If you want to change a society, you merely need to get the public to shift an idea from the category of “unthinkable” to “policy.” You’ll know you’ve been successful when the formerly unthinkable has become public school policy.
For instance, 50 years ago it would have been unthinkable for an elementary school teacher to contradict the claim that sexual intercourse was reserved for one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage. Today, in many if not most public schools, it’s now school policy that teaching that notion to children—and claiming any violation of that standard is immoral—is cause for termination.
The sexual revolution has so subverted public opinion and Christian-influenced morality that teachings about sex that were previously considered immoral or even unthinkable eventually found their way into the classroom as school policy. But a quicker and more effective route to societal change is to simply reverse the process: force an issue to become school policy and eventually opposition to it will become unthinkable.
Coming to a School Near You . . .
That is the shift that is being attempted today on the issue of transgenderism in schools. A prime example is in the state of New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a letter to the state’s department of education that there can be no dissent in schools about “a student’s actual or perceived gender, their gender identity or expression.” If a biological male student wants to shower with the girls in their locker room, he must be allowed to do so since, as Cuomo makes clear, “we do not and will not tolerate discrimination in the State of New York.”
The insinuation is as clear as the policy: Children who do not wish to be exposed to the genitalia of the opposite sex are nothing more than bigots.* The intention is to inculcate children with the belief that they are “harassing” or “bullying” transgender students by being uncomfortable with such exposure. A few parents and students will naturally protest, of course. But in time all students and most parents will get the message: If you don’t want to be called a bigot, don’t complain about exposure to the naked bodies of the opposite sex.
Recently, many Americans cheered when the Trump administration rescinded President Obama’s public school transgender policy claiming that “gender identity” was equivalent to “sex.” (See more about that here.) But the victory will be short-lived. As Trump’s education department makes clear, the issue of whether schools should accept the claim that a person can choose their own sex is to be decided by states and local school districts. This puts the burden back on every parent, and forces all of us to choose sides on how transgender policies will be implemented in our public schools. And don’t think it won’t apply to your school district: the confusion about gender has become so rampant that, if they were asked, one out ever 137 students would identify as transgender.
Even if this issue was about nothing more than our children being exposed to opposite-sex nudity in our schools, it would be a cause worth fighting for. But the true ramifications of the change are even more important and more worthy of our concern.
What is at issue is not merely the question of which individuals can use what bathrooms but whether individuals have the right to redefine reality in a way that the rest of society is forced to accept. At issue is whether there is any fundamental reality that all people must acknowledge or whether reality is itself is malleable and based on personal preferences.
Those who accept the idea that we can ignore biological sex for the mental construct of “gender identity” are endorsing metaphysical subjectivism, the view that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience.” They are not only disagreeing with those of us who believe reality is created by God, but are attempting to make metaphysical subjectivism the standard that trumps all others in determining norms and ethics.
An inevitable result of metaphysical subjectivism is the domination by the strong of the weak and vulnerable. Take, for example, the area of sports. The reason most sports activities are segregated by gender is because of the biological reality of sex. Men are physically stronger than women because we have, on average, more total muscle mass. Men also have greater cardiovascular reserve, greater lung volume per body mass, denser, and stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments. These factors give men a natural physical advantage over women in sports that require strength and endurance.
Consider the example of mixed-martial arts (MMA). Within the professional ranks of the sport there are no biological women who claim to be men in order to compete against men. The physical differences are so overwhelming that no woman (even former MMA champion Ronda Rousey) could effectively compete against other professional male fighters.
That is why the only openly transgender person in the history of MMA is a biological male named Fallon Fox. In 2013, before Fox had revealed he had a sex change operation to become more female, Fallon fought Tamikka Brents. Fallon beat Brents so badly that the woman had a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and seven staples to her head. After her loss Brents said about her experience fighting Fox: “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”
We may choose to deny biological reality, but reality always finds ways to force us to conform.
Choose Your Own Reality
To truly understand the transgenderism debate, and how it is undergirded by metaphysical subjectivism, we have to look to a 1992 Supreme Court case about abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In defending the “right” to abortion, Justice Anthony wrote in the majority opinion, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Soon after the decision William J. Bennett called that passage an “open-ended validation of subjectivism” and said:
If this relativism becomes the coin of the judicial realm, we are in for very bad times indeed—judicially, politically, morally. If these words are taken seriously, how can we legislate against doctor-assisted suicide? Or drug use? Or prostitution? Or virtually anything else, for that matter? The danger is the anarchy that could come from such officially sanctioned rulings.
Twenty-five years later, we have, as a culture, embraced this form of metaphysical relativism as the defining paradigm of our public lives. So why haven’t we descended into complete anarchy? What Bennett failed to recognize is that the embrace of subjectivism would itself be subjective. This is especially true of advocates of transgenderism.
No Logic for Us, Please
To see what I mean, watch the following video. Ignore the political differences of the two men and consider only the logic of the arguments, especially on the discussion of science and race.
Notice the claim that you can change the biological fact of one’s sex is “settled science.” As Zac Petkansas says, “Your gender identity determines your gender, period.” But when he’s asked whether a person can change biological fact of one’s race he says, “No, you cannot change your race, [your race] is not up to you.”
Is Petkansas being illogical and inconsistent? Of course. But for defenders of transgenderism, the application of subjectivism is itself subjective. They refuse to be held to a standard of logical consistency because they know no one on their side will hold them accountable. As the postmodern philosopher Richard Rorty famously said, “Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with.”
The idea that some people may take advantage of metaphysical subjectivism to benefit themselves (i.e., such as a white man saying he is a black woman to gain a scholarship) may sound “absurd” as Petkansas says. But as history has shown, people respond to incentives. If men can gain an advantage by saying they are women, many will do so (see: Fallon Fox). To claim otherwise is to be completely unaware of humanity’s sinful nature.
This is why the issue is ultimately more important than a debate about public facilities. Transgender advocacy is not just opening the door to the women’s locker room for men confused about their identity; it’s opening the Pandora’s box of metaphysical subjectivism and unleashing on the world a horde of unintended consequences that we cannot even imagine.
* Ironically, the justification for the school policy is because transgender students do not feel comfortable sharing facilities with those they perceive as being of the “opposite sex.” Yet non-transgender students who have the same concern are labeled “bigots” and “transphobic.”