President Trump last week rescinded former President Barack Obama’s executive resolution that allowed students to use bathrooms that most closely aligned with their gender identity, turning the issue instead back to the states and localities. There has since been a meme circulating on social media, echoing a sentiment that vaguely resembles the following: “It’s not about bathrooms, just as it was never about water fountains.” Aside from the trite and tired attempt at parallelism to the Jim Crow South, the statement retains a larger truth in its first clause: this debate is about much more than bathrooms.
The West is engulfed in an existential dispute with far reaching ramifications over whether individuals with gender dysphoria are foils to the eons old conception of maleness and femaleness or instead hold an illusory conception disparate from a fundamentally important biological reality. The former faction argues that all it takes for one to be a man or a woman is to proclaim themselves so, assumedly with a deeply held conviction of their validity. This assertion has tremendously infectious effects in the societal downstream, because for all of academia’s attempts at post hoc denial, men and women are quite unique despite their common humanity.
In a telling exchange, undiminished by the partisan nature of the network, Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked a very fundamental question to a transgender advocate on his nightly show last week: should a man be allowed to proclaim himself a woman, apply for a small business grant from the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, only to revoke this identification the day after receiving the funds? And who, particularly in a court of law, is to say this “transition” in identity wasn’t genuine?
Many institutions in our culture are segregated by sex, and most people, if they are honest, believe these to be fundamentally different than Jim Crow. Sports and leagues of athletic competition, sororities, women’s locker rooms, prisons and a host of other societal organizations and institutions openly distinguish male from female.
As a matter of principle, one knows they are approaching a forbidden truth if the media demonizes an entire opinion as one reserved for the bigoted musings of heartless malefactors. Just as the gay marriage question was never just about same-sex couples’ right to wed but instead morphed into a referendum on gubernatorial coercion in private religious bakeries, the question of legislating a view of gender that makes biology subordinate to subjective perceptions into the credos of public school restrooms is much larger than the lavatory of choice for public school children.
People who struggle with gender dysphoria are individuals who are often undergoing a fierce battle with deep emotions, desires and confusion. Anyone with basic compassion sees this and is moved. But while considered verboten to serious discussion by the media, there is another perspective on this issue that flips the narrative that frames this debate from supposedly tolerant sages against know-nothing fascists on its head. It’s quite possible that remodeling society to undo the staples of human biology could have adverse effects not only on the cultural climate in our country but to transgender individuals themselves.
Forty one percent of people who identify as transgender, according to a 2014 study done by the Williams Institute at UCLA, attempt suicide in their lifetime. To attribute this number to external “oppression” instead of internal confusion does no service to the transgender community. Notwithstanding one’s willingness or unwillingness to consider gender dysphoria a mental illness, the condition is highly comorbid with other psychological disorders. In a 2009 study published in a peer-reviewed journal, Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Psychiatry examined recent case studies in their Gender Identity Clinic, and found that “90 percent of these diverse patients had at least one other form of psychopathology.” The study’s abstract continues, noting that an “[e]mphasis on civil rights is not a substitute for the recognition and treatment of associated psychopathology. Gender identity specialists, unlike the media, need to be concerned about the majority of patients.” In a much larger study, board-certified Dutch psychiatrists examined 351 transgender patients in their 2003 report, and found that 61 percent of those patients harbored other psychiatric conditions, including personality, dissociative and psychotic disorders. Contemplating these statistics, combined with troubling studies on postoperative regret, Walt Heyer, a lifelong sufferer of gender dysphoria who lived eight years as a woman following sex reassignment surgery, said the following in a 2015 op-ed at the Federalist:
“The fallout of the media’s inclination to overlook the negative findings is simple: nothing will change…Thirty years from now, the environment will be the same. Co-existing mental illnesses in [transgendered people] won’t be treated. The attempted suicide rate will be high; transition regret will occur with frequency.It’s time for the media to stand up and provide the overwhelming evidence for all to see that mental illness, regret and suicide exist among [transgender individuals]. Only then will we see true improvement in the outcomes for all.”
In the name of inclusion, American society is attempting to fundamentally recreate itself in the image of an often-suicidal delusion. The Obama edict regarding restroom usage tacitly encouraged a view of gender that is complicit in an aberration that is often the very source of the transgender quagmire. Gender dysphoria is a phenomenon whose solution is wrought with examining larger questions about sex, gender, suicidality and comorbid mental illness. The media is putting forth a false narrative that society is prostrate before the misperceptions of a beleaguered few and in denial of the patently obvious reality that men and women are different. This discussion, in-depth as it is, is one that requires serious intellectual debate beyond the typically juvenile “settled science vs. religious rubes.”