Thursday, April 15, 2021

Wokeism Seems Parasitic To Hard Won Black Civil Rights In America...,

andrewsullivan  |  If we were going to construct a test-case for how dysfunctional our politics have become, it would be hard to beat the transgender issue. It profoundly affects a relatively minuscule number of people in the grand scheme of things, and yet galvanizes countless more for culture war purposes. It has become a litmus test for social justice campaigners, who regard anyone proposing even the slightest qualifications on the question as indistinguishable from a Klan member. It has seized the attention of some of the most extreme elements among radical feminists, who in turn regard any smidgen of a compromise on the rights of women as a grotesque enforcement of patriarchy. 

Worse, it has now excited the Christianist right, who see the recognition of trans rights as an effort to destroy the sexual binary that is at the core of almost all orthodox faith. And it has become a Twitter phenomenon, where all reasonable arguments go to die. If you are an opinion writer, you really do have to be a masochist to even want to dabble in the debate. And the mainstream media is, at this point, completely unreliable as a source of balance or information. They openly advocate the most extreme critical theory arguments about sex and gender as if they were uncontested facts and as if the debate can be explained entirely as a function of bigotry vs love. (A recent exception to this, though tilted clearly from the start in one direction, is this explainer from the NYT last night.)

Big global stories — for example, a high court case in Britain that found that minors under 16 are not developmentally capable of making the decision to take puberty blockers — are routinely ignored. Check out this video from the Washington Post. It doesn’t even gesture at fairness: no presentation of counter-argument; instant attribution of bigotry for anyone deemed in disagreement.

And the issue has recently become, even more emotively, about children — how they are treated, how the medical world deals with them, amid complicated arguments about specific treatments, their long-term effects, and genuine scientific disputes. And all of this is taking place with far too few reliable, controlled studies on transgender individuals, as children and adults, or on medical interventions. A lot of the time, we’re flying blind.

I’ve been trying to think these things through for the past few years. I used to think trans rights were a no-brainer. Of course I supported them. And I still do. I believe trans people when they tell the stories of their lives; I empathize because I’m human, and the pain and struggle of so many trans people is so real; and perhaps also because being gay helps you see how a subjective feeling can be so deep as to be an integral part (but never the whole) of your identity. 

Equally, however, I have some reservations. I trust biology on the core binary sexual reproductive strategy of our species, without which we would not exist, and which does not cease to exist because of a few variations on the theme (I’m one of those variations myself). I do not believe that a trans woman or a trans man is in every way indistinguishable from a woman or a man. If there were no differences, trans women and trans men would not exist as a separate category. I do not buy the idea that biological sex is socially constructed, or a function of “white supremacist” thought, for Pete’s sake. I further believe that no-one should be excluded from this or any debate; and that “lived experience” cannot replace “objective reality”, although it can often help complicate and explain it.  

In our current culture, this somewhat complicated stance is anathema. For some trans activists, especially the younger more thoroughly woke ones, I am simply evil, beset by phobias, and determined to persecute and kill trans people, or seek their genocide. I wish this were a caricature of their views, but it isn’t. For some radical feminists, my empathy for trans women, and concern for their welfare, is regarded as a function of my misogyny and hatred of women, often wrapped up in some anti-gay, misandrist bile. I wish I were exaggerating here as well. The proportion of people in this debate who seem psychologically unstable, emotionally volatile and personally vicious seems larger than usual.

But we can no longer avoid the subject. There is now a flood of bills in state legislatures designed to ban medical procedures for minors who appear to be trans, and to ensure fairness between trans girls and girls in school sports, and a few that are even more extreme. Lines have been drawn. The woke establishment — all major corporations, the federal government, the universities, all cultural institutions, the mainstream media and now the medical authorities — are unequivocally on the side of anything the trans activists want. Amazon won’t even sell some books presenting one side of the case, while they still sell Mein Kampf. K thru 12 education now routinely tells children that biological sex is a spectrum (it isn’t) and they can choose where to fit.