Vanity Fair contributor Tracy Moore in an Oct. 4 op-ed at the Washington Post writes glowingly of the new, unexplored adventure of talking pronouns with her 11-year-old daughter, whose friends identity as “demi-girls” (those born female who don’t fully feel the part), or are transitioning genders, or expect Moore to use certain unintuitive preferred pronouns. For parents who have reservations about all of this, Moore enjoins them: “take your discomfort somewhere else, because this isn’t about you. It’s about stepping up as a parent in an era that’s new for all of us, but doubly delicate for our children.”
In other words, the appropriate, responsible parenting move in our era of preferred pronouns, puberty blockers, and hormone therapy is to support and celebrate children’s experimentation, even if their identity declarations shift as arbitrarily and quickly as their favorite band. This, America’s medical and cultural elites tell us with clinical certitude, is the right thing to do.
But is it? And if it’s not, what is our duty, not only in the abstract, but when confronted by those who really believe they are doing right by their children by encouraging experimentation that has life-long deleterious consequences?
A Personal Anecdote
The day before Moore’s WaPo op-ed was published, I attended a beautiful wedding and reception on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Most of the attendees were liberal-leaning technocratic elites who live and work in the Washington, D.C. area. My wife and I were placed at dinner next to one of the bridesmaids and her six-year-old son.
The next day a mutual acquaintance told me the child was not her son — it was her biological daughter, who “identifies” as a boy. I was stunned. Not, I suppose, by the abstract fact that a mother would encourage this, or that a child would go along with it. I know these things happen. It was still arresting because I had unknowingly witnessed it firsthand.
What would I have done if I learned those details that night at the wedding? How would my wife and I, dressed in our formal attire, seated with several other attendees eating their chicken marsala paired with chardonnay, respond to such an announcement?
Would we have smiled politely and asked non-judgmental questions? Would we have awkwardly looked at our food and turned to others for conversation? For as bizarre a scenario as it would have been, perhaps the nature of our reaction hints at if this culture has a fighting chance of survival.
Some Very Recent Historical Perspective
Let’s be frank. Not long ago, telling polite company that you were actively encouraging your six-year-old to identify as the other biological sex would have been met with some combination of incredulity and humor. “Hah! Good one! My wife says I should identify as a chicken!”
Perhaps a little further back, if presented with such a story, our response might be a bit more visceral. “You’re doing what?” we might query with a tone of confusion in our voice. Perhaps we might have even suggested calling Child Protective Services: “Look, I’m all about privacy and parental freedom, but that just ain’t right.” Or, even a bit further back, we might have asked if anyone present knew the extended family, and if those family members knew what the mother was doing to the poor child.
Because, at least for those who view all of this talk of gender dysphoria as a bunch of pseudo-scientific claptrap, encouraging transgenderism in a six-year-old child — whether it be the parent’s own unhinged idea or the irresponsible indulgence of a few random remarks from a pre-pubescent kid who doesn’t know any better —- is nothing less than child abuse. It is psychologically, biologically, and spiritually abusive to encourage gender dysphoria in little children.
It is, if I may put it bluntly, a reprehensible thing to do. People who do such things should, if our society were properly functioning, lose the right to parent their kids.
A Different, But Very Relevant Personal Anecdote
Many years ago, a woman and young mother of two in my extended family unexpectedly died. Following her death, the husband, who already had other serious issues, began openly using drugs, while new sexual partners circulated in and out of the house with scandalizing rapidity.
A neighbor called the grandparents, devout Christians who lived more than 100 miles away, and told them what was happening. In short order, the grandparents arrived at the house, surveyed the scene, and took the two school-aged children away. They declared, quite simply, that they would now be custodians for the children. And so they were. Both children are now respectable members of society with their own stable families.
There is an uncomfortable parity between the two anecdotes I have related here. In both stories, there is a very observable reality of unfit parenting. In the latter, a single father who uses drugs and engages in serial casual sex in front of his two children has fostered an entirely unacceptable home environment. In the former, a parent pretends that her child is not her biological sex, and parades her “trans” child around at public gatherings.
We need to think long and hard about how we would respond to such cases. Perhaps when drugs and casual sex are involved, it’s easier to perceive the right choice. But which example of irresponsible parenting is worse? A drug addict father who is sleeping around may not necessarily be actively abusing his children; a parent who tells her six-year-old daughter that she is actually a boy most certainly is. And the consequences will last a lifetime.
We need to speak up for kids who are too weak and vulnerable to speak for themselves, or are being deceived by those who seek to exploit them for their own ideological gain, viewing them as pawns in a broader agenda of normalizing transgenderism. We need to reject the kind of (cowardly) thinking that presumes that politeness and “not causing a scene” is more important than speaking truth about an increasingly common phenomenon that is truly deplorable.
Perhaps, then, how we would respond to a parent publicly declaring their first-grader as transgender is demonstrative of our society’s future. How would we, to cite Moore’s language, “step up”? Would we awkwardly smile and distance ourselves? Would we look shocked but refuse public comment? Or would we look the parent in the eye and declare “shame on you”?
If we aren’t courageous enough to take a stand against such gross irresponsibility, what are we willing to fight for?