Discover more from gender:hacked by Eliza Mondegreen
Is the tide turning in the US?
As someone who has been openly skeptical of the trans movement for years, I've recently had a lot of friends and colleagues—every single one of whom would describe themselves as liberals or progressives—reach out to me to ask questions and express their own serious reservations about trans activism. So I do get the sense that the tide is turning in the US.
But I'm also curious how this is breaking down demographically. In my age bracket, I know a lot of 30-something women who advocating for trans issues more feverishly than ever before. A few friendships of mine that had survived years of deep disagreement about gender recently collapsed—not my doing.
Here's what that looks like to me: the trans movement continues to radicalize and as a result is alienating people who were prepared to lend their passive support but balked when they realized they were expected to be zealots. The movement is increasingly shedding people who were active and vocal supporters who had nevertheless not really understood what they were supporting and now are having second thoughts. But the supporters who remain are becoming more fanatical than ever, since they view their precious and righteous cause as under attack.
One of my closest friends made an interesting observation the other day: she said can't think of any other social cause that ‘progressive’ people are expected to support so loudly and passionately and often viciously.
In certain progressive circles, it's just not acceptable to have a neutral, passive, or private stance on issues that would normally stir up controversy. (Take “Let’s run a big medical experiment on a bunch of kids who might have otherwise grown up to be gay!” That would have been a very hard sell five or 10 years ago. But the branding’s changed since then.)
Before I terfed out on Facebook, I had acquaintances and colleagues I didn't know well message me asking why I didn't promote trans causes or mention 'transwomen' in my frequent posts about women's issues. For years, mere silence on this issue has been conspicuous and suspect.
I can't state enough how Not Normal that is. But when something can only be true if everyone plays along, then everyone must be made to play along, even if they have to pulled from their seats and 'danced' about like marionettes.
But now the whole macabre affair is starting to fall apart. The spirits have run dry. The music is starting to sound more like screeching and the marionettes are weary and starting to snip their strings.
What’s also happening is that an issue that activists insisted affects no one but 'trans' people has started to spill out into everybody's everyday lives.
Now lots of people have family members or friends who've come out as 'trans' and that means lots of people have seen loved ones fall under the sway of a belief system that is toxic at any dose.
Up close, trans narratives about authenticity and joy fall apart.
At this point, I know a lot of people who've come out as trans: classmates, colleagues, friends. It’s a sobering process to witness because every single person, without exception, got worse: more fragile and less able to function in day-to-day life, more rigid in their thinking, more self-obsessed and self-surveilling—not to mention less interesting to talk to.
Narrative and experience diverged painfully here. What does it mean to ‘support’ a loved one who comes out as trans? Does ‘support’ mean affirming their new trans identity? Or does support look more like trying to maintain a loving connection with someone who has joined a cult and hoping against hope that your loved one will someday find their way out?
The trans movement made impossible promises, both to its most devoted members and to the public.
To its members, the movement said: transition and you will finally be free to be who you always were deep down. As my research shows, the reality of transition is something else: dysphoria that migrates from one part of the body to the next, lingering doubts, a sense of falsity that spreads from a new name and altered sex marker down to the smallest interaction.
To allies, the movement said: you can't do feminism without us. You're no progressive if you don't support us. Then trans activism tore women's rights and progressive organizing to shreds.
To the public, the movement said—often with outright contempt)—“This doesn't affect you.” Unfortunately, it does, if you are unlucky enough to have a job you’d like to keep or a daughter with athletic dreams or an independent thought in your head you’d like to voice.