What would it take for you to say: the trans movement isn’t what I thought it was?
I posted a version of this blog post back in the summer. This week—with Lia Thomas demolishing women’s swimming records and the New York Times deferring to the preferred pronouns of a male serial killer of women—is as good a time as any to resurrect and recirculate it. Talk to your friends. You might be surprised who’s waiting for an opening to speak freely about the conflicts trans ideology raises.
Over the course of dozens of one-on-one conversations about trans ideology with fellow progressives over the past four years, here's what I've heard over and over again:
- I didn't think I was allowed to say that.
- That never made sense to me.
- It always seemed so sexist/regressive to me.
- I thought I must be missing something.
- I didn't think it was my place to question it.
- I wasn't sure how to talk about it.
- I didn’t know what I could and couldn’t say about it.
- I felt like a bad person.
- Something didn't feel right to me but I just wasn’t sure...
Good-hearted, liberal-minded people want to do the right thing by trans people. But an extreme version of the ‘trans rights’ agenda became part of the progressive package—a package many progressives pick up and carry around without ever opening it to examine the contents.
Everywhere progressives turn, they hear what's expected of a good trans ally: listen [defer] to trans people, educate yourself [self-indoctrinate], amplify trans voices [be quiet], be kind [don’t be honest], and remember: your intent doesn't matter.
Would-be allies are expected to accept quite the menu of questionable claims and demands:
- Believe that self-declaration magically turns a man into a woman
- Accept the medicalization of younger and younger children
- Accept the redefinition of your sex class and personal identity
- Speak in an unfamiliar language that constricts what you can express and even think about sex and gender
- Accept that, as a "cis" person, your existence mysteriously contributes to the oppression of trans people
- Interpret changing everything about yourself as radical self-acceptance, etc., etc.
But allies quickly learn how to manage their questions and doubts about what they’re being asked to support:
- Just because you don’t understand X doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with X. [Doesn’t mean X is OK, either…]
- As a “cisgender” person, you might not be capable of understanding X. That doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility to support trans people.
- X is supposed to make you uncomfortable. Discomfort is a sign that you need to challenge yourself and grow.
- If you were a better ally, you’d understand why X is necessary and why it’s offensive to question X.
- "Repeat after me: trans rights are human rights! Transwomen are women!" And so on.
So you learn to discount your own intuition and second-guess your perceptions, when your intuition and perceptions contradict trans dogma. You struggle to learn a language that’s unfamiliar and always shifting, so you never know what you can and can’t say. And this new language makes it almost impossible to think and communicate clearly about the concepts you’re expected to accept. You watch other people ask reasonable questions and make innocuous—even supportive—comments and pay the price for their ideological noncompliance: losing friends, losing work, weathering rape and death threats. An Arctic chill settles over the whole subject. Is it any wonder many progressives hesitate even to broach the subject, or do anything other than nod along and hope somebody changes the subject?
But what could be shrugged off a few years ago as the excesses of a movement that had little impact on most people’s day-to-day life has become harder and harder for progressives to ignore. It’s almost impossible to avoid trans issues today, and the dictates progressives are expected to observe keep stiffening. Yesterday, it was enough to accept that some people feel uncomfortable with their sex and desire to be seen as members of the opposite sex. Today, progressives are supposed to cheer an obvious cheat as he drowns the dreams of his female competitors and defend the desire of male rapists and serial killers to be referred to as “she.” Unfortunately for trans activists, the average person hasn't read anywhere near enough queer theory to prevent them from recognizing what's right in front of their eyes. People want to be polite, but they don’t want to be made to tell lies.
So it’s a good time to break the silence and ask fellow progressives some tough questions about trans ideology. When you sit down for a one-on-one conversation, you have an opportunity to reject the taboos, drop the language games, and speak plainly about what’s going on.
As soon as people feel free to use familiar language and ask questions without fear of being monstered or canceled, it turns out progressives have a lot of questions and doubts about the trans agenda, questions like...
- Does everybody have a gender identity?
- What are kids being taught about gender id in school?
- Why did this all seem to have come out of nowhere?
- Is transition safe? Does transition work?
- What's going on with so many kids identifying as trans out of the blue?
- Why are the new euphemisms for 'female'—’bleeder,’ ‘uterus-haver,’ ‘menstruator’—so degrading to women?
- Why are trans demands so lopsided, with much demanded of women and very little demanded of men?
- Why do ideologically-noncompliant women take so much more heat from trans activists than violent men?
- Why are we deferring to the gender identity claims of male rapists and serial killers?
- Why are women’s movements being co-opted?
- Does anyone abuse self-id policies?
- What’s the difference between a ‘transwoman’ and a man who says he’s a woman?
- How is it fair for someone like Lia Thomas to demolish women’s swimming records?
- What's the difference between Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner?
- Why does gender id come up all the time, when trans activism doesn’t really have anything to do with [name your pet progressive issue]?
- What was wrong with what JK Rowling said?
- Does gender id belong at work?
- Isn't it all kind of sexist and regressive?
- Why is it so hard to talk about any of this?
This is exactly why trans activists must maintain a chill on the subject, insist that everyone uses language that obscures what's going on, and punish anyone who deviates from the party line. None of this is normal: not the claims and demands, not the vicious enforcement, not the awkward silences. Ultimately, progressives need to ask ourselves tough questions about how we got here and how we find our way out. Here’s one:
What would it take for you to say: this movement isn’t what I thought it was?