Is Gender Theory the New Conversion Therapy?
2023-06-29, addition of a link
The trans movement has been hopelessly corrupted by the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left and by Gender Theory, leading it in an extremist, irrational direction which is misogynistic and even apparently homophobic.
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Le mouvement trans est irrémédiablement corrompu par la pseudo-gauche anti-Lumières et par la Théorie du genre, l’entraînant dans une direction extrémiste, irrationnelle et misogyne, voire apparemment homophobe.
The current situation has gone on long enough. We must speak out against the insane extremism of the trans movement.
Back in 1972, when I was living in Ottawa and very active in the gay rights organization Gays of Ottawa (which later changed its name to Lesbians and Gays of Ottawa), I met, for the first time, a person whom I knew to be trans. I received the visit of a young female to male transgender person in my apartment in Pestalozzi College. We chatted and discussed for several hours. I no longer remember his name. What I do remember, most vividly, was that the negative attitudes he had to deal with, as transgender, were very similar to those which I, as a gay man, had to face: bigotry based on sexual stereotypes about how men should behave and how women should behave, and woe unto anyone who violated those rules. Having transitioned from one gender to the other, he had violated the “gender-bar”—if I may call it that—in a radical and socially “repugnant” way. Being gay, attracted sexually to other men, I too violated that bar, although in a less visible way. I felt a strong bond of solidarity, despite the different natures of our “transgressions.”
A few years later, living in Vancouver B.C. and active in the Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE), I attended an event in Seattle held by the Union of Sexual Minorities (USM). There I witnessed a confrontation whose implications I did not fully grasp at the time but which I was convinced was significant. The event featured a trans woman speaker who, after a certain period of time living as a woman, considered herself fully a woman. However, a group of lesbians in the audience reacted angrily to this. How could someone born male and who had lived most of his life as a man claim to speak as a woman? The event moderator dismissed these concerns on the spot, declaring that the speaker’s viewpoint was a correct feminist position.
Now, half a century later, much has changed. In Canada and in many western countries, being gay is not only accepted, it is now practically in fashion and has been for several years—although draconian homophobic laws and attitudes persist in many other countries (such as some eastern European countries, Muslim-majority countries and parts of Africa). Trans persons are now similarly accepted, although more recently. But there is a problem. An enormous problem.
The Abandonment of Objectivity
In addition to a greater acceptance of sexual minorities, the 21st century has seen the spread of a bizarre political movement—which many call “wokism” but which I prefer to call the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left, because that is precisely what it is: a movement claiming to be on the political left but which has rejected the very Enlightenment ideals and values which define the political left.
This anti-Enlightenment mentality, greatly influenced by postmodernist philosophy, values personal subjectivity over objectivity, emotion over reason, and has severely distorted many social movements. One particular component of this mentality, known as Gender Theory (GT), has undermined the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans) movement in particular. Starting from the observation that gender roles—the various ways in which men and women are expected to behave—are socially determined, GT has taken the irrational leap to declaring that sex itself—i.e. being male or female—is also a social construct. This conclusion is patently false, as male and female are distinct biological categories.
Flying in the face of biological reality, gender theorists claim that an individual’s sex is “assigned” at birth. But of course that is nonsense. The newborn baby’s sex is observed, not assigned. The existence of intersex individuals and the concomitant possibility of an erroneous observation—rare phenomena indeed—merely underline the binary nature of sex.
In the words of Project Nettie, a record of scientists, medics and others who assert the material reality of biological sex, “Attempts to recast biological sex as a social construct, which then becomes a matter of chosen individual identity, are wholly ideological, scientifically inaccurate and socially irresponsible.”
The consequences of this theory have been disastrous. The movement for trans rights once had eminently reasonable goals, such as quality medical supervision for adults suffering from gender dysphoria, helping them to transition if they give informed consent to such transition; and preventing discrimination, in housing and employment, against persons who are transitioning or have transitioned. But more recently, the most vocal trans activists have become extreme in their demands, leading to at least two major problems:
- Self-ID: A person is now considered to be of a certain sex on the basis a simple self-declaration. A man can become a woman (or vice versa) by simply saying so. There is no gate-keeper. This is an open door for abuse. It allows heterosexual male predators ready access to female-only spaces. It also allows mediocre male athletes to compete and win easily in women’s sports.
- Transitioning Minors: On the basis of so-called “gender affirming care,” teenagers are allowed to start on the path of transition—often involving puberty-blocking medication with possibly dangerous side-effects, and possibly irreversible, sometimes involving surgery which mutilates the body, including the genitals. These persons are minors, too young to give informed consent to such major procedures. Statistics show that (1) if such procedures are delayed for several years, most cases resolve themselves in time and the individual simply grows up to be a homosexual adult without gender dysphoria and (2) the probability that a minor with apparent dysphoria will commit suicide is far less that many trans activists claim.
Less serious, but highly indicative of the absurdity of GT, is the current fashion of declaring one’s pronouns. It would be useful to have a set of neuter pronouns which could be used to refer to persons who prefer not to be labelled male or female for whatever reason. (Existing English neuter pronouns “it” and “its” are inappropriate because they are insulting when applied to persons.) This would allow a person to choose one of three available sets of pronouns: male, female and neuter. However, trans extremists have gone far beyond that idea, expecting individuals to choose custom personal pronouns, which may be unique and differ from all others, and demanding that everyone use those pronouns when addressing that individual (and if they fail or refuse, they will be accused of transphobia). Forcing others to remember and use custom pronouns is narcissistic nonsense.
Men and “Non-men”
These are not the only problems. The refusal to recognize the binarity of sex leads to the erasure of women and sometimes even homosexuals. The word “woman” has begun to disappear, replaced by ridiculous expressions such as “birthing persons” or “non-men.” Incredibly, in an LGBTQ Glossary on the website of John Hopkins University, the word “lesbian” is defined as “A non-man attracted to non-men.” Furthermore, the same glossary contains no definition of the word “sex” but does indeed have an article defining the expression “Sex Assigned at Birth.”
Lesbians who are not interested in having sexual relations with trans women—i.e. biologically male—are being accused of transphobia. Whatever happened to respect for consent? Trans extremists regularly slander critics of Gender Theory in the most atrocious ways, sometimes even calling for their death (“Kill TERFs” where critics of GT are referred to as TERFs = “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists”)—in other words, advocating genocide of feminists. And yet, hypocritically, some trans extremists accuse GT critics of promoting genocide of trans persons!
The bottom line is this: trans extremism has become misogynistic and sometimes homophobic. In particular, when “gender affirming care” leads to unnecessary and invasive medical procedures, then in reality it becomes a form of conversion therapy, converting a person who would normally grow up to be homosexual into an ersatz heterosexual. This constitutes medical malpractice and medical child abuse.
This egregious malpractice, based on obvious pseudoscience, has gone on long enough. It must stop. In particular, self-identification must stop and transitioning of minors must be subjected to much stricter medical supervision and perhaps ended completely. Several European countries (e.g. Finland, Sweden, England, etc.) have already taken steps to restrict access to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries for minors.
One of the most dangerous, but unsurprising, results of trans extremism has been the strengthening of the homophobic (often religious) political right. Faced with outrageous demands which discredit the trans movement, and with it the entire LGBT movement, homophobes are greatly emboldened and empowered. Trans extremists and their allies are themselves responsible in part for the wave of anti-gay and anti-trans legislation which we see in some parts of the USA and in some other countries.
Emotivity Trumps Rationality, Slander Replaces Debate
The extreme irrationality and hysteria displayed by trans extremists and their “allies” is very reminiscent of the hysterical opposition to Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, whose supporters are often the targets of preposterous accusations of “racism” (worse than just false, also a category error) and other sins. In both cases—trans extremism and antisecularism—emotivity trumps rationality, making reasoned debate practically impossible. In both cases, defamatory accusations of various “phobias” and vacuous buzzwords such as “diversity” and “inclusion” are used to silence opposition.
Meanwhile, the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left has, also unsurprisingly, shown itself utterly incapable of nuance. Instead of supporting only those trans demands which are reasonable (such as quality medical care and non-discrimination), the so-called “woke” have gone whole hog, uncritically endorsing Gender Theory and thoroughly embracing even its most negative consequences.
We must speak out against these excesses.
- Do No Harm Expert Testifies at Congress, Dr. Miriam Grossman, Do No Harm, 2023-06-14.
- I fought for gay rights — but trans activists have destroyed the meaning of Pride, Bruce Bawer, 2023-06-01.
- Identité de genre: les parents ont droit à la transparence, M. Drainville (Gender Identity: Parents have a Right to Transparency), 2023-05-26.
- Un bar lesbien vandalisé à Rennes, symptôme d’une fracture dans le mouvement LGBT (Lesbian Bar Vandalized in Rennes, Symptom of Split in LGBT Movement), Laure Daussy, 2023-05-25.
- Homophobia in drag, Ben Appel, Sp!ked, 2023-05-14.
- Enfants transgenres | ON N’EST PAS DU MONDE (excellent video in French), Ariane Beauféray, Le Verbe, 2023-02-28.
- Reason and Compassion on Gender Medicine, Leor Sapir, City Journal, 2022-11-04.
- Gender-Affirming Treatment of Gender Dysphoria in Youth: A Perfect Storm Environment for the Placebo Effect—The Implications for Research and Clinical Practice, Alison Clayton, Archives of Sexual Behavior, volume 52, 2023.
- Sex is binary: Scientists speak up for the empirical reality of biological sex, Dr Colin Wright (evolutionary biologist at Penn State, USA) and Dr Emma Hilton (developmental biologist at the University of Manchester, UK), Fair Play for Women, 2020-02-14.
Next blog: Exaggerating Historical Injustices