On ‘Gender,’ the Left Is Shooting Itself in the Foot
Rarely have the special accommodations demanded by one group been so deleterious for others.
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Picture an ouroboros eating its own tail, an own goal at a critical point in a soccer match, or a serious self-inflicted wound. These are all apt descriptions of the Left when it comes to gender ideology.
At present, gender ideology—a denial of material reality akin to creationism—is enthusiastically embraced by the left, from bourgeois liberals and putative progressives to self-described socialists and revolutionaries. Gender ideology posits that biology has nothing to do with what sex you are, and that the undefinable and entirely subjective notion of “gender identity” is more tangible and fundamental way to categorize people both socially and legally. Gender activists go even further in asserting that the two sexes—male and female—are not real biological categories, but are instead arbitrary “social constructs” that were created solely to oppress women and racial minorities. These beliefs are maintained despite the fact that over 99.98 percent of humans are immediately categorizable as unambiguously male or female at birth.
Gender ideologues are notorious for word games and language manipulation. When it suits them, the word “gender” is used as a synonym for “sex.” At other times, and depending on the context, gender is taken to refer to roles and behaviors stereotypically associated with being male or female. And, when all else fails, gender is interpreted as an ethereal inner essence, like a soul, that cannot be directly observed or studied, but must be taken at face value as real and only knowable from a first-person perspective. Together, these inconsistent, overlapping definitions are used by gender ideologists to resist being pinned down, to evade addressing logical contradictions, and to dismiss material reality.
What makes the gender subterfuge so effective is that gender is simultaneously cast as separate from and synonymous with sex. When seen as separate, it’s argued that a person’s gender expression—stereotypical behaviors and preferences associated with being male or female—can only be arrived at by a conscious individual sometime after birth. But as “gender” is also used as a surrogate for “sex,” an inability to pin down a person’s chosen gender expression immediately upon emerging from the womb is used to argue that biological sex itself cannot be determined at birth (let alone in utero!). Instead, gender ideologues insist that doctors simply “assign” a gender and/or sex to infants, where there is again endless equivocation between sexual anatomy and social roles.
All of this would amount to little more than bizarre navel gazing was it not for the fact that gender ideology, when allowed to influence policy, has significant negative impacts on women, gays, lesbians, children, free speech, freedom of religion, and democratic rights.
When the Dam Breaks
Most Americans take it as given that biological sex determines whether a person is male or female. This is logical since most animals and some plants are sexually binary and dimorphic (having exactly two, distinct sexes). Biologists and naturalists use gametes and their supporting anatomical structures to determine the sex of individuals in all species that have discrete sexes, which includes all of the more than 5,400 known mammalian species. In all such species, a biological male and female are required to make a baby. Most people understand this.
Many folks in flyover country have no idea that gender ideologues literally deny the biological basis of sex and promote the notion that being a woman or man is based on how one feels. To average Americans, (and to any scientist when referring to non-human mammals) someone with male reproductive anatomy is always a male, regardless of how he feels, how he dresses, or how he happens to “identify.” Similarly for females.
Most Americans also do not realize that when gender ideologues insist that “Trans Women are Women,” they’re talking about anatomical, biological males; they’re asserting that a man is literally a woman if he chooses to identify as such. If pollsters asked them whether “males” should be allowed to compete in “women and girls” sports, instead of masking reality with language by asking them whether “trans women and girls” should be able to compete in “women and girls” sports, many more would likely respond “no” to the former than the latter, even though the questions are effectively the same.
As more and more people come to understand the artifice inherent in gender ideology, they’re going to be angry. They’re going to feel gaslighted, manipulated, and abused. What many assumed was merely a movement for tolerance and acceptance will be revealed to be an irrational, faith-based belief. A belief, moreover, that tolerates no apostates; that insists all must embrace its thinking, repeat its catechisms, reject biology and common sense, and stifle their own cognitive dissonance. The penalty for failure to join the faith is shunning, censorship and cancellation.
The Democratic Party, The Green Party, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, La Leche League, the National Organization for Women, the British Labour Party, Unitarian Universalists, the mainstream media, Democracy Now, practically every university, many local school districts, and nearly every socialist group have joined the gender religion. When the dam breaks and people realize the fraud being perpetrated by gender ideology, it is toward these organizations that popular anger will be directed.
What’s the Harm?
The harms resultant from gender ideology are many. It should go without saying that transgender people, like all others, deserve full civil and human rights. But full rights does not mean super rights. Rarely have the special accommodations demanded by one group been so deleterious for others.
Women have been historically disadvantaged and oppressed based on their sex. But gender ideology seeks to reinterpret “sex discrimination” in law and government policy to mean discrimination based on self-perceived (or rather proclaimed) “gender identity.” This means that any man who simply identifies as a woman would have full access to women’s private spaces (bathrooms, locker rooms, hospital wards, prisons), sports teams, affirmative action slots, awards, associations and more. This reverses many of the gains women have fought for and won over the centuries. We have already witnessed men gaining access to women’s sports teams; assaulting women in prison; raping women in “gendered” bathrooms; receiving awards and recognition set aside for women.
Gender ideologists have also pushed for changes to language that demean and marginalize women. The very definition of the word “woman” (Woman: Adult human female) is now considered transphobic. The term “breast feeding” is to be replaced with “chest feeding” to allow for the possibility that men might join in this exclusively female function. “Mothers” must be referred to as “birthing parents”. Those needing to be screened for cervical cancer are not to be called women but “cervix havers.”
Gays and lesbians are harassed by transgender activists for their sexual orientation. Having a partner preference based on sex rather than “gender identity” is considered transphobic. The very notion of homosexuality is denounced by gender ideologues who insist that one’s self-perceived “gender identity” should count more than their anatomy. Lesbians are harassed on dating sites for refusing to hook up with men who demand to be seen as women.
Children who experience discomfort with their bodies, who bristle at gender stereotypes, or who may be experiencing other conditions such as autism or depression, are being fast-tracked onto the transgender pharmaceutical treadmill. For most children who experience gender dysphoria, the condition resolves naturally after going through puberty. Most of those children go on to identify as gay or lesbian. But now many of these children experiencing dysphoria are steered toward puberty blockers—drugs once used for chemical castration of sex offenders. And the overwhelming majority of those who take puberty blockers proceed on to sterilizing cross-sex hormones and then face a lifetime of medicalization and dangerous complications.
Elementary, middle, and high school curricula marinate children in gender ideology. The denial of biology currently being taught is a throwback to the teaching of creationism and “Intelligent Design” exemplified by the infamous Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925.
Democratic rights are thrown out the window. Of course, everyone has a right to their own personal beliefs, but no one should have the right to impose those beliefs on others. Yet gender ideologists insist that a person’s belief as to whether they are male or female must be accepted and validated by others unconditionally, regardless of obvious biological reality. Everyone is expected to reinforce someone’s chosen pronouns, whether they match the person’s sex or not. All are expected to honor someone’s right to enter male or female spaces as they choose, based solely on the person’s self-identification. Those challenging any aspect of this philosophy may be censored, fired, canceled, or even charged with a crime.
People are free to disbelieve Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, astrology, and any number of other belief systems. No one claims that this “denies the existence” of Catholics, Muslims, Jews, or astrologists. But gender ideologists insist that failure to adhere to their ideology is to deny their very existence. This overreach is manipulative and undemocratic.
A Self-Inflicted Wound
None of this is progressive, let alone revolutionary. None of this challenges the powers that be. On the contrary, gender ideology is anti-material, anti-science, and reactionary to the core. “Progressives” who yesterday chided others for not “following the science” on climate change have today thrown science out the window when it comes to gender ideology. Former proponents of science and material reality have, with this issue, abandoned all reason. What’s more, they have abandoned any pretense of supporting free speech and civil liberties, supporting instead censorship of those who dare to say the emperor has no clothes.
If the left doesn’t get itself sorted out on this issue—and quickly—the right will opportunistically step in to pose as the guardians of reason and civil liberties. This has already begun. Absent left-aligned forces willing to stand up for women, gays, lesbians and children on this issue, traditionally conservative law firms, politicians, and media personalities have begun to fill the void.
As always, there is a heavy price to be paid when the left finds itself on the wrong side of a major issue—lining up, as it were, on the wrong side of the barricades. That price is paid not only by those organizations and individuals who fail as leaders, but by the many average people who suffer directly and indirectly from that misleadership.
The alarm clock is ringing. It’s time to wake up!
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