“Transgender 101,” a recent presentation in my local library, was more evidence—if any were needed—that transgenderism is an aggressive movement. And that today’s transgenderisti are way ahead of the old fascisti in socially driven language change.
The movement shares with Mussolini’s Fascist Party an appetite for dominance by means of language, with special attention to pronouns. Il Duce disallowed the formal lei and mandated universal usage of the informal, more comradely voi for ideological purposes. Like Mussolini’s partisans, transgender activists campaign to bend language to their will, radicalizing the populace by transforming speech customs. In time, behavior conforms to custom.
Control of language was a keynote of the July 19 program in the Chappaqua Library in New York state. Jillian Celentano, a 57-year old transwoman, rides the library talk circuit through Westchester County and Connecticut advocating for the movement.
He is a twice-married and divorced realtor with Coldwell Banker in Orange, Connecticut, who “transitioned” two years ago. An activist/evangelist, he heads an LGBTQ afterschool program in a nearby New Haven high school and organizes support groups for transgender kids and adults. Earlier this year, he was one of 325 presenters at a True Colors conference that encourages LGBTQ youth from middle school up.
A long-haired blonde in an above the knee pencil skirt and ballet flats, he shared his personal “journey” in order to “help educate people on what it means to be transgender.” Prior to his talk and PowerPoint pitch, he distributed a handout that included a list of words “cisgender people” should not use in regard to the transgender enterprise and which questions not to ask of a transperson.
Say gender confirmation, not sex change. Shun the word transgenderism. Do not ask a transgender for his or her “dead” name—the one on the birth certificate. Do not ask, “Are you sure you’re not just gay?” Never say tranny and be especially careful with he, she, and all other pronouns. Never ask a “TG person” if he or she has regrets. Always remember first principles: Among transsexuals, “Gender identity does not correspond to biological sex assigned at birth.” Only among the “cisgendered” does identity align with the assignment.
Biological sex assigned at birth. It follows that what is believed to have been assigned can be re-assigned. That is the catechetical verity at the heart of the transgender magisterium. Celentano led us through the creed with a sentimental deflection from any clear-eyed look into the issues at hand. Under his guidance, the word disorder, let alone the concept, was certain not to appear.
The audience was on notice against heresy before the transwoman introduced himself. A motto glowing across the auditorium screen set the tone: “If you judge people, then you have no time to love them.” A stealth bullying device, the slogan implied that only heartless faultfinders would be skeptical of transgender dogma or question the program’s agenda. Any inkling that conscientious love does not affirm delusional behavior or enable psychopathology was short-circuited on take-off.
Jill opened with a sympathy-inducing litany of experiences emphasizing the pathos of his cisgender life. How unsatisfying it all was; how uncaring his father. (A possible clue to Jill’s developmental problems? But never mind. Jill was here to simplify, not complicate, transgenderism.)
A first wife came and went, the where and why left untold. Perhaps a hint of her disappearance lurked in the story of the second wife who knew that he liked to cross-dress from time to time but married him anyway. If not for long.
In his fifties Jill found an accommodating therapist for whom cross-dressing raised no red flag, set off no signal of autogynephilia or other disturbance. From that green light he moved on to the kindness of support groups. Support ranked high as a crucial factor in his decision to undergo “transition,” as it naturally would, since those offering the support sought similar affirmation for themselves.
Among the questions cis-people must not ask TG people is: Did you have the surgery? An elephantine question loomed over the auditorium: Did Jill go the full monty? He was coy in skirting the forbidden query. Yes, he took hormones and lasered off facial hair, a painful process that kills follicles one at a time. (“Oh, that hurt so much.”) Yes, he knows he has to take voice lessons—as actors do—to feminize his vocal register. But he was evasive regarding surgery. He took shelter behind the obligatory refrain: “Gender is in the head, not the genitals.”
Jill took care to note that most male-to-female transgendered men do not have their genitals amputated. Is that largely a matter of finances, as he claimed? Or is there something more profound, an instinct that overrides all else for certain men? Or is it, as some research suggests, that hormone therapy diminishes the desire to pursue reassignment surgery?
The only permissible questions were the sentimental ones: “Did your ex-wives support you?” “Did you get your friends back after coming out?” “How come you look younger now than before?” (He had flashed a photo of his pre-transgender self on the screen.)
He admitted only that he is still attracted to women, a characteristic common to autogynephiliacs. That raised another verboten question: Does he want his “feminism” validated by men? By women? At what age did he begin to cross-dress? The established mood was against any such probing.
So what were we left to think? Is cross-dressing a prelude to cross-living? One takeaway from Jill’s testimony is that the hormonal and cosmetic aspects of male-to-female “transition,” with or without surgery, serve to—how to put it?—immanentize cross dressing. If that is so, the sexual arousal that accompanies dressing in women’s clothes is baked into the process for males. But we must not stray into territory attached to other taboos on our list: How do you have sex? How do you know you’re a man/woman?
The power play at work was not subtle. But it did not have to be for a well-intentioned audience anxious to display sympathy for a growing victim class. They were willing consumers of a misleading narrative. Take, for example, the matter of buyer’s regret. In keeping with advocacy promotion, it does not exist. How, then, to explain the undeniably high suicide rate of the transgendered? Jill ascribed the statistics entirely to lack of family support.
That is not the judgment of Paul McHugh, a distinguished professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975 to 2001, he shut down the hospital’s pioneering sexual reassignment clinic in 1979. The suicide rate (“almost 20-fold above that of comparable non-transgender population”) challenges surgery as a solution for what are essentially psychological problems:
Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All . . . become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.
McHugh is hardly alone in stating: “We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating wih madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”
Predictably, Jill avoided engagement with serious arguments and reliable, nonpartisan data against accepting the transgender phenomenon at face value. He avoided answering a question that likened “sex confirmation surgery” to lobotomy—once a quite fashionable cure for psychic disorders. The closest the evening came to mentioning science was reference to a Katie Couric’s ratings-driven documentary on our exciting gender revolution.
What about puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children? Jill was all for them. They give children time to decide which gender they choose to inhabit. If they go off the meds, they just go back to normal, he chirped. It was a patent falsehood. Puberty suppression involves radical, experimental procedures with adverse effects on bones and adult fertility, in addition to as-yet unknown effects on the brain.
Drs. Paul Hruz, Lawrence Mayer, and McHugh address the fallacy of proselytizing for puberty blockers: “It presumes that natural sex characteristics interfere with the ‘exploration’ of gender identity, when one would expect that the development of natural sex characteristics might contribute to the natural consolidation of one’s gender identity.”
Parents of children suffering gender dysphoria—a politically correct coinage for cognitive identity disorder—are intimidated from addressing their children’s disassociation from their biological sex. The threat of a teen suicide functions as a kind of extortion, coercing assent to their child’s distortion. Transgender advocates refuse to consider that the suicide rate might result from the very psychological disposition that led to transitioning to begin with. Accordingly, Jill pinned the tail on “unsupportive” families.
Our current bathroom controversy made an appearance only to be mocked as a non-issue. As the dismissive meme puts it: “We Just Want to Pee.” Jill played two brief video clips that have been circulating on YouTube since 2016. Watch “What Happens When a Man Uses a Women’s Bathroom” and decide for yourself whether the bearded, tattooed, hipster video maker is a trans man or a real one. He does not say. What he does say is, “My name is Rocko and I am a man of trans experience.” It’s an ambiguous opening to a snarky video that plays this “ridiculous” issue for laughs.
A trans man on a mission? Or a biological male pulling a prank? Anyone can make a video, Rocko’s identity is unverifiable, and the bathroom scenes were staged using female acquaintances. Nevertheless, no question was raised about Rocko’s veracity. This send-up of a serious concern was entertaining. Only a Gradgrind would want to spoil the fun. And what well-meaning audience would not shrink from being thought bigoted spoil-sports? You, readers, are the butt of the joke.
What did I learn from this night at the library? The most useful lesson was a caution against giving in to reluctance to hurt someone’s feelings in a public forum. The difference between civility and kindness is key. However much we might sympathize with the psychic pain of an individual transsexual, we do our children no favor by granting quarter to advocates who use an audience’s decency to corrupt their discernment.