In politics, law, and military readiness policy, transgenderism is a roiling issue.
On Friday, February 17, a Juvenile Court Judge in Ohio granted legal custody of a 17 year old child to his grandparents. I write ‘his’ there because the child identifies as a boy, but was born as a girl. He wants to undergo hormone therapy pursuant to gender transition. The grandparents support this desire. The parents do not.
Judge Sylvia Hendon also ordered a psychological evaluation of the child prior to the start of hormone therapy, looking into “the issue of consistency in the child’s gender presentation and feelings of nonconformity.”
A recent poll by Ipsos finds that a majority, but only a very slim majority (51%), of Americans ask say that they would like to see more done to protect transgender individuals.
On Saturday, February 18, the state committee of the Kansas Republican Party approved a resolution opposing “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”
The resolution was initially proposed by Eric Teetsel, who told The Wichita Eagle that “an ideology that says you can determine your own gender identity is broken and it’s going to lead to a lot of pain.”
Meanwhile, in the face of federal court rulings that have prevented the U.S. military from implementing a ban on transgender troops, the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, is said to be about to announce a new policy. Mattis appears ready to take the position that hormone therapy in service of a gender identity impairs deployment readiness and that anyone not able to deploy overseas as needed for one year will be dismissed from service. Thus, the new policy will in fact be a new way of presenting and defending (at law and in public) the policy the administration has been trying to implement for months,.
Right Wing View
David French wrote recently in National Review, “A man is a person with a distinct chromosomal and physical make-up who – from birth – is typically distinct from women….Thus, the raising and training of a boy is typically a different task from the raising and training of a girl.”
A senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Ryan T. Anderson, has recently published a book titled When Harry Became Sally. Anderson, who holds a Ph.D.in philosophy from Notre Dame University, maintains that the recognition of biology is not bigotry, and that encouraging the hormonal or surgical re-jiggering of the biology is wrong and psychologically counter-productive.
Anderson believes that the advocates of transgenderism, that is, of the encouragement of such rejiggering, end up trapped in a contradiction. On the one hand, they maintain that “gender is a social construct” and, on the other, argue that “I can be trapped in the wrong gender.” If one is trapped in the wrong body, one is trapped in some sense by that body, that is, by biology, not a construct.
On Amazon.com, one of the customer reviewers for When Harry Became Sally praised the book because it “allows trans activists to speak in their own voices and evaluates their arguments on their own terms, avoiding the straw-mannery that so often infects the debate.”
Left Wing View
Recent leftward commentary on transgenderism focuses largely on the military issue. Buzzfeed ran a story Tuesday contending that President Trump, who has claimed that he consulted with “my generals and military experts” before coming out in favor of a transgender ban last summer, has been lying about that. Buzzfeed’s reporter, Dominic Holden, says he has obtained emails shared among the brass indicating that they had not been consulted and were in fact surprised by the decision imposed on them.
Ned Price, who is with the liberal think tank New America, tweets ”It should concern all of us that the President – our Commander in Chief – would lie about consulting with military leadership.”
There is also a widespread view on the left that transgenderism is a good a hill as any on which to engage the same enemy in the same fight as one would otherwise have to fight on other hills. The Human Rights Campaign says, “When they attack transgender students, it also makes it easier to attack students with disabilities and survivors of sexual assault and certainly those at the intersection of all of those identities.”
When transgender activists are asked about the contradiction that Anderson and others discuss, they reply by arguing that “a person’s gender identity and expression fall outside characteristics like sexual orientation and sex assigned at birth.”