I can pinpoint the moment I knew I wouldn’t be able to remain, as I had thought of myself until that time, “pro-trans.”
I had grown up in 1990s New York City and had known many gender-bending people. Very few called themselves “trans,” but androgyny was in. Drag queens ran the club scene. “Girls who want boys/Who like boys to be girls/Who do boys like they’re girls/Who do girls like they’re boys,” the 1994 Blur song went.
What was the big deal about being a girl who wanted to look like a boy or a boy who wanted to present as a girl? No one was hurting anyone. You like red lipstick, that boy likes wearing a dress. Who cared? I certainly didn’t.
It was the early 2000s, the heyday of the blogosphere, and the comment sections were lit. I had a conservative blog but would comment on liberal ones often. There was a discussion on a feminist blog about whether trans people needed to be open that they were trans to new lovers. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The argument went that plenty of people keep secrets when they first start dating. STDs, marital status — why should whether a person is trans be any different?
To me it was obvious that disclosure was very necessary. And while I didn’t think people should lie about having an STD or being married, this was markedly different. I wrote that it was a danger to trans people to keep it a secret. I had been an open conservative commenting on that site for a long time, but after that comment I was blocked. Lines were being drawn and I was going to be on the other side of this one.
In New York, my kids had friends who are considered trans. There’s an image in the conservative world of a crazy city parent excitedly ushering their little toddler boy into a dress and declaring them trans to the community. This exists, mostly among insane online activists, but is much rarer in the real world. The parents with gender-dysphoric kids that I have known have been anguished. Their children are sullen, withdrawn, fixated on the idea that they have been born in the wrong body. Therapy mostly exists to confirm that the child is, indeed, trans.
Conservatives should be showing compassion for these parents and offering them support. Instead so many conservatives dismiss them, and their children. The left offers them encouragement and friendship, and leads them down a path to confirming trans status. It’s an easy call to pick the side that loves your child.
As my kids got older, it was becoming a far less difficult decision for kids to proclaim themselves trans. By fifth grade, a friend’s child’s Brooklyn public school class had eight trans kids, all girls, in a grade of sixty kids. Something was happening. This was no longer the child who couldn’t function because they felt so uncomfortable in their birth gender. This was the new social contagion Abigail Shrier had described in her book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. No longer would a girl be simply a preteen hitting puberty with a mess of emotions, feeling uncomfortable in her body. She could now be “trans.” Trans was cool, and the girls were all buying into it.
Other things were changing too. Did my respect for trans people mean that a biological man should be allowed to use the female facilities at a spa? Should the fact that I don’t want trans people mocked mean that biological men should be permitted to participate in women’s sports? It could not.
It didn’t escape my notice that it was all heading in one direction. We didn’t hear stories about trans men demanding to be accommodated in men’s spaces. It was only traditionally female spaces that were being targeted.
Friends would report that their first graders were being asked their pronouns in school. The idea that their gender can be anything they want, sometimes from day to day, was being pushed on kids. Teachers were allowing kids to use a different name and pronoun at school and keep this secret from their parents. None of this is okay. This has nothing to do with an adult choosing to present as the opposite gender. This is frightening indoctrination.
But most shocking was the erasure. “Birthing people” is so deeply offensive, yet it is being used in official US government materials. Who is pushing this? How many people in the entire country — in the entire world — are both pregnant and uncomfortable with being described as a “mother”? Disney will no longer be using “ladies,” “gentlemen,” “boys” or “girls.” How many people exist, in total, who wouldn’t find their identity in one of those terms? The current discussion, where people of prominence are unable to define what “woman” means, is scary. It’s a woke mass delusion, and it’s being forced on us all.
I do not believe trans people want this. There’s nothing “pro-trans” about the deletion of women. It’s a leftist demand for conformity, and it’s happening at all levels of our culture. People are afraid to say so because in our cancel culture time, they don’t want to be labeled as “anti-trans.”
But respecting people’s choices to live their lives how they want can’t mean a reorganization of society to exclude others or to push leftism — and that’s what this is — on small children. In the drawing of these lines, leftists will assure that most of us, “pro-trans” or not, are on the other side.