Can Libertarians be pro-transgender?
A staff op-ed from last year on the Libertarian Party website staunchly defended transgenderism, postulating that "those who long have declared themselves champions of limited government and personal freedom are seeking to insert their own opinions into decisions that should be left to individuals and families." In principle, this argument in support of transgenderism seems reasonable: a man deciding to embrace so-called "female gender roles" doesn't significantly impact my own life. In other words, we can live and let live, and we should unequivocally condemn any persecution or discrimination of those who identify as transgender.
This is a common line of attack against conservatives who dare suggest that biology matters: why do you care about how others choose to live their private lives when you yourself are unaffected? Unfortunately, the Libertarian movement has embraced an extraordinarily naïve view, ignoring the increasingly authoritarian nature of radical gender theory, which has not been restricted to individual lifestyles but rather has impacted nearly every aspect of society.
In Canada, for instance, the act of misgendering (i.e., not using a person's preferred pronouns) has been declared a "human rights violation," while in Scotland, the act is considered a hate crime. Meanwhile, under a 2016 law in New York City, employees and landlords could face huge fines (up to $250,000) for deliberate misgendering. California similarly imposed a $2,500 fine for willful misgendering and/or dead-naming, prior to the law being struck down in court. Individuals have been fired or disciplined for not using preferred pronouns, from teachers and professors to fast-food workers. Some companies request (or even mandate) pronoun statements with email signatures. Celebrities such as Dave Chapelle, J.K. Rowling, and John Cleese have faced severe backlash for not toeing the woke line on gender theory. Scientific research suggesting that rapid-onset gender dysphoria may be driven by social factors has been censored due to public pressure. Books on the topic, such as Irreversible Damage and When Harry Became Sally, have been banned by several vendors. As a result, those who reject transgender identities based upon scientific or religious grounds are coerced into lying, or risk being deprived of life, liberty, and property for committing thoughtcrime.
Issues of transgenderism extend far beyond the constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion. The ability for you to use a restroom or locker room with only members of your same sex has now been undermined in several states. This issue has become particularly prominent after a "gender-fluid" student was accused of sexual assault in a Virginia public school restroom last fall. Similarly, the transgender movement has led to men competing in female sports at the high school, collegiate, and even Olympic levels, which has led to concerns about both safety and fairness during competitions. Moreover, you cannot shield your own children from radical gender theory: transgenderism is being taught and celebrated in grade schools across the country. Entertainment geared toward children has drastically increased the amount of content related to gender fluidity, and these efforts have coincided with a drastic increase in the number of youths who identify as transgender. Unfortunately, gender affirmations in youths are encouraged by our medical community.
There are also economic impacts: regardless of how you feel about the morality of woke gender ideology, your tax dollar funds "gender transition" surgeries. Religious institutions may not be exempt, either: passage of the "Equality Act" could expose them to lawsuits for not hiring individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, despite potential conflicts with religious doctrines. For instance, Colorado baker Jack Phillips was recently fined for not making a "gender transition cake" despite his objections on religious grounds.
Transgenderism has become the defining cultural issue of our generation specifically because it is not merely an issue of individual liberty. Woke gender theory forces society not only to ignore millennia of biological precedent but also to completely alter our social fabric, from undermining constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion to overhauling education and entertainment. The increasingly authoritarian nature of the woke left should be a grave concern to all who love liberty, particularly Libertarians.
J. Allen Cartwright, is a chemical researcher in the energy sector. His interest is in the interplay of politics with cultural and scientific institutions, and he can be followed on Parler at @jallencartwright.
Image via Pxhere.