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Sex and Gender

Trans ideology has split America

No state should be using drugs — with such profound consequences — to treat what is a mental health condition in children. But is that a reason to vote Republican rather than Democrat?

Attitudes to gender in red and blue states now form a major policy battleground

Gender identity ideology has had a profound impact on British politics, but it is tearing the United States apart. The rhetoric from red states and blue states could hardly be more polarised.

In the red corner, Ron DeSantis has been noticeably outspoken. On so-called ‘gender affirming care’ for children, he called for doctors to “be sued”, pointing out that “they don’t tell you what that is […] They are actually giving very young girls double mastectomies; they want to castrate these young boys.”

Those views did not seem to turn off his electorate. While the red wave failed to flood the rest of the country, DeSantis was re-elected governor of Florida with a thumping majority — the largest margin of any Florida governor in 40 years. What used to be thought of as a swing state is now solidly Republican. 

In California, the line taken is strikingly different. The blue state has even passed a bill offering legal refuge to transgender youths, presumably fleeing the likes of DeSantis and his policies. Democratic state governor Gavin Newsom said, “We believe that no one should be prosecuted or persecuted for getting the care they need — including gender-affirming care.” Newsom was also re-elected in the recent midterms, in his case with the biggest California majority for 50 years.  

The madness does not stop there. The city of San Francisco now offers a Guaranteed Income for Trans People (or GIFT) which will provide 55 eligible residents with $1,200 per month for up to 18 months to “help address financial insecurity”.

DeSantis’s views have become notorious to Democrats across the country. The New York State Democratic Party painted him as a bogeyman, accusing him of bragging about “passing transphobic laws in Florida”. Their evidence? They attached a clip of him defending the integrity of women’s sports. 

The problem with the transgender debate is one of reaching compromise. The arguments are binary – “transwomen are women”, or we are not women. Identity is affirmed or it is challenged. There is no middle ground. In Britain, differing positions are taken within each of the major political parties. Even the SNP faced a rebellion over the first reading of the bill to reform the GRA in Scotland. But in the U.S. it has become partisan. The Republicans challenge what the Democrats affirm.

This is real politics affecting real people’s lives. Following Newsom’s offer of refuge, Florida’s medical boards approved a rule that would prohibit doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children. They have also put a stop to sex reassignment surgeries and other surgical procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics in under-18s.

It also goes to the very top. The President himself recently fawned over TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney — on Day 222 of Mulvaney’s “being a girl” project. Joe Biden was clear what he thought, “I don’t think any state or anybody should have the right to [ban gender affirming healthcare].”

On this issue, DeSantis is right. And Biden is wrong. No state should be using drugs — with such profound consequences — to treat what is a mental health condition in children. But is that a reason to vote Republican rather than Democrat? If it is, then the United States has entered the twilight zone where the medical treatment of a tiny group of people has displaced the economic and social policies that affect everyone. That is bad for democracy. And it is bad for America.


* This article was first published by Unherd on 19 November 2022: Trans ideology has split America.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

5 replies on “Trans ideology has split America”

As an American, I certainly agree with this. However, not all liberals are so stupid. Liberals themselves are divided between feminists on the one side, and men and women on the other side who have a “bleeding heart” attitude towards any group that they consider to be oppressed (and transgender activists have done a very good job of portraying trans people as oppressed).

So the schism exists within liberals too. I am a good example of how it is playing out. I am a liberal and a serious poet. The editor of one online poetry site refused to take my poems when he found out that I do not support transgender ideology. Now, another editor on another site has learned of my position, and she is not answering my emails. Cancel Culture has fixed it so that you are considered a transphobe if you don’t sign on to all of their cockeyed ideas, and these liberal editors don’t want to promote the writing of a “bigot”. Of course, I am not a bigot. I agree that trans people should be protected in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations (such as hotels, restaurants, etc.). But trans activists want more than that. They insist you are a bigot if you won’t use their special language, if you don’t want trans women invading women’s sports and single-sex spaces, if you think children should wait until adulthood to transition, and if you don’t believe in “gender identity” as the thing that determines the gender of humans. Never before has such a small group made so many demands on society. The shame of it is that they are convincing a lot of people.

In America right now, there are two cults: The Trump cult on the right, and the trans cult on the left.

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Yes, the transgender issue is one aspect of identity politics, which has taken root in many universities in the States and Canada, and perhaps parts of Europe too. Any minority group can be assumed to be “oppressed” by default, and many often do suffer particular wrongs, but identity politics, in cahoots with post-modern so-called “critical studies”, has turned valuable principles of social justice upside down, such that maleness, whiteness, Western-ness, “cis-ness”, and heterosexuality are automatic reasons to be denegraded, ignored and discriminated against, and for those individuals to feel personally responsible for everything from the African slave trade to the holocaust.

I’ve lost the links just now, but there were at least two projects involving spoof social science papers submitted to various prominent journals, discussing idiotic theses that fitted the expected woke blueprint, some of them even constructed by computer programs churning out passable jargon that was literally incomprehensible, and the journals lapped them up.

The transgender craze is the oddest example of this topsy-turvy social justic war, where the genuine distress of a tiny minority has been exaggerated and over- self-diagnosed, becoming a teen fashion and lifestyle choice with little understanding of the future implications for health, and to the point of undermining the unfinished business of gender equality, deepening society’s fixation on sexual stereotypes, and causing confusion and the acceptance of double-speak on social issues.

The protagonists waffle from saying “there’s no such thing as males and females” and “sex is a social construct” to “transwomen are women.” I’ve tried to argue with academics who ought to know this makes no sense, but they can’t see it. And, digging down into their philosophy, it seems they have rejected objectivism (when it suits them – they’ll happily cite scientific papers that appear to support their views) in favour of literally a post-truth philosophy, which they even argue is “more scientific”. What we’ve known for hundreds of years, that nothing can be proven absolutely, has been used to say that everything is mere opinion. Hence, a child’s claim to be in the wrong body is valid by default and we’re abusive and absolutist to do anything other than affirm it and try to correct their faulty biology. These fools can support the recent movement to take mental health seriously one minute, the next refuse to believe anyone can have an incorrect fantasy about their gender identity as a way to cope with the stresses of growing up in our sex-obsessed culture.

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They do see it. Pretending to believe it aids their aim which is total deconstruction of Western society. Michel Foucault, purveyor of Queer Theory (there were others even before him, but he is considered the ‘father” of QT) paid little boys for sex. Most of the post modern philosophers have a strange interpretation of child protection. The female counterparts to Foucault, such as Gayle Rubin and Judith Butler, come across as handmaidens, slavering over the ‘father’ of QT. That their stuff, at least Butler’s is so obscure as to be unreadable almost, gives them kudos. Their way-out sexualities almost seem to want to outdo the men. They are all a bunch of pseuds, and dangerous pseuds at that.

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Thanks for that, lorncal, I’d not looked into it much. I was shocked to see the evidence about Foucault, and I read some Rubin that was very disturbing, making out that child protection laws around sex are the same as the (mostly) historical unwarranted proscriptions against homosexuality.

Having said that, I don’t suppose the people I was arguing with are (all) as messed up as that. Probably the vast majority are just persuaded that transgenderism is the latest increment in human freedom, if they even think about it at all. But there was the assertion from one woman (mother of a trans “daughter”) that a child knows they are transgender. I mentioned the fact that children (and adolescents) haven’t developed their prefrontal cortical functions well enough, which is why they regularly make poor decisions and take excessive risks, and I was just told I was underestimating children.

It took me a while to realise that this trusting-the-child philosophy presumably must include the idea that they can consent to sexual acts, but by then I’d given up trying to have a reasonable conversation. The woman, unbelievably, is a neuroscientist.

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I would like to say that I am wholly in favour of transsexuals and those who claim to be ‘trans’ people, in general, having the same human and civil rights as everyone else, but that must be qualified by their having to pay cognisance to the rights and boundaries of others. I think that third spaces should be created for ‘trans’ people and I believe that children and young people require proper counselling and/or psychological/psychiatric care. That is where the state falls down. Women and girls should have their sex-based boundaries (they are there for very good reason) respected and enshrined in law. No male person should be allowed into female spaces or rights.

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