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Transgender Activists Say Your Kids Have A ‘Right’ To Carve Up Their Bodies

Andrea Long Chu
Image CreditSony Podcasts/YouTube

The latest cover of New York Magazine is clear. The transgender movement is coming for your kids — and not trying to hide it.

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If you pay attention to the transgender debate, it’s been obvious for a while now that the trans movement is interested in children. The specter of state lawmakers or even parents hindering or discouraging children from “transitioning” seems to haunt trans activists, who view recent political efforts to ban so-called “gender-affirming care” in some states as the worst sort of tyranny. Children, in their view, have a right to transition, and any obstacle placed in their way, even by parents, is a gross injustice crying out for redress.

Up until recently, this argument was simmering just below the surface of the transgender discourse in America. It was the subtext first of the bathroom debate, then of the debate over girls’ sports, then of the debate over the role teachers and public schools are playing in transing kids socially without informing parents, and finally of state laws restricting transgender surgeries, puberty blockers, and other treatments for minors. In each case, the unstated argument was that minors who believe they are trans should be allowed to transition, socially and medically, and no one, not even their parents, should have the right to stop them.

Now that argument is out in the open — declared in bold black letters against a blood-red field on the latest cover of New York Magazine: “Freedom of Sex, the moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies.”

The author of the piece is a man named Andrea Long Chu, the magazine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and a self-identified lesbian “trans woman,” who by his own admission was persuaded of this particular gender identity after becoming addicted to pornography — specifically to something called “sissy porn,” which encourages men to “feminize” and sexually humiliate themselves.

Chu has probably done more than anyone else in recent years to mainstream transgenderism, mostly through his 2019 book, Females, which chronicles his dark obsession with sissy porn. I won’t quote it here, but suffice it to say, it makes for unpleasant reading (even in small excerpts). To give you a sense of this person, he was aptly described by Peachy Keenan on Twitter this week as “a radical trans activist who is an obese man who now calls himself a lesbian and has a neovagina.”

What better spokesman, then, for the idea that children should be allowed to undergo an array of surgical procedures and drug therapies, even against their parents’ wishes or without their knowledge. Chu’s argument relies on holding up bizarre anecdotes and medical anomalies as normative and quoting radical gender theorists from the 1970s. The essay itself is weighed down with the intentionally opaque academic jargon of gender studies, which makes reading it an unhappy chore. So I’ll save you the trouble: His main point is that we need to jettison the idea that youth transgenderism is something that can be diagnosed by medical experts, that it requires one to meet any sort of criteria, and that it even has a cause. It is simply a fact of modern life that we must all accept.

“We will never be able to defend the rights of transgender kids until we understand them purely on their own terms: as full members of society who would like to change their sex,” he writes. “We must be prepared to defend the idea that, in principle, everyone should have access to sex-changing medical care, regardless of age, gender identity, social environment, or psychiatric history.”

This is a radical argument that carries an equally radical agenda. Among other things, it means there is no point to the political debates now raging over girls’ sports, the legality of “gender-affirming care” for youth, and pretty much everything else related to the transgender movement. The “anti-trans bloc,” writes Chu, has “targeted children because Americans tend to imagine children both as a font of pure, unadulterated humanity and as ignorant dependents incapable of rational thought or political agency.”

Never mind that children by definition are rightly incapable of political agency; they are in the charge of their parents, who exercise political agency on their behalf. Nor are they entirely capable of rational thought, which is why we don’t allow them to vote or drink alcohol or get tattoos.

But such realities are brushed aside by Chu, who insists that “the freedom to bring sex and gender into whatever relation one chooses is a basic human right,” and that we cannot deny this right to children.

Interestingly, Chu’s primary target here is liberals, not conservatives — readers of The New York Times and The Atlantic. He calls them “trans-agnostic reactionary liberal,” or TARLs, whose primary concern is the illiberality of the trans movement itself and its habit of “trafficking in censorship, intimidation, and quasi-religious fanaticism. On trans people themselves, the TARL claims to take no position other than to voice his general empathy for anyone suffering from psychological distress or civil-rights violations.”

They err, he says, in supposing that there is any psychological distress behind a person’s desire to transition, or that transitioning is something we should tolerate for those who really need it but certainly not encourage. Reconceiving of transgenderism as a basic human right means getting away from that kind of thinking and clearing the public square of these debates entirely.

In practice, he says, this means a kind of radical laissez-fair policy when it comes to things like castration and sterilization and the entire smorgasbord of “treatments” now on offer for those who identify as transgender. “Let anyone change their sex,” says Chu. “Let anyone change their gender. Let anyone change their sex again. Let trans girls play sports, regardless of their sex status. If they excel, this means only that some girls are better at sports than others.”

There is something deeply wrong with the reasoning here, as if reality itself can offer no resistance to the ideology of self-creation that Chu would enshrine in our polity. In the concluding paragraphs, he makes statements like, “[I]f children are too young to consent to puberty blockers, then they are definitely too young to consent to puberty, which is a drastic biological upheaval in its own right.”

The conflation of powerful drugs like puberty blockers with the natural process of puberty is not just a disfigurement of reason, it is an assault on the idea that there is a natural order at all. It is a claim of human will and desire over and against reality itself, an assault on the givenness of the created order. In secular terms, one might call it delusional or fantastic. In Christian terms, one should rightly call it Satanic. 

Trans kids, writes Chu, “are busy taking charge of their own creation” — that is, themselves. The idea that we can “create” ourselves is popular among trans activists, including AI-addled transhumanists. But it’s also popular among ordinary liberals and unreligious, uncatechized modern people who generally like the idea that we all make ourselves into what we are.

Therein lies the strategy behind Chu’s approach. He is appealing to a bias embedded in the liberal worldview, an assumption that we are not limited by a created order, much less a Creator. It’s a clever ploy because, at the end of the day, liberals have no answer to this argument. They must accept its premise — that every person can create his own truth, and indeed has a right to his own truth — or fall back on some notion of natural law, which necessarily implies a created natural order and all that it entails.

Chu and the trans movement for which he speaks are betting that liberals will not be able to resist what amounts to an extension of liberals’ own logic. They are betting, smartly, that most of them lack the theological vocabulary to apprehend the old lie from the Garden, now disguised in the modern verbiage of rights and identities: You will not surely die, you will become like God.


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