Another day, another pronouncement from the gender revolutionaries at the New York Times. In this one, the once-illustrious publication informs us that neo-pronouns (‘my pronouns are leaf/leafself’) are coming, whether we like it or not. Anyway, they’re not ‘new’, having been around since the (practically prehistoric) year of 2013. This analysis is corroborated by
Mx. D’angelo (who takes the nonbinary references themself)
who notes that:
When we go about in the world, we have to perform gender in ways that are typical and normative over and over and over again, but because a lot of us have been in our houses for the last year, we haven’t had to perform them.
This idea of performative gender, once confined to the catacombs of Judith Butler’s brain, has morphed from a justification of an academic theory into a means of convincing autistic kids that the world must reconfigure itself around their own discomfort. As neuro-divergent neo-pronoun user Gum explains in the piece:
I chose my bink/bonk pronouns because they remind me of clowns. Clowns and harlequin dolls make me very happy.
Implication: denying that ‘bink’ and ‘bonk’ are pronouns is exacerbating Gum’s sense of displacement, and preventing Gum from feeling happy. Gone are the days of teaching young people how to succeed in the world; now, the world must be taught how to tiptoe around the young. And what could go wrong? Surely nothing can be more alluring than the prospect of a romantic evening with someone who demands a grammatical struggle session before the first drink is ordered. Also, it’s bound to be a winner in the workplace: after all, what else is to be discussed between young entrepreneurs, if not binkbonk pronouns? It’s not like we’re dealing with the deindustrialization of the entire Western world at the hands of Communist ideologues who incarcerate ethnic minorities en masse, or something.
Speaking for bonkself, I have stubborn qualms that the inability to perform my gender publicly may be slightly less important than, say, the growing prevalence of indentured labour in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — or, for that matter, the mass sterilization of homosexual and autistic children. But that may simply be an indicator that I am ignorant of the long and noble history of the neo-pronoun movement, lodged as I am in the cisnormative cranny of pre-2013 thought. The NYT is helpful on this matter, providing solace for those of us who ‘think this is weird’: ‘That’s OK,’ the author soothes. But, reading on, I get the sense that it’s only OK for now. In a classic piece of TRA halftruthery, we’re reminded that the hunt for a gender-neutral pronoun goes back two centuries, implying that holdouts like me will have to crack at some point. (It goes conveniently unmentioned that this neutral pronoun was intended to unite only ‘he’ and ‘she’, which together served as descriptors for the entire human race, rather than ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘bink’, ‘ze’, ‘ecto’ and a catalogue of other genderburbles.)
A war of religion is burning through the New York Times. Joe Pompeo’s piece for Vanity Fair gives a good synopsis of its inter-generational nature: young, woke activists demand that ever more purist stances be adopted, and their older and more measured colleagues, despite occupying more senior positions, seem powerless to resist. The conflict resulted in the departure of Bari Weiss — hardly a Breitbartian firebrand — whose resignation letter exposes some of the more colourful instances of punch-drunk hyperbole:
The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.
But on the issue of transgenderism, the NYT’s radical position goes far beyond silly pronouns. It is now repeating highly questionable medical claims, many of which have been debunked. Take, for example, Frank Bruni’s article entitled Republicans Have Found Their Cruel New Culture War, which is liberally peppered with disputable assertions. ‘It doesn’t matter if physicians have concluded [sex change medical treatments are] in the youths’ best interest,’ Bruni laments. Yet physicians have concluded nothing of the sort. One study finds ‘insufficient evidence to determine the efficacy or safety of hormonal treatment approaches for transgender women in transition.’ Two separate NHS- commissioned reviews, one on puberty blockers and one on cross-sex hormones, find the evidence on positive treatment outcomes to be of ‘very low quality certainty’ — a clunky medicalese phrase which translates to ‘it just ain’t there.’
Bruni goes on to weaponize suicide statistics, which are now customarily volleyed at parents to terrorize them into medicalization. ‘It doesn’t matter if those youth are pleading for this kind of help or have already begun receiving it and found it to be lifesaving,’ he writes. The implication is clear: they’ll kill themselves without cross-sex medical procedures, a claim which has been disproven not once but twice, and publicly debunked as a result. This is a strange model of parenting: give me what I want, or I’ll kill myself. I’m not sure it will catch on. To the surprise of no-one at all, Bruni overlooks the research indicating the horrifyingly poor mental health outcomes for post-operative MtF transsexuals; nor does he mention that he is comparing something with nothing, given that puberty blockers’ long-term effects are, at this point, completely unknown, and probably won’t be known for some decades.
Like so many of the NYT’s offerings, all seems to stem from a single belief. In this case, it’s the idea that gay equality is indivisible from trans equality. Gay and trans seem, in Bruni’s mind, to be spirit twins: never mind that being gay has no medical price-tag attached to it; never mind that homosexual attraction is a measurable biochemical phenomenon where ‘feeling like a woman’ is barely philosophically coherent; never mind that homosexuality goes back millennia, where the medicalization of gender dysphoria via surgical modification goes back less than a century. Bruni states — rightly, to my mind — that ‘legally recognized weddings of two men or two women had no negative practical effect on the straight people around them,’ implying that this logic somehow finds a natural counterpart in transgenderism. Tell that to the former cell-mate of Karen White, a female-identifying rapist (with a female-identifying penis) who managed to get into a women’s prison. Not only was this prisoner — in the care of the State — raped by White, she then had to demean herself by using the phrase ‘her erect penis’ in the court case which followed.
The genderwoes of the left, as they dart from chillingly destructive to absurdly comical and back again, always manage to avoid any kind of economic analysis. If these two Times articles were taken at face value, you’d think that the entire industry which has sprung up to provide transgender hormones and surgeries was some sort of charitable outfit, staffed by kindly volunteers. Didn’t the left used to care about money? About rapacious corporations? We’re talking here about a billion dollar sector in the United States alone, a figure which will only grow as more and more young people sign themselves up to a lifetime of prescriptions. But, as on so many other issues, the new daddy-funded left seems disinterested by all this vulgar talk of money, finding it easier to fingerpoint at handily straight Republicans. You’d think that the collapse of the centre left across Europe would serve as a warning to the Times. The European centre left, too, forgot that money actually matters; and, staffed and funded entirely by the comfortable bien-pensants, they managed to hollow out their electoral bases, leaving woke activism groups and the centre right to snaffle up the remnants.
Yet the sunk cost fallacy applies, and the NYT has picked its hill to die on. Like believers in The Rapture, they are insistent: the hecatombs of hormone-denied teenage corpses will arrive. We just got the date wrong. If a teenage boy ‘feels like a woman,’ the only conceivable solution is to petrify his parents into believing he’s on the cusp of a suicide bid as you rifle through their pockets for loose change. Never mind the corporations’ rocketing profits; never mind the detransitioners’ rocketing numbers. The Times is right, and everyone else is wrong, because equality. I’d say ‘on their heads be it,’ except it won’t be. It’s someone else’s kid who’ll pay the price.
(Edit: credit where credit is due. The word ‘beclown’ is cheerfully nicked from Graham Linehan. Follow Graham’s substack here. Also, thanks to Julia for spotting the errant reference.)