Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Latest in Transphobic Vomit From The Federalist

David Marcus
David Marcus (unknown date)
via The Federalist
At The Federalist, David Marcus writes: The Tide Is Turning Back To Biological Definitions Of Gender. I do not know what tide he is referring to but I do know that gender, for most people, aligns with their natal sex. For a few people it does not, meaning that gender is a separate construct.

Ergo, for most people gender is — and always has been — synonymous with biological sex. For the 0.5% of people who suffer with severe gender dysphoria, gender is their intense sense of who they are. As a pre-teen, Jazz Jennings was extremely eloquent saying: “I have a boy body and a girl brain.” I cannot do better than that.

To support his fantasy Marcus relies on two sources: The first of these is an article in the New York Post written by Libby Emmons. Mr. Marcus kind of forgets to mention that Libby Emmons is his former business partner (and possibly more than that) in some half-assed, now defunct, theatre company. Emmons is also a contributor to The Federalist.

Libby Emmons is terribly distressed that a a federal judge is requiring plaintiffs' lawyers (Alliance Defending Freedom) to refer to transgender girls as transgender girls and not as boys, noting that transgender girls is the scientifically correct term. In 2017, the clerk of the United States Supreme Court made a similar decision insting that captions in amicus briefs reflect gender appropriate pronouns.

I don't want to critique Emmons' post. She claims that the judge prejudiced the case and that is simply incorrect. The issue in this case is whether or not trans girls have an unfair athletic advantage over cisgender girls. Transgender girls consume drugs which eradicate testosterone. Boys do not.

In any event, a post by a friend regurgitating right wing talking points that have been making the rounds does not, in any way, demonstrate some sort of societal shift in sentiment as Marcus claims.

The second article that Marcus refers to is a February piece in the Wall Street Journal (I have linked to a reprint without a pay wall). The piece was written by Colin M. Wright and Emma N. Hilton, two biologists. It sounds impressive until you begin to read.

Wright and Hilton begin their polemic: “Transgender ideology can take on a comical character…” They include: “the denial of organic intercourse additionally erases homosexuality, as same-sex attraction is meaningless with out [sic] the excellence between the sexes.”

“Transgender ideology” and “same-sex attraction” are religious terms often associated with the Catholic Church. No one, in a scientific context, refers to the state of being transgender as transgender ideology just as no one refers to homosexuality as same-sex attraction. At least not in a scientific setting.

They then indulge in the pro-forma false argument about desistance:
The big majority of gender-dysphoric youths ultimately outgrow their emotions of dysphoria throughout puberty, and plenty of find yourself figuring out as gay adults. “Affirmation” therapies, which insist a baby’s cross-sex id ought to by no means be questioned, and puberty-blocking medication, marketed as a manner for youngsters to “purchase time” to type out their identities, might solely solidify emotions of dysphoria, setting them on a pathway to extra invasive medical interventions and everlasting infertility.
They are ignoring the scientific truths that persistence and desistance are a function of severity. Desisters rarely transition because the severity of their condition does not warrant doing so. These authors are suggesting that desisters desist because they did not transition. Baloney!

The minority that do transition (about 25% of the whole) are those in the most distress due to the persistent severity of their condition.  Wright's and Hilton's rhetoric is the standard boilerplate of every religion-based anti-LGBTQ hate group. Even down to the point of calling attention to “a baby's cross-sex id.” What are the talking about?

Babies do not have a cross-sex id because gender identity does not form until about age 2. Even then, children are not aware of their incongruity for several more years. Wright and Hilton jump from babies to puberty blockers which are not available until the child enters puberty which usually starts between ages 8 and 13 in girls and ages 9 and 15 in boys.

I read this stuff every day. I think I am pretty proficient and differentiating faith-based religious rants from evidence-based scientific summaries. Wright and Hilton have indulged in religious crackpottery.

They have just rephrased the usual religious right claptrap about people they disapprove of due to scripture. It does not depict a change in societal sentiment which is going in the reverse of Marcus' wishful thinking.

David Marcus claims to have discovered a “Eureka!”
This is really pretty remarkable. Progressives and trans advocates had every reason to believe that the arc of history could only move in their direction. After all, once defining gender based on biology became offensive, even a slur, how could it ever make its way back into polite society? But what they didn’t understand was just how massive the gap was between their beliefs about the nature of gender and those of the American people.
Mr. Marcus is relying on a remarkably small (and compromised) sample size to draw conclusions. Furthermore, defining gender on the basis of biology is not offensive. It is the norm but it does not apply to everyone. Mr. Marcus offers little evidence of a gap between beliefs and knowledge about gender among our citizens.

If a knowledge gap does exist it is the result of failed efforts to properly educate people and the successful efforts of religious conservatives to undermine established science because the existence of transgender people conflicts with scripture.

In fact, among peer-reviewed research published to reputable academic journals, the understanding of gender as an independent construct has gained wide acceptance and the evidence in support of that fact is only increasing. The audience for such articles is not the American people but other scientists.
Drag queens performing for young children became a flashpoint in the last year or so, bringing us closer to cultural confrontation. But what tipped the balance was three young women who refused to be treated unfairly by having to compete in track meets against biological males. Suddenly something that was already clear to many conservatives and feminists occurred to the public, people born as men were telling people born as women to just suck it up and take it when they decided what being a woman is.
Drag queens have nothing to do with transgender women. Marcus should know better. Mr. Marcus doesn't seem to realize that trans girls have much lower levels of testosterone (due to the medications that they take) than boys. Athletic fairness could be easily assured in so many different ways. The problem is that the conservative Christians do not want to solve what they feel is a problem.

They perceive the athletic controversy as a means of denigrating transgender people whose presence they cannot tolerate because of scripture. Two sides can only come to a resolution of a dispute when both sides engage in good faith. Thus we end up with a federal judge having to decide who is right and that is unfortunate.

What particularly irritates me is the subtle but obvious claim that boys are becoming transgender girls only to be able to compete as females with an athletic advantage. It's is not just ridiculous but offensive to trans youth.
…forbid attorneys from referring to the trans female athletes competing against the young women as “male.” Which is to say, the judge decided on the case before it even started, since the very question at issue is whether athletes born as men are men or women.
Mr. Marcus is not terribly bright. It only means that the judge is seeking some scientific accuracy and some decency on the part of lawyers. The question remains whether trans girls have an unfair advantage over cisgender girls.

The defendant in this case, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, is likely to have carefully considered this issue and will be able to provide substantial evidence to support their case.
Mr. Marcus has an annoying habit of speaking for others:
This really sums up the entire debate in our country about the trans issue. The media, the academy, and the entertainment industry decided that men could be women. When conservatives and some feminists on the left said, “wait a minute, can we discuss this?” The answer was, “No, accept the premise right now or you are a bigot.” And that worked for a while.
No one decided that men could be women. What we have known, for well over 100 years, is that, when gender and natal sex are incongruent, gender prevails. I am not aware of Christian conservatives and some (Astroturf) feminists ever attempting to enter into a meaningful dialog and can find no evidence to support that contention.

At the outset of his papacy the current pope railed against what he called gender theory. At least the Vatican has been honest and cited that passage in Genesis as “proof of their contention.” It proves nothing of course.

What and advanced society accepts is evidence and there is a mountain of evidence in support of the proposition that, for some people, gender is a separate construct. If people do not want to be called a bigot then they need only not act like a bigot.

Bigotry consists of intellectually dishonest arguments against transgender people who are simply trying to cope with a situation that none of them signed up for.

Misstating medical science to win an argument is a form of bigotry, and dishonesty. Denying trans kids proper accommodations in public schools because of religious beliefs is bigoted. Claiming that transgender females pose a safety concern to cisgender females is a form of bigotry and it has never happened.

In short, when people make shit up about transgender people for the purpose of marginalizing them and denying them fair treatment, that is bigoted.

In this case claiming that “the tide has turned” based upon a miniscule sample and in utter disregard of scientific evidence is bigotry. Attempting to misstate circumstances in an attempt to bolster a flawed argument is a form of bigotry.
In part, this is because people naturally want to be polite. It was also something that did not have much effect on most people’s lives. But that is changing, as it was always bound to. Beyond the issues of women’s sports and spaces, serious fears have been raised that the way in which the Left has embraced trans ideology without even investigating it created social contagion that is leading children to choose transition who otherwise would not.
Really? I can assure Mr. Marcus that anti-transgender hate groups have been anything but polite. Marcus is claiming that children are being influenced to transition. I do not know whether to assign stupidity, ignorance or dishonesty to that nonsense.

Children with gender dysphoria are (hopefully) evaluated by a competent psychiatrist. It is not easy to achieve a diagnosis of gender dysphoria as the child has to meet six of eight criteria. Even then it becomes the task of the clinician to determine the severity of the condition.

Children with acute gender dysphoria transition because they have a fierce desire to do so. Transition relieves unrelenting distress. They do not transition because of the influence of others. When a natal boy wears his sister's dress to school to get some relief he does so knowing that he fill face unimaginable ridicule.

Knowing that the opprobrium is coming his (her) way, the attained relief is greater than the peril of derision. Children who do not need to transition cannot be persuaded to transition. Mr. Marcus has no fucking clue what he is suggesting. His reference to trans ideology demonstrates that he has been influenced by religious crackpots.
Wherever one stands on these issues, the absurd idea that they cannot even be discussed, first professed by the Chicago Tribune, now by a Connecticut judge…
Marcus is referring to a withdrawn article by the Chicago Tribune. Not everything is subject to debate. As a Jew I steadfastly refuse, for example, to argue with Holocaust deniers. It is a matter of indisputable record that the Holocaust took place and then some 6 million Jews died as a result.

If David Marcus wants to discuss how society treats transgender people and have others willing to engage then he must demonstrate an understanding of the prevailing science. Then he must be able to cite peer-reviewed research published to reputable academic journals that is in disagreement. Then he has to explain why the dissent is more conclusive than the scientific consensus.

Failing to do so only means that he has no interest in an intellectually honest exchange of ideas. He is interested in advancing an ideology for reasons that remain unknown. Perhaps he just needs fodder to write about because The Federalist might be his sole source of income.

As a civil society we should be able to consider what is in the best interests of our children based upon reliable research. That should outweigh all other considerations.

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