Sex and State Power — What’s Behind Obama’s Transgender Push
The Obama administration has announced that from this day forward, all public schools in America must let children choose their bathroom and locker room based upon a child’s feelings about his or her gender on any given day. This means that, if a male sexual predator (or simply a sexually curious boy) feels that today is a good day to be a girl and watch the girls’ volleyball team strip off in the bathroom, that is his right and the school is obligated to comply:
The guidance from leaders at the departments of Education and Justice says public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if their education records or identity documents indicate a different sex.
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement accompanying the directive, which is being sent to school districts Friday.
Because Congress has already allotted funds to the Department of Education, the DOE wields the power of the purse over this issue, and there’s nothing Congress can do to stop it.
If asked why they are forcing this policy onto American public schools, administration figures, from the president on down, would reply that they’re doing it “for the good of the children.” It’s all about self-actualization, and self-realization, and personal empowerment, right?
Wrong! This comes from the Left, so there’s good reason to believe that it’s not “for the children” at all. Indeed, there’s extremely good reason to believe that the transgender movement is very bad for those who identify as transgender, starting with the children and working up to the disproportionate number of transgender adults who commit suicide. David French as a good breakdown of the heartbreaking numbers behind the suddenly trendy tranny movement:
The evidence of transgender despair is overwhelming. A Swedish study found that trans people were 19 times more likely to die from suicide. An American study found that a horrifying 41 percent of transgender and “gender non-conforming” people had attempted suicide, compared with a national rate of 1.6 percent. In Canada, a study found that each year one in nine transgender people try to commit suicide, compared with the national rate of one out of 167.
So it’s not “for the children.” Lie Number One is exposed.
Lie Number Two is the contention that the transgender movement is the same as the gay rights movement. In fact, the transgender movement also weirdly homophobic, even though the LGBT movement has embraced it . The weirdly homophobic aspect comes from the fact that the transgender movement puts the lie to what gay rights activists have been telling us for a good decade or more, which is that when it comes to gay, “Baby, I was born this way.” Again, David French neatly defines the conundrum:
For the last decade, the American public has been told that sexual orientation is a fixed, immutable characteristic — like skin color. Now we’re told that “gender identity” is much the same. Psychology is fixed. Biology has to adjust.
But observe the lamentation in the video: A transgender boy wants other boys to change, to reject the “born this way” of their own sexuality for the open-mindedness of “getting physical” with a girl with a penis. Claire is desperate for their psychology to change, for their minds to open, and for their sexual identity to change in response to Claire’s allegedly unchangeable desires.
Writing in the Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax asks: “When a person feels a disjunction between one’s sex at birth and one’s gender identity, why is the only course of action to bring the body into closer conformity with the person’s psychological state, rather than vice versa?” That’s the course of action for the transitioning person. The course of action for their loved ones is substantially different. In essence, the Caitlyn Jenners are saying to their spouses or paramours, “I’m now a woman, and that makes you a lesbian.”
Wax notes that the declaration of this new reality — with the expectation that spouses comply and conform — “destabilizes some of the foundational elements of LGBT theory on homosexuality.” Well, yes. But the true “foundational element” of LGBT theory isn’t so much “born this way” as it is “I do what I want.”
Even on the Left, saner minds are figuring out what I pointed out some time ago, which is that we laugh at and despair over all forms of body mutilation except for the gender type, which is wrongly celebrated. Daniel Harris, a hard Left gay man who hates Republicans, wrote a much-talked-about article for The Antioch Review stating the obvious, which I’ll summarize here in my own words: Body mutilation is always a sign of some sort of mental disability and that the LGBT world and its fellow travelers cannot say “All body mutilation is a tragic joke, except for gender mutilation, which is a wondrous thing.”
Or, to quote from Harris himself:
. . . TGs have ambushed the debate and entangled us in a snare of such trivialities as the proper pronouns with which to address them, protocol as Byzantine and patronizing as the etiquette for addressing royalty. They insult us with the pejorative term “cisgender,” which they use to describe those of us who accept, however unenthusiastically, our birth gender, as opposed to the enlightened few who question their sex. Moreover, they shame us into silence by ridiculing the blunders we make while trying to come to grips with their unique dilemmas, decrying our curiosity about their bodies as prurience and our unwillingness, or even inability, to enter into their own (often unsuccessful) illusion as narrow‑mindedness.
While I fervently support TGs’ rights to transition and to do so without fear of reprisal, I believe that the whole phenomenon of switching one’s gender is a mass delusion. For one, the physical manipulation involved in transforming oneself into a man or woman is apparently different in kind—or so the transgender community presumes—from the nips and tucks undertaken by the trophy wife or celebrity, anti‑heroes of a materialistic culture with whom the TG, having taken advantage of the same merchandising of the body promoted by commercialized medicine, bears a strong and unfortunate resemblance. The general public almost universally disapproves of plastic surgery and laughs derisively at celebrities who present a face “different from the one they rode in on,” as one commentator referred to their futile—and often ruinous—efforts to roll back the hands of time. The obscene trout pout of Donatella Versace, the misshapen nipples and oblong breasts of Tara Reid, the Joker’s grimace of Kim Novak, are all fair game for that most American and democratic of blood sports, the desecration of the rich and famous in tabloids and gossip blogs.
And yet what is the actual difference between Michael Jackson whittling his nose down to a brittle sliver of bone and whitening his skin with alpha hydroxy acid and arsenic in order to efface his blackness and the TG sanding down her brow bone and hacking off a sizeable chunk of her mandible in order to efface her gender? Why is the one decried as a racially reprehensible instance of self‑mutilation, self‑denial, and self‑loathing and the other extolled as a celebratory instance of self‑liberation? Why is it not only okay but valiant for Caitlyn Jenner to liberate her inner woman through rhinoplasties and laryngeal shaves while it is deplorable and pathetic for Michael Jackson to liberate his inner Caucasian through bleaching and cleft chin augmentation? When Rachel Dolezal goes to the Palm Beach tanning salon for her weekly $30 dip, she is committing the unconscionable crime of appropriating blackness (or, in her case, as the Gawker put it, not blackness but “Medium Brown Spray Tan”), but when Laverne Cox, one of the breakout performers on the television show Orange Is the New Black, slaps on a transdermal estrogen patch, she is lauded as a hero and role model. All of the arguments against plastic surgery—that it is dangerous, even fatal, often botched, and symptomatic of either extreme body dysmorphia or a lamentable effort to accommodate Hollywood’s chauvinistic ageism—can be leveled against those who transition from one sex to another. The trophy wife and the TG swim, it seems, in the same surgeon‑infested seas.
Typically, the Social Justice Warriors ran amok when Harris’s piece was published, prompting a craven, groveling apology and distancing from The Antioch Review’s editor, who said (and I paraphrase), “We’re kind of a fiction thing, so don’t take what Harris wrote seriously. Also, I am crawling on my belly towards you and licking your feet to apologize for the possibility that merely publishing a countervailing view might have hurt your feelings.” He wasn’t that straightforward, but that’s what Bob Fogarty said:
The Review is a long-standing literary magazine—not a scholarly academic journal—that prints creative fiction, essays and poetry on a wide variety of topics. The views and values espoused in the article represent those of the author, Daniel Harris, and are not those held by the editor, the Antioch Review or Antioch College. However, as the editor, I recognize and acknowledge the criticisms and outrage for the views represented in Harris’s essay. Perhaps more importantly, I sincerely regret any pain and hurt that the publishing of this piece has caused to members of our own community, transgender people, the LGBTQ community, and their families and supporters.
If I were on the Board of The Antioch Review, I’d demand Fogarty’s firing. The reality, though, is that if I did that, I’d be booted off the board and Fogarty would get a Christmas bonus. Such is the world in which we live.
I’m satisfied in my own mind that promoting transgenderism is a bad thing for those claiming transgender status. The statistics David French cites make it clear that transgender people need psychiatric support, not access to the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. And Harris’s article nicely hones in on the fact that the LGBT movement and the Left as a whole are hugely hypocritical to support body mutilation of the type that they decry in others.
So what gives? If the numbers show, and the Left truly knows, that transgenderism is a sign of mental illness, not a sign of self-actualization, self-realization, and self-empowerment, why this huge push to put gender up for grabs, in complete denial of biologic reality right down to the genetic level?
I think I have the answer. Indeed, I had the answer six years ago, when American Thinker published an article of mine entitled Sex and State Power. I will quote myself liberally, because the Obama administration’s newest order about public schools reveals that the Left’s motives in exerting control over people’s self-identity, to grab them at the core of their being, is exactly the same as it ever was:
[Note, rather than indent the following long quotation, which creates an endless skinny column, I am setting it off from the body of the text by painting it dark green.]
Those of us who came of age before the 1980s, when the Judeo-Christian, Western tradition, though battered, was still ascendant, view our sexuality as a private matter. We believe that our bodies are our own property, which means that we should not be touched or controlled sexually without our consent. A person raised with this worldview inevitably believes as well that his ability to control his body is the essence of his individuality. This physical individuality is the antithesis of slavery, which represents a person’s ultimate lack of control over his body.
Statist regimes, of course, cannot tolerate self-ownership, which is the natural enemy of government control over the individual. The easiest example one can find of a statist regime using sexuality to deny individuality and dominate its citizens is, of course, Islam.
[I’m snipping the Islam discussion in favor of focusing on the Left’s obsession with sex, but Islam’s sexual obsessions and misogyny are still relevant too, and you might find the discussion interesting to read.]
What’s interesting is that, because the Left expresses itself in terms of “freeing” people’s sexuality, many people miss the fact that it is every bit as sexually controlling in its own way as Islam is. This control comes about because the Left works assiduously to decouple sex from a person’s own sense of bodily privacy and, by extension, self-ownership. If a person has no sense of autonomy, that person is a ready-made cog for the statist machinery.
The practical problem for the Left when it tries to attack individuality as expressed through sexuality is the fact that a person’s sense of an inviolate physical self develops quite early, during childhood:
Once a child individuates, he becomes aware of being his own self. … The most basic thing one can own is one’s own self, and not letting others touch that self in ways you don’t like is an exercise in self-ownership. (Emphasis mine.)
The Left, therefore, needs to decouple self and body as early as possible in a person’s development — and it does this by bringing its own peculiar notions of sexuality into the realms of child-rearing and education.
Once upon a time, the radical Leftists were quite open about their agenda. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, German Leftists explicitly sought childhood “sexual liberation” as a political goal. In practice, this meant exposing children to adult sexual practices, focusing obsessively on the children’s external sexual organs, speaking about sexual matters in the crudest terms, and, unsurprisingly, engaging in actual sexual molestation. The Leftists advocating this liberation framed it as a way to break free of stifling bourgeois notions of morality that enslaved people and prevented them from realizing full sexual pleasure.
Reading the Leftists’ contemporaneous literature, however, reveals a more comprehensive aim than merely breaking those much-derided bourgeois sexual chains. The Leftists also intended to destroy the traditional nuclear family, with its bright lines between parent and child, and to bring down the capitalist system, which is dependent on a competitive, and therefore individualized, workforce:
For instance, “Revolution der Erziehung” (“The Revolution in Education”), a work published by Rowohlt in 1971, which quickly became a bestseller, addresses sexuality as follows: “The de-eroticization of family life, from the prohibition of sexual activity among children to the taboo of incest, serves as preparation for total assimilation — as preparation for the hostile treatment of sexual pleasure in school and voluntary subjugation to a dehumanizing labor system.” (Emphasis mine.)
Nor can the above ranting be excused as the thoughts of a radical fringe. For example, these same European Leftists infiltrated the Catholic Diocese in Mechelen-Brussels, in Belgium, creating a sickening environment that actively promoted pedophilia. In other words, this particular church’s forays into perversion were not the secretive gropings of individual priests. Instead, there was a concerted effort, led by a liberal Belgian church hierarchy, to make pedophilia a routine practice within the Church.
Incidentally, Frank Marshall Davis, a radical Leftist who was Obama’s surrogate father and mentor during his childhood years in Hawaii, fully supported this politically-driven hyper-sexualization, including sex with children. He engaged in and wrote about disturbing sexual practices such as bondage, simulated rape, undinism, and pedophilia (or, at the very least, pederasty). Since Obama’s political ascendancy, both his poetic forays and his peculiar disassociative behavior have supported speculation that Davis, giving free rein to his personal preferences and his commitment to preventing the child from gaining ownership of his own body, may have practiced what he preached on the fatherless young boy given so unthinkingly into his care.
While the overheated Marxist rhetoric of the 1960s has died away, the Leftist preoccupation with childhood sexuality, and its relentless desire to have the state control a child’s sexual development — and, by extension, to deny the child self-ownership — is still alive and well. The primary pathway the Left currently uses to decouple childhood sexual development from self-individuation is the gay rights agenda.
Many of us who believe that gays and lesbians should be free to pursue their personal lives free from discrimination have felt bewildered by our discomfort with and resistance to all of the homophilic programs that have suddenly invaded our children’s schools. To use the language of the Left, though, we should “listen to our feelings.”
Subconsciously, we recognize that these pro-homosexual programs have nothing to do with teaching tolerance, which is a virtue in a pluralistic society. Instead, the programs have everything to do with having the state substitute its goal of sexual, and therefore social, control in place of a parent’s desire to inculcate his children with traditional Judeo-Christian values, values that focus on the inviolability of the individual, beginning with his body.
Examples abound of supposedly anti-discriminatory programs that, instead of focusing on tolerance, work to direct a child’s sexual development away from the zone of privacy that is a hallmark of Western sexuality. Robin of Berkeley describes a group called “Gender Spectrum,” which has the ostensible goal of allowing “transgender, gender bending, [and] gender nonconforming” children and teens to hang with each other and share their experiences. She rightly sees this not as an effort to promote tolerance, but as a way to make it “cool to dabble in polyamory and gender nonconformism,” thereby “destroy[ing] the West by degrading traditional values.”
Only four years ago, California narrowly escaped a legislative effort to pass a bill that would have required all California textbooks, starting in first grade, to include materials focusing on famous homosexuals — with the focus not on the achievement that made them famous, but simply on the homosexuality itself. A parental outcry forced the legislature to retreat to something more in keeping with a free society, which is the requirement that children may not be exposed to material that is discriminatory to people based on their sexuality.
In Helena, Montana (Montana!), the school board is contemplating a K-12 sex ed program that repeatedly blurs the line between demanding tolerance, which should be an imperative in a free society, and advocating alternative sexuality, which is consistent with the Leftist agenda of separating sexuality from individuality. In Grade 2, children would be taught, appropriately, that “making fun of people by calling them gay (e.g. ‘homo,’ ‘fag,’ ‘queer’) is disrespectful and hurtful.” By Grade 3, however, the focus is on breaking down traditional familial norms, as children are taught that to “[u]nderstand media often presents an unrealistic image of what it means to be male or female, what it means to be in love & what parenthood & marriages are like.” And so it goes, with a proposed curriculum that veers wildly between respect and advocacy.
The relentless Leftist obsession with homosexuality and variations on traditional sexual gender roles is deeply embedded in the Obama administration. Last year, a vigilant blogger exposed the fact that Kevin Jennings, Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar,” as part of his leadership role in the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (“GLSEN”), aggressively promoted child pornography in the classroom. GLSEN’s actions had nothing to do with creating a safe, non-discriminatory environment for young people with different sexual orientations and everything to do with using the government (i.e., public schools) to inculcate in children the notion that their bodies have no boundaries. A body with no boundaries, of course, is a body that can easily be decoupled from the individual’s control and then ceded to the state.
While the gay agenda, which is cloaked in civil rights language that makes it hard to challenge, is the leading edge of the state’s desire to control children’s sexuality, Leftists also use the schools to manipulate heterosexual behaviors so as to destroy a child’s physical boundaries. In England, parents were aghast to learn that a school was requiring its first-grade pupils to massage each other. In Iowa (Iowa!), one middle school has abandoned any pretense of traditional morality and, instead, is teaching its eighth-graders “how to perform female exams and to put a condom on a 3-D, anatomically correct male sex organ.” The body is a tool, and nothing more.
Freud was right when he speculated that sex, perhaps because it is the least easily satisfied human need, may also be the most powerful physical need driving human beings. Freud, however, viewed sexuality through the spectrum of a given individual’s desires. What the statists understand — and have always understood — is that our bodies are the first line in the battle between statism and individualism. If a person is allowed to develop a sense that his body is his own to control, he will never willingly yield to the demands of the state. Only by convincing its citizens that they have no personal autonomy, beginning with control over their own bodies, can a state completely subsume the individual to the bureaucracy.
So if you’re getting an itchy feeling between your shoulder blades when you contemplate your child’s hyper-sexualized reading list and gender-bending sex education curriculum, you need not fear that you have turned into a repressed, homophobic Victorian. Instead, there’s an excellent chance that you are someone with a deep respect for individual freedom who resents the Leftists’ efforts to co-opt your child’s body as a necessary sacrifice to the State.