One of the most remarkable controversies of our era is the conflict between transgender activists and radical feminists. Michelle Goldberg outlined this dispute in an August 2014 article for the New Yorker:Keep reading.
Trans women say that they are women because they feel female — that, as some put it, they have women’s brains in men’s bodies. Radical feminists reject the notion of a “female brain.” They believe that if women think and act differently from men it’s because society forces them to, requiring them to be sexually attractive, nurturing, and deferential. In the words of Lierre Keith, a speaker at Radfems Respond, femininity is “ritualized submission.”Having written a book (Sex Trouble: Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature) critical of feminist ideology, I cannot be accused of supporting Lierre Keith’s ideas about patriarchal oppression. Nevertheless, in their disputes with the transgender cult — and yes, the movement has developed a cult mentality in recent years — radical feminists are on the side of scientific truth. “Male” and “female” are biological categories, determined by chromosomes and anatomy. This is simply science, not politics, and the rhetoric of the transgender cult is not actual feminism, but is instead a weird mutant strain of postmodernism, heavily influenced by the “gender theory” popularized by Professor Judith Butler. Radical feminists have taken alarm at the way transgender activists have used the Internet— blogs, YouTube channels and other social media — to promote “transition” as a panacea for every problem young people may experience with their sexual identity. There now exists a vast online community of amateur advice sites on every aspect of transition. Medical providers of “treatment” — hormones and surgery — are now encouraging transgenderism even among preschool children, and some misguided parents appear to be exhibiting Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, by pushing their children toward “transgender” identification.
What is happening here? The rise of transgender mania — for which Bruce “Caitlin” Jenner is the celebrity poster boy/girl — can best be understood as a belated consequence of culture shifts that occurred 40 or 50 years ago, especially in the field of psychology. Whereas once heterosexuality was officially understood as normal, and homosexuality defined as deviant, this understanding was cast aside by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. If there was no such thing as normal sexual behavior, then it was no longer possible to describe any sexual behavior as abnormal. Pandora’s Box had been opened, and the potential results of this were difficult to predict.
Parents who have more or less traditional expectations for our children find ourselves compelled to protect our children against a culture which increasingly condemns “normal” as a synonym for oppressive. Progressive intellectuals consider you a very bad parent if you expect your boys to be masculine and your girls to be feminine, and you are simply hateful if you expect your children to be heterosexual. Advocates of “gender-neutral parenting” denounce parents who encourage their sons to play sports or who permit their daughters to watch Disney princess movies (which are full of “heteronormative” messages, Women’s Studies professors warn us).
“Until I started studying radical feminism, I never thought of ‘normal’ as an achievement,” I wrote in April 2015 after examining the way gender theory is taught in universities. As our society has lost any consensus of what “normal” adulthood should entail, a growing and quite vocal segment of the culture have demanded that the traditional family and religious morality must be destroyed. This cultural conflict produces profoundly confusing messages for children growing up in a society where there is no generally accepted definition of what kind of adult they should grow up to be.
Amid this confusion, it has become apparent that, in many cases, the transgender cult is exploiting the vulnerability of young people with serious mental illnesses. Many young people buy into a prevailing attitude that “transition” is a cure for problems of identity and social maladjustment. Many of the harshest critics of the transgender movement are those who are “destransitioned,” having quit the process of sex-change “treatment.” One mentally ill 21-year-old lesbian who abandoned this process described herself as “angry as hell” about her experience with “transition-happy therapists and doctors” who “decided to try to medically correct” her, based on their belief that she would “stand a better chance at being a more normal man than a normal woman.” But what is “normal”? And who is qualified to decide?
The egalitarian mentality — the idea of that social hierarchy is always oppressive and that liberation is always the answer to our problems — tends to undermine every source of authority in society. When ordinary people are unable to distinguish between right and wrong, between normal and abnormal, they are compelled to appeal to “experts.” But how do we decide who is qualified as an “expert”? In regard to transgenderism, we find that many people seeking “treatment” end up in a worse condition than they were before they resorted to this expert-approved process. And now we have activists seeking to require schools and other public facilities to accommodate transgenderism despite concerns for women’s safety. What we realize, eventually, is that sane people are being compelled to adjust their own expectations in order to accommodate the demands of mentally ill people who are unable or unwilling to adjust to reasonable standards of social behavior...
PREVIOUSLY: "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism."