The modern Conservative Party is rapidly revealing itself as the most revolutionary organisation in British history. Not content with having redefined the very keystone of civilisation, marriage, under David Cameron, the party of Salisbury and Disraeli is now gradually arrogating to itself the power of redefining the very nature of man. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the next national census may not collect data on the sex of respondents for fear of discriminating against transgender people.
Accurate record-keeping is seen as a measure of civilisation’s development. The Domesday Book is marked by historians as a towering triumph of state organisation. Now we could be moving toward a time where the collection of inaccurate data by the state will be taken as the marker of civilisation’s ‘success’. The modern centralised state promises knowingly to collect incomplete information to avoid offending a minute subset of the population. Far from being recognised as regressive, this step is seen by some as a progressive leap forward in the British cultural revolution.
This is the latest episode in the ongoing transgender story. Last month, a couple on the Isle of Wight faced a barrage of abuse after they removed their six-year-old son from a primary school where another boy had taken to wearing a dress. They maintained that the school should have consulted them, and that it was intolerable that their child could, under the current regulations of the school, have faced charges of bullying for ‘misgendering’ the other child (that is, calling them by the ‘wrong’ pronoun). They said their son had suffered and would continue to suffer were he to be exposed any longer to the other child’s behaviour.
This is where we are at with the transgender debate in the UK – dissidence is frowned on.
Take this quasi-intellectual put-down delivered by Rupert Myers (British GQ, Telegraph) on Twitter recently. Alongside a photo of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his papal vestments he quipped: ‘Struggling to understand the citing of Christianity as a reason to be uncomfortable with boys in dresses.’
The imputation is that those standing against the new push for ‘transgender rights’, that is to say mainly Christians and people of other faiths, are quite simply hypocrites. Amusing as the joke is, it quite spectacularly misses the point. Firstly, the national debate is not about transvestitism, it is about transgenderism. It’s not whether John can wear summer dresses, but whether John wearing a summer dress makes him Jane – and whether anybody and everybody should face threat of prosecution should they say it doesn’t or dare to ‘misgender’ him.
Transvestites, Mr Myers, dress in women’s clothes to imitate women; priests dress in cassocks and other vestments to remind them of their office and signify their calling (among other important reasons). The intention is what counts here: the cassock is similar to a dress but it is worn not for a sexual/erotic thrill; it is worn as a badge of service and as a working uniform that offers to the priest’s unique role the helpful side-effect of making him look very much like any other priest – because he is. When he puts on the cassock, he is both very visible as a priest and almost invisible as an individual. His uniform makes him at once uniquely available and uniquely anonymous.
One could go on cataloguing the historical background which informs the wearing of vestments and other loose male garments. But it is enough to reiterate that the intention is the important matter – a transvestite wears women’s clothes to become a woman; an Egyptian wears a jalabiyyah because it is hot and because his people have worn them for centuries.
Mr Myers’s agile quip was nothing more than a clever dodge.
Many of the children who are dressing up as boys and girls are demanding – or their parents are – that they be called a boy or a girl. The implications of this go far beyond simple ‘personal choice’ – they have, in practice, the potential radically to alter society. If anyone can, without any objective evidence, claim that they are male or female, and if society is so afraid to make any distinction between a truth and a lie, then all legal frameworks, all gender-equality laws, every category and distinction based on sex simply melt before this illogic.
Feminism also loses all practical power of protest – any feminists supporting this new front in the culture wars are writing themselves out of the story. If there is no such thing as ‘a woman’ or ‘a man’ then the so-called ‘patriarchy’ becomes a nonsense; genderless nonentities cannot oppress along gender lines. And to think that we talk about all of this madness in terms of ‘bigotry’ and ‘being nice’! The ‘nice and loving pro-transsexuals’ vs ‘the bigoted, stupid, hate-filled anti-transsexuals’ – all of these linguistic weapons mask a situation where meaning and truth have been rendered irrelevant. Nothing illustrates this better than the parallel but obviously contradictory statements which the transgender rights movement routinely asserts:
A) Boys can wear dresses as well as girls (without this making them any less a boy)
B) If a boy wears a dress and demands to be called a girl, this dress shall be taken as a sign and proof of his inherent femaleness
A) Gender is different from physical/biological markers of sex (genitalia, reproductive organs)
B) When James removes his penis and testicles, he becomes Janie by virtue of his changed physical state
A) Gender is a social construct (thus, by implication, meaningless)
B) I feel ‘male’/‘female’ (as if these are phenomena that an individual can identify and compare)
A) There is no such thing as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’, gender is on a spectrum
B) I want to become a man/woman
Transgenderism, if accepted on its own inconsistent terms, is set to change the very nature of what it means to be a man and a woman, of what it means to be a human being. Ideologists who have hijacked this emotive topic to give their liberal credentials a boost, and to feel that thrill of moral superiority as when fighting for a just cause, are railroading society into an untold mess of confusion.