The way out of rushing to surgical interventions lies in acknowledging that transgender identification has deep roots in the psyche and evaluating gender distress through the lens of adverse childhood experiences.
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New Jersey’s sample lessons for K–12 state-required sexual orientation and gender identity instruction sparked parental outrage. The sample curriculum contradicts basic biology, offers age-inappropriate lessons about sexual abuse, and imposes an LGBTQ religion on public school children. Nonetheless, New Jersey parents still have the power to influence what happens in the classroom.
Are Big Tech and social media entirely to blame for the triumphs of the erotic, the therapeutic, and the transgender? Of course not. But there is no question the dominant social media companies have seriously contributed to these trends.
The recent debates surrounding Florida’s anti-grooming bill raise questions not just about education, but about who has the right to direct the moral formation of children. Activist educators believe they should hold this power, regardless of parental concerns. But their agenda is based on the false idea that children can be intrinsically LGBT, and it is therefore necessary to stop educators proselytizing on behalf of such identities.
America’s education professionals—meaning government bureaucrats, administrators, and teachers—have been trained in an education philosophy driven by progressive politics. Whether in Mississippi or in California, much of America’s school staff attended colleges of education that teach similar, politically infused educational philosophies. The question is, can parents really retake control of public education?
Righteous anger is often good and necessary. But not all parents are comfortable with confrontation, and even fewer enjoy the option of placing their children in saner institutions or schooling at home. I’m convinced that parents can be very effective in less noisy, more behind-the-scenes ways.
The majority of parents are very angry about everything that has happened—not just the masking, not just the closing schools, but the combination of all of that. And it’s the fact that the people on the school boards, and Democratic politicians, by and large, just refuse to admit that this was wrong, and that it had consequences. And when they refuse to do that, why on earth would anyone vote for them again?
While the legal end to abortion will be an important step in the pro-life movement, we also need to shift away from the sexually permissive culture that has resulted in high demand for abortions. Modern feminism’s widespread dissatisfaction with the “anything goes” approach to sex could spell renewed interest in restraint, commitment, and even the good of children—all themes and virtues that the Bible displays with wisdom.
The collapse of traditional, external anchors of identity—perhaps most obviously those of religion, nation, and family—explains the attraction of the turn inward. The rise of technology feeds the notion that we can bend nature to our will, that the world is just so much raw, plastic material from which we can make whatever meaning or reality we choose. We no longer think of ourselves as subject to the world’s fixed nature, or of it as having an objective authority or meaning. We are the ones with power, and we are the ones who give the world significance.
Amia Srinivasan’s The Right to Sex, published last September, explores not only the question of sex and to whom it is owed, but also the rise and corporatization of the modern feminist movement, among other topics. Some of Srinivasan’s arguments sound surprisingly conservative, but others remain mired in the reductive view of politics and power that has plagued feminism for years.
Today’s progressive nationalism is secular, yet it also relies on popular adherence to the civil religion of the left. There are two prominent manifestations of this civil religion—critical race theory’s (CRT) philosophy of history and the LGBTQ movement’s anthropology. We see evidence of this secularized-yet-religious nationalism in many places—media, bureaucracy, Hollywood—but perhaps it is most readily apparent in education.
For the conservative theorists of the poison pill, everything becomes about ideas. According to them, Ockham, Scotus, Bacon, Descartes, Locke—they are the important bad guys who determined the decadence of our time and the problems we should be talking about. But ideas don’t work this way; reality does not proceed with perfect logic like it so conveniently does in the textbooks.
The only way to avoid a posthuman future is by affirming the goodness of being human in both our personal choices and social and legal institutions. Most importantly, we should recommit to the virtue of religion: giving God His due. Religion teaches us to value the ontological goodness of our creatureliness, exhorts us to take steps to preserve it, and gives us the confidence to do so. When we’re steeped in a religious mode of being, we’re content just to be human; we have no need or desire to grasp for more.
Part I addresses the threat that technology poses to human dignity because of the threat it poses to humanity itself—both elites and non-elites. Transgenderism is the first step on the road to a miserable posthuman future. Part II argues that we must recommit to the virtue of religion if we’re to resist this technologized, posthuman threat.
Conservatives may hope that liberalism’s better angels prevail. But the ravages of ideological liberalism, especially the damage done by the sexual revolution to family and community, require active redress. Conservatives, drawing on the wisdom and traditions we have sustained (and which have sustained us), must help our culture relearn essential parts of being human.
“I want to give people hope, people living with mental illness as well as family members of people living with mental illness, that not only can they survive their illness, but they can also reach their greatest potential. Sometimes, in fact, they reach their greatest potential not despite the illness, but because of the illness.”
The question that divides us is how we ought to respond to reproductive asymmetry: the reality that women carry disproportionate burdens due to our special role in human reproduction. What makes one a feminist is the view that this basic inequality at the heart of reproduction is one that deserves, in justice, an affirmative cultural response. We wish not only for maternity to be celebrated for the true privilege it most certainly is, but also for women to be encouraged and supported in other contributions they make. This requires that the burdens of childbearing ought to be shared not only within the family, but also across the wider society too.
Jim Breuer and Dave Chappelle are current darlings of the Right, because they refuse to bow to the orthodoxy of sexual identitarianism. Yet their own emphasis on autonomy and free speech shares in the same inadequate conception of modern humanity, which, in its never-ending quest for self-realization, inevitably descends into the very coercive behaviors it claims to eschew.
A functioning constitutionalism that protects the people’s rights and fosters good governance requires a sound political theory behind it. Times have changed since the American Founding, but Thomas is right that the natural law teaching in the Founders’ political theory remains as sound and useful as ever.
The ideas that the truth about the human condition is radically contingent on history (historicism) and that we can speak rationally only about facts and not at all about “values” or moral principles (positivism) lead inexorably to a failure of all conviction, and ultimately to nihilism. What results is fanaticism: the impulse to bend others to one’s will, despite—or precisely because of—the lack of any rational foundation for one’s preferences.
If the New Atheists were able to convince people to leave, then we too might be able to convince some to come back. Ideas and writing can change lives. If the New Atheists did it, then we Christian writers can be a saving remnant and help write people back into the faith.
Today, white-coated professionals tell parents of children with gender dysphoria: affirm your child’s trans identity right away or prepare for suicide. Are those really the only two options? For a movement that decries the binary, its commitment to this false dichotomy is relentless.
One might wish that the Free Exercise Clause, as originally understood, had provided a basis for more judicial protection of religious rights than it does. But wishing doesn’t make it so. Judges don’t have the authority to interpret the Constitution to get better policy results, even if those are really, really important results.
Given modernity’s inability to realize Augustine’s thesis of the necessity of a common love, we have two options: we must either reject a universal socio-political vision as entirely unworkable, or the world—or at least the West—must learn again that a transcendent foundation and telos are essential to political order.
Although the ideas presented in The Concept of Social Justice are just a start, they provide a crucial foundation for the salvific and eternal work that Catholics must complete in the political arena.