America’s Transgender Craze
Future historians may look back on 2023 as Peak Trans Women insanity. The highly publicized boycott of Bud Light beer over Anheuser-Busch’s choice to feature the trans “influencer” Dylan Mulvaney may have garnered the most publicity, but it is only a small part of this craze. This prominence is particularly visible in the fashion industry, where leading brands such as Chanel, Versace, and Victoria’s Secret now showcase biological men dressed as glamorous women. Even Sports Illustrated, a magazine targeting sports-minded men, once portrayed the transgender model, Leyna Bloom, on its cover. Thirty-sex transgendered women are currently earning a living as fashion models.
While portraying trans women in glossy magazines may attract more notice, more consequential is how biological males are replacing women in sports. It's hard to know the numbers here, and some estimates put the figures on the low side (e.g., a 100 or so at the college level, five for K-12 ), but the impact extends beyond the raw numbers since biological men frequently dominate and thus deprive biological girls of financial rewards such as college scholarships or trophies. A gay-oriented website summarizes this pattern with the headline, “These 20 trans women have won national or international competitions or championships.” Who can forget the mediocre male swimmer Lia Thomas winning swimming championships as a female? Meanwhile, a trans weightlifter competed as a woman in the Olympics. A transgendered athlete recently defeated 14,000 female competitors in the London Marathon.
Far less publicized is that state prisons now contain 5000 men who identify as women while some 1300 are inmates of federal prisons.
What is going on? Is America experiencing a mass psychosis where men wake up as “women” and demand to be treated as females? Has our water supply been massively contaminated by estrogen? Or are we just experiencing a harmless fad like purple hair?
This men-becoming-women trend is the other side of what occurred decades back as women increasingly moved into traditionally male fields. In a sense, it's a socioeconomic version of Newton’s Third Law of Motion -- Newton’s third law states that when two bodies interact, they apply forces to one another that are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. The law of action and reaction. So as women replace men, men eventually replace women in domains once thought of as exclusively female. Further, add an economic element -- as women limit the economic opportunities of men, men seek these opportunities in fields once dominated by women.
The celebrated entrance of women into male-dominated fields is captured by the phrase, “breaking the glass ceiling.” The term “glass ceiling” was first coined in 1978 by Marilyn Loden to refer to the subtle barriers faced by women struggling up the corporate ladder, obstacles like the good old boy male culture. The idea exploded in popularity during the mid-1980s and was quickly followed by laws and bureaucratic edicts banning sex discrimination in employment, collegiate sports, and financial services.
A long list of “firsts” then followed: women air force fighter pilots, astronauts, secretaries of State, NFL referees, CEOs of major corporations, and on and on. These ceiling smashing breakthroughs are widely praised and areas where women were still excluded, for example, as Navy SEALs, were targeted for “improvement.” Critics were silenced and condemned as misogynistic.
Less visible were the costs for men, especially when employment benefits are bestowed by putting a thumb on the scale to favor women. Consider, for example, the lower-level coaching and administrative jobs in men’s sports that are often the stepping stones to high-paid, top positions. A recent Christian Science Monitor story recounts how women now fill positions in baseball, men’s basketball, and football. In fact, both major league baseball and the National Basketball Association have 12 full-time women coaches, and even the NFL employs eight full-time female coaches.
The displacement of men in favor of women is particularly notable in college sports, where the federal government-enforced crusade for gender equality (Title IX) has resulted in canceling men’s teams. This can get complicated legally, but the bottom line is twofold. First, financially pressed schools trying to trim expenses by eliminating non-revenue sports such as swimming often face opposition when the cuts are applied to women’s teams, less so when men’s sports are eliminated. Second, when schools face federal government pressure for gender equality, a “safe harbor” strategy is just to cut men’s teams to achieve participation ratios that reflect enrollment. It matters little whether female students have an interest in, say, women’s rugby, but unlike the men’s rugby team, it will survive. Beginning in the 1990s, the push for gender quality thus ended the careers if of male athletes in such sports as wrestling, tennis, swimming and diving, gymnastics, golf, and cross-country. In short, male athletes were sacrificed on the altar of gender equality.
This pattern also applies to academic hiring. Women now dominate the presidencies in the Ivy League and, more generally, women make up about 30% of college presidents. No doubt, the feminization of higher education administration will only continue as women increasingly dominate the campus. Today college women outnumber men by 14%, and while college enrollment is dropping in general, this decline is sharpest among men. Indeed, men are now merely 41% of those enrolled in higher education, and if one subtracts international students who are disproportionately male, the American male college student faces extinction. Women are now even a majority of students in medical school, long a bastion of maleness.
The private sector is no different. As of 2022, 47 of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are female, and many of the female-headed companies are hardly “female” firms. These include General Motors, Best Buy, General Dynamics, and Northrup Grumman. Moreover, these numbers can only increase since women now comprise 40% of those enrolled in business school, and in some elite schools such as Wharton and Johns Hopkins, they comprise half or more of all students.
The transgendered are not merely human oddities. Their new prominence, often accompanied by aggressive political agitation, may be the beginning of a larger social shift regarding the definition of male and female. In some circles, “men” have been downgraded to “persons who produce sperm.” Not good to be a traditional, virile male these days, particularly a white male.
Perhaps a harbinger of this shift in gender identities is that between 2012 and 2021, the proportion of Americans identifying as LGBT+ doubled from 3.5% to 7.1%, and this change is especially pronounced in younger people -- a fifth identify as non-binary. And these polls exclude children recently exposed to gay-themed books and drag shows in their schooling.
What will happen when significant numbers of men, at least some of whom have taken puberty blockers, gradually embrace feminine identities while girls, similarly drugged to suppress their female identities, strive to replace men in traditionally masculine occupations? Yes, this might work in sports, but what about the military, science, dangerous jobs, and fiercely competitive businesses? Mother Nature has not made men and women interchangeable, and even armies of gender studies professors cannot overcome this reality.
It is the loss of masculinity as a virtue that is critical, and this is far more serious than picturing Dylan Mulvaney on a can of Bud Light. It will not be good news when many male high school graduates aspire to careers as Victoria's Secret lingerie models while female classmates hope to fly F-35s.