I‘ve recently become a father and am far more concerned now more than ever with the sorts of things I see being advocated for by teachers, social workers, activists, public servants and even politicians. Things I previously thought were ridiculous and only concerned me indirectly now concern me in the most direct way possible, through my child.
Of course, one could argue I’m being dramatic, but I really don’t think I am. I think I’m taking this as seriously as any concerned parent ought to and will explain why later on. Furthermore, as is often the case in many facets of life, it’s important to understand the origin of an idea to determine its net impact and potentially, even, its end result. Which is something I’m seeking to do in this article.
As anyone who’s even paying the slightest bit of attention to current social changes will now know, there is without a doubt a cultural fixation with gender and breaking down the ‘meta’ narrative of what’s been called the ‘gender-binary’. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, ‘gender-binary’ refers to the idea that humans fall into one of two gender categories, i.e. male and female. And this binary is something trans (transgender) activists argue is not only factually wrong but also ‘violent’ to trans people. One of their explanations for the extremely high attempted suicide rate amongst the trans community (43% in Australia) is cissexism (prejudice and/or discrimination against trans people) which is argued derives, at least in a significant part, from the gender binary and the system it supposedly perpetrates.
I sympathize with those who experience gender dysphoria and have no issue with an adult who wishes to undergo any sort of surgery to help them with their body image and mental health. I also am certainly not suggesting that the idea that trans people not being accepted in the way they’d like to be by society is not contributing to their attempted suicides. I would say, however, that there are more significant factors.
It’s difficult to know where to begin when looking at the history of this ideological movement. But a good place to start with these kinds of ideas, which often come from universities, is with the literature and academics behind them. Simone De Beauvoir was a French author and philosopher who, in 1949, wrote The Second Sex which, fundamentally, argued that ‘One is not born, but rather becomes a woman’. This line of thought gave rise to the idea that the essential meaning applied to women was made within a social context. This applies to men also, that the dominant culture at the time determines what a typical man or woman is, how they should act and what behaviour is or isn’t socially acceptable.
John Money, a discredited New Zealand psychologist, attempted to separate sex and gender with the former being defined as biological attributes and the latter being behaviours, values and attitudes demonstrated. Money went on to posit that a boy or girl raised as the opposite gender would be able to successfully live as that gender. Unfortunately, this theory was actually tested on a child, David Reimer, who had suffered a surgical injury to his Penis as an infant. Initially hailed as a success as David became known as Brenda and lived as a girl and woman for some time. The experiment quickly changed course however when Brenda decided to detransition back to a boy at 14 and then speak out regarding the trauma he had suffered as a result. However, the trauma proved too much for David and he tragically committed suicide at just 38 years of age.
It’s incredibly horrifying to think that academics and ‘experts’ are making decisions like these that lead to tragic consequences that they aren’t held responsible for. For those interested in reading further into this I suggest reading this journal article on what actually happened.
In the 1970s, second-wave feminism started analyzing the roles women and men held in society and disputed the need for any social boundaries preventing them from exiting those roles. This particular idea is reasonable, I believe, the issue is that it was taken to its extreme and still is to this day.
But third-wave feminism quickly succeeded the second-wave and developed the idea that gender is ‘performative’ and not linked to biology. Judith Butler, in 1988, wrote Gender Trouble which put forth this idea and many others. This thought process and evolution puts these ideas firmly down the post-modern route of deconstruction and power structures.
Asta in her 2018 book, Categories We Live By, further argues this point by stating the following, “To be of a certain gender, for example, is to be taken to have bodily features presumed to be evidence of a role in biological reproduction and be placed in a hierarchical power structure as a result”. The use of presumed and placed indicates that it is society placing men and women in these categories and not any kind of biological reality. Hence, you can claim to be a woman by simply saying you are. There is no need for a biological underpinning, it’s only a performance.
I’ll get back to the main points I’m trying to make but, there are a number of sources available for those interested in reading further into this. The one I most highly recommend is Joanna Williams publication The Corrosive Impact of Transgender Ideology which can be found with a simple Google search.
I know now, after familiarising myself with the basic literature and history behind this ideological movement, why certain things are being pushed for so vehemently. This intersects with my concerns as a new parent as if what’s being pushed for continues, are changes that will deeply affect my daughter’s way of life and how she sees herself. Of course, it is my job and my wife’s job to ensure we equip her with tools like critical thinking and psychological strength. But it’s also dependent on her level of exposure to these faulty ideas will have an effect.
The first major issue that’s manifesting itself outside of the universities is a push to control the mainstream vernacular and force people to recognize the ‘performance’ of transgender ideologues. To clarify, I have no actual issue with transgenders or people who are genuinely intersex and am focusing on those who are pushing an ideological lunacy I have deep concerns with, people I refer to as transgender ideologues.
This specific idea is what shot Jordan Peterson to fame in 2016 with his refusal to abide by the proposal in Bill C-16 which was going to force members of the Canadian public to use an individuals preferred pronouns. To date, now that the Bill has actually passed, no one has been arrested for not using a person’s preferred pronouns. But this particular bill sets a precedent that could certainly lead to a place where arrests are perfectly normal.
It’s often portrayed as a compassionate act to use someone’s preferred pronouns and I personally don’t have an issue with calling someone either a he or she if they are genuinely a trans woman or trans man. But I often see people I’d label as idealogues strongly pushing for the state to legislate the enforcement of their pronouns and advocating to put it into schools policy. Of course one could dismiss this as largely trivial, as many do, but if it’s so trivial why does it need to be legislated? Why is it so important to control what other people say? I believe it’s related to the idea of gender being a ‘performance’ and something society needs to be recognising in order for it to feel and therefore be real. If it were also a simple compassionate act, I believe societies would undergo natural and normal linguistic evolution wherein this would be perfectly normal within a number of years.
The second issue can be surmised best in an article I recently read. The author focuses on the problems associated with raising children in a ‘gendered’ environment and believes ‘gender creative’ parenting will lead to the potential elimination of revenge porn, misogynistic trash talk, toxic masculinity and eating disorders. It’s possible, I suppose, but highly, highly doubtful. What’s being argued here, fundamentally, and despite the author giving a brief mention to the biological basis for some gender differences. Is that society forces girls and boys into strict categories of inflexible gender roles. And because of this, after reading several paragraphs in, women are systematically paid less for performing the same hours in the same job as men. That women being a minority of ASX200 board members is a result of gender discrimination and that one in four women experiencing violence at the hands of an intimate partner is a result of these strict gender roles. And the evidence provided to back up such claims? Basically, the mere existence of a disparity in the numbers must obviously be a result of an inherently discriminatory, misogynistic system keeping women out of male-dominated industries. And, that a culture of toxic masculinity, because boys and girls are raised in gendered environments, leads to domestic violence on a scale similar to that of war-torn African nations. Of course, the analysis performed by the author is barely even surface level and requires far more than just a look at numbers and disparities.
The 2016 Personal Safety Survey conducted by the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) is where the data that one in four women has experienced abuse at the hands of a partner comes from. After determining the questions I can see that threats of both sexual and physical violence are included in the total number. Threats are still obviously something horrible and no one should suffer from such verbal and emotional abuse but, it’s not the same as physical violence. Also, something I thought interesting to note, was that she didn’t mention plumbing or fabricating as industries that need a greater gender balance, as both those and many other such blue-collar industries are significantly more male-dominated than corporation board members or politics.
But, to relate this back to the main points of this article, my concerns are multiplied when the current attempts to transform how gender and sex are seen and treated lead to conclusions like the ones I mentioned above. The author would have a better argument if things had become worse for women in western countries instead of what’s actually happened, which is that they’ve become exponentially better. Of course, this isn’t directly related to transgenderism, but it does stick to the idea that boys and girls can be raised in a genderless environment with only positive consequences.
The most concerning thing about this ideology’s evolution and insertion into the mainstream is the ignoring of scientific literature in favour of an ideology. There are 5 things noted by Professor Diana Kelly of the University of Sydney in her 2018 article titled Transgender Hysteria. The first is the disturbing role familial make up has on the likelihood of someone identifying as transgender. Of the 56 cases which came before the Family Court of Australia for cross-sex hormone treatment between 2004 and 2016, 39 cases had their familial makeup identified. 25 lived in single-parent families or foster care and the other 14 lived in two-parent households. In the same group, 50% had a professionally diagnosed psychological disorder including; Autism, major depression, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, and/or oppositional defiance disorder.
The second reality Professor Kelly noted was the fact that up to 90% of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria will desist and identify with their biological sex after going through puberty naturally. This fact highlights the damage a push for early intervention for supposedly transgender children can and already is doing.
The third is the effects of cross-sex hormones on an individual’s health. Which is noted by a number of studies to drastically increase the likelihood of developing debilitating illnesses. I won’t go into them as I had to google most of the diseases and issues mentioned, but Professor Kelly lists them all in her article.
The fourth is the long-term adverse health consequences of sex reassignment surgery. A cohort study in Sweden found that those who’ve had the surgery have a mortality rate 3 x higher than the average population, are 19 x more likely to die by Suicide, and 3 x more likely to suffer from psychiatric morbidity. This particular study didn’t just look at the first few years, it had a 30-year follow-up.
The fifth and final point noted by Kelly was the increasingly common reversal surgeries taking place. Which is likely to increase as the transgender population also increases. A 2017 Newsweek article discusses this.
All of these culminate into a very deep and serious concern I have as a parent. I don’t doubt that most of the people often advocating for these things do it out of compassion. But that isn’t enough to filter out the damaging consequences of believing in a faulty idea. If you genuinely care about someone, you don’t just give them everything they want. You have to teach them good values, critical thinking, development of their character, conscientiousness and of course the Golden Rule.
Indulging in an idea, that is very likely to have been planted in your child’s mind by a friend, teacher, or someone else and not develop organically, can and does do more harm than good. I’ll finish this up with a definition of groupthink developed by Professor Kelly in her own 2015 book and Turner and Pratkanis in their 1998 journal article titled Twenty-five years of groupthink theory and research: Lessons from the evaluation of a theory.
(Groupthink) “…tends to occur more in homogenous groups, when a powerful and charismatic group leader is insistent on the preferred course of action, when the group is under severe stress, where significant moral dilemmas are part of the decision matrix and where objective outside experts are not called upon. The consequences of group think include the illusion of invulnerability, collective rationalization, stereotyping of out-groups, self-censorship, belief in the inherent morality of the group, poor information search, incomplete survey of alternatives, failure to appraise the risks of the preferred solution, selective information processing, and conflation of ethics and expedience…”