Trump Speaks Truth to Transgenders...Hopefully
In a press release dated November 1, 56 major companies, including Amazon, IBM, Deutsche Bank, and Dow Chemical, issued a statement of solidarity "with the millions of people in America who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex," opposing "any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations." This corporate virtue-signaling is needed in reaction to a New York Times report that the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to "establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX." The proposed definition, "[s]ex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," has become necessary to undo the legal havoc caused by former president Obama's decision to reinterpret "the legal concept of gender in federal programs ... [to recognize] gender largely as an individual's choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth."
To no one's surprise, any attempt at clarifying that Title IX's exact language prohibiting discrimination "on the basis of sex" refers to "protections to women and girls" has been met with wails that transgenders and "non-binaries" are being "erased." Catherine E. Lhamon, one of the people who helped Obama formulate his sex-as-choice expansion of Title IX, says "the proposed definition 'quite simply negates the humanity of people.'"
But that's quite simply nonsense. It's nonsense not least because Trump's interpretation of Title IX can no more negate transgenders' humanity than it was Barack Obama's muddying up of Title IX that beneficently bestowed humanity on them.
Their humanity is not in question. It never was.
As David French wrote at NRO, rejecting the charge that the proposed interpretation "dehumanizes" transgenders:
This makes no sense. Even if the Trump administration changes regulatory definitions to match the obvious statutory intent, it doesn't deny any person's humanity or existence. Every single American is still protected by every single provision of the Bill of Rights (and every other constitutional right). Every single American still enjoys the benefit of every other generally applicable statute.
In reality, the claim that you "dehumanize" a person if you hold contrary beliefs about sex and gender is a common, inflammatory rhetorical tactic that creates a false choice. Either you recognize a transgender person on their own terms, or you "deny their humanity." You "deny their existence."
It doesn't make sense. Introduce HHS's proposed definition of sex into Title IX today, and I can all but promise you that a year from today, you'll notice no measurable reduction in the number of extant transgenders across the land being fêted by the progressive media and Hollywood and sought out for their "stories" by NPR and 10,000 gender studies professors. It's supply and demand, and right now, there's a hot market on the left for the latest "transgressive" thing. Naughtiness is the cockade of the Resistance.
Trump's revolutionary decision to restore the rational definition of sex in this narrow legal context may be only a rear-guard attempt to halt the left's onrushing armies of disorder. But when was the last time we even had that? The left uses America's traditional belief in progress to reinforce the lie that once cultural or legal or moral ground has been lost, it can never be regained – because that would mean we're going backward. The result is what G.K. Chesterton, in What's Wrong with the World, called "the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible." He wrote:
There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed.
In America's case, we have the advantage of at least one plan already available, a constitution that, rightly applied, could do a lot for us by way of keeping some of the left's worse ideas from becoming embodied in government mandates. But is it really possible to turn the clock back on the particular silliness of "marriage" defined as between members of the same sex? Probably not, thanks to Justice Kennedy and decades of the country being de-sensitized to homosexual behavior.
The left's drive to normalize transgenderism, as aggressive as it is, hasn't got nearly that much history. In 2016, Heather Mac Donald at the Manhattan Institute noted that the breakout of transgender activism began only in the summer of 2015, "when the New York Times ran a full-page editorial declaring that the oppression of the transgendered by the biologically obsessed heteronormative majority was our most pressing civil-rights struggle." The Times immediately followed up with a series of articles focused on the tribulations of the persecuted "trans community." "Now," said Mac Donald, "less than a year later, any parent with qualms about having his twelve-year-old daughter share a locker room with a 14-year-old boy is branded as the equivalent of someone advocating a return to whites-only water fountains." Remember that June 2015 was when Obergefell was handed down, and many of us foretold how marriage redefined would promptly become passé as we were pulled down the slope to the next thing.
Maybe the clock can't quite be turned back on boys in the girls' locker room, either. But can that clock at least be stopped? There are some ideas so irredeemably false that persuasion and argument are a complete waste of time – they have to be flatly contradicted. The proposed HHS definition, that "[s]ex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth" could not state a more direct contradiction of the zeitgeist – the pervasive delusion that the LGBTQ community, the progressive media, Hollywood, a corrupted psychological industry, and 700 college gender studies programs have been demanding that we all embrace ever since liberals first fell in love with "camp."
Gender is "largely an individual's choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth," decreed the Obama administration. "No, it's not," answers the Trump administration. "That's bunk."
Start the revolution.
T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.