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What If The Transgender Movement Evolved More Honestly?

If it promoted a more experiential 'under the skin' empathy for others, rather than misogyny and abuse, many of us would become allies and supporters.





I guess I can’t blame those who accuse me of being ‘anti-trans’ even as I still reject ‘transphobia’: I spend a lot of time critiquing and complaining about transactivism. I forget sometimes that most transgender people really are living how they want without a lot of self-serving performative drama.


I think about how if my 21-year-old self was transported somehow to a modern-day college campus. I might be surprised at initially how at-home I felt among people who looked like my peers.


Colorful hair, pierced appendages, androgynous clothing, crazy haircuts—it would all seem so typically ‘80s until I read the protest signs and wondered, “What the hell is a cis? What does heteronormative even mean?”


Then I’d talk to them and realize they weren’t like the punk rockers, New Wavers, and other clashing-colors cultures I knew. I’d find young people more abrasive. More psychologically fragile. Unable or unwilling to relax. Emotionally destroyed by the flimsiest inconveniences.

And why the hell did they ask me what my pronouns were? Wasn’t it immediately obvious?


 

When I look at today’s LGBTQ with tabula rasa eyes, I see a genuinely promising social experiment unfolding, before you look below the surface.


The Boomers pulled straight sex out of the bedroom, and Gen X pulled gay sex out of the closet. Millennials, and now Gen Z, say gender identity is a fluid spectrum and we may not be as straightforward male or female as we believe.


Apart from our immutable sex gametes, they may be right. I came to understand a long time ago that sexual preference was a spectrum, and maybe gender preference is too. That said, I don’t think it comes naturally to many in a sexually dimorphic, ‘cis-heteronormative’ world; and perhaps only to the intellectually provocative. ‘Gender fluidity’ is likely more social media-induced and adopted than natural, but that doesn’t make it useless.


I mean, some people are bisexual, right? Some are bi-ish but more gayish or straightish than others. Myself, I was and remain a pretty firmly straight chick, but I always thought bisexuals, the red-headed stepchildren of the gay rights movement who made many uncomfortable on both sides because they couldn’t commit, seemed silly to me because who cares? What skin is it off of any of our noses? All we need is love, right?


Bisexuals struck me as folks who had seen, in the immortal words of Joni Mitchell, both sides now.


But 2024 isn’t 1984, and today’s gender-benders aren’t as intellectually honest as their forebears, or as educated as their outrageous tuition fees indicate.


It’s less about authenticity than untended mental health issues and malign sexual predation. And politics.


It’s a shame, because gender-bending and gender-questioning are such rich, provocative undertakings. Why do we believe we are who we are? How much of what we think makes us ‘male’ or female’ is conditioning, how much is biology? What if we became ‘non-binary’?


What would it feel like to be the birth sex you’re not? What is it really like to be a woman? To be a man? What does that mean?


Perhaps it would have been a more healthily productive exploratory journey with the values and mindset of 1984 in which you lived as you wanted but didn’t expect everyone to validate your every emotional whim.


If today’s genderfluid crowd ditched largely self-imposed narcissistic victimhood and were more open to new ideas that didn’t conform to some established narrative, especially a misogynist one rooted in pornography and the ever-present sexualization, objectification, and fetishization of women, I think it would be cool to hang out with them. With people who’d gone a step further in challenging and smashing gender norms, without all the dictatorial pronoun-policing, with whom you could ask questions without being called a fascist or a bigot.



What if these social experiments in thinking outside the gender box were oriented toward what the world looks like from others’ eyes? Not just your own?


 

When I was a kid I remember reading a short story in a kiddie magazine called The Under-The-Skin-Game, about a father who teaches his son to put himself ‘under someone else’s skin’ and imagine what is must be like to be them, in their circumstances. It was an early exercise in teaching kids to think outside their customary self-obsession.


I think that’s where gender-questioning and especially transgenderism could still help people discover themselves as part of a larger humanity. Instead of focusing on themselves so obsessively, they could challenge everyone’s natural narcissism and enlighten the rest of us not inclined to personally explore.


I’ve watched videos by transwomen and transmen who offer exactly the sort of helpful observations from ‘t’other side’ that those of us who stay in our birth sexes can’t know. Of course, when you weren’t born into the sex you chose you can never completely understand the AF/MACs (Assigned Female/Male At Conception), but switchers still offer a valuable and worthy perspective.





The deeply dysfunctional transgender movement evolved, unfortunately, out of unaddressed mental and emotional distress in young people, with a big boost from pornography, and grew into a backlash against feminism. It germinated in what historians may one day characterize as the Age of Hate, poisoned by bipartisan toxic identity ideologies, but nurtured by a ‘progressive’ illiberal environment of authoritarianism, hijacked by political and sexual opportunists.


Transgenderism, in its purest form, offers us another natural extension of intellectual and spiritual inquiry we might embrace as another way to experience, quite literally, being in someone else’s skin—transracialism. But identity politics is much more tolerant of crossing sex than it is of crossing race, and it’s clear that on the left, to paraphrase one of John Lennon’s now more-offensive lines, “women are the new[ish] N-words.” The only thing less acceptable than being white, to illiberal eyes, is being a woman who stands up to demanding men.


Transracialism offers transgender-similar under-the-skin lessons, but in reality Rachel Dolezal is still badbadbad for trying to be black. I sometimes wonder if she’d be more acceptable as a transracialist if she was a guy (it’s certainly over-represented by white women).


Transracialism is easier and less long-term dangerous than full transsexualism, which offers its adherents lifelong health problems, permanent dependence on hormones, and medications to keep them somewhat pain-free and alive. Nor does race-switching sterilize you or prevent you from ever enjoying sex.



With growing awareness that transgenderism is driven much more by pornography, sexual fetishism, politics, and mental health problems than by ‘gender dysphoria’, perhaps it can be reinvented to embrace a more educational and socially healthy pursuit: Learning what it actually feels like to be someone you’re not.


It makes no sense to argue that white people going Black Like Me is ‘white supremacy’ but that men appropriating womanhood isn’t ‘male supremacy’.


I’m not being provocative; I’m serious. There’s literally no difference between the two crossover ideas, and I’d rather regard both as educational opportunities instead of petty supremacy spats.


I have a book I got for Christmas called The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male by Max Wolf Valerio. I’m interested in what it was like for a woman to become a man. I will never take a walk on the guy side myself, nor am I interested in personally crossing the race line, but I’m interested in others who do.


It’s a great failing of the transgender movement so far that it got hijacked, like pretty much damn near everything, by opportunists who aren’t the slightest bit interested in understanding the female perspective, but instead seem hell-bent on rolling back women’s rights and grooming the intellectually malleable to return to granting male sexual demands to women’s and children’s bodies and spaces.


Rather a lot like the right is doing now. First they came for your womb, now they’re coming for your birth control.



Gender Ideology And Child Abuse Apologism: The Undeniable Links - by trans-identified man Julie Bindel, who draws a clearer line between the gender ideology movement and those trying to normalize and remove the stigma from pedophilia


 

If only transactivists were using transgenderism to enlighten rather than oppress.

Perhaps it’s time for a Trans Anti-Transactivist Rebellion by transfolk and their allies tired of non-woke everybody assuming they’re assholes because they’re trans or non-binary.


I recently watched a video of the opening minutes of the hilarious (and horrifyingly prescient) movie Idiocracy. In 2006, we thought it was a searing critique of the right. We were only half-correct.


It’s aged frighteningly well.




When I remove transgenderism from its backdrop of misogyny, gay-conversion and kiddie cult recruitment, I see an adult’s iteration of the under-the-skin game. Experiencing, rather than just imagining, what it’s like to be someone else—the whole basis of make-believe—reduces our preoccupations with ourselves. Psychologists say it’s around the third year when children begin to understand that other people’s feelings may not be their own. That maybe Darla doesn’t like playing house or maybe she just doesn’t want to right now. It’s nothing to get mad about.


Make believe isn’t something we necessarily outgrow, either. We have fan cosplay; furrydom; Mardi Gras; Halloween; and historical re-creation societies like the one I was in for over ten years as fifteenth-century French noblewoman Lady Gisele du Pont Avignon and later, Ayesha the Belly Dancer.


I never believed I was Gisele/Ayesha, but I did grow as a modern woman via belly dancing and weekend make-believe.


It was a healthy approach during my own identity formation years, and I developed more assertiveness, challenged traditionalist views of female beauty (I was a zaftig, rather than rail-thin, dancer), and taught other women, often ex-high school wallflowers like myself, watching them blossom and grow and feel the same sense of female power and confidence I felt, when I first began learning in 1987.


 

I will be a bigger supporter of transgenderism and its sister transracialism, if it evolves to get under others’ skin—more beneficially.


I think it can be helpful if it’s not so sourpussed, drop-dead serious, harmful to children, homophobic and disrespectful of women. And it needs to be a lot more honest.


Like about medical transitioning, which brings very real risks, and others may not be fully mature enough to make that decision until well past the most stringent age of consent—twenty-five, when our adult brains finish developing, or even into our thirties when some finally realize they want children.


I would like to see healthier, less invasive ways of exploring gender and race. The Black Like Me author took vitiligo medication to darken his skin, exposing himself to serious health risks. He suffered none, and contrary to an urban legend, didn’t die from contracting skin cancer from his epidermal experiment. There are always risks to transitioning, and no genuine backsies after genital surgery. Once your fully-functioning genitals are transitioned and less sexually responsive, changing them back just makes matters worse.


Meghan Murphy expressed something in her recent article,I’m a TERF, You’re a TERF, We’re all TERFsthat resonated with me:We’re not anti-trans; we’re anti-trans agenda/ideology/

activism; we’re anti-everything the activists force upon us.


That sums it up perfectly. I don’t care whether people are trans or how they got that way as long as they’re happy, which clearly a fair chunk of them are not, regardless of what they say.


It’s clear from the growing detransition movement that trans-ness doesn’t always last forever; for many it’s a phase; for others it’s something they internalize.


Both are okay. But we need better backsies.


In order to evolve, perhaps a healthier starting point for LGBTQ and transgenderism is to first and foremost embrace the authenticity it rejected many years ago: It’s okay to be you from birth. To be male or female, gay or straight, bisexual or genderfluid. Others don’t have to validate you by joining the club, they just have to accept you for what you are. Be respectful of others and their concerns; don’t push yourself where you’re not wanted and where you don’t belong.


And stop blaming JK Rowling for the hate your transactivists have brought down upon all of you. You let the dogs in.



If I’m being honest, I don’t want transgenderism to disappear. I think there’s a firm, socially adaptive, educational place for it, along with transracialism. Although I’m genderpeaceful with myself, I’m interested in an honest education in genderfluidity and androgyny, without the ugly identity politics, violent male hatred and insistence on adherence to logically problematic ideologies. Just an honest assessment as to what it all means. I think we could all learn something from it, if only our teachers weren’t such clear headcases themselves.


That’s where I see it, anyway.




Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a damn thing!












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