Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
I thought I had said everything I wanted to say on this issue – see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 – but here we are.
Matt Walsh’s documentary, What Is a Woman?, on the childhood trans phenomenon, is fantastic. Please do watch it. I wasn’t expecting much, I figured Walsh would state the obvious (though that in itself is highly commendable in a world too scared to state the obvious). However, the great surprise of the film, the genius of it, is that Walsh doesn’t state very much at all. I went in expecting some hard-core polemicizing; instead, we get mostly silence. It is the pro-transitioning side that does the talking, and they talk themselves silly.
Walsh does not interview fringe lunatics. He makes a point of talking to the mainstream of the mainstream on this issue; if the American Academy of Pediatrics were incarnate, they/them would have been in this film. The cast of characters includes an Ivy League professor of pediatrics, an award-winning psychology professor, and a member of Congress. Walsh interviews an accomplished surgeon, perhaps the very same one your child would be sent to should she want to get her breasts removed (and should you have $70,000 or so to spare). The least prominent interviewee is a pro-affirmation counselor, but that was a wise inclusion, for she is precisely the type of friendly neighborhood counselor your child is going to be sent to should any of these questions arise.
The defining characteristic shared by all their answers to Walsh’s simple, straightforward questioning is this: absolute unseriousness. It’s hard to think of a more serious process than the hormonal and surgical transition of a child, yet these people seem literally to have given it no serious thought. I wrote previously about the metaphysical complications of their position, and half-joked that the multi-disciplinary team of specialists dedicated to assisting your child with this deeply philosophical problem were blessed with expertise in every field except philosophy. Apparently, I was giving them too much credit. Even an amateur philosopher might have some curiosity about a subject. These people have none. Their cavalier attitude was jaw-dropping to behold on film. It was abundantly clear that they had never thought about any of these questions before. More than that, they were offended that the questions were even asked.
Say what you want about evil Nazi scientists, and I’ve said it all, but at least eugenics was a theory. A sinister, monstrous theory, but one that many sinister monsters had put some effort into thinking up. This trans stuff? It’s not even a theory. These people are recklessly experimenting on children based on ideas they have not bothered thinking through, and they visibly bristle when asked the most elementary questions. They should not be allowed within a mile of a confused child, let alone in a clinic room with them. But don’t take my word for it; watch the movie and take theirs.
With the acclaim out of the way, a couple minor quibbles.
First, the film does not engage much with the suicide question. One of the anti-affirmation experts dismisses it as “emotional blackmail,” which is true, but there is more that needs to be said. My thoughts here; in brief, take the activists at their word, and use those words to show how deadly the introduction of gender-bending ideas in young children’s lives over the decades has been. If decidedly non-lethal childhood Covid can lead to nationwide school shutdowns and toddler mask mandates, then an ideology with a 50% suicide rate certainly merits some drastic measures.
Second, more could have been made of the claim that puberty blocking is safe and reversible. Of course, it is neither safe nor reversible, and the documentary makes that point. However, I don’t think we even need to go to those lengths. The main problem with puberty blocking for trans children is that, as an idea, it is incoherent.
Allow me to explain, with illustrations from my own practice:
1. Parents bring me their 3 year old for speech delay. He cannot say a word. I ask whether he seems to follow along when they read to him, or understand when they speak to him. “Oh, we’ve never read to him, we never speak to him, he was raised in total silence. But what does that have to do with anything?”
2. Parents bring me their 2 year old for motor delay. He cannot walk. I ask what he does to get around when they put him on the floor. “Oh, we’ve never put him down, we just carry him around everywhere. Do you think that’s related?”
3. A young caterpillar comes to see me (by now you’re catching on, none of these are real encounters). He says, “Doc, I can’t become a butterfly. Look at me, I don’t even have wings!”
You get the picture. Development doesn’t just magically happen overnight, you have to go through a developmental process. The process itself changes you, mind and body, for the two are deeply connected. Of course a caterpillar doesn’t feel like a butterfly; that’s what the chrysalis is for. To avoid a process that changes you from A to B on the grounds that you don’t already feel like B going into it is incoherent. Getting you to feel like B is the whole point of going through the process! For a girl to say “I don’t want to go through puberty because I don’t feel like a woman” is, no offense, a profoundly uninformed statement. That’s not her fault, she’s a young child, she hasn’t mastered the trivium yet. For adults to encourage such puberty-blocking, however, is inexcusable.
Since I haven’t offended enough people yet, let’s talk religion. I’m a Lutheran, Walsh is a Catholic. Whatever our other denominational differences, we both believe that something real happens in baptism that changes the person being baptized. Other branches of Christianity view baptism differently; the baptism itself doesn’t change you, a change has already happened, the baptism is an outward expression of that inner change. Well, in the trans debate, the pro-affirmation side seems to view puberty similarly, as an external, after-the-fact symbol. That’s why it makes sense to them to give a young child hormones to initiate a false, cross-sex ‘puberty’; the pubertal process is merely an outward display of a preexisting sex commitment. The anti-affirmation crowd, on the other hand, thinks puberty itself changes you. That’s why in our eyes it makes no sense to block it or cross it; puberty is not merely an outward sign, it’s an inner process. There, bet that wasn’t the kind of theology you ever expected to encounter in a trans talk, you’re welcome.
Enough rambling, go watch the film – unlike teenaged vaginoplasty, I can guarantee you won’t regret it!
Absolutely couldn’t agree more! Watch the film! “Truly (their) intellect is dizzying!”