Pro-transgender advocacy is a tornado of incoherent claims and political intimidation, says a far-left feminist author who volunteered to write a review of a new book about the transgender ideology.
“Whether or not it was the author’s intention, Trans* feels like an attempt at an outline of such explanation, but I’m sorry to report that the book offers neither clarity nor coherence,” writes Robert Jensen, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.
I say sorry, because I came to the book hoping to gain greater understanding of the claims of the transgender movement, which I have not found elsewhere. [Author Jack] Halberstam — a professor in Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University — has been writing about this subject for more than two decades and is one of the most prominent U.S. trans* intellectuals.
I have long tried to observe what in rhetoric is sometimes called “the principle of charity,” a commitment in debate to formulating an opponent’s argument in the strongest possible version so that one’s critique is on firm footing. I have tried to do that in this review, though I concede that I’m not always sure what Halberstam is arguing, and so I may not be doing his arguments justice. But that is one of my central points: When I read this book — and many other arguments from transgender people and their allies — I routinely find myself confused, unable to understand just what is being proposed. So, again, I’ll quote at length in the hopes of being fair in my assessment, this time the book’s closing paragraph:
“Trans* bodies, in their fragmented, unfinished, broken-beyond-repair forms, remind all of us that the body is always under construction. Whether trans* bodies are policed in bathrooms or seen as killers and loners, as thwarted, lonely, violent, or tormented, they are also a site for invention, imagination, fabulous projection. Trans* bodies represent the art of becoming, the necessity of imagining, and the fleshy insistence of transitivity.”
Once again, after reading that passage a couple of times, I think I understand, sort of, the point. But, once again, I don’t see how it advances our understanding of sex and gender, of patriarchy and power. I am not alone in this assessment; people I know, including some who are sympathetic to the transgender movement’s political project, have shared similar concerns, though they often mute themselves in public to avoid being labeled transphobic.
Nationwide, the transgender ideology is deeply unpopular, especially among women and parents. In 2017, former President Barack Obama told NPR that his promotion of the transgender ideology made it easier for Donald Trump to win the presidency.
Multiple polls show that most Americans wish to help and comfort people who think they are a member of the opposite sex, even as they also reject the transgender ideology’s claim that a person’s legal sex is determined by their feeling of “gender identity,” not by biology.
Despite the huge expense, conflict, and damage to young people, the gender ideology is rapidly gaining power, aided by huge donations from wealthy individuals and medical companies. In Ohio, for example, in February, a judge forced parents of a teenage girl to give up custody so she can begin a lifetime of drug treatments and surgery that will allow her to appear as a male.
Therapist sees woman for ONE MONTH before prescribing a double mastectomy and hormones. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/wSAgtO0R73
— Kaeley Triller (@KaeleyT) April 20, 2018
The progressive push to bend Americans’ attitudes and their male-and-female civic society around the idea of “gender identity” has already attacked and cracked many of the popular social rules which help Americans manage the cooperation and competition among and between complementary, different and equal men and women.
These pro-gender claims have an impact on different-sex bathrooms, shelters for battered women, sports leagues for girls, hiking groups for boys, K-12 curricula, university speech codes, religious freedoms, free speech, the social status of women, parents’ rights in childrearing, practices to help teenagers, health outcomes, women’s expectations of beauty, culture and civic society, scientific research, prison safety, civic ceremonies, school rules, men’s sense of masculinity, law enforcement, and children’s sexual privacy.