Tarrying with the Trans

Our societal indulgence of the transgender movement has surpassed the point of liberal tolerance: it’s steadily becoming a threat to the lives of many young people.

In less hysterical times, an encounter with an individual promulgating the idea of gender fluidity would be met with the same kind of bemusement and benign condescension that one enacts when cornered by a flat-earther, an alien enthusiast or a holocaust denier: a polite ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and a surreptitious exit being the normal responses to such evident absurdity.

Yet the claim of gender fluidity is now not only entertained by large segments of society; it has also been written into law; and diffused by the faithful with a zeal analogous to that seen in some of the more incendiary epochs of Western religious history — see the treatment meted out to contemporary heretics like J K Rowling, to take just one example.

Ordinarily, the demands that gender is solely a social construct, and that one’s interlocutor must address him/her/them/they/zie/zer according to their preferred ‘gender-identity’ should be rejected as the disquieting propositions that they both clearly are.

This is without elaborating on the incredulity required to believe any one of the other myriad absurdities inherent in this whole debate. Say, that there’s nothing out of the ordinary about a 6’2” 100 kg ‘female’ dominating women’s sports; or that there will be no unforeseeable problems in replacing the 3rd person singular (‘he’/’she’) with the 3rd person plural (‘they’/’them’); or that there’s nothing problematic in conflating identity with biology by allowing deluded and disturbed biological males into female change rooms, staff bathrooms or operating theatres.

To modify Marx: first as farce, then as farce again seems to be the current motto. Yet, these and other demands by the trans movement are now increasingly prominent and largely adhered to.

So what has produced this trans-mania? Partly, it’s just another unsavoury manifestation of the hyper-liberalism that we have witnessed since at least the 1960s. Having legalized gay marriage, enacted an ‘open-borders’ immigration policy, sanctified multi-culturalism, normalised marijuana usage, and commercialized nearly every aspect of our lives, why would we stop now?

Are we to suddenly prohibit one sex from claiming that they are now in fact the other? And, given technological advances, why wouldn’t we allow the gender-ambiguous the means to alter their physiognomy in an attempt to do so? The mere possession of such doubts is anathema to most of what we see around us, and all that we are told is right and good.

Another reason for the prominence of the trans movement is undoubtedly its religious character. As many of the associated terms may have already made clear, what we are witnessing now is nothing laudatory per se, but merely the latest instantiation of a form of quasi-religious tribalism. However, instead of the persecution of non-Catholic heretics in the Spain of the Inquisition, those to be ostracized now (or as current parlance has it, deplatformed) are the remaining members of the traditional, dull bourgeoisie itself.

The woke protagonists now assailing the conservative mainstream are merely the latest exemplars of Plato’s dictum from the Euthyphro: claiming sanctity for their movement as they are unsure if what they are doing is loved by the gods because it is pious, or [if] it is pious because it is loved by the gods.

Like Socrates’ eponymous encounter, we too are meant to leave our dealings with the woke feeling more enlightened: having…become instructed…in religion, and no longer in [our] ignorance expressing independent and unorthodox views; leaving us to live better for the rest of our lives.

Yet what these ingénues miss is the extremist nature of the changes the trans advocates seek to enact; and the crucial distinction they ignore between the natural (or, biological) basis of gender, and the facile claim that gender is purely a social construct: a claim rejected here, here, here and here.

Firstly, the fact that there are some assorted examples of androgynous and hermaphroditic beings within nature (about 5% of animal species, for example), including among humans, only confirms that this a minority proposition by definition, and not one that should be cast as dogma across the entire population.

Which has largely been what has happened. With the trans and LGBTQ movements shifting from their relatively minor stratum within liberal societies to one that is now increasingly mainstream, and even promoted towards children. The trans are now another major part of the whole left-liberal wave washing across Western societies: they are, as the writer Ronald Brownstein has dubbed this movement, yet another member of the reigning ‘coalition of the ascendant’.

Secondly, and the axis around most of which this debate hinges, is the crucial distinction between biological nature and culturally-claimed identity. According to the trans activists, what counts, almost exclusively and entirely, is the social convention around how one chooses to identify, irrespective of biology and embodied nature.

That some of ourselves is culturally bound shouldn’t be contentious, but not all of it. Which is what the trans activists are forcing us to believe, as they ask us to exclude nature and throw in our lot with them and their unimpeachably liberal agendas.

The standards of nature, of a natural end or telos — as Aristotle and other classical philosophers understood it — are almost totally unknown among these people. Brute natural facts that, inter alia, one gender solely possesses the ability to menstruate, gestate and lactate, are to be conveniently ignored.

That such an ostensible triumph of ‘identity’ over nature leads to patent absurdities shouldn’t need articulating. Of the many recent examples, the case of athlete Hannah Mouncey or the farce surrounding ‘Amerindian’ US Democrat Elizabeth Warren — claiming native-American ancestry for the purposes of political advancement and social cachet — are merely two of the most famous.

Yet these delusions continue to be enforced and thus they persist. The credible threat by the woke of branding dissenters as intolerant, bigoted or ‘judgemental’ is the worst of all possible crimes in our liberal and diverse societies; and one that comes with real and serious consequences (see Charles Murray, for one). What they enact is a type of liberal fascism or leftist blackmail, writ large.

Yet, this whole episode still retains a tragi-comic aspect — how could it not? The farcical nature of the project bringing to mind a quote from Alan Bloom: the law may prescribe that the male nipples be made equal to the female ones, but they still will not give milk. A pithy statement perhaps, but one that quite accurately summarizes where we are today.

And this is where we are today: with governments, the universities and the corporate world falling in behind the trans movement (woke capital and all that) in helping mandate the movement’s disconcerting beliefs. That this would lead to a raft of damaging effects should have been blatantly obvious; even to those with the merest and most tenuous hold on reality itself.

And so it has been. With one particularly insidious example appearing in a recent article in Australia’s The Age newspaper, with a prominent doctor calling for the rescinding of a ban placed by British courts on the availability of ‘puberty blockers’ to children aged under 16.

This article is deeply troubling as it is both emblematic of our social malaise (in seeking to further normalize such destructive behaviour), and equally disturbing on its own merits. The staggering myopia the author shows regarding any longer-term pejorative effects that this will have on the individuals involved — which include: permanent physical changes to voice, hair growth and breast development, to name just a few — is quite breathtaking.

This is why this movement is now so insidious and why we must no longer acquiesce: with the latter being what has unfortunately largely occurred. Outside of a few brave exceptions, such as the aforementioned Rowling, Abighail Shear in the US, and Bernard Lane and Claire Lehman here in Australia, there has been very little mainstream critique: the threat of social ostracism and the censor’s veto have been very powerful forces indeed.

Due to a cowardice stemming from the potential wrath of the regnant left-liberals, we’ve created a milieu in which real and permanent damage is being done. Whether that be the harm inflicted through pharmaceuticals such as ‘puberty blockers’; or the major increase in children seeking further medical interventions; or the calls to remove the breasts of teenage girls — or, their actual removal — we’ve permitted and overseen a serious amount of largely avoidable suffering and trauma.

This is also without totally taking into account those older members of society who’ve already had gender transition surgeries, only to now seek to have them reversed upon finding that they didn’t remedy the underlying mental disquiet that undoubtedly provoked such measures in the first place.

Obviously, we have clearly gone too far. Our civilizational indulgence of the trans movement is in need of major recalibration: far from seeing its growth as a further triumph of liberalism, or as historical progress, it should be seen as the tragic and toxic example of licentious excess that it actually is, and duly treated as such.

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RJ Anderson

RJ Anderson

RJ Anderson is an essayist based in Australia. He can be contacted via: rj_anderson1@protonmail.com