Like Minnesota before her, Virginia has recently chosen to impose radical gender theory on its schools. The motivation behind this push is supposedly compassion for a select group of boys and girls—specifically the boys who think they are really girls and the girls who think they are really boys. We are thus told that this is a mission of mercy to prevent discrimination against such individuals and to promote their inclusion. It is undoubtedly true that those who have difficulty making peace with their own gender face some unique challenges in life, but leftist social engineers are using them as an excuse to bully schools and institutions into adopting policies that enforce an ideology they already possessed—one that considers gender as something ephemeral and (above all) non-binding.
Nevertheless, despite the pretension of greater respect for and acceptance of the boys who think they are girls, the claims of our social engineers (when taken seriously) amount to a level of disrespect that cannot accept or respect the ones they use. The National Federation of State High School Associations, for example, is fairly typical of our social engineers on this subject when pushing their ideology. In response to the common “concern” among parents that transgender “girls” are actually boys, the NFHS tells us:
It is important for policy-makers to understand that transgender girls (who were assigned a male gender at birth) are not boys. Their consistent and affirmed gender identity as girls is as deep-seated as the gender identity of non-transgender girls.
It would be an altogether outlandish claim in any sane culture, but America is quickly leaving behind outdated notions of sanity. Because it is outlandish, the proponents of common sense don’t often engage in the thought-experiment of treating these claims seriously. Because it seems accommodating at first glance, the boys who think they are girls don’t take it too seriously either. Nevertheless, doing so raises a very telling question: if a boy can identify as a girl, than what does this word “girl” actually mean?
The entire point of the transgender endeavor hinges on the claim that biology is irrelevant to gender. The aforementioned NFHS document affirms that a boy who thinks he’s a girl is unequivocally a girl no matter what our lying eyes might tell us. The same would no doubt be true for the girl who thinks she’s a boy. They think this lifts restrictions, but at the same time it imposes a different one: The word “girl” cannot possibly have anything to do with biology. Even as the boy who thinks he’s a girl seeks out drugs and genital mutilation, he claims to have been a girl all along no matter what gender he was “assigned” at birth. So while such mutilation might involve a personal sense of aesthetics, it cannot be matched up to any over-arching biological reality of girlhood. Transgenderism jettisons such realities simply by embracing the idea of girls with penises and boys with vaginas.
So if the word “girl” has no biological meaning in this context, then what else could it mean? Perhaps the boy thinks he’s a girl more in social terms. In other words, perhaps he sees his personality, preferences, behaviors, and so forth as feminine rather than masculine. Unfortunately for him, this too is out-of-bounds for our social engineers. The same ideologues who bully schools into adopting transgender policies unwaveringly inform us that none of these factors are distinctive between boys and girls either. To say that boys act “this way” while girls act “that way” or that boys have “these traits” while girls have “those traits” is nothing more than a stereotype—a kind of illusion or prejudice about one group or another that is not founded in anything real. At best, these are simply social constructs that are sure to be deconstructed any day now (and good riddance!) Accordingly, the boy who thinks he’s a girl is not allowed to mean that in any social sense either. The hunt for the meaning of “girl” continues.
Well, perhaps the boy who thinks he’s a girl does so in some spiritual sense—he thinks that he has a feminine soul. I’ve never heard our social engineers go this route, and with good reason. They routinely tell us that this is a matter of science over and against any spiritual concerns in order to disqualify religious opinions from influencing the matter in any way. Opening this can of worms would undeniably make this a matter of forcing a tiny minority religion on everyone else. If even being seen to pray or voicing a religious thought where others might hear is out-of-bounds in public schools, how much more so is forcing everyone in the school district to adopt another’s religious beliefs about gendered souls? Even apart from the politics of the matter, outside the scope of and language provided by an established religion in which these words find their meanings in history, theology and narrative, these kinds of metaphysical claims about masculine and feminine souls are rather murky. Our social engineers therefore forbid the word “girl” from having any spiritual or metaphysical meaning in our current conversion as well.
Here we have finally reached the end of the line. If, for the sake of a thought experiment, we take all this transgender insanity seriously, then nothing is actually left when we come full circle to the boy who thinks he is a girl—the person who is supposedly being helped by the leftist ideologues. If there is no male or female, then “boy” and “girl” are nothing more than synonyms for “person” or “human” or the like. He is only a person who thinks he is a person. However, a person who identifies as a person is, for all practical purposes, being tautological. He cannot seek any change at all for he is already at his destination. And yet, he is seeking a change—he does use the word “girl” as though it meant something different than “boy.” However, the social engineers have cut off all possibility of such a difference. If one takes their reckoning seriously, the boy’s claim might as well be a grunt or a snort—a meaningless sound masquerading as a word, as logical positivists once deemed ethical and theological terms. In the end, the leftist social engineers have reduced their supposed beneficiaries to those whose sounds are neither request, nor statement, but simply noise. Such is neither mercy nor compassion.
Transgenderism tries to make the genders fluid so that they are easier to escape from. Nevertheless, such fluidity does not only destroy the gender “assigned” at birth, but also the gender one wants to identify as. For the boy who thinks he’s a girl, transgender ideology destroys both his reality and his fantasy. In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton wrote:
You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature… Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end. Somebody wrote a work called The Loves of the Triangles; I never read it, but I am sure that if triangles were ever loved, they were loved for being triangular.
Likewise, if a boy ever wanted to be a girl, it’s because there’s something distinctive about girls that he feels affinity with. But the moment one admits to the natural distinctiveness of girls, then one must also acknowledge that some are girls and some are not. Reason therefore leaves us with only two options: either dehumanize the boys who think they are girls by reducing their self-assertions to gibberish, or acknowledge that “boy” and “girl” are both meaningful words and that the boys who think they are girls are simply wrong—and allow society to act accordingly.
Perversely, leftists have chosen the path of dehumanization because our culture has deemed it disrespectful to tell a boy who thinks he is a girl that he is wrong. This error flies only because so many have forgotten what respect means. We think it is simply a matter of engendering pleasant feelings and not causing distress, but respect goes deeper than mere niceness. To respect something is to treat it as though it is what it is. One respects a boundary, for example, by not crossing it; that is what a boundary is. One respects a parent by honoring him, or an authority by obeying it. Likewise, one disrespects something by treating it as though it were something other than what it is. An oncologist might engender pleasant feelings and avoid distress by telling her cancer-stricken patient that he is perfectly healthy. Nevertheless, doing so would be horribly disrespectful because she would be treating him as something other than a patient—as someone whose health is not her concern.
In the same way, we ought not be disrespectful to boys who think they are girls—neither by playing along with either their own misidentified gender nor with the social engineers using them as pawns. Neither must we enlist school districts and society as a whole to try and make their misidentification more believable. In such a context, discrimination (i.e. the ability to tell the difference between boys and girls) is not an imposition or an injustice at all. Wrong they may be, but the boys who think they are girls are still confused and hurting and we owe them better than some elaborate fantasy role-playing exercise. No likes hearing that he is wrong or being treated as though he were wrong, but there are worse ways to be treated. It is far better that we deem the boys who think they are girls to be wrong than that we deem them to be uttering mere noises that cannot ever rise to the level of being wrong.