Slate Flummoxed by New Trans Paper from Family Research Council

AP Photo/Craig Fritz

Jacob Brogan is something called a “Future Tense research associate” and as such ought to be comfortable with political jujitsu, that is, one side of the political/cultural/social divide taking the terms of the other side and making them their own. But in his case, it makes him a tad jumpy.

He says a new paper by researchers Dale O’Leary and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council relies on “leftist concepts and categories” and inadvertently shows that the “far right no longer controls the conversation on gender and sexuality.” Rather than taking these terms and concepts for their very own, the far right have “ceded the terms of the debate for their political opponents.”

After Brogan clears his throat with the expected condemnations of the Family Research Council’s “dubious claims” and “hateful rhetoric,” he gets down to charging them with relying on “discredited pseudoscience and decades-old scholarship,” in this case citing a doctor born all they way back in 1910.

He says the FRC paper “conveniently fails to mention” that George Burou died in 1987, long before the current transgender enlightenment. While Burou was one of the innovators of sex reassignment surgery, he inconveniently said he could not change men into women. To Brogan, this places Burou literally in the dustbin of history.

Brogan is also shocked that O’Leary and Sprigg want to defend “the sexes” when they ought to be defending “traditional values” instead. Defending “the sexes” can only mean this paper is a “rear-guard action,” an attempt to “regain lost ground, not to invade new territory” though he does not explain why.

O’Leary and Sprigg describe the assault on sex as having come in three waves; modern feminism, the homosexual movement, and transgender activism. What flummoxes Brogan about this is their use of the word “wave.” Apparently “wave” belongs to the left because three “waves” of feminism are described in the literature.

Who knew “wave” belongs to the left?

Brogan is most shocked that the religious right has found allies among second wave feminists who are remarkably critical of men who wear dresses or have their genitals sliced off. Some women’s festivals do not allow the presence of so-called “transwomen” who, to them, are no more than men using their patriarchal privilege to invade yet more female spaces.

In fact it may be a coalition of the religious right and these second wave feminists that makes the most progress against such progressive darlings as pornography, transsexualism, and gestational surrogacy.

Though O’Leary and Sprigg do not use the term, Brogan is shocked that at an FRC-sponsored lecture law professor, John Eastman, used the term “cultural imperialism.” Brogan is shocked these folks don’t seem to know this is a term of the cultural left. Brogan is obviously not aware that this phrase and others like it have been used by the religious right at the UN for going on twenty years and was used most recently by Pope Francis in one of his Wednesday audiences. But, cultural leftist Michel Foucault used it, says Brogan. O’Leary and Sprigg shrug, “a-huh.”

The O’Leary/Sprigg paper published by Family Research Council ends up being far more interesting than Josh Brogan’s half-baked ideological description of it and perhaps that is what has him so flummoxed. The section on the history and diagnosis of transgenderism alone is enlightening, especially for most readers whose only exposure to this new development that gets no deeper than memes and gifs about “the transgender moment” and airbrushed photos by Annie Leibovitz.

Rather than a rear-guard action, Brogan should understand that the paper represents new ground for the religious right, and not only new ground, but new terms, and new allies. What’s more, Christians have been comfortable sacralizing the profane for a few thousand years. Brogan has a right to be flummoxed but where he gets into real trouble is being so dismissive. He does so at his own peril.

Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse