I recently came across this well-written article from a former social justice activist. It reveals how people with good intentions try to change the world for the better, but can end up doing just the opposite. Here are some quotes from the essay that I thought were particularly relevant:
“I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out.
This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions and noble causes, but metastasizes into a nightmare. In general, the activists involved are the nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know.”
“There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I’ve pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism.”
“Perhaps the most deeply held tenet of a certain version of anti-oppressive politics – which is by no means the only version – is that members of an oppressed group are infallible in what they say about the oppression faced by that group. This tenet stems from the wise rule of thumb that marginalized groups must be allowed to speak for themselves. But it takes that rule of thumb to an unwieldy extreme.”
“Consider otherkin, people who believe they are literally animals or magical creatures and who use the concepts and language of anti-oppressive politics to talk about themselves. I have no problem drawing my own conclusions about the lived experience of otherkin. Nobody is literally a honeybee or a dragon. We have to assess claims about oppression based on more than just what people say about themselves. If I took the idea of the infallibility of the oppressed seriously, I would have to trust that dragons exist. That is why it’s such an unreliable guide. (I half-expect the response, ‘Check your human privilege!’)”
I believe that many trans activists have good intentions when it comes to gender-defying kids. I think they feel noble, that they are rescuing children from inevitable doom. Since these crusaders are transgender themselves, they label themselves experts and, along with their social justice allies, conclude they know best. When someone questions their cause, they easily discount any concerns as “transphobic.” They are so focused on doing good, they are blind to the negative consequences of their campaign.
One of these likely well-intentioned activists is Aidan Key, who appears to believe that the lives of transgender children are at stake if not affirmed as the opposite sex. Key seems particularly driven to educate the public, believing that stamping out ignorance will remove the reluctance of people to accommodate these kids.
(Before I continue, I want you to be aware that I believe no one can actually change sex, just their outward appearance. But for this post I will be referring to Aidan Key using preferred pronouns as a courtesy. I am not out to brazenly offend anyone and would actually welcome constructive dialogue on this subject.)
Who is Aidan Key? He was born female (and originally named Bonnie) but started transitioning to male in his thirties. A self-proclaimed Gender Specialist, Key has a BA in Communication, Program Development, but he counts psychotherapy and mental health counseling among his skills.
Key has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the public that transgender children are a normal variation. He states that these kids don’t need to change their gender expressions or identities. Instead it is society that needs to change by accepting and affirming them as their authentic selves.
The truth of the matter is that having a transgender child is an inconvenience to society because, instead of asking the child to change, we are asking society to change. This is a tall order.
Even though Key realizes that changing the world is a “tall order,” it hasn’t stopped him from trying. For over a decade, he has been involved in many different projects, attacking what he considers ignorance from all angles.
In 2005, Aidan and his identical twin sister Brenda were featured on an Oprah Winfrey Show titled “Transgendered Twins.”
But early on, there was one major difference—Brenda was “the lady” and Bonnie was “the tomboy.” Bonnie hated wearing dresses. When playing house, she preferred to take the role of dad because she just didn’t feel like a girl. With puberty, the twins had trouble relating at all. “I got as boy crazy as I think you could get,” Brenda says. “I’d look at Bonnie and see her be so calm and levelheaded around these boys. [I’d think], ‘How does she do that?'”
During college Bonnie realized that she was a lesbian. Right away she came out to her twin sister. “She told me she had an encounter with a woman and kissed her,” Brenda says. “I got really upset about it because we’re twins. We’re supposed to be identical.”
For the next 15 years, Bonnie lived as a lesbian, married a woman and even adopted a daughter. But once again she began to feel that things were still not right. When she met two men who had transitioned from female to male, Bonnie felt a connection. She made the most difficult choice of her life—she decided to become a man.
(As has been talked about many times on 4thWaveNow, so many trans men formerly lived as lesbians—but no one in the media ever really delves into why these women abandon their femaleness.)
Prior to this interview with Oprah, though, Key was already becoming well known in the transgender community of Seattle, Washington. In 1999, he founded the Gender Diversity Education and Support Services. And in 2001, he launched the first Gender Odyssey conference.
Gender Diversity, a non-profit, has the goal of increasing awareness and understanding for gender diverse individuals of all ages. The organization facilitates many support groups for families with gender-variant children. And training sessions for workplaces, health providers and K-12 public and private schools are offered. The following is information about their school trainings.
Increased awareness and education regarding gender identity enables all children to achieve a more holistic and confident school experience. Our aim is to not only assist a school in the optimal inclusion of transgender students, but to highlight the ways that creating a more inclusive environment benefits all students.
Scheduling a training or consultation with Gender Diversity will help you…
- Understand, adhere and fully implement a school’s anti-discrimination and inclusion policies
- More fully incorporate the topic of gender within the school’s existing diversity programs and commitments
- Support a transgender student through a gender transition
- Increase the school community’s understanding of gender identity and expression as it relates to all students
- Seek specific guidance relating to gender-segregated spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, sports and other team activities
- Adequately and confidently answer questions from parents or other students
- With one-on-one lesson planning or problem-solving with a teacher, staff or administrator
- Develop age-appropriate classroom instruction on issues related to gender and gender diverse identities and expressions
An ideal educational package includes training for all school personnel, parent education and age-appropriate gender education for students.
Gender Odyssey is an international conference geared towards transgender and gender non-conforming teens and adults. It includes “thought-provoking workshops, discussion groups, social events and entertainment.” Conference programming for 2016 has not yet been released, but the schedule for 2015 is still on their website. Last year’s keynote speakers were Kate Bornstein and Andrea Jenkins. Over the course of three days, there were numerous workshops with a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, the impact of trans identities on relationships, how to change identity documentation, increasing awareness of anti-discrimination legislation, hormones and surgeries.
Quite a few workshops focused on medical intervention. One workshop presenter was Dr. Tony Mangubat, who regular readers will remember from 4thWaveNow’s post on a 15 year old gender dysphoric girl who had her breasts surgically removed.
Another surgery workshop is presented in part by Dr. Curtis Crane, a doctor with “penis-making skills that have won him a global following.” Crane’s burgeoning top surgery business was discussed in this 4thWaveNow post.
This show-and-tell workshop, with the euphemism “chest surgery” in its headline, makes me particularly sad.
The annual Gender Odyssey Family conference was started by Aidan Key in 2007. It is tailored for families with gender variant children and “provides real tools to support and encourage your child’s self-discovery in regard to their gender.” Below is a small selection of workshops from the 2015 lineup.
Some presentations, like this one, concerned social complications that arise as a result of a transgender identity.
The next three workshops were presented all or in part by gender specialist Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the subject of a recent 4thWaveNow post highlighting Dr. Olson-Kennedy’s desire to lower the age for genital surgeries because trans kids are being left in “limbo” after being on puberty blockers–the theme of the third workshop below.
The Gender Odyssey Professional conference, the newest in the series of conferences, first launched in 2012. It is geared toward professionals, and participants can earn Continuing Education credits.
Leading experts will offer sessions discussing best practices for therapists, legal considerations related to transgender issues, current medical protocols, and educational considerations including model policies for gender variant students ages K-12. Continuing Education and Clock Hours available.
The 2016 conference includes this workshop by Asaf Orr, which sounds like it is designed for teachers and school officials. Orr was one of the lead authors of “Schools in Transition,” a set of transgender-inclusive guidelines for schools, which I wrote about here.
And here’s a workshop that seems to focus on the inconvenience of pesky gatekeepers.
Then there’s this talk by Mara Keisling, a trans woman and founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Because the trans rights movement needs even more momentum.
School indoctrination is a big focus of trans activists, and the conference features another workshop geared toward elementary school teachers. Johanna Eager is part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools project.
Aidan Key has accomplished a lot with these organizations, and his activism doesn’t even come close to stopping there. Besides juggling support groups, conducting trainings and putting on conferences, he has teamed up with Kristina Olson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, on the TransYouth Project. You may remember 4thWaveNow’s analysis of the first study generated by the TransYouth Project here.
The TransYouth Project aims to help scientists, educators, parents, and children better understand the varieties of human gender development. Based out of the Social Cognitive Development Lab at the University of Washington, we are currently leading the first large-scale, national, longitudinal study of development in gender nonconforming, transgender, and gender variant youth . In addition to our primary goal of supporting the first major study of transgender children in the U.S., we are also conducting research about the origins of anti-transgender bias, and have plans for outreach projects in collaboration with some of our partner organizations.
Another one of Key’s many talents is writing. He authored the transgender child chapter of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and has written blog posts for the Huffington Post and Welcoming Schools.
In addition to the Oprah Winfrey Show, he has appeared on Larry King Live, National Public Radio, Inside Edition and Nightline.
And that’s not all. Due to his “expertise,” Key has designed and helped implement policies and procedures for the rights of transgender school children in grades K-12 with the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Washington Intercollegiate Activities Association, and Seattle Public Schools.
There is still more. He is also involved in film. In 2005, Key started the annual TransLations Film Festival, which shows movies featuring transgender personalities. And, more recently he has become the Primary Consultant for the upcoming documentary “Inside Out.”
Inside Out, a 90-minute documentary, takes us deep inside the world of transgender and gender non-conforming children. Ranging in age from pre-school through high school, these children feel they were born with bodies that do not match their innate gender identity. Each yearns to live an authentic life – and live Inside Out….
In a culture that is deeply invested in gender norms, the discovery that “boys will not always be boys” has frequently led to fearful responses and an attitude of intolerance. Indeed, many view transgender rights as the next civil rights front. The stakes are high: over 40% of transgender youth attempt suicide at least once before their 20th birthday. This forces many parents to ask themselves, “Would we rather have a live daughter or a dead son?”
You would think someone as steeped in transgender research and activism as Aidan Key would know that the 41% suicide attempt figure (repeated uncritically ad nauseum in the press) is based on a faulty interpretation of the survey by the Williams Institute. 40% of trans-identified people don’t actually “attempt suicide.” In fact, gender nonconforming people (not just those who ID as trans) have more suicidal thoughts and self-harming behavior over their lifetime, and it is not at all clear that “transition” is a solution for most. But scaring parents with the worst imaginable nightmare is standard practice for trans activists, and Key is obviously no exception in using this emotional blackmail technique to quash dissent.
Why did I just enumerate the prolific accomplishments of Aidan Key? Well, I intended to convey his great influence on countless numbers of children and adults, and point out that he is only one of many trans activists doing so. These people are the drivers of the international rise in transgender-identifying youth.
Of course many activists, like Aidan Key, think this increase in trans youth is a positive thing. Here is Key on a live chat at the Seattle Times:
I predict that unless something drastically changes, we will be seeing many more youth like ours caught up in this trend: Kids who have been educated that being transgender is a normal variation of the human condition; that it is possible to change sex; that society needs to accommodate them; and that transitioning will solve all of their problems. These messages are especially attractive to children who have difficulty navigating the turbulent adolescent years.
Initially, the goal of trans activists may have been to make it more acceptable for boys to wear dresses and play with dolls and girls to be on soccer teams and play with trucks (which I think is a noble aim), but the activism has gotten out of hand. Now there are many confused children that are convinced that altering their bodies is the only option for happiness. And it has literally become a nightmare for many families.
I wonder at what point, if any, trans activists and their allies will start to question their crusade. I hope for the sake of our children that more of them, like the social justice warrior quoted at the beginning of this piece, wake up to the harms that their campaign is causing.
And, I hope that more people will start challenging the premises of trans activism. We need more people to realize that members of an oppressed group are not infallible. Being transgender doesn’t mean they know best. They are human like everyone else and their views should be assessed as such–not as all-knowing experts.
Trans activists SHOULD be making it safer for boys to play with dolls and girls to play with trucks. Instead they’re telling everyone that playing with the “wrong” toys requires surgical intervention.
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ITA – trans ideology is actually dragging society backwards, making toys that used to be gender neutral like legos now have to come in pink/girl versions and blue/boy versions, and kids who pick the wrong color legos or the wrong gender toy are not supposed to grow up to be the sex they are. It’s ridiculous.
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I appreciate your detailed and reasoned article. Thanks for the tack and thoughtfulness of it. I have been writing a series of articles around “Trans-Identity” – looking at our current societal identity crisis. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate your perspective: https://moreenigma.wordpress.com//?s=trans-identity&search=Go
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Mr Foerger is a Christian evangelical who believes that being gay is a ‘lifestyle’ thing and an ‘identity’, and who sincerely hopes that ‘people who self-identify as LGBTQ’* will be ‘transformed by Christ’. To be fair to him, he does attempt to draw a velvet glove over the Christian fist.
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One of the hopes I have for 4thWaveNow is that it might change a few minds. Not sure about Mr. Foerger, but maybe some readers will come to realize that being gay or lesbian is not an “identity” but a fact–one that does not require self delusion and McCarthyite demands that others share the delusion. Most people on both ends of the political spectrum conflate transgenderism with homosexuality and they couldn’t be more wrong. Mr. Foerger, if you’re reading this, I encourage you to explore 4thWaveNow in depth. It might change your mind.
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Hey 4thwavenow, I would add that not only is gay not an identity, but it doesn’t require hormones or surgery for someone to live a fulfilled life as a gay person.
I gotta say I hate the use of the term “identity” referring to things like sexual orientation, race, ancestry, sex. Those things are features an individual may share with other individuals, but one’s identity is what makes one an individual.
I think the trans activists intentionally encourage politicians & society to conflate gay & trans. Instead of looking to gay activism as a model, the trans activists chose to ride the coattails of the successful political action gays took to be able to lives their lives in peace.
But instead of being content to achieve the kind of success gays have achieved in not-being-penalized (by society, employers, landlords, courts, etc) for life choices different from those of the majority, the trans agenda is to remake not only their bodies, but to remake our society into a world where their playacting is treated like reality and reality is illegal to mention.
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Thanks Artemisia, but I would not summarize my identity or my comments like you have. Nevertheless, thanks for your fairness to me. I am merely a fool trying to act more compassionately, despite myself.
And thanks 4thwavenow – I appreciate being in the conversation without being either condemning or condemned. I have been learning as much as I can, but not sure your articles have “changed my mind.” Clearly my take has not changed yours, and it may have even annoyed you. Not sure you were talking to me re: conflating transgenderism with sexualities – for I recognize the differences, but as you can see, I am speaking to “identity” and how we understand ourselves; I assume you recognize that we are all trying to find how to identify ourselves. I just think that there are ways that are inherently reductionistic – that actually dehumanize us. Thanks for your comments.
My point was that being gay or lesbian isn’t an abstraction, and in that sense it isn’t an “identity.” When a gay person comes out to friends and family, it is not something that requires suspension of disbelief: the gay/lesbian person is asking to be accepted for who they are, for the love bonds they form, which in most cases, is backed up by what friends and families actually see and experience (e.g., the gay/lesbian person as a same-sex partner). No cognitive dissonance there. People who “identify” as transgender, on the other hand, are asking those around them to agree with an idea or concept they have of themselves, which is counter to the objective reality of their actual biological sex. Typically this involves asking (or demanding) that people address them by their “preferred pronouns” and otherwise go along with their self-proclaimed “identity,” no matter how much that conflicts with what others see and know.This requires a willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the people they are “coming out” to. It’s perfectly possible to respect a person who is transgender as a human being, without agreeing with their subjective view of reality–their “identity.”
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Rusty, while we may not agree on everything, I do concur that a significant number of transgender people are in need of “healing on so many levels.” Many would be better served by a good mental health professional instead of unquestioned affirmation. Constant acceptance of their gender identity can actually impede healing.
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Hi Overwhelmed, “acceptance” is a loaded term, isn’t it. People ask for it, even demand it. I prefer the term “respect” in that – what I am after is dignifying the person without, as you put it, “agreeing on everything.” When Ms. Jenner asked to be “accepted FOR who she is” – I realized that I could not agree to that. BUT, I do accept her AS she is. The difference might sound merely semantic, but it speaks to the desire to respect where a person is at, irrespective of how one self-identifies. And as you suggest “constant acceptance of X” may actually impeded healing. This is a kind of acceptance that is more “tolerated” than respected. The problem with being merely “tolerant” is that when the unknown limited of tolerance is reached, push back occurs. I’m still learning.
Hi Trish, I probably don’t have the skill with language nor the space to elaborate on the difference between an individual and being a person – but your remarks reveal how we might be talking past each other. I would not agree that “one’s identity makes one an individual”; rather I would say, our identity is found in personhood, and this is something of a deeper substance than becoming an individual. Please excuse my clumsy distinction, but I suspect the crux of the problem is that people actually conflate “identity” with “being an individual” – and hence “mis-identify” themselves. In other words, some are prone to reduce themselves (as you appear to react to) to some label that can never hope to properly articulate their personhood.
I think we can both agree that language is very important, and agree that there have been some weird and not-very-useful constructions in use lately. It’s a very complex thing, and hope I can make my feelings and thoughts about this clear. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought.
What I find troubling about the current usage of “identity” is that it seems to be not about the individual as an individual, but making membership in a group more important that the individual. Sometimes the person chooses to be in the group and make group membership an overarching part of his/her life and assumes that anyone who shares the characteristics that made them want to be in the group must be part of it and share all the beliefs/positions of the group. As an example, I have gay friends who don’t belong to any gay rights organizations – & don’t see a need to participate in gay political politics. Sometimes they get hassled by gays who do belong to organizations and think my friends “should” be giving their money, time & effort. I think there’s a difference between a spokesperson saying “This organization wants X” and “Gay people want X”. There may be gay people who don’t want – or maybe don’t care about X, and maybe some straight people who want X. (One recent example is gay marriage – some gay organizations acted like all gays wanted it, but I know some who didn’t and some who didn’t care). When the spokesperson says “Gays want X”, I see a ploy to make their organization seem bigger than it is and get our society to assume that to be gay means to agree with them. One of my gay friends has had disputes with people who think he’s violating some rule because he doesn’t agree with the trans agenda. All of these gay friends have friends and activities and interests that have nothing to do with being gay, and have friendships with straight people. My friends see themselves as individuals who happen to be gay, among other things.
Identity can also be kind of thrown at people – like assuming that every white person in America is a descendant of slave owners &/or personally benefits from slavery that existed in previous centuries. Plenty of Americans’ ancestors weren’t even in America during slavery, but “white people” and “benefitting from slavery” are lumped together into a single “identity”, and there’s no use mentioning that one is a second generation American.
Mostly to me, as “identity” is currently in usage seems to be a way of trying to force people to feel personally responsible for things done by people who kinda resemble them. I think individuals should only be responsible for what they have done.
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Your further comments are very helpful, and I agree with a lot of what you wrote. If I understand you correctly, you are troubled by the use of the term “identity” because it is actually not about the individual, but about being a part of group, groupthink, and about this being used for political leverage. Your example sounds as if your gay friends are being harassed by gay fundamentalists (a fundamentalist approach can be found in many corners; I suspect it is almost always disintegrating in nature). I get that you are concerned that a person’s identity can be sublimated into a monolithic personality. I share your concern.
I appreciate more of what you are reacting to when you suggest that “identity can be thrown a people… it can be used as a way to force people who kind of resemble the group” without buying into the groupthink.
In this regard, we are of similar thinking. My essays are actually getting at this when I suggest we are living in a time where “identities” do not define, or falsely define “personhood.” You even spoke to how your “friends see themselves as individuals who happen to be gay, among other things.” Again, though I may quibble about the use of individual vs person, I would agree with this understanding. I am troubled that people with “same-sex attraction” would be reduced to, or reduce themselves to a label that does not promote personhood. As I said, reductionism of this sort is actually dehumanizing.
Thank you for your persistence to write me; I hope I have understood you on your terms.
Very respectfully, Rusty.
So I thought the reason kids are put on puberty blockers is to give them a few more years of psychological therapy to explore their feelings of dysphoria and decide if permanent medical transition is really the best option for them — right? Isn’t that the line? But according to the “gender doctors” putting on the seminar about kids in limbo (Drs. Johanna Olson, Michele Angello, Daniel Metzger, Kevin Hatfield and Laura Edwards-Leeper), puberty blockers REALLY are just a remedy for the “problem” of medical ethics requirements which (supposedly) prohibit doctors from giving synthetic hormones and performing genital mutilation surgeries on young children.
Read the wording describing that seminar, and you’ll see it is blaringly clear that these doctors have no intention of helping self-identified (or parent-identified) transgender kids do anything other than go on to full medical transition. Why let boys wear dresses or girls play football, and why help kids come to terms with their natural bodies, when you can have multiple complicated and dangerous genital mutilation surgeries surgeries as a young child?
These doctors make me furious.
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Virtually all of the children that are put on hormone blockers go on to transition. These “experts” know that. Some have even said so in ways that almost sounded like bragging –of course, they like to attribute it to their super-special powers of predicting who will or will not desist.
Because of this, hormone blockers have become more of a selling technique to parents who would otherwise be more cautious about making the decision to allow their children to transition at such young ages. The effects of blockers aren’t permanent, they tell us. What they don’t mention is the psychological effects of solidifying identity formation at such early ages or the fact that adolescence, itself, is a necessary part of cognitive development and brain reorganization.
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Thee doctors remind me of the ones who perform surgery on intersex children. These people also try (and fail) to “fix” the bodies of those children. Will this be the future of trans children? Genital surgeries and hormones at a young age? We know how “well” this works for intersex children. We know how traumatized they are because adults created numb (or barely functioning) artificial “vaginas” out of their genitals. Just the thought of a child having to insert objects into hole that once was a normal male genital makes me wanna vomit. But sadly this is what will happen if no one stops Olson and others. These children will be traumatized for life.
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It’s so ironic that intersex people, who started organizing to convince doctors to *not* perform irreversible surgery on these extremely rare children so they could decide how to address their birth defects as adults are now being used by trans activists as an excuse to justify surgery on the perfectly healthy genitals of children.
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Recently, while looking into the programs that were recruiting subjects for K Olson’s latest paper, I came across an article about Key that created more questions than answers https://www.parentmap.com/article/someone-you-should-know-gender-educator-aidan-key .
In the article, speaking as a “gender educator,” Key portrays people concerned about bathroom gender/safety issues as being due to “conflating.. gender identity with the sexual orientation issue” and then goes on to say that it’s “one of the biggest hurdles now towards societal understanding.” (Since all of the concerns that I’ve seen regarding bathrooms had to do with the safety of women and children and the potential for predatory men taking advantage of gender identity laws –as written –to gain access to women’s private spaces, I found this comment to be rather bizarre) When asked “how,” Key responded with a comment about teachers misidentifying children as gay because they were, in her example, “a sweet little boy who happens to like a certain color backpack, or who is not rough-and-tumble” and that such behavior was seen as “OK, feminine equals gay.” So, apparently, Key thinks that backpack color or not liking rough and tumble really *is* “feminine,” but not that it’s “gay” –but *is* trans? Her meaning is unclear.
As if this isn’t somewhat mind boggling, she continues by talking about the “problem there being that you’ve got an incredible number of years there where the precedent for teasing and harassment is unchecked.” Why? Because the teacher or other students think the child is gay and they’re really trans? Or is it because they like the wrong color of backpack or activities and are seen as feminine? Key thinks that parents should just accept unquestioningly a child’s stated “gender preference” (which we must assume means cross-sex identity given her specialty) or the child will come to think that something is wrong with them; however, by agreeing that the child *really is* cross-sex, aren’t we telling them that something truly *is* wrong with them –their *entire body,* to be exact? Why wouldn’t Key want to tell such a child, his teacher and his classmates (and potential detractors) that boys can like whatever they want and be sweet or gentle because we all have different personalities and tastes? Wouldn’t it perhaps help with self-esteem and tolerance to provide examples of role models who have achieved success utilizing those aspects of personality –all different kinds of personalities? To be honest, I wouldn’t be terribly thrilled to have her engage in the “honest conversations” with anyone I know “at a young age,” because I think *she* conflates personality and taste with physical sex via harmful gender stereotypes. I also pity the poor pre-homosexual child who falls sway to the narrative that gender indifferent or defiant behavior means that you’re really the other sex.
She goes on to talk about who the kids really are “inside,” but despite expressing the idea that external *mutable* traits are not “exclusive” to boys or girls, she identifies such inner selves as being sexed: “the heart and mind of a girl.” What IS that? What is the “heart and mind of a girl?” Can you, as an adult, describe your heart and mind as male or female without relying on externally perceived social stereotypes? How can a child possibly do so? Key doesn’t really talk about the immutable differences of the sexes such as “body parts” with the younger children “because they’ve been taught that those are private,” so what is it exactly that these children are basing their judgements upon *if not sex stereotypes*? She is engaging in metaphysics –with 6 year olds. What could possibly go wrong?
In general, there is another aspect of Key that I find troubling. This is a woman who was a lesbian who “transitioned” after she was 30+ years old. She not only didn’t commit suicide without transitioning as a child (imagine that!), she made her decision to transition as a mature, sexually experienced adult –an opportunity that she apparently believes these children do not deserve or require. Would these children be gay, too? She says “we don’t know that yet,” but she raises concern that others might think they are. She then immediately segues into the subject of years of “unchecked” harassment. Is it because people think these kids are gay? Does she think that these kids would be harassed less if they “identified” as trans? She thinks that bathroom issues are related to the public’s fear of homosexuals which is ridiculous on its face –why would women fear predation by gay men in bathrooms? Is this all a subtext?
Perhaps it’s because I have spent way too much time reading the narratives of “transitioned” lesbians –including those of another prominent “gender specialist” who openly expressed internalized homophobia –but I cannot help but see a similar pattern in her talking points. Why should we care if someone thinks a “sweet” boy is gay unless we think that there’s something wrong with being gay? Shouldn’t that child have the opportunity to mature both mentally and sexually and decide for himself without the imposition of the idea that his likes or dislikes give him “the heart and mind of a woman” which ultimately requires the destruction of his sexed body which as a result he will never fully experience? It seems to me that Key herself likely has a problem with homosexuality, and she should work that out herself rather through the children of others.
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It’s interesting you bring up otherkin at the start of this article. I had a discussion with two close friends of mine – both straight, well-meaning, liberal-minded women who truly want to accept everyone – but they refused to see the parallel between identifying as the opposite gender and identifying as some sort of hybrid animal. “But a person *can’t* be a unicorn!” one exclaimed, and yet somehow, these intelligent, rational people are convinced that a woman *can* be a man.
It boggles my mind how the general public has been sold this idea, but when you look at the stream of activism – and the push for full transition – listed here, it is almost overwhelming. Perhaps if the otherkin activists had the money and the medical abilities to grow hair, horns, fangs, tails, etc. (granted, there are some body-modifications out there that are pushing these ideas; I have seen some convincingly modified “pointed elf ears” and implanted “horns” – even tattooed eyeballs) people would begin to believe in their plight as well. Right now it’s wholly possible to make a man look like a woman and a woman look like a man, so it’s a much easier pill to swallow so to speak. It’s almost as if acceptance can be bought.
The scary thing is that – for a thousand reasons so deeply ingrained in our society – being gay/gender-defiant is a much more difficult pill. It’s terrible in a way but I keep hoping that the magnitude of physical changes that the transgender narrative forces – the lifetime of medical care and major surgeries – begins to convince the public that this is a very different issue than being lesbian, gay or bisexual. The more naturally LGB people can live and work and blend with society as a whole – especially those who defy gender norms – the larger the chasm will appear between the LGB issues and trans issues. Right now trans issues are riding the coattails of LGB acceptance, but when it does come down to the choice between “My son can be a happy gender-defying man like so-and-so” vs. “My son will need a lifetime of surgeries and hormones to possibly make it as a happy woman.” it seems like a very simple choice.
But that choice needs to be made more visible, somehow.
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Kristina Olson et al really believe they can tell the ‘merely nonconforming’ from the ‘true trans’ using ‘insistent/consistent/persistent.’
she’s trying to rebut Debra Soh here. it’s a long piece but … yeah.
For the record this is a researcher and different from the Olson that is the Doctor, but she supports child transitions and is hucking lupron as safe in this article. I believe she is working with Key. I wrote her an email about her Slate piece, pointing out she has no evidence to prove early transitions and lupron don’t disallow mostly gay/lesbian kids to grow out of GD. The fact that these people don’t even express doubts about lupron and go on liberal site touting their safety is extremely unethical. I honestly don’t even think she was aware of the zero disistence stat on lupron. And this person has a Phd and was trained at Yale (I believe or same level). If you care about this issue, I recommend tracking down their emails and respectfully demand proof they are only isolating would be trans adults. So far no one I have contacted has been able to. And let them know they will be held accountable if they turn out to be wrong.
In reading this, there was something familiar about Key, her words and attitude. And then it hit me– she was a guest on Fresh Air along with Jenny Boylan and Lisa Erickson-Schroth, the author of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves back in 2014.
The reason this episode stuck with me was how utterly sad and baffling Key’s reasons were for seeing herself as male. It was self-loathing to the point of absurdity listening to this person twist themself into knots to justify her chosen gender identity. From the program:
“Key: [At] 9 years old … this was a day I was attending church. … I [felt] so awkward and, frankly, exposed [wearing a dress]. … I’m looking around at all the people in the lobby, and there are couples with families, and I have my first awareness, real cognizant awareness that I’m supposed to grow up, get married [and] have a family.
At that moment, I understood clearly that I wanted to get married. I wanted to have a family. I did not want to be [the] mother. I did not want to be the wife. I wanted to be the father and the husband.
I also knew at that very same instance that this was not something that I would articulate out loud to anyone else, including my closest friend, my twin sister. I already knew at 9 years old that there was no cultural context for this — that no one would understand.”
It was one of the first times I got insight into the FtM mindset. Key’s words echoed similar sentiments I would later hear from a childhood friend, another FtM. Though my friend was a particularly challenging and rebellious individual, happy to embrace anything that made her stand out from the crowd, she was utterly terrified of being seen as a “dyke”, to the point of tears if it was suggested of her.
I have some sympathy for Key, as I do for my friend, though both of them actively work (professionally) against the health and well-being of children by encouraging this so-called “gender affirmative” bs.
But I also feel anger. Anger that they are happy to perpetuate a system that restricts what it means to be female, anger that they think they can so easily just “opt out” of being women while the rest of us still get the slurs, the threats, the violence, etc.
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That is sad… I can remember thinking something almost identical to that as a child. Mother meant living in a prison, that you’d never have your own life and the freedom to be yourself.
But still, she’s perpetuating a lie, and telling unhappy teens that no one in the world has these feelings, that no one will understand them. I can understand it, but I can’t have much sympathy for her.
I also remember thinking something similar – I’m straight, but the idea of getting married horrified me, because the only model I’d really seen of it was “Father works and has a career, Mother stays home or perhaps has a small job, but not a career, because the family will move where Father’s job takes him and Mother has no say in it.” Why would I want to grow up and leave my parents’ house only to sign back up with someone else who would then drag me around without input again? I wanted to be able to choose where to live.
I grew up and did end up marrying later in life, but as it happens, I have the career and married a man who stays home. Neither of us have any plans to move anywhere, we’re happy with our chosen (by us individually each!) community.
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the “narrowing” effect is one of my greatest concerns for my kid if she elects to go down this road. – puzzled
From the latest post by Maria Catt:
‘Now you may say, being a trans dude doesn’t limit people the way an adult baby identity does. Well, I can tell you being a non-passing trans dude does. It limits where you can live, who you can live with, where you can get a job, where you can go to the doctor, who you feel safe socializing with. You end up in a teeny tiny world- first you cut out everyone who doesn’t get your pronouns right, then you cut out everyone who’s being a creepy fetishist, then you cut out everyone who can’t deal with all the anxiety attacks you’re always having because just dealing with other people’s reactions to you is too damn much to take. The world gets very, very small. Not as small as an adult baby’s world, I’ll give you that. But teeny tiny still.’
“that they think they can so easily just “opt out” of being women while the rest of us still get the slurs, the threats, the violence, etc.” I’m confused about this.
Certainly there is an ongoing campaign for trans acceptance on so many different levels; the likes of which I’ve never seen for lesbians or gays. The “acceptance” I experience as a lesbian is reluctant, curt and begrudgingly granted. There is no wholesale embracing of me and mine because quite frankly, everyone hates us, even people who think they shouldn’t or who are politically “progressive”. But we had, until recently, a pretty viable culture that the younger generations may never get to experience because they are busy being decimated by the scourge of gender identity. However, the myth of sex election is a hard pill to swallow and my suspicion is that even the most faithful believers have unorthodox and intrusive thoughts regarding biological “determinism”. But the hard-sell of transition relies at least in part on the illusion of coming into being to your “true” self. It is greatly celebrated by converts and converters, allies and recruiters alike. Likewise there is an accompanying mini-fame and perfunctory platitudes – as we witnessed ad nauseam with Jenner. And it seems that that is what trans people are left with: other trans, enablers and allies with ideology as their compass, traumatized family and friends trying to keep it together and professional bloodsuckers milking them dry. The acceptance they experience at-large is predicated on credibly passing. But people only pass when there is no point of reference for trans and often not even then. It’s not unusual for passing to be an obsession and not-passing a liability. It’s difficult to see how this is preferable to just accepting your real self and having authentic relationships with people who are not invested in your identity. My point is that it seems like stepping into a very narrow universe and really limiting oneself in a way that being LG doesn’t. It seems like transing really limits your options and unlevels the playing field in ways that can not be initially foreseen.
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the “narrowing” effect is one of my greatest concerns for my kid if she elects to go down this road. my observations of that fishbowl, even from the outside, don’t lead me to believe that it’s a very healthy place.
on a different note — sigh, if Key is an identical twin, that’s another blow against the “biological cause of transness” theory. because his sister ought to be trans, too. and apparently, she is not.
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I agree with your point. While there may be an initial “rush” at passing as male, of having the social and cultural baggage of female lifted from one’s shoulders, I don’t believe it is a feeling that can be maintained in the long term and the individual is, as you say, very limited by transitioning.
I find the title of this essay disturbing, since according to trans ideology “oppression” includes such things as “not using the preferred pronoun” when addressing someone (everyone is expected to know by osmosis which of the ever-lengthening list of pronouns with no logical connection to previous English usage) not agreeing that woman-of-the-year Jenner (acquiring new name Cait, while keeping old external genitalia) is beautiful or brave, or pointing out that medical science does not currently have the technology to change someone’s sex (only the technology to mimic certain external features of the opposite sex)
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The right to procreate is as our body’s greatest potential, not as whichever sex we want to price ate as. But we are teaching kids as though boys had the same right to be pregnant and give birth to a man’s child as a girl does, and no more right to impregnate someone than a girl has. It’s as though everyone saw Life Of Brian and took that scene as gospel, as legal precedent, instead of as a joke about liberals. We need to correct that assumption by getting Congress to ban male pregnancy and female impregnation. It would be expensive, risky, unnecessary, unethical, and serve no benefit to society. And it isn’t a right, so we don’t have to let people do it. When we ban it, schools will have to teach kids that boys and girls are different and have different rights and can’t have the other rights.