No fixed borders for sexual identity, means no fixed rules for sexual expression.
The ostensible purpose of MASSBill H1728 in the state of Massachusetts, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes, or its Canadian counterpart, Bill C-389, is to extend legal protection to “sexual minorities.” Writing in First Things a few months ago, Douglas Farrow, professor of Christian Thought at McGill University in Montreal, described how the strategic intentions were something “a trifle more ambitious:”
Both the United States and Canada already provide extensive protection of human rights. The American Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” “Disability” and “age” were soon added to this list, and later (by judicial interpolation) “sexual orientation.” Hate-crimes legislation is spottier but guided by the same list. Canadian law, likewise, takes aim at actions “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.” The aforementioned bills propose now to add to the list of protected categories “gender identity and expression”; or, more expansively, “a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual.”
Farrow points out that first of all, “gender identity” and “gender expression” are not, as its human rights proponents claim, like most other terms in the lists of things that the law has sought to protect under the rubric of “human rights.” That is, they do not represent objective conditions determined either by biology (like sex or race) or by sociopolitical institutions (like nationality, marital status, or religion).
He reminds us, rather, they represent subjectively determined conditions — mere attitudes toward oneself, or attitudes combined with behaviors (cross-dressing, say) intended to express or alleviate those attitudes. Farrow quotes one rights-commission statementwhich puts it approvingly, [Gender identity] “is linked to an individual’s intrinsic sense of self.” Good law and sound public policy, he reminds us, cannot be built on the shifting sands of the subjective. Not that good law or sound public policy is ever going to emerge from this never-ending cultural food fight.
Farrow notes that his can of worms was opened when we added sexual orientation as an identity marker that is not anchored in the biological or the institutional. Until now we have stopped shy of markers that explicitly combine the subjective with the behavioral. We have not asked, for legal purposes, whether a Canadian behaves like a Canadian or a Catholic like a Catholic or a man like a man. Those are extra-legal questions belonging to civil society, and it is important that they remain such, lest law (as Solzhenitsyn worried) absorb us altogether. On the contrary these categories — gender identity and gender expression — are not actually positive or constructive additions to the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Rather, they constitute a deliberate attack on one of the existing grounds, sex:
The word “sex” in our codes specifies the natural division of the species into male and female, with a view to protecting the latter especially. The addition of “sexual orientation,” however, has effected a transformation in our thinking about human sexuality. Male and female have begun to give way to heterosexual and homosexual in the basic binary logic of sex. Hence the idea of same-sex marriage, with its air of legal inevitability. The proposed addition of “gender identity and expression” carries that transformation even further by suppressing the binary logic itself. Backers of these bills often make no attempt to disguise this. “One of the great myths of our culture,” insists the Canadian Labor Congress, “is that at birth each infant can be identified as distinctly ‘male’ or ‘female’ (biological sex), will grow up to have correspondingly ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ behavior (public gender), live as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ (social gender role), and marry a woman or a man (heterosexual affective orientation). This is not so.”
The standard notion of sex, then, must be replaced by the more malleable concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity. And I do mean must. In Quebec a recent government white paper promised to wipe society clean of both homophobia and heterosexism — that is, of any “affirmation of heterosexuality as a social norm or the highest form of sexual orientation [and of any] social practice that conceals the diversity of sexual orientations and identities.”
In short, sex will no longer serve as an effective legal marker for discrimination if its binary nature dissolves into fluid sexual subjectivities. And yet another thinly veiled but very telling contradiction here:
“Trans” people, we are told — the people the bills are supposed to protect — are those who are uncomfortable with and to some extent reject the gender identities assigned to them at birth. Some are transsexual — namely, those who have a strong sense that they are “living in the wrong sex” — and some are transgender, identifying with neither sex but placing themselves here or there on a gender spectrum. The former seek a transition between the two sexes; the latter deny that there are merely two sexes. The former may regard their problem as “a medical concern, pure and simple,” to quote Corporal Natalie Murray of the Canadian Air Force, who made the transition. The latter often regard their problem as purely social, that is, as someone else’s problem, the problem of bigotry.
Farrow points out that neither of the Mass or Canadian bills is about medical concerns. Medical concerns are really covered by the term “disability,” which is already in the list of prohibitions to human rights. What we see here are objections to “alleged bigotry.” Which is to say, they are more interested in taking the transgressive out of “transgender” than in guaranteeing the right to therapy for the transsexual. Both goals are problematic.
Some years ago Dr. Paul McHugh (“Surgical Sex,” First Things, November 2004) described the process by which his psychiatric team at Johns Hopkins eventually put a stop to sex-reassignment therapy, having come to the conclusion that SRT was based on a faulty premise and did more harm than good; indeed, that it was “to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.”
Proponents of the present bills, setting aside the medical evidence, choke and fume at such a claim. Ironically, however, they would agree with McHugh that “without any fixed position on what is given in human nature, any manipulation of it can be defended as legitimate.” And that is exactly what they want to achieve with this legislation. Gender fluidity is what they are after — meaning no fixed borders for sexual identity and no fixed rules for sexual self-expression.
Naturally this means all sorts of new rules for the general public, for businesses and schools, and for government. That is why interpretive institutions are springing up everywhere, like the GenderKompetenzCentrum at the University of Berlin.
But when all is said and done, the proponents of these bills are not interested in the difficulties of implementation. Nor are they troubled by the logical or juridical or social contradictions the bills generate. For these bills are Trojan horses, which on closer inspection are designed not to protect a threatened minority but to entrench in law the notion that gender is essentially a social construct, based not in the natural order but in more or less arbitrary acts of human self-interpretation.
To endorse such bills one must think as the neo-gnostic Hegelians taught us to think — that nature is there only to be sublated or overcome — and to go, boldly or obediently, where the Gender Mainstreaming (GM) strategists want us to go. “To adopt a gender perspective,” says one obedient United Nations publication, “is to distinguish between what is natural and biological and what is socially and culturally constructed, and in the process to renegotiate the boundaries between the natural — and hence relatively inflexible — and the social — and hence relatively transformable.”
Part of the idiotic “renegotiating the boundaries” also comes about by our inattention to language and its uses. I always understood sex to mean male and female while gender is masculine and feminine: the former refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs and the latter describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine.
While your sex as male or female is a biological fact in any culture, what that sex means in terms of your gender role as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ in society can be quite different cross culturally or in different countries. These ‘gender roles’ have an impact on the health of the individual. In sociological terms ‘gender role’ refers to the characteristics and behaviors that different cultures attribute to the sexes. What it means to be a ‘real man’ in any culture requires male sex plus what our various cultures define as masculine characteristics and behaviors, likewise a ‘real woman’ needs female sex and feminine characteristics. To summarize:
‘Man’ = male sex+ masculine social role, (a ‘real man’, ‘masculine’ or ‘manly’)
‘Woman’ = female sex + feminine social role, (a ‘real woman’, ‘feminine’ or ‘womanly’)
Now that should seem straightforward enough but has anyone else noticed that animals also have “gender” rather than “sex” these days?
“The pet owner thought her two rabbits had the same gender–until they produced young.” (paraphrased from a Wall Street Journal article)
Isn’t that plain nutty? There is no such thing as ‘biological gender’. Gender is a grammatical term that refers to masculine, feminine, and neuter forms. Usage shifts over time, but the use of ‘gender’ to mean anything other than what it really means is an ignorant and reprehensible practice. Yet some (the proponents of the legislation Douglas Farrow writes about, for example) would have it that “masculine” and “feminine” refer to real qualities, of which “male” and “female” are imperfect and limited embodiments.
There are cross-dressing and transgenderism in GLBT subcultures. But in these attempts to rewrite human rights laws legislators and other decision makers are opening the doors to placing children in household situations which are not conducive to healthy development. There are a number of physical, emotional, and sexual risks for children when they grow up with no boundaries around gender, gender expression, and transsexuality and with numerous sexual orientations protected in law.
Consider the diverse sexual expressions, the multiple sexual partners, and the wider subcultures children are directly exposed to and impacted by already. Consider a Mom a transitioning male-to-female. Children are being sacrificed at the altar of Baal without consideration for the confusion and sheer nuttiness these laws will engender. Every child is being taught that diverse genders and sexual orientations are completely normal and natural, which is simply not true — some may be but certainly others are decidedly not. Children are also learning step-by-step instructions concerning transgender and sexual orientation topics during their vulnerable early gender development. What does this say about our stewardship of our society?
Our Lord spoke to us about stewardship: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?
So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God. “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.