Why do we obsess over transgender issues?
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From the amount of discussion, you might think that a third of all fifth graders were transgender — that is, they don’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Actually, the transgender population is very small. Only 0.6% of Americans — far fewer than one out of every 100 — identify as transgender.
The fascination is fueled both by hyperactive LGBTQ advocacy and social conservatives using the “issue” to perhaps avoid tackling matters the broader public really cares about.
As for the news media, the conflict provides colorful imagery and is a lot cheaper to cover than a war. It has been most absurdly magnified by the drama surrounding Zooey Zephyr, a transgender lawmaker in Montana with a bent for exhibitionism. Zephyr was expelled from the state legislature for saying that colleagues who would restrict gender-affirming medical care for transgender kids would have “blood” on their hands.
Considerably more pointed things have undoubtedly been said in those chambers without prompting such radical sanction. But conservative legislators have their own show to put on.
We at home were arguing whether Zephyr was obviously a guy who dressed as a girl — or really a girl almost through and through. Let’s just say it shouldn’t matter how he or she identifies or dresses. And whatever pronoun he or she chooses to call him- or herself should probably be up to him or her.
I’ve known transgender men and women who were fine friends and co-workers. No one is saying that their life is easy. They deserve sensitivity and respect. But there are other things needing our attention. The states that are busy, busy, busy passing laws intended, they claim, to protect the larger society from their tiny transgender community seem unwilling to challenge the rights of lunatics to openly carry weapons of war in Walmart. So whom do we call strange?
Where might we stand on these questions? Let’s start with gender-affirming medical treatments, such as puberty blockers and breast reduction surgery. We should be very very very careful about doing those interventions, particularly at the younger ages.
However, let’s defer to the Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which called the bill under consideration “an overly broad blanket ban that takes decisions that should be made by families and physicians and puts them in the hands of politicians.”
As for whether individuals born as males should be competing in women’s sports, the answer should be “it depends.” The Biden administration has sensibly proposed letting schools keep transgender students out of sports where they may pose unfair competition to women.
This would matter more in muscle-dominated sports like wrestling than, say, in volleyball. That’s why the administration’s proposal wisely rules against absolute bans. Let the schools decide.
It’s true that hormone therapy can reduce testosterone levels, responsible for muscle mass, but that’s a choice transgender women may or may not make. In general, people born as male have greater body strength — a reality that advocates may sneak around.
“The image of ‘quote’ trans women ruining the integrity of women’s sports paints a false picture of life as a trans woman,” Zephyr told the House Judiciary Committee. “It incorrectly claims that we have a competitive advantage. And it misses why trans people transition in the first place — which is to lead a happier life.”
We call that “changing the subject.”
As for whether transgender individuals born with male equipment should be allowed to use women’s restrooms, I say, “Who cares.” I’m sure I have shared those facilities with cross-dressers without my ever realizing it — and often.
In the end, I wish happy lives to transgender, and all other, people. Now let’s change the subject.