Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Report Debunks 'Born That Way' Narrative And 'Transgender' Label For Kids

   I haven't read the full paper yet, but the summary at The Federalist sounds pretty reasonable to me.
   Of course I'm merely a reasonably-well-informed layperson with respect to the medical stuff. But on the philosophical side, there's really no doubt that the left's theory of transgenderism simply doesn't work.
   The report mentions something I've noticed before, which is that institutions have begun, in effect, encouraging children to believe that they're transgendered. That will be denied. The response will be: we've merely made it easy for kids to report what they actually are. But this isn't so. For one thing (and it sounds like this is one of McHugh and Mayer's points), kids really aren't one way or another with respect to sex, gender and so-called "gender identity" (I'm a broken record, but: that's a largely incoherent quasi-concept) at very young ages. Kids are simply indeterminate in many respects. (We're all indeterminate in some respects...but kids are much more so, and especially in these respects.) And there's a blurry line between mere acceptance and encouragement. In effect, the left is putting institutions and subcultures in place that say to kids:  "Are you transgendered? Are you? It's ok. It makes you special. There's nothing wrong with it. It could explain some of the uncertainty and anxiety you feel about these adult things you don't understand (sex and gender). Do you think you might be this special kind of person?"
   First, note that the official line on the left is that all of this is "socially constructed." That quasi-concept is a disaster of confusions...but, ignoring that fact and just aiming to cut the knot: if that's right, then social encouragement is tantamount to making children transgendered. Add to that another component of the left's theory: that being transgendered is a living hell...and you've got institutions that should be expected to have the effect of destroying kids' lives.
   Second, imagine that the far right were doing this with...I dunno...demonic possession or something. Or the ability to speak in tongues. No one would stand for that. Yet here we have the left taking an incoherent, barely-understood, entirely outlandish, unscientific, unproven theory...and building it in to schools and government.
   Third, at the borderline of illness, society can basically create such conditions. Somebody (Ian Hacking? Nicholas Rescher? Somebody?) used to write about this "disease" that suddenly gripped Europe in, like, the 19th century, where people would spontaneously walk extremely long distances--to other towns, to other countries. Just out of the blue, and with no explanation, with the trappings of illness (I don't know what happened...I never intended to do that...etc.) It was, in effect, a psychological illness fad. That's very probably what transgenderism is. There's little doubt that the trendiness of the thing is influencing some teenagers to claim transgenderism--"transtrenders" is the online term for them. And if we establish institutions that encourage it, we'll get more of it. That's not a complicated point.
   One important thing that undergirds all this is the real point that all this nonsense is ignoring: the old-school feminist point that the link between sex and gender is a lot more arbitrary than we used to think. It should be no surprise that there are feminine men and masculine women. And there really is nothing wrong with either of those things. What the left's theory of transgenderism gets wrong is: it gets the point almost exactly backwards. Instead of preaching acceptance for feminine men and masculine women, it preaches, in effect, that a feminine man is a woman and a masculine woman is a man. And that's batshit crazy. That would have been considered the bigoted view five years ago. In fact it is a bigoted view. And that's probably why the left's theory adds in the "gender identity" stuff--the relativistic/subjectivistic heart of the theory, inconsistent with all other parts, that says that you are whatever you think you are. That component allows it to avoid the uncomfortable and bigoted implication that all effeminate men are women. The theory leaves it all up to the individual...but then reifies the individual's subjective preferences and impressions, blowing them radically out of proportion and attributing to them consequences that they cannot have.
   This report will be rejected by the left because its conclusions are politically incorrect, and because it's by McHugh, who the left demonizes. And, hell, I haven't read it and don't know the medical and psychological stuff. So it might be bad. But--and here's the part that should worry everyone--there is no doubt that it will be attacked and rejected because there is a strong bias in favor of the left's theory of transgenderism that will lead to the rejection of any politically incorrect conclusion on this subject. Politics really does strongly infect psychology, especially its less-scientific quarters. And everybody should be worried about that.
   But, anyway, this, together with Rebecca Riley-Cooper's recent "Gender Is Not A Spectrum" gives me hope that maybe--just maybe--the resistance might manage to defeat the PC effort to suppress discussion of these issues. That's the big meta-problem here, as I keep repeating: serious discussion is verboten. To question any facet of the left's theory of transgenderism is to be "transphobic," which is a new kind of bigotry and the new worst thing you can be. It's kind of the left's version of Christianity's you are evil and will suffer eternal damnation if you don't believe. But that's been turbocharged to you are evil if you have any doubts at all. The former is a particularly fallacious ad baculum. We don't even have a name for the newer fallacy...but we really do need one...

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