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Mean Words and Eradicating Political Ideologies

I have a short chained pendulum which rapidly swings back and forth between optimism and pessimism that gender ideology will be defeated. A single event can cause this swing from one side to the other and back. For example, I visit Twitter Spaces across the political spectrum to sample a wide variety of perspectives across topics. I especially find it interesting how different groups approach gender after spending so much time listening in Spaces that start from the view of Feminism. A frequent Spaces host I have started following has an explicit understanding that gender ideology is a political movement. She also has a degree of myopia about the bounds of its political argument, which is a depressingly common phenomena.

There are a number of people who, like me, developed their understanding of gender ideology after beginning to recognize its impact on children. I wonder if what first catches a person's attention about what is either called adolescent medical transition or chemical and surgical child genital mutilation determines the bounds of one's political understanding. Realizing that treating adolescents for gender issues starts with blocking puberty, the natural developmental stage which makes treatment unnecessary, made me suspicious of everything. If the decades old understanding that the vast majority of children with pervasive gender dysphoria grow out of it with puberty could be rendered irrelevant to transition them, anything could. In fact, the most essential aspect of medical intervention for a vulnerable population was completely ignored, that there lacked any evidence to support the intervention. This raised a question for me. If there is no evidence to support adolescent transition, is there evidence to support adult transition? I feel confident in suggesting it is as strong as the evidence for children. This should be self-evident. Our fundamental biology does not change between adolescence and adulthood, it simply matures.

A number of people approach this topic with a Libertarian's perspective. This is a possible source of the myopia. They focus, correctly, on a child's inability to give informed consent to losing body parts and function they have not fully experienced. Many make the explicit point that they do not want to limit what adults do with their bodies. It seems obvious that their perspective has limited their thinking. Informed consent is not just impossible for children because of their limited life experience but also because of the limited knowledge the doctor has of long term impacts due to the lack of evidence. This means that informed consent for adults is similarly constrained. For example, how forthright are doctors on the limited high quality evidence showing a long term correlation between transition and a massive increase in the suicide rate?

There is no body of evidence that led to adolescent medical transition. There is no adolescent disorder that is treated by chemically stopping puberty, taking wrong sex hormones, followed by cosmetic surgery. Children are not being transitioned because it serves their needs. They are being transitioned because it serves the desires of adults. They are being transitioned because it validates adult men who want to promote the idea that they were "born this way" and their trans identity is more real than their immutable sex. They are no longer men, they are transgender women. This is a central aspect of a political goal of gender ideology, the universal defined concept of sex is replaced in law with the undefined subjective notion of gender. 

There is an inherent self-defeating contradiction between believing that some people are truly trans and advocating against childhood transition. If some people are truly trans it necessitates explaining why early intervention should be unavailable to "trans children". It is difficult to defeat a political ideology while also believing tenets of that ideology. It is much less contradictory to recognize that children should not medically transition because the idea is meaningless. Sex is immutable. Genital mutilation by another name, such as gender affirming care, is still just medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery. One can believe that adults should be able to mutilate their genitalia as they wish and also recognize that they do not become a new class of people called trans as a result of that mutilation. My pessimism comes from the number of people who recognize the gender political ideology for what it is and still struggle to reconcile the two beliefs. The ongoing response to two commentators from the conservative Daily Wire media company gives some sense of how extensive the struggle is. 

Around Valentine's Day Matt Walsh made a video response to Tik Tok personality Dylan Mulvaney declaring himself the most beautiful he has ever been. Mulvaney is an actor who began documenting his journey into "becoming a girl" over a year ago. He has interviewed the president and been asked to be a spokesman for several products, including tampons. In early March, Michael Knowles said in a speech to CPAC that we need to eradicate transgenderism. What he calls transgenderism, others might call gender ideology, or the gender industry. Leaving aside all of the willfully dishonest responses arguing against implications they invented, there are a number of people who agree with Knowles' and Walsh's political goals who criticize that they have gone too far or are not being persuasive to the right people. These critics are either ignorant of or naive about the purpose and function of political power. Between the two comments, we have a clear call to political action, which names the political ideology to be opposed: 

 and a pointed response to an agent of that ideology and his use as propaganda for it: 

Much of the criticism agreed with their statements while disagreeing with the way the statements were made. For example, there are numerous Twitter threads calling Walsh's words unnecessarily mean where women condemn Walsh's tone while agreeing with him that Mulvaney is play acting a mockery of women. It is fair to say that Walsh's words are harsh, but that is the nature of speaking truth to someone whose comfort is dependent on falsehoods. Focusing on one response to Knowles and Walsh will help illustrate the contradiction mentioned above at the heart of the criticisms. In a nutshell, it seems to be the difference between wanting to completely defeat a political ideology and manage its excesses around the edges.

Following Knowles CPAC speech liberal Daily Wire writer Christina Buttons resigned. Her writing focus there has been gender ideology in general and adolescent gender transition specifically. She essentially felt that Knowles' and Walsh's rhetoric negatively impacted people like her transsexual friends. She wrote, "[t]here are transsexuals who are not ideologues, who know they cannot literally identify out of their sex, and who believe that medical transition is a choice for adults...Walsh's rhetoric coincided with a sudden deluge of animus toward transsexuals like my friend Blair White, simply for being transsexual." Like many people concerned with adolescent transition who also wish to avoid impacting the choices of adults she misses that the fight against gender ideology is a binary argument. Not opposing it completely is the same as supporting it, at least in part if not fully. 

If we firmly establish the binary and immutable nature of sex in law, who is harmed? If we establish full embodiment and bodily integrity in law, who is forced to do anything as a result? What would prevent men from wearing dresses and make-up or undergoing cosmetic surgery? What the critics don't understand is that no one is arguing against the choices of adults. Eradicating transgenderism means that the choices those adults make do not change the rules and laws that impact everyone else. This may negatively impact people who are fighting the excesses of this political ideology, like Button's friend Blair White. Perhaps they can preemptively lower that impact. Since they recognize that they "know they cannot literally identify out of their sex" it might help to stop identifying as anything other than men. The idea that cosmetic procedures now mean a man is a new class of person called transsexual is at least a figurative belief that some men can identify out of their sex. 

Knowles and Walsh wish to avoid the slippery slope leading to the worst excesses of gender ideology, like child genial mutilation. Their critics' argument seems to be that it is better to just relocate the discussion somewhat higher on the slope. Where Knowles argues, "there can be no middle ground," they respond that there is.


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