Dear teacher, principal, music director, barista, checkout clerk, and bookseller:
I think I know how this happened: you probably had a DEI workshop or a colleague or a woke friend or a passionate niece tell you this was a nice thing to do. I even had one of you tell me directly that “this is a small way to create an inclusive and nourishing community by affirming and supporting students of all genders.” So you put on your pronoun badge and added she/her at the end of your email signature. There, you thought, I’m a kind person.
And I sincerely believe that your intentions are good. Somewhere along the line you heard that trans kids commit suicide at high rates. You saw a TV show where a trans character or actor was tragically heroic, misunderstood, and noble. You saw a soft-focus ad campaign about a little trans girl who just wants to play sports with the girls. Aw. You’ve probably got a student, family member, or neighbor kid who declared they are trans and is screaming things like “trans rights are human rights” and clearly distressed. Seriously, if adding a pronoun statement to your email signature somehow helps those unhappy kids, what kind of cruel brute wouldn’t do it?
So I get it; you think your pronoun introduction, email signature, video conference name, and badge signal that you’re nice and inclusive. But actually, they show that you’re okay with sterilizing autistic kids.
What? Huh? How?
I’ll take this slowly, so pay attention. When you add a pronoun declaration, you are saying that:
1) Despite any scientific evidence, I believe in the idea of gender identities. There is no science that shows that people have an innate sense or feeling of “gender.” No brain scan. No blood test. Of course not: “Gender identity” is a feeling, an idea about whether and how much you feel like a female or a male. [Do you feel like a person with AB blood? Or a person who is 5’ 9”? No – you just are.] But yes, I think people feel female or male or neither. Or both.
2) Some people have gender feelings that are different from their physical bodies, and that those gender feelings trump their bodies’ physical sex. How they feel matters more than their body – and society should label/categorize them as that feeling desires. No longer do pronouns refer to someone’s actual sexed body (an observable and incontrovertible fact in 99.999% of cases and testable in the other ones), but to how they feel (an unobserved and unmeasurable idea). I’m okay with changing the meanings of pronouns – because feelings are more important than reality.
[Note: realistically, calling someone by the opposite gender pronoun (or they/them) doesn’t actually move them into the social category of the opposite sex or some third sex—not for any useful purposes like friendships, dating, athletics, or sexual partners. It just puts them into the category of “too sensitive to face reality / treat with kid gloves / they are mentally unstable and possibly suicidal / they might have a weird kink fetish / they’re probably super-obsessed about one aspect of their life and kinda boring and weird.” Believe me, outside of high school and the anthropology and gender studies departments, no one sees an opposite sex/they/them pronoun signature line and thinks “Oooh—now that person is magical and extra interesting. I can’t wait to get to know/hire/date that person.” We think “next.”]
3) If feelings matter more than facts, then transforming the sexed body to better match the gender feelings makes the best sense. Taking puberty-blockers and/or cross-sex hormones or undergoing surgery to stimulate the appearance of sex characteristics like breasts or facial hair or penises makes sense. Trying to question, alter, or evolve feelings or promote self-acceptance of the physical body isn’t worth trying or exploring.
4) Even though transitioning the body from one sex to the other isn’t actually possible, I’m okay with people doing that. No amount of cross-sex hormones will transform a penis into a vagina, nor vice versa. Surgery can remove breasts, labia, clitorises, vaginas, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uteruses, penises, scrotums, and testes. Plastic surgery can try to fashion pseudo penises from chunks of thigh or arm tissue, or pseudo vaginas from inverted penises or lengths of colon, but these are not functional organs. Even the most sophisticated surgeries and drugs cannot transform the DNA coded into every cell of your body. Sex can never change, but I’m okay with acting on fantasies and feelings.
5) Even though attempting to transition the body from one sex to the other isn’t healthy and increases suicide, I’m okay with people doing that. Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and surgeries are bad for bodies. Really bad. Brain polyps, anorgasmia, infertility, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cardiac damage, diabetes, infections, death. Scientists and doctors know these approaches are bad. Sometimes, a patient reports the results were worth it, but we know that transitioning actually increases rates of suicide. I’m okay with those negative consequences, because feelings are more important than reality.
6) Despite the fact that historically, most of children (typically boys) with gender dysphoria outgrew it and became gay or bisexual men, I think we should re-enforce these young boys’ false belief they are actually girls by using preferred pronouns. Remember, feelings are more important than reality. Reinforcing this idea that a boy is a girl can lead them to social and medical transition, but that’s not my problem. I’m okay with sterilizing gay boys.
7) Despite the fact that the present wave of teenagers with gender dysphoria has disproportionately high rates of social isolation, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and autism, I’m okay with permanently damaging and sterilizing them, too. Even though typical teenagers can’t be trusted to vote, smoke cigarettes, or drive a rental car, I believe these socially isolated, anxious, depressed, ADHD and autistic teenagers are somehow extra-ordinarily mature, and I’m okay with them making these sorts of life-altering decisions based on their feelings. Because feelings trump the body.
8) So yes, I’m totally okay with the sterilization of autistic children—really, any kind of people at all. Giving people time to mature and grow just isn’t wise, right? Since we all know feelings trump reality. Go ahead. No skin off my nose.
Well, thanks for clarifying where you stand. You’re so kind.