalled shame, a terrible message, and undermined classroom management.)
In the end, the radical activists and their virtue-flaunting enablers in media, academia, and government bureaucracies will lose. Millennia of global history, art, literature, law, and mammalian reproduction won’t be undone by a few years of Western academic theory. Nor will reality be bent by linguistic Three-Card Monte. Sexual attraction cannot be gaslit: Straight men and lesbians will never accept “lady dick”,” nor will gays and straight women put vaginas on their dance cards. And detransitioners won’t be silenced or prevented from launching expensive individual and class action lawsuits.
The only question is the nature of the endgame. If our sensible, socially-liberal centre can find its voice, then media, corporate interests, and politicians will take note, and the damage to progressive causes and LGB and T communities may be contained. Otherwise, the destruction of a socially liberal polity is inevitable. We must speak up.
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