How to be a good liberal but oppose the excesses of transsexual activism

April 16, 2022 • 11:45 am

The article below appears in the liberal magazine American Purpose, and is written by a liberal author (Jonathan Rauch, who is also gay).  It deals with a question that many of us have: how can we support transsexuals without having to buy into some of the claims we consider excessive (those involving sports, the claim that “transexual men (or women) are men (or women)”, the widespread urging to adopt phrases like “pregnant people”, and so on?

I think everyone here supports the notion that transsexual people deserve consideration, civility, and equal moral and civil rights, with a very few exceptions involving stuff like sports and rape counseling. But if you adhere to any exceptions, you’re called “transphobic”. You must believe that transsexual men are to be regarded exactly the same as biological men, and the same with transsexual women. If you don’t, you get vilified as a transphobe.

When I write about transsexuality, I get more pushback (mostly private emails) than I do when writing about any other topic. And that despite my argument for equality of transexuals in nearly every realm of activity, my vow to use proper pronouns, and so on. The issue is that I don’t go along with every single demand of transsexual activists, like bridling at using the term “pregnant people” instead of “pregnant women”.

Well, vilifying is free speech of course, and I’ll take the consequences of what I say. But what I’m concerned with is reconciling what I think of as a liberal viewpoint with a rejection of the more extreme claims of transsexual activism. If you want to support the transsexual community, I’m asked why would you want to use a person’s preferred pronoun—even if it conflicts with the person’s biological sex—and yet quail at the use of “pregnant people” in a Washington Post headline. Isn’t that hypocrisy?

Rauch has written a good piece on the issue, one informed by his experience in the gay community.  Click to read:

Rauch sees parallels between the gay liberation movement and the trans liberation movement in two respects. First, there should be equality between cis people and trans or gay people in nearly every respect:

I should put my own cards on the table. I’m a sixty-one year-old homosexual male. I’m an outsider to the trans movement, but until fairly recently—like most gay Americans—I’ve seen the trans movement as an extension of our own. I believe trans people deserve equality in all its meaningful respects.

I’m also well aware that many of the same arguments which were used against gay people are now being deployed against trans people.

But the other parallel involves the extremists in both movements whose views and authoritarianism have turned off Americans, holding back (as Rauch claims) moral progress:

But I also see a different and more disturbing historical parallel. A generation ago, in the early 1990s, the gay and lesbian rights movement (as it was then called) came under the sway of left-leaning activists with their own agenda. They wanted as little as possible to do with bourgeois institutions like marriage and the military; they elevated cultural transgression and opposed integration into mainstream society; they imported an assortment of unrelated causes like abortion rights. To be authentically gay, in their view, was to be left-wing and preferably radical.

A loose collection of gay and lesbian conservatives, libertarians, and centrists watched with growing concern. We thought that the activists were dangerously misguided both about America and also gay people’s place in it. We resented their efforts to impose ideological conformity on a diverse population. (In 2000, a fourth of gay voters chose Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.) We saw how they played to the very stereotypes that the anti-gay Right used against us. We knew their claim to represent the lesbian and gay population was false.

And so we pushed back.

You can read about the pushback in his piece, for we’re concerned today with extreme transsexual claims and demands.  And here my views are coincident with Rauch’s, though he argues them must more cohrently and persuasively than I’m capable. So let me quote him:

A few domains that are sex-specific, such as women’s sports and prisons, require differential treatment based on biological sex. Issues involving medical transitions for children are just plain difficult and require more and better research. But those issues are narrow in scope, and the political system, the medical profession, and civil society are more than capable of working through them, if allowed to do so in a minimally politicized way.

As Helen Joyce argues in her book Trans (2021), radical gender ideology (or gender identity ideology, as it’s also called) is a horse of a different color. It is not at all the same as trans rights. Nor is it any one thing: It’s a conceptual mess, propounding some ideas that make sense (gender is socially conditioned) but also wild claims, such as that (as Joyce writes) “depending on its owner’s identity, a penis may be a female sex organ.” I take its central claims to include these:

·      Trans women are women and trans men are men, no difference, full stop;

·      Human gender and sex are social constructions and are not a binary but on a continuum, so concepts like “male” and “female” are relative and subjective;

·      Gender and sex are chosen identities, and an individual’s declared choice can never be doubted or challenged;

·      Denying or disputing any of the above is violence.

Even if you don’t agree me that the first three propositions are false and the fourth is intolerant, you might concur that they are not the only or best way to think about transgender civil rights. Rather, they are extrinsic notions that escaped from academia and attached themselves, limpet-like, in the same way that left-wing politics parasitized gay rights a generation ago.

Rauch thinks that these extreme demands are counterproductive, and I can’t reject that claim out of hand. Almost anything like this is fuel for Republicans, and while we shouldn’t tailor our beliefs so they don’t offend Republicans, neither should we say what we don’t believe so that we aren’t called “transphobic” by transsexual people or “progressive” Democrats.

And here, then, is Rauch’s solution, which is likely to appeal to many people of good will who nevertheless can’t buy into the “trans men are men” (and the same for women) mantra.

Insisting that it’s always hateful to draw distinctions based on biological sex in sports, prisons, and medical training strikes most of the public as nutty, unfair, and dangerous. The backlash that is forming will harm trans people, gay and lesbian people (who are already caught in the undertow), and everyone who hopes for candor and compromise. Radicalism makes the only path forward—social negotiation tailored to diverse situations—unattainable.

The first step out of the radicalization trap is what’s already happening: decoupling trans civil rights from radical gender ideology by recognizing that they are not at all the same. You can support the former and reject the latter. The excesses of activists, along with books and articles like Joyce’s, are bringing about that realization. But a second, equally important step remains: the emergence of an integrationist, accommodationist, and reality-based transgender center, led by trans moderates who have had enough. Only they can take back their movement. I can say from experience that once they do, they will win, and so will the country.

So why do I argue for moral and civil equality for transsexual people but reject the term “pregnant people” for “pregnant women”?  For two reasons, I suppose. One is that I’m a biologist, and realize that “pregnant people” obscures the fact that only biological women can get pregnant —and obscures it in the interest of an ideology. (It’s a similar distortion to denying that human sex is almost completely binary rather than a spectrum.) But “pregnant people” and similar terms also erase a group of people—in this case, biological women, for “biological woman” really is a class distinct from “transsexual women”.  Indeed, it is the biological dichotomy that leads people to transition between the sexes in the first place. They are born as one members of one biological sex, but feel like members of the other one. (As for the intermediates, like those who feel that they’re members of both sexes, or of a different gender entirely, that doesn’t change this argument.)

To see an example of a transsexual who is “moderate”, read Rauch’s opening about Giselle Donnelly.

47 thoughts on “How to be a good liberal but oppose the excesses of transsexual activism

  1. Rauch’s proposals make sense, but I fear that they are too little, too late. For one thing, it would take too much time to implement before reaching the public consciousness. The trans radicals would oppose them. In the meantime, Republican right-wingers, such as Florida’s Governor DeSantis, will continue to harp on (with great success) that trans people represent a threat to traditional values and place children in great damage. In other words, trans people serve as another weapon in the right-wing arsenal in the never ending culture wars. We can expect for at least the next few years that red state legislatures will conflict to implement tougher laws against not only trans people, but gays, contraceptive, abortion, and voting rights. They will pass more laws, with the Supreme Court’s blessing, allowing religion in the public schools and governmental institutions. All this will result in the further emergence of two Americas – the red and the blue – culturally divided with little hope of reconciliation, at least in the near term. In this era of social disintegration, the times will be ripe for greater authoritarianism on both the state and federal levels.

    1. … Republican right-wingers, such as Florida’s Governor DeSantis, will continue to harp on (with great success) that trans people represent a threat to traditional values and place children in great damage.

      DeSantis and his ilk are playing upon dim-witted conspiracy theorists’ panic that there are left-wing pedophilia rings across the fruited plains looking to “groom” children for exploitation.

      The real exploitation here is by these cynical sonsabitches, who know better, but are willing to employ any play, however base and repugnant, in the cause of clinging to their minority-rule political power.

  2. I wish I could now find the link….but I saw an article discrediting Rauch because he is white and can’t therefore speak about black trans people.

    BTW, you will hear about the targeting of trans people, especially those of color. So, an individual took the time to look up each name given by the Human Rights Campaign fund and found that many of the trans people killed were doing street prostitution. And they were killed by people of their own race, many of them black. Picking up tricks on the street for anyone is extremely dangerous work.
    But to extrapolate from those deaths that it’s open season on trans women is a gross distortion.

    As a note, I highly recommend Andrew Sullivan’s comments on how the New York Times “covered” the mass subway shooting (no casualties, thought) in NYC earlier this week…worst in 40 years.
    It’s short and it is after the longer essay on Ukraine.

    https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-fast-gathering-storm

    1. dd,

      Do you happen to have links handy to the “article discrediting Rauch because he is white” and to whatever report was done by the “individual [who] took the time to look up each name given by the Human Rights Campaign fund and found that many of the trans people killed were doing street prostitution”?

      Thanks.

      1. According to Professor Kathleen Stock (recently hounded out of her job at the University of Sussex for her gender critical views) in her excellent book Material Girls:

        According to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, which also monitors trans murders worldwide, in 2019 there were 331 murders of trans and ‘gender-diverse’ people overall, with 160 of them (48 per cent) occurring in Brazil, 63 (19 per cent) in Mexico, 31 (9 per cent) in the US, 14 in Colombia, and 13 in Argentina. Nine occurred in Europe as a whole, including one in the UK. In 2018 meanwhile, of 369 murders, 167 (45 per cent) were recorded in Brazil, 71 (19 per cent) in Mexico, 28 in the US, 21 in Colombia, and 9 in Argentina. Sixteen were recorded in Europe as a whole, again including one in the UK. To put this into some context: in 2017 there were 63,880 homicides in Brazil, and in 2018 this dropped to a still staggering 51,000. The 2020 World Population Review classed Brazil as the seventh most murderous country in the world, with an average of 30.5 murders per 100,000 people. Mexico was sixteenth with 19.27. Another fact worthy of note is that, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, 61 per cent of trans people murdered in 2019 were in the sex trade. In 2018 the figure was 62 per cent. Entry into the sex trade for many trans people might well be an indirect result of inequality: that is, of career options being discriminatorily restricted due to being trans. One report on violence against those in the sex trade details how, for many, ‘choosing sex work is a reflection of limited livelihood options and limited economic resources’ especially where the trans person is an economic migrant. Still, as trans scholar Talia Mae Bettcher notes: ‘Not all acts of violence against trans people need be transphobic in nature. A trans woman might be targeted not because of her trans status but because she is simply viewed as a sex worker.’ It’s well established that prostitution puts you at unusually high risk of violence, from clients, co-workers, police and others, especially in Latin America. It also seems relevant that, in the words of one study, though trans people overall in the US don’t face a higher risk than average of being murdered, ‘young transgender women of color almost certainly’ do. This too looks potentially partly connected to the disproportionate presence of Black and Latina trans women in the US sex trade. This complex context isn’t conveyed by those pushing for the commemoration of TDOR within UK institutions. Instead, the murders are presented as produced from a single cause: ‘transphobia’. Let no one misunderstand me – the increased susceptibility of those in the sex trade to death and violence (and poverty, and drug misuse) is a horrific fact, to which any society should pay urgent sympathetic attention. But using the murders of trans prostitutes overseas to make political points in the UK by shoehorning them into a formless rhetorical void, in which all such deaths are treated as the same, explained vaguely as a result of transphobia, is precisely not to pay attention to the full picture.

      1. Here are first 3 paragraphs of Sullivan’s article:

        A mass shooting earlier this week was the worst incident on the New York City subway system in 40 years. The man who committed the attack has an extraordinary voluminous record online of his views, which add critical context to his motivations. And if you wanted to know what those views were, the one place you would be unable to find it was the New York Times. In fact, you found out far more about this NYC terror attack in the pages of London newspapers.

        Why? The answer, it seems to me, is simple. Frank James is black. And the NYT treats crime very, very differently depending on the race of the suspect. If a white man had perpetrated this act of terror, and had online rantings about how much he hated blacks, we would be in Day Four of analysis of how white supremacist hatred fuels violence. Imagine if a white man had been yelling the following racial expletives in the streets before shooting up a subway station: “Fuck you and your black ass too, you black racist motherfucker” “Slant-eyed fucking piece of shit.” “You’re a crime against fucking nature, you Spanish speaking motherfucker.” But James said exactly that — if you replace the word “black” with “white” in the first quote.

        James is obviously mentally unwell. But what’s notable about him is that this derangement is fused with black nationalism and separatism, and hatred of whites. His vicious insults against black people are because they refuse to see the genocidal motives of white people: “It’s just a matter of time before these white motherfuckers decide, ‘Hey listen, enough is enough, these niggers got to go.’” James has absorbed the anti-white narratives in the woke MSM, and sees black people as without agency and permanent under siege: “This is what white bitches and white motherfuckers expect you to be … when you blow one of their fucking brains out — this is what you asked for. This is how you wanted me to be, obviously.”

  3. It is clear that virtually all these social movements start out with good intentions but are gradually taken over by radical elements that want to take things too far. It seems natural that this happens. Once progress has been made, the less radical move on to other things or just live their lives. This leaves the most radical in charge, those whose identity is 100% wrapped up in their movement. For such people, there is never going to be enough progress for them to go home. If they succeed in some aspect, they’ll invent another hill that must be climbed. Luckily for us, these movements eventually lose power and dissolve as society accepts the new normal and regard the most radical as crazy. Still, the battle against them still must be fought and the process does take time.

    1. That’s the mechanism, yes. There is a satirical 19th century pamphlet on activists on the 1949 German revolutionary movement, and one of the rules for activists is “never admit that much has already been achieved”.

  4. Additional comment, and please pardon it, but I have a big interest as a non-specialist in evolutionary biology and am also gay.

    It’s distressing to me to no end the whole business of what is happening regarding the whole chalupa about “sex assigned at birth”, “women with penises”, multiple sexes, hundreds of genders-yes it’s now hundreds with flags, and so on.

    Years ago I saw the build up of rhetoric and suspected from the get go, to the insults and disdain of people I know, that at heart trans ideology/queer theory was misogynist and homophobic. (Note: there is a universe of difference between the ideology and the trans people themselves.)

    In essence, trans ideology is the new conversion therapy. But instead of changing the mind of the homosexual via electric shocks/therapy/ etc, the body is now brought in line with the mind via chemicals and operations. Mind you, of course, there are people who are trans, but I also know that tomboy girls and sissy can be targeted for conversion. It’s really amazing how close this is to what you see in Iran regarding homosexuals, the religious policy, and religious orthodoxy.

    Highly recommended:

    https://www.persuasion.community/p/keira-bell-my-story

    1. I think that giving puberty blockers to, let alone surgery on, these questionable ‘gender dysphoric’ troubled teenagers is close to criminal.
      Doctors prescribing these drugs frivolously and surgeons cutting away happily should at least be stricken from the roll, if not prosecuted.

      1. They will be, someday. It will take a while. But it will happen. For now it is too lucrative to not go with the flow. But the worm will turn.

  5. Rauch’s description of gay and trans zealotry included a key phrase: “they elevated cultural transgression…” That applies in spades to the denial of elementary Biology, among other manifestos of the current wave. It would
    be no surprise if some of the zealots for cultural transgression were not members of the minorities they claim to shout for, but just individuals who indulge themselves in symbolic gestures, i.e., exhibitionists.

    That is surely the case for the silliest of all their inventions: the wokey buzzword “Latinx”, which is never recognized, let alone pronounced, by Latin-Americans themselves. Incidentally, the widespread use of this neology, along with the bromides about multiple genders or sex being “assigned” and so on, illustrates the infectiousness of these little particles of cultural transgression. My suspicion here is that the copy-cats who spread such clichés are mostly conventional individuals who use them for the tiny thrill of “cultural transgression” they impart.

  6. A solution for language is to use “female” and “male” to refer to the binary biological sex, and “woman” and “man” to refer to socially-constructed gender. This has the advantage of eliminating the older usage of gender to refer to sex.

    1. This solution would work just fine for me, but I’m guessing only because I can accept the reality of binary biological sex. If someone doesn’t accept this, we’d be back at square one.

    2. Trans ppl will tell you that they’re against gendered stereotypes, but it’s hard to make sense of making categories of “man” and “woman” out of socially-constructed gender without involving stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

      If we were to construct a side-by-side list of how males & females differ, we’d end up with sperm vs ovum, XY vs XX, and various other relatively uncontroversial biological elements. Now try that with socially-constructed views of gender. How do men & women differ?

      Dominant vs submissive? Rational vs emotional? Short hair vs long? Strong & authoritative vs soft & sweet? No, we’re told — NONE of those. Men & women can be like anything at all!

      So what then? I haven’t been able to get an answer. Which makes the whole “let’s give them the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ as social constructs” idea a poor idea, I think.

      1. Sastra,
        I really appreciate your thoughts here. I know, from years (many years!) of seeing your comments in spaces I frequent that you are a thoughtful, careful, compassionate and rational thinker. And you speak to something that I haven’t quite figured out a way to sit with yet. I have no problem with trans folks. I have no problem with preferred pronouns. I respect a person’s chosen presentation deeply. All that said, I have this lingering thought about gender essentialism, and whether things might be different if we didn’t tell children they were wrong for presenting out of gender stereotype. If we accepted and respected small humans, in all of their beautiful diversity as being unique and whole in and of their selves, would as many people have the desire to transition later? Are we increasing gender dysphoria by clinging to gender essentialism, and are we propping up trans rights by invoking gender essentialism?
        Would a transman be so relieved to get rid of their uterus if they hadn’t been told that that uterus meant they would and should want to bear children? Would the transwoman be so keen to lose her penis if she hadn’t been told than manhood meant a very specific set of patriachal norms that she objects to?
        I don’t know the answer to these questions. And I would never want someone to be denied what can often be classified as life saving gender affirmative care. But I wish we could just be comfortable with the vast diversity of the human package without having to reshape it to our current cultural understanding of what people think other people should conform to.
        I don’t know if this makes any sense, or is a worthwhile thought. But it has been nagging at me.

  7. “I’m also well aware that many of the same arguments which were used against gay people are now being deployed against trans people.”

    I think the really hardcore anti-trans crowd (in contradistinction to those of us who are in favor of equal rights for trans people, but simply oppose some of the trans-activists’ more extreme demands) are actually fighting a rearguard action against gay rights, after having come up on the short end of Obergefell v. Hodges.

    Matter of fact, with the current 6-3 conservative supermajority on SCOTUS, I expect that, once they’ve succeeded in sweeping Roe v. Wade out of the way, they will set their sights on overruling Obergefell. (I see three sitting justices who wouldn’t hesitate to reverse Obergefell given the chance, and three more who are convinced that Obergefell was wrongly decided, but who may or may not be willing to countenance the chaos that would be engendered by its reversal).

  8. As for fairness in women’s sport, Blaire White is one of those transwomen “who have had enough”:

  9. Most transwomen (in the West) are well-off white males… So that doesn’t really hold water, obviously.

  10. I find it interesting that transgenderism is being described as a choice, whereas it seems that for the homosexual community it is strongly held that it is inborn. Wouldn’t trans-sexuality mean moving between the two sexes, not among a palette of genders that actually are social constructs? It brings to mind the recent story of the trans murderess who has decided after seventeen years in jail that she identifies as a baby, and now wants diapers and bottles. This sounds like she’s taking the piss out of HM Prisons. If these are choices, to what extent can we say they are bad choices, should be ignored, discouraged, or require treatment?

    1. I should add the I think there is a strategic ambiguity which is being employed by the trans activists that makes it difficult to sort out the different threads, and condemn the marginal positions.

    2. I suspect there’s a (probably strong) genetic predisposition to all of these circumstances — whether one identifies as straight, gay, bisexual, gender-fluid, whatever. But as for respecting individuals’ basic rights and dignity, I don’t think it should matter whether it’s nature or nurture (and I reject that any of it is “choice,” in the sense of contra-causal free will).

  11. Let’s leave aside the “edge cases”: sport, prisons, and domestic violence shelters—except that they aren’t edge cases anymore because biological men are violating women’s spaces now in the first two and violence shelters have had their municipal funding denied (in Vancouver) because they won’t admit biological men into those women’s spaces. But let’s leave them aside just because most reasonable people accept that, despite what craven governing bodies have caved in to, biological men should be kept out of those women’s spaces, regardless of their self-affirmed gender identity.

    Having left them aside, my question for the reasonable people sympathetic to the ideals of justice for trans people is this:

    Do transwomen, i.e., XY-trans people, “count” as women for affirmative action purposes when the goal of the AA program is to advance women? Suppose President Biden’s pledge to nominate an African-American woman to the Supreme Court had produced a well-qualified (and clearly indisputably Black) XY-Trans judge. Fair or foul? Ground-breaking or faith-breaking?

  12. We are living in a world using the word “transsexuals” in and of itself is enough to get you labeled with some kind of bigotry (the politically correct language being transgender or “trans people”). And the next step is unemployability and financial ruin.
    You really cannot make this shit up. How can you reach any kind of compromise with people so obsessed with ideological impurity, to use an an excuse to lynch you?
    There is a time when you have to wonder, forget it. I cannot work with some people while this witch hunt is going on. Maybe we do need a few more people like Youngkin and DeSantis in office to set things straight. This has gone on unchecked for too long.
    As Caitlyn Jenner has said, there are times and places when are where coming out as republican is harder than coming out as trans.
    https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/virginia-governor-election-poised-cripple-trans-rights-america-n1282748

    1. Umm. . . there are other issues besides transsexual activism that one could consider before voting for Republicans like Youngkin and DeSantis. DeSantis, for example, opposes gun control and opposed the Affordable Care act.

      If you want all the governors to be Republicans, good luck, pal. In your desire to oppose transsexual activism you would bring this country down. Oh, yes, and he signed Florida’s draconian anti-abortion law.

      SERIOUSLY?

      1. Yes, seriously. To outside observers who, admittedly, don’t have to live with electoral results in the United States, there could be principled and practical objections to “gun control”, (however vaguely defined), the Affordable Care Act, and abortion. Gun control, a Holy Grail since the JFK assassination, is never going to happen under any government, so why worry that the GOP is agin’ it? Obamacare will bankrupt you—it’s eating us alive with deteriorating service even with cost controls, rationing, and taxation levels that Americans will never accept. And abortion is, well, abortion. Is it decisive in voting? Wouldn’t be for me, either way. If those are the three best reasons not to elect Republicans, this outsider who loves the idea of America doesn’t see any of them bringing your country down if voters decide to hold their noses and take their chances.

  13. Along with Abigail Shriver’s book Irreversible Damage (and her assorted podcasts) Rauch’s essay herein is one of the best summaries of this problem I’ve seen.
    Opposing, or even questioning anything except the “affirmation model”, even asserting the gender binary gets people labelled transphobe, like any questioning of BLM makes for instant “RAAACIST”.

    This is emotionally blackmail by maximalist, virtue signaling fanatics. And a reason why the “minority rule” (see works of Nassim Taleb) can be a huge problem.

    I’m glad PCC(E) is covering this subject. I got blowback for an article I wrote lately asserting that the “Asian hate crime wave” is a myth and statistical nonsense. But like Taleb, and PCC(E) I have an “‘eff you” attitude to criticism and, most importantly, no boss. My editors always back me up. 🙂
    D.A.
    NYC

    1. The older I’ve gotten, the more I feel that activists are moral parasites on a power trip. They take a legitimate moral issue and use it to push their way of seeing things. This was made clear to me when I used to argue with anti-abortion activists who didn’t care at all about measures that would reduce the abortion rate that didn’t fit in with their narrow take on how things are. It wasn’t about reducing abortion to them, but about having an alignment of the law with their brand of Christianity. Their belief that they wanted to end abortion was genuine, but it was only in their terms.

      In that respect, I can sympathise with the activists because they’re the people who take the issue up as being important enough to stand up for against the cultural grain. It’s hard getting people to care, and it takes a certain kind of persistence to be the one to stand up for an issue that few care about. Ironically, it’s that caring that makes them biased judges in the legitimacy of their arguments. Activists grab good and bad arguments alike because they all look good to them. It’s only when they are battle tested that the folly of the arguments come to light.

      The infinite genders and pregnant persons arguments, I think, will fall by the wayside in the next 5-10 years because it’s a losing argument to anyone outside of the activist circles. It’s asking too much of the concepts and of how people use them to gain traction. It’s not that trans people don’t have the right to exist or that trans discrimination doesn’t exist, or that people are hate-filled towards trans, but that the arguments aren’t very good. Activists may or may not be able to see the difficulty of the arguments, but better arguments will come to the fore as more successful arguments gain traction.

  14. The older I’ve gotten, the more I feel that activists are moral parasites on a power trip. They take a legitimate moral issue and use it to push their way of seeing things. This was made clear to me when I used to argue with anti-abortion activists who didn’t care at all about measures that would reduce the abortion rate that didn’t fit in with their narrow take on how things are. It wasn’t about reducing abortion to them, but about having an alignment of the law with their brand of Christianity. Their belief that they wanted to end abortion was genuine, but it was only in their terms.

    In that respect, I can sympathise with the activists because they’re the people who take the issue up as being important enough to stand up for against the cultural grain. It’s hard getting people to care, and it takes a certain kind of persistence to be the one to stand up for an issue that few care about. Ironically, it’s that caring that makes them biased judges in the legitimacy of their arguments. Activists grab good and bad arguments alike because they all look good to them. It’s only when they are battle tested that the folly of the arguments come to light.

    The infinite genders and pregnant persons arguments, I think, will fall by the wayside in the next 5-10 years because it’s a losing argument to anyone outside of the activist circles. It’s asking too much of the concepts and of how people use them to gain traction. It’s not that trans people don’t have the right to exist or that trans discrimination doesn’t exist, or that people are hate-filled towards trans, but that the arguments aren’t very good. Activists may or may not be able to see the difficulty of the arguments, but better arguments will come to the fore as more successful arguments gain traction.

    1. I’m never sure if activists that argue such extremes are just arguing for the stars in hopes they’ll get the moon, of if they truly believe that the extreme position is the desired goal. Maybe it’s a mix of both.

      1. If the work of psychologists is to be believed (I’m mainly cribbing from Stuart Sutherland’s Irrationality here), I’d say it’s more to do with activists being in activist circles than anything else. When you’re around like-minded people, views tend to go to the extreme. This can happen even without any extreme members to begin with, as having like-minded thinking tends to push pro-positions without ever needing to take into account the cons.

        So I would fully believe activists wholeheartedly believe what they are saying because the activists are the people who spend their time talking about the issue with other activists.

  15. Why do I never hear about transmen fighting to be sent to men’s prisons, or to compete on men’s sports teams? It’s always transwomen who demand access to spaces intended for the opposite sex.

    1. There was a transman competing in the women’s team together with Lia in one of the races. He was allowed to compete because he hadn’t yet taken testosterone. If it is not a human rights problem for transmen to compete on the women’s team, and they even do this of their own choice, why should it be a human rights problem for transwomen to compete in the men’s team, or a special “diverse” open category team? The transman had postponed taking testosterone expressly in order to be still able to compete on the women’s team. It surprised me how apparently easy it was for a transman to forego testosterone treatment, when early treatment for gender dysphoric youths in full teenage crisis mode is supposedly so essential. Not everyone is the same, certainly, but one of the problems with “affirmative” treatment is that it doesn’t take account of that.

        1. She was the swimmer who, on the podium, proudly pulled down the top of her swimsuit to show off the scars where her healthy breasts used to be. There was much adulatory ooh-ing and ahh-ing from her supporters. I’m using “she/her” because the records show she competed as a woman….which she is/was.

          Edit: And, of course, there was every reason for Iszac to delay androgen “replacement therapy” in order to maintain female eligibility. She, like nearly all trans-XXs, would not have stood a snowball’s chance in Hell competing against men, no matter how long she took testosterone. Nor, to answer Pablo’s question, would she have lasted 5 minutes on the open range of a men’s prison before being raped. I suppose that’s obvious, but it was phrased as a question.

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