One of the first articles I ever wrote about the transgender movement was in 2014, when I argued that the Chicago Tribune was wrong to retract Kevin Williamson article in which he stated that trans women are in fact men. This particular trans-identifying man was actor Laverne Cox, and pulling the plug on Williamson’s sensible column was an early salvo in a fight that has gone on now for five years.
At that time, most of the blowback I received from the left had to do with minding my own business. What did it matter to me, this early line of argument went, if men become women or women become men? Why couldn’t I just live and let live? It was such a tiny group of people, after all. Why was this such a big deal?
In response, I began to argue that if society allowed this monumental change to the very nature of sex and gender, then there would be policy implications. I talked about women’s sports, set-aside programs for women-owned businesses, and women’s-only spaces. Shortly thereafter, the bathroom wars began.
Once again, the answer from the left was basically, who cares? It’s a bathroom, what’s the big deal? Why does it matter who is in the stall next to you? Then came locker rooms, and once again the left rolled its eyes and told conservatives not to be such nervous prudes.
Sometime after that, the question of sports came to the fore. Biological men were knocking out biological women in MMA fights; high school girls were losing state championships to high school boys. Unfair? Maybe, but the left insisted that the higher priority was making sure that marginalized and vulnerable trans athletes were recognized as women and that their lived truth be respected.
While all of this was going on in the United States, Jordan Peterson was rising to fame primarily as the professor who refused to be compelled to use transgender pronouns, whether by the university where he taught or the Canadian government. Once again the left came to the defense of the radical trans movement arguing that Peterson was putting his precious free speech rights above the safety of trans people disproportionately affected by suicide and murder.
Not too long after this, a kerfuffle between a trans activist named Jessica Yaniv and feminist journalist Megan Murphy, once again in Canada, resulted in Murphy being permanently banned from Twitter for reasons Twitter couldn’t quite explain. Just this past week, another journalist, Lindsay Shepherd, was also given the Twitter death penalty after a dispute with Yaniv.
Throughout all of this, conservatives concerned with things like science and protecting women from people with penises invading their spaces were described by the left as obsessed bigots consumed by hatred with no real arguments based in anything but intolerance and a desire to cling to an outdated patriarchal past.
But times change fast these days. This week we learned that progressive hero Yaniv brought an immigrant-owned business before a human rights tribunal in Canada for refusing to wax “her testicles,” as Orwellian a phrase as one could coin. And just like that, this wasn’t about pronouns, or sports, or locker rooms, or bathrooms, it was about a man demanding that an unwilling woman touch his genitals.
It’s almost as if five years ago, when conservatives such as myself warned that this metaphysical nonsense in which everyone could pick their gender would have real-world consequences, we were right. Yeah, we were right. Obviously, pulling this thread on the 50,000-year tapestry of humanity was going to unravel more than bathrooms.
But hey, the past is the past. What seemed obvious and troubling to conservatives seemed impossible and nonsensical to progressives. What else is new? But here we are. Right now, the leftists who promised that it would never come to this, that it would never come to men forcing their penis and testicles into the faces of unwilling women, need to address the fact that, to their shock, this is exactly what happened.
I’m all for letting bygones be bygones. But can we now please finally all realize that there are real policy and personal implications to this rash decision to suddenly change the definition of men and women? Can the left stop pretending that none of this matters? Can we protect women who don’t want to wax the testicles of men, or women, or whatever the left wants to call them?
“Why do you even care about this” clearly isn’t a good enough answer anymore. The trans movement already has real-world implications that should give the left enormous pause. It is now their responsibility to try to define the limits of this movement, or else be complicit in forcing women to service men.
This is not some esoteric phenomenological game anymore. It’s real life. And we need policies, not lifestyle affirmations.