America’s bizarre controversy over which men are allowed in women’s bathrooms continues as our federal trans activists in the Social Justice Department have put the nation’s public—and private—schools on notice. Unless they want to lose federal money and undergo federal investigations, none may set policies mirroring those that North Carolina set statewide for government facilities: that the men’s room is for men and the women’s room is for women.
The conservative response seems to center around the question of whether women are really safe in restrooms and locker rooms if it’s acceptable for men dressed as women to be in there with them. However, there remains an even better reason to oppose trans activists: because they force people to act as though a blatant falsehood is true. They are demanding that all of society bow down and say a man is really a woman and a woman is really a man at their say-so.
The Left is naturally on the side of the social justice warriors pushing for submission. Our universities are also working hard to train American youth (many of whom conservative parents have foolishly entrusted to them) to sit and roll over. However, even the many Americans who don’t really agree with transgender arguments aren’t sure it warrants the kind of controversy that’s unfolding.
While I do believe bathroom policies are a small thing, it is often the small things that do the most damage in the long run. Giving in to this kind of gender insanity is an act of submission that Americans dare not commit. If Americans, our organizations, and our local governments don’t have the freedom even to call a man a man, then we have no freedom at all.
We Can Only Bend Reality So Far
Of all the things that stand in the way of progressivism, reality has always topped the list. Their every program, system, and scheme would surely have made the world a better place if only the world were a better place.
Communism would have worked if only people weren’t motivated by self-interest. Feminism would have made women happier if only men and women didn’t find each other’s distinctiveness attractive and enjoyable. Diversity would have brought us strength if only we all thought the same way about everything. Once youthful idealism passes and real-world experience accumulates, a person is left with two options: to reorient his ideology towards reality or reorient realty to his ideology.
Choosing the latter option is a dicey proposition, for our ability to actually manipulate the world is very limited. When those limits are reached, fantasy will necessarily have to pick up the slack. Western affluence affords significant room for indulgence in fantasy by delaying the most serious repercussions for a time.
Nevertheless, fantasy remains a very fragile thing, and reality retains an uncanny ability to fracture it. Fantasy can be incubated in academic cocoons in which others supply physical necessities and trigger warnings lest a student encounter something real without first girding his loins; but tenure is difficult to achieve, so most people eventually emerge.
Fantasy can be protected by investing oneself in a highly filtered and ever-shifting digital realm like social media or America’s growing refusal to embrace the challenge of family in which we must intimately share our common reality with others. But try as one might, reality always hunts us down in the end. Other people share the same external world, they speak and act accordingly, and they are everywhere. As Sartre put it, “Hell is other people,” and you can’t avoid them all the time.
When Private Fantasy Becomes a Public Hazard
If one would double down on fantasy at this point, then the only safe harbor is to desperately try and make all the other people who share the external world adopt the same fantasy. If all are in tacit agreement on the terms, then it removes a great many uncomfortable, fantasy-piercing reminders. This is where private fantasy becomes a public hazard, however, because such measures bear a heavy cost—a cost George Orwell famously explored in his dystopian science fiction novel, “1984.”
In it, the people of Oceania are tyrannized by a Big Brother that’s always watching, a language engineered to be bereft of humanity, and Thought Police that enforce unmitigated compliance—all in service to whatever the Party’s current fantasy happens to be: “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia,” and so forth.
The novel follows Winston Smith, who works on revising history at the Ministry of Truth. But when he discovers a small, apparently unobservable corner in his apartment, he embraces the opportunity to express a thought that differs from Party dogma, even if it’s just in a diary that he suspects will no one else will probably ever read.
In doing so, he commits thoughtcrime—a mental deviation from the Party from which all other crime springs (just as today’s leftist indictments increasingly gravitate away from actual wrongdoing and toward attitudes, opinions, and other mental states.) As the novel unfolds, he finds an accomplice in his lover Julia and an apparent ally in Party official O’Brien, who seems to be a revolutionary. However (spoiler warning for a 67-year-old book that should be required reading), O’Brien is really a member of the Thought Police, and ultimately betrays them both.
Truth Is What We Want It to Be
When Winston is finally brought into the Ministry of Love for torture and reeducation, O’Brien explains they couldn’t care less about any particular crimes of rebellion he committed and merely want to “cure” him of the “insanity” of embracing reality over the Party’s fantasy:
You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one… You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes; only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.
O’Brien then asks Winston the value of 2+2 and tortures him until he is willing to not merely say but actually to believe that the answer is 5 if the Party says so. Winston ultimately succumbs and so destroys himself for the Party’s fantasy.
In a way, saying 2+2=5 in an interrogation seems like a trivial matter. As long as one is thinking in the abstract and not working with real numbers, it seems to have no consequence. Orwell, however, was well aware of the power that even simple matters have to dehumanize us. By the end of the book, Winston is a broken man who loves Big Brother. As he ponders the effects of his “treatment,”
Almost unconsciously he traced with his finger in the dust on the table: 2+2=5. ‘They can’t get inside you,’ [Julia] had said. But they could get inside you. ‘What happens to you here is forever,’ O’Brien had said. That was a true word. There were things, your own acts, from which you could not recover. Something was killed in your breast; burnt out, cauterized out.
In many ways, who goes into which bathroom is a similarly trivial matter. However, it simultaneously entails an act of submission to fantasy that cuts to the core of our humanity. Few words are more central to who we are as human beings than “man” and “woman.” The existence of humanity literally depends on recognizing the two and rightly understanding their distinctiveness.
Furthermore, the ramifications of this fact go far deeper than bathrooms. It’s easy to change a policy, alter a law, or hang different signs on the bathroom door. However, doing so by kowtowing to governmental and social pressure bears a cost that is disproportionate to its ease.
The Bigs Benefit From Docility
For many Americans, the threat of bearing a label ending in “ist” or “phobe” is sufficient to convince them to supplicate and declare that 2+2=5 that men are actually women and vice versa. Those who possess character and conviction, however, are made of sterner stuff, and so harsher measures are quickly brought to bear. We saw it once again in North Carolina, where Big Names, Big Business, and Big Government worked together to shun and disadvantage those who refuse the fantasy. Some might see it as an odd alliance, but all of them benefit from a population that is docile and submissive towards marketing and other propaganda.
Their efforts will not end with taking away patronage, entertainment, and respectability, however. After all, when some Christians refused to play along with the fantasy that two men can be married to each other, social justice warriors also came for their jobs, businesses, and homes. It will not stop there unless social justice warriors are stopped there.
They impose such penalties when even the “victim” of a florist who refused to provide a particular service testified that the actual harm amounted to a mere $7 and change—a fact that adequately illustrates their utter lack of both proportion and perspective. It is therefore not difficult to envision a future where American social justice warriors follow Norway’s example and go after our children as well.
This Is Definitely the Hill to Die On
Is all of this hubub about men who think they’re women and women who think they’re men really a matter as clear as recognizing that two and two fail to make five? Observably so, for if it were significantly unclear, there would be no controversy at all.
If men who think they are women (or women who think they are men) really resembled their gender identity or if it were typically difficult to tell men and women apart, then this whole thing would be a non-issue because no one would even notice when they entered their bathroom of choice. If gender were really as fluid as they pretend, either transgender “women” would simply be called women and no one would be the wiser, or we never would have come up with words like “man” and “woman” in the first place.
However, everyone knows very well whether it’s a man or woman who is in the locker room with them regardless of how they identify, dress, or physically mutilate themselves. In a society like ours that actively works to steal sexual identity from both men and women, it’s perhaps inevitable that some few people will become genuinely confused even on a matter of basic self-evidence. However, it is deliberately dehumanizing to force everyone else to adopt the same confusion.
Our only viable path toward resisting this blossoming tyranny of thought is to boldly deflate fantasy by citing reality. It is not a time to compromise, for our opponents are uncompromising. Every concession has merely emboldened social justice warriors to demand more. Those who desire freedom need to believe, teach, and confess that those who claim a sex that biology has not given them are simply wrong.
Respect and Compassion Means Telling the Truth
Is it disrespectful to speak of transgendered people this way? This piece will no doubt quickly gather comments from those aghast as my continued use of phrases like “men who think they’re women.” But respect means treating something or someone as though it is what it is.
After all, one respects a boundary by not crossing it or an authority by obeying him. Likewise, bold honesty is the only way to respect men who think they are women and women who think they are men. In contrast, the path of leftist social engineers is just the opposite.
As I’ve argued before, if a man can identify as a woman, then “woman” becomes a meaningless term. The contention that “woman” doesn’t refer to physical biology is the core of the LGBT mafia’s recent bullying. They jettison such a meaning simply by embracing the idea of women with penises and men with vaginas.
Neither can “woman” refer to any kind of social or mental state, for the same social justice warriors are quick to inform us that any kind of discrimination between men and women on this score is a matter of prejudice, stereotypes, and social constructs that will be torn down any day now.
Of course, I’ve never heard them publicly push for a spiritual definition—that men who think they are women have female souls or the like. Opening this can of worms would undeniably make this whole thing a matter of forcing a tiny minority religion on everyone else. If even a public prayer or voicing a religious thought in relation to public policy is anathema, then how much more so is forcing everyone to adopt religious beliefs about gendered souls?
With no remaining sense in which “woman” can have a definition, the social justice warrior has effectively removed the term from the realm of words and reduced it to mere noise—the equivalent of an animal’s grunt or snort that carries no human meaning. How very sensitive and affirmational to men who say they are women.
Which is more disrespectful: to tell a man who says he’s a woman that he’s wrong or to imply behind his back that he’s only making noises when he thinks he’s speaking? No one likes hearing that they’re wrong, and piercing fantasy does hurt; but it does not harm or dehumanize the way the social justice warriors’ fantasy does. Reality is the compassionate choice—the one in which we recognize that men and women are different in ways that go far deeper than how we feel.
This will not be an easy road. It will twist and turn through more stolen livelihoods, weaponized legal procedures, and actual hatred from the LGBT mafia. It will inevitably pierce other widely cherished fantasies like feminism. The American people will also resist it because we are afraid of our own informal thought police and the path of least resistance is to give in. Social justice warriors wield power because that fear is contagious.
But courage is contagious too. It is unfortunate that conservatives so often place their bets on public officials who have none—the ones who fold under mere rhetorical pressue seem far more common than those who stand firm. But if we have failed in picking bold representatives, that merely means it’s up to the rest of us to pick up the slack.