What Life As A Transgender Woman Taught Me About Progressives

What Life As A Transgender Woman Taught Me About Progressives

Liberals struggle to reconcile individual life choices with their collective, coercive political agenda.
Will Franken
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When Bruce Jenner, as he was then still known, granted an interview to Diane Sawyer in advance of his transition into Caitlyn, the online commentary from the Left immediately precipitating the interview was predictably supportive, if not outright sanctimonious. Yet when Jenner responded to Sawyer’s sycophantic praise of Obama by not only stating that he “wasn’t a fan” but going so far as to out himself as a Republican, the online commentary from the Left turned on a dime, becoming equally predictable in its knee-jerk contemptuousness and ignorance.

A good majority of the comments following the interview unearthed a primary struggle in the liberal mindset of reconciling individual life choices with a collective political agenda. In essence, the asinine question was raised: “How can one be both transgendered and conservative?” To those of us imbued with a healthy mistrust of collectivism, the answer to this is startlingly obvious.

Real consistency—one that manifests itself in the practice of individual personal choice—paradoxically appears to the Left as inconsistency. This calls to mind Margaret Thatcher’s famous hierarchy of convictions over consensus, and is understandable when considering that today’s liberals are themselves the very embodiment of inconsistency.

Gay rights advocates support Palestine over Israel. Progressives encourage a righteous contempt of authority, unless the authority happens to be a far-reaching socialist government. Career politicians speaking on climate change are transformed into altruistic scientists completely devoid of profit motive. And, of course, all fundamentalist religions are evil, so please stop Islamophobia.

To Be a Liberal, You Only Have to Contradict Yourself

Truly, only one thing is required to be a member in good standing with the Left. Acolytes simply have to swallow, unquestioningly, the entire contradictory lot of their bumper sticker propositions. Just when it seems their minds are about to short-circuit from the cognitive dissonance inherent in harbouring such blatant inconsistencies, a multitude of pompous academics and overpaid entertainers are there at the ready to help shout power to truth—not, as is too often insipidly claimed, speak truth to power.

Some men go out on the drink to recover from a failed relationship. I learned how to add colour to my wardrobe.

To be sure, my brief life as a transgendered female living in the Tower Hamlets borough of London brought to life in a very palpable way the unresolved contradictions liberals have to live every day. Taking note of the hipsters who invariably stood passively by whilst Asian and Arabic immigrants spewed invective at me for my appearance, I was often reminded of the old horror film “Scanners,” anticipating a point where onlooking liberals’ heads would explode from the complicated process of deciding whose side to take.

That’s right. For seven months in 2015 I lived full-time, albeit unconvincingly, as a woman named Sarah. Until then, I had always considered myself, for lack of a better term, a periodic crossdresser. Sometimes I would go for six months at a time without appearing in female attire, while at others I would spend every night for a week cross-dressed.

However, following a breakup in March of last year and a move from North to East London, I unpacked my ladies’ apparel and began, for all intents and purposes, living as Sarah. Some men go out on the drink to recover from a failed relationship. I learned how to add colour to my wardrobe.

If I speak with irreverence on this topic, it’s not only because I’ve lived the experience, but also that my disdain for political correctness necessitates me regarding nothing, even my own personal history, as sacred.

There’s Only Cash in Being Transgender for Its Own Sake

In late June, I changed my name on Facebook from Will to Sarah and in doing so garnered the interest of the United Kingdom’s leading liberal paper, The Guardian. I had been performing comedy for around 15 years by that point, so my story was noteworthy given that I was the first comedian to “transition” mid-career and, thanks to Caitlyn, transgenderism had become the new cause celebre.

When I presented them with unique creative concepts that did not entail the topic du jour, their lack of enthusiasm was sadly all too evident.

I readily agreed to a lengthy interview and photo shoot for The Guardian (what libertarian comedian these days couldn’t use the publicity?) and with that, Sarah was soon established as a minor heroine amongst the comedy community. Missives of support and congratulations poured in, from the lowly open-mikers to some of the most established fixtures of British comedy. The BBC suddenly resurfaced to ask if I had any new ideas. Reputable London literary publishers inquired if I had ever thought of putting pen to paper.

Each time, I found myself hoping against hope that their interest went beyond transgenderism. And when I presented them with unique creative concepts that did not entail the topic du jour, their lack of enthusiasm was sadly all too evident. It wasn’t long before I could feel the artistic pigeonholing taking effect. For someone who had spent his entire adult life decrying the ascent of identity politics, I was now poised to cash in yet had no interest in doing so.

Indeed, I’m pleased to say that throughout the entirety of those seven months, although I may have temporarily altered my identity, my political outlook had not changed one iota. At no point did it ever occur to me, “Gosh, these liberals certainly are nice and accepting, I think I’ll take another look at socialism.”

As always, I defended free-market capitalism and argued against the proliferation of radical Islam—although at first with considerably less expletive-laden shouting than I would have engaged in as Will. My shows throughout the month of August contained my most brutal satires yet against jihadism and Western cowardice. Nightly, I closed each performance with a quote from Aayan Hirsi Ali and a dedication to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

The Freedom to Be Honest

If punters had been expecting a clichéd hour of saccharine personal honesty, they would have left sorely disappointed. I was not about to be neutered creatively or ideologically because of a lifestyle decision.

I was not about to be neutered creatively or ideologically because of a lifestyle decision.

In fact, in many ways, being Sarah allowed me to get across some necessary conservative perspectives quite foreign to the artistic milieu. For example, when asked about my thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis, I would calmly opine, notwithstanding the death knell to European culture it represented, on a more immediate and pragmatic level, saying the last thing on a transgender female’s wish list would be another influx into East London of oversexed religious male bigots.

At times my offstage conservative comments would elicit sentiments such as “Look, Sarah, I agree with about 80 percent of what you’re saying, but. . .” which I once terminated with the wry observation, “I think you agree with a hundred percent of what I’m saying, but you’re just subtracting an arbitrary 20 percent so you don’t have to completely restructure your political identity on this topic.”

On other occasions, I was heartened to witness individuals coming out of a different and much more restraining closet when, after honing in on something I’d said, they’d lean forward and whisper cautiously and confidentially, “I’m . . . not a socialist either.”

It Was the Pronouns that Got Me

Admittedly, I was at first cantankerous when it came to pronouns. But here I must be honest and say that whenever I did get ruffled when someone used a “he” instead of a “she,” it was because an illusion I was hoping to maintain was being shattered. When groups of young Middle Eastern men in the queue at McDonald’s were yelling “faggot” and “gayboy,” for instance, it certainly didn’t help me feel any more ladylike when the woman at the register would shout back, “He wants those four double cheeseburgers plain!”

Whenever I did get ruffled when someone used a ‘he’ instead of a ‘she,’ it was because an illusion I was hoping to maintain was being shattered.

I found my reaction to the pronoun issue was particularly troubling, given that one of the aspects of modern leftism I most deplore is the redefinition of terms. Lazy tenured academics insisting, against all empirical objectivity, that hip-hop artists are the Beethovens of today, students rebranding Islamic terrorists as freedom fighters, and—yes—a six-foot-five man in a cheap synthetic wig with no intention of undergoing hormone therapy, let alone sexual reassignment surgery, insisting he be referred to as “she.”

Precisely because I came to regard internally what I was attempting externally as the maintenance of an illusion, and because of myriad other incidents and psychological factors I’ve already outlined in various publications, I made the decision last September to leave Sarah behind and return to Will.

Never one to shy away from grandiose hero worship, I now compare my seven-month stint as a female to the Beatles’ 1967 India holiday to study meditation under the Maharishi. It was something I was initially eager to explore and, indeed, would go so far as to say I felt I had to explore. Yet by the end, disenchantment had set in, along with an acceptance of reality, leaving me more grateful than ever to return to manhood. This was a decision I made for myself. Not, as my critics on the activist left now allege, for transgendered people en masse.

We Only Love You if You Do What We Want

We rarely, if ever, hear of reversion stories these days. I’m not at all surprised, given the online outpouring of hatred I received from the activist community following my return to Will (a virtual counterpart to the very real abuse I received from London’s immigrant population whilst Sarah). Here’s a modest sampling of the vitriol I encountered after a piece I wrote on my return to manhood was published by The Independent last December: (emphasis theirs)

Simply put the dresses away and enjoy some of that good ole male privilege.

Only a tourist can afford to be bored with transgenderism

An attention seeking poser with zero understanding of the harm you’ve done. Please go fuck yourself.

YOUR stunt gave RELIGIOUS BIGOTS ammunition jackass!

Apologize for your fuck-up, and NEVER SPEAK ON TRANS ISSUES EVER A-FUCKING-GAIN asshole

I shudder to think what someone of Jenner’s fame would be subjected to if she dared to express any doubts about her decision. As for myself, I was compelled to remind a frothing, self-righteous lot of Twitter trans-warriors that doctors in England require a patient to live for at least a year as their chosen gender before any discussion of sexual reassignment surgery takes place, leaving enough time for individuals to change their minds if need be and opt out.

Liberals hate it when people change their minds.

Simultaneously, I sought comfort by recalling the backlash following John Lennon’s comments about the Beatles and Christianity. For “Christianity,” read here the new fundamentalist religion of “Activism.”

Liberals hate it when people change their minds. Because, again, what is consistent for the individual is often inconsistent for the body politic. If a man chooses to live as a woman, he must never be a “he” again. Otherwise, his experience must have been an attempt to infiltrate and undermine the overarching LGBT agenda.

If one marches with Black Lives Matter, one must march on to the bitter end, lest he be branded by the new slave traders of ideology as an Uncle Tom, despite the calendar reading 2016 and not 1864. If a scrutinizing individual takes a deeper look at Hamas and decides the Free Palestine movement is no longer for them, that individual is not anti-terrorism, but rather in alignment with a vast Zionist conspiracy to devour Arab children.

Don’t You Dare Get in the Way of Our Narrative

By trade, I am a character comedian. I rattle out an average of 40 to 50 voices in every show I perform. Offstage, as I’ve already mentioned, I spent the year 2015 evenly divided between living as Will and living as Sarah. Despite these considerations, I would nevertheless submit that I possess an infinitely stronger sense of identity than a garden-variety liberal activist.

Unwittingly, I have become a threat to a prewritten collective narrative.

Simply consider this revealing extract sent to me, again, in the wake of The Independent article: (emphasis theirs): “I’m angry at YOU for giving Bible thumpers ‘proof’ that Trans is a ‘choice’ you clueless fuckmaggot.”

Notwithstanding the fact that I never received any abuse from Christians whilst living as Sarah and irrespective of such incidents as being accosted by a group of young Muslim men exiting an Eid celebration in Birmingham, there’s something even more erroneous and disconcerting revealed about liberal orthodoxy in the above statement. Because they disdain individuality in favor of blind collectivism, activist liberals are unable to hear things in isolation.

When I wrote in the article that I had made a choice about my life, this person and others of similar outlook had instead pluralized the singular to hear me say “all trans people have a choice about their lives.” Begging the question, how fragile must their identities be to react with such panic and anger? Unwittingly, I have become a threat to a prewritten collective narrative. My choice to live again as a man implies there may be others for whom the trans lifestyle is a choice.

My decision may not be consistent with a liberal activist agenda, but it’s consistent with me.

Perhaps the fear and anger emanating from the activists is twofold. On the personal level, there’s a fear among some in the trans community who are likewise uncertain about their own decision and are reticent to address the personal responsibility of choice that is part and parcel of that uncertainty. On the political level, there’s a collective anger in realizing it’s not going to be as easy to bully in legislation under the flimsy pretext of “give us what we want ‘cause we don’t have a choice!” Especially if loose cannons like myself keep making up their own minds about what do with their own lives.

Choice is rebellion. Choice is rock-n-roll. Choice is, if you will, The Beatles.

My decision may not be consistent with a liberal activist agenda, but it’s consistent with me. And that’s why I now find myself cast as the opposition. But I’m not bothered in the slightest. I’m quite used to being the opposition. That’s because, regardless of how I dress and what name I use, I am still one of the most oppressed minorities living in the West today.

I am an individual.

Will Franken is a London-based comedian specialising in high-speed, quick-change character comedy with an emphasis on politically incorrect satire. Clips of his stage performances as well as links to his highly-acclaimed podcast, Things We Did Before Reality, can be found at www.willfranken.com.
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