AMAC Exclusive – By David Lewis Schaefer
Recent media coverage of transgenderism and in particular the “transitioning” of children has characterized the issue as a conservative overreaction to “normal” and even “life-saving” treatments and medical practices. Once again, it seems, progressives, backed by the mainstream press, academics, and billionaire philanthropists, are engaged in an effort to reconstruct our society and even our very natures in ways that would previously have been dismissed as outlandish fantasies by almost everyone – and then insist that any opponents of this effort are the real “extremists.”
One recent example of this phenomenon was the front page story in the April 16 edition of the New York Times, entitled “How Transgender Issues Became a New Rallying Cry for the Right.” According to the column, the Supreme Court’s announcement of a newly “discovered” Constitutional right to same-sex marriage nearly eight years ago had the effect of leaving social conservatives “adrift.”
Now being “stripped” of an issue that they had previously “used to galvanize rank-and-file supporters and big donors,” conservatives were compelled, in the words of a “social conservative advocacy group,” to “find an issue” that conservative candidates “were comfortable talking about.” That issue, the Times says, is “transgender identity,” particularly its inculcation among young people.
As a result, “at least 20 states, all controlled by Republicans, have enacted laws” reaching beyond original issues such as gender-shared bathrooms “and into medical treatments,” sports participation, and “policies on discussing gender in schools.”
As a consequence, says the LGBTQ program director for the left-wing lobby group Media Matters, “as a transgender woman… she feels unwelcome in whole swaths of the country where states have attacked her right ‘just to exist in public.’”
This account of the political challenge to the transgender movement (along with its predecessor, the gay marriage cause) gets things precisely backwards.
Of course, politicians and activists on both sides of the political spectrum will always be looking for issues to galvanize their supporters. But socially conservative – that is, morally traditionalist – opponents of legal authorization of gay marriage and more recently, the introduction of challenges to one’s “gender identity” in elementary-school classrooms, didn’t oppose these causes because they were provoked to do so by greedy and purely self-interested politicians seeking their money and their votes.
Rather, conservative politicians and lobby groups appealed to voters on these issues precisely because they perceived widespread opposition to attempts by “progressive” politicians, lobby groups, and educrats to remake the American family in socially detrimental ways. Even more extreme is the move to encourage parents to consider having their offspring as young as eight years old undergo life-altering and permanent gender-changing treatments, including hormones and eventual surgery.
In some cases, these treatments and procedures are even administered without parental consent. Thanks to a bill passed by the Democrat-dominated legislature in 2022, insurers in Washington state are now required to cover “gender dysphoria treatment and gender-affirming care” without parental consent or knowledge. California has also passed a law declaring itself a “safe haven” for transgender surgery for minors.
Who, prior to the dawn of the present century, deemed it appropriate or desirable to introduce the notion of gender fluidity to children who haven’t even hit puberty? Prior to a few years ago, who would have thought that politicians, even avowed liberal ones, would have been openly arguing for sending children under the knife to “affirm” their “gender identity”? (As one wag noted, if 7-year-olds knew their “true” identity, as distinguished from their biologically given one, the entire population would ultimately consist of princesses and space rangers.) And who would have thought it reactionary to ban “transgender women,” that is, those born with and still possessing male size and musculature, from competing in women’s sports, as South Dakota just did, so as to allow biological women the fair opportunity to compete?
Today’s movement toward social as well as economic progressivism – both entailing the ever-increasing control and reordering of our private lives by largely unaccountable judges and bureaucrats – reflects the fulfillment of the “march through the institutions” proposed in Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks (composed in the 1930s) to revolutionize society through the nonviolent spread of increasingly radical ideas. Gramsci’s plan advanced widely in the academy through the New Left of the 1960s, following its espousal by the German Communist Rudi Dutschke. Its circulation in America was spearheaded by academics like the Marxist expatriate Herbert Marcuse (the mentor of Angela Davis, among others). Since that time, the “progressive” plan has continued to widen its scope.
By definition, the progressive movement can never reach its completion: there will always be new goals to invent, in the Rousseauean project of remaking human life. Supposing that the very notion that human beings have a fixed gender which corresponds to their biological sex at birth is destroyed through some combination of Gramscian education, “medical” treatments, and judicial fiat, what might be next?
A New York court case from 2022 might provide some hints. In a case that would have been somewhat humorous if it weren’t such a depressing comment on the state of the American legal system, the Nonhuman Rights Project brought suit for a writ of habeas corpus before New York State’s Court of Appeals on behalf of Happy the Elephant, a 51-year-old Asian pachyderm currently residing in spacious quarters in the Bronx Zoo, citing an online petition signed by 1.4 million people maintaining that Happy has the same right to freedom as human beings – and that she consequently deserves to be moved from the zoo (along with, presumably, all other members of her species) to an elephant sanctuary either in Tennessee or California, where there will be more space and opportunities to socialize with her fellows.
Unfortunately for the Nonhuman Rights Project (if not for Happy herself), the appellate court rejected Happy’s suit last June, with a 5-2 majority saying that, while she merited kindness and compassion (not that there was any evidence that she had been denied such treatment), elephants don’t have the same legal right to freedom that human beings do. However, two dissenting judges denounced the majority’s ruling, with one contending that Happy is being held in “an environment that is unnatural to her and that does not allow her to live her life.”
According to the judge, “her captivity is inherently unjust and inhumane. It is an affront to a civilized society, and every day she remains a captive — a spectacle for humans — we, too, are diminished.” The other dissenter, Rowan Wilson, asserted, “We should recognize Happy’s right to petition for her liberty not just because she is a wild animal who is not meant to be caged and displayed, but because the rights we confer on others define who we are as a society.” He held her “confinement” in the zoo to be comparable to that of abused women and enslaved human beings.
Rowan Wilson has just been named by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, in response to demands from the progressive wing of the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, to serve as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.
New Yorkers who wanted to see Happy and her fellow pachyderms without undertaking a long air flight may have to schedule their visit to the Bronx Zoo soon.
Far more ominous, however, is the judgment by two members of the state’s highest court, including its incoming chief, that denies any clear line between the rights inherent to human beings and those supposedly possessed by nonhuman species. After all, if the division between the sexes is purely a human construct, why not the division between humans as a whole and other animals? For that matter, how will judges then draw the line between the rights of elephants and, say, city rats – against whom New York City Mayor Eric Adams has just pronounced a war of extermination? (PETA has already protested the mayor’s campaign.)
Doubtless, retrograde politicians and their allies will continue their demagogic opposition to the march of “progress,” such as the erasure of fixed distinctions between the sexes and of parental rights to supervise their children’s medical treatment, but also including the policies advocated by the Nonhuman Rights Project, and will thus earn continued denunciation by the Times and other progressive intellectuals and institutions. But without their resistance, who will preserve our humanity?