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Problems That The Other America Has

The reader who sent this in says, “I can’t even.” Nope, neither can I. Excerpt from The Atlantic.com’s piece: [1]

When Trevor MacDonald started chestfeeding about five years ago, he didn’t know anyone who had attempted it, nor had any of his doctors ever encountered someone who had. In fact, he was shocked that his body could even produce milk. As a trans man—someone who was assigned female at birth but has transitioned to identifying as male—he was born with the mammary glands and milk ducts required for lactation, but he’d had his breasts removed. Once he had his baby, his care providers supported his desire to nurse, but it was up to him figure out how.

MacDonald began blogging about chestfeeding from his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and soon discovered a whole community of transmasculine people around the world in the same boat, looking for guidance. For trans men and transmasculine folks, putting a baby to their chest to suckle can lead to complicated feelings about their gender. Many lactation support services are available for “nursing mothers,” which sounds unwelcoming to men and non-binary individuals. And many trans people say doctors don’t understand their bodies or experiences.

I am not interested in understanding the bodies or experiences of women who think they’re men who are bitching because nobody understands what it’s like to want to suckle your child at the breast you had cut off.

What I am interested in is trying to get inside the head of a coastal elite media that is obsessed with decadent crap like this. I think we can safely say that the people in J.D. Vance’s book aren’t readers of The Atlantic.com (one of my favorite websites, by the way), nor are most people in my part of the world who are out there mucking houses, feeding flood victims and doing their laundry. I get that. No magazine or web publication can be all things to all people all the time, nor should it try to be.

But if you read The Atlantic, The New York Times, and other publications edited by coastal elites, you would think that the travails of transgenders was the worst social problem facing America today. The bizarre degree of coverage and interest says little about transgenders and everything about the priorities of the media gatekeepers.

Last year, Gallup found that Americans massively overestimate the percentage of Americans who are gay or lesbian [2]:

The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans’ 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year.

Well, yeah, of course. Because the news media are disproportionately interested, even obsessed, with all things LGBT, you can hardly blame people for assuming that.

I’m not trying to pick on The Atlantic, which publishes a huge variety of articles daily, and which publishes the great Emma Green, though I imagine an LGBT person is far more likely to see himself or herself in the pages of that site than any of my neighbors here on the bayou are. And this is true of the elite media, period. I’m very sensitive to it right now because I keep hearing from readers and friends all over the country that if it weren’t for this blog and for reports from Facebookers in south Louisiana, they would have no idea how bad things are here on the ground, and what people are struggling with.

I submit to you that most people in the elite media are far more concerned about the difficulties of a breastfeeding transman than they are with the struggles of a single mom in Appalachia trying to keep her kids from falling into opioid addiction, or the flood victims from Livingston Parish who tear up when you give them a package of toilet paper (this really happened), because they have nothing, not even that. I believe that our colleges are turning out graduates who are trained in the obsessions of the professoriat, such that they cannot even see their own country anymore.

As I keep saying, I am not for Donald Trump, and think he does not have what it takes to be president. And I’m certainly not for Hillary Clinton, who is the epitome of what’s wrong with our Establishment. But this kind of thing — showcasing the woes of the chestfeeding freakshow — is what makes me glad that the Trump people are throwing a brick through the Establishment’s window. Elites in Washington, New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood spend more time worrying about whether or not a transman can get his (“his”) baby to suckle at his absent breast, and society’s shameful indifference to that, than they do worrying about most any struggle in the daily lives of poor dumb rednecks and coonasses in Jesus Land.

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90 Comments To "Problems That The Other America Has"

#1 Comment By Joan On August 24, 2016 @ 9:49 pm

@Sports: the increasing distinction between the Christian worldview and that of secular society would impinge so drastically on the God given conciousnesses of many people, that at least for some, Christianity would become a more attractive option…sadly the increasing boldness of progressives haven’t led more people to the Christian faith…

Are you really, seriously suggesting that people would become Christians because Biblical sexual mores line up with theirs? Because this is really, seriously getting it backward. Maybe people would join churches for that reason, but it would be an act of hypocricy because Christianity is not about sexual mores. Christianity is about love and worship of the triune God. Adherence to Biblical morality is supposed to blossom from that condition of love and worship. If you care nothing for the triune God, but want to join a church as a way to find other humans who agree with you about sex, then you’re just as much of an emotivist as anybody who spends Sunday morning in bed.

I’m a Neopagan now, and I run into this more often than I’d like: feminists and environmentalists who choose Paganism because it lines up with their politics; white separatists who’ve noticed that Jesus was a Jew, and probably a fairly swarthy one at that; militarists who are sick and tired of all that hippy-dippy love crapola in Christianity; humanists who want to do psychodrama with the Divine archetypes but don’t really think there’s Anybody out there. (In my youth there were libertines looking for affirmation, and for each other, but these days mainstream society is tolerant enough of libertinism that those people don’t really seem to need a religion anymore.) All are guilty of taking the advice that C.S. Lewis put in the mouth of his devil character, Screwtape: “Believe this, not because it’s true, but for some other reason.”

#2 Comment By Gregory On August 24, 2016 @ 10:35 pm

Because the news media are disproportionately interested, even obsessed, with all things LGBT, you can hardly blame people for assuming that.

It ain’t just those media elites who live on the coasts who keep writing about transgender issues. There’s also this talented blogger in Louisiana who writes about them exhaustively.

Maybe it’s just me, but I appreciate much more your writing about your family or your community than I do when I click on Dreherbait (which, d*mn it, seems to be a shameful addiction for me).

#3 Comment By Gregory On August 24, 2016 @ 10:37 pm

That last bit should read “than I appreciate” instead of “than I do.” Ooops.

#4 Comment By kgasmart On August 24, 2016 @ 11:11 pm

Can’t bring myself to read the article. Can I safely assume the fine lefties featured therein want “government” (i.e. you and me) to cough up more tax dollars to somehow remedy this?

#5 Comment By Jack Shifflett On August 25, 2016 @ 12:24 am

“What I am interested in is trying to get inside the head of a coastal elite media that is obsessed with decadent crap like this.”

With all due respect, I’m with “Joys-R-Us” on this one: from my non-coastal non-elite vantage point in western Montana, I haven’t encountered anyone who is anywhere near as obsessed with this decadent crap as you are.

#6 Comment By Raskolnik On August 25, 2016 @ 12:51 am

To me, the real test of Trump will be how he handles pushback from progressives about his belated embrace of the LGBT. If he acquiesces to being called a bigot, we’ll know he really was phony about absolutely everything, including the anti-political correctness schtick.

But oh what I would give to see him say, on national television, that trans “women” aren’t actually women (mutatis mutandis).

#7 Comment By Mr “Hate Crime” On August 25, 2016 @ 4:32 am

I am not interested in understanding the bodies or experiences of women who think they’re men who are bitching because nobody understands what it’s like to want to suckle your child at the breast you had cut off.

————————-

Shaka, his eyes open!

Someday this mendacious dishonest practice of “journalism” will end and reporters will go back to trying to clarify and illuminate situations instead of purposely trying to muddle them and confuse readers with misleading language.

A “woman who pretends to be a man” is exactly what this story is about.

#8 Comment By Benjamin On August 25, 2016 @ 5:44 am

I was born in Lafayette, LA. I was raised here, and I live here. I have lived in St. Paul, MN for a few years, and I will return there this year. I have a transgender brother. Calling this story a “freakshow” is, well, I think it’s beneath you.

Out house almost flooded in the storm. The fury of the rain and the pure shock and fear of seeing the water that high at our house is a feeling I never want to have again. We are blessed, and we got off lucky.

I prefer living in the middle of the country. Minnesota offers everything I could want in a metro, all in the Twin Cities. Upper Midwestern sophistication suits me well. I get along fine here in Lafayette for now, and I’m proud of my Cajun heritage.

Why do I mention all of this? I mention it because those of us in flyover country deal with any experience personally that a coastal busybody will. Pieces like the one you cited in The Atlantic can give thought to what people might be experiencing here in Louisiana. Or Minnesota, or Mississippi. We need people with money, time, and a cosmopolitan view to give voice to things we might not think to explore. Such as the experience of transmen who bear children or have children. That is a colorably important topic, it affects real people, right here.

As for your anger regarding flood coverage, we could use more rural coverage, which could spark discussions for more urban people. Or, in the case of the flooding here, the entire country. Communication is key, and that remains true despite being a cliche.

[NFR: I bet your brother is not trying to nurse a baby. That’s the real freakshow. — RD]

#9 Comment By Sports On August 25, 2016 @ 6:48 am

@Joan

“Are you really, seriously suggesting that people would become Christians because Biblical sexual mores line up with theirs?”

No. I’m saying that Christians believe that at some very basic level God gives people a sense of right and wrong. This sense is corrupted by sin and sometimes people just decide to go against it, but it’s supposedly there. If true, the further mainstream culture deviates from the Christian view of morality, many people may get uncomfortable with taking the mainstream view of things for granted and look to some other viewpoint that contrasts with it. This could be Christianity. That wouldn’t mean they would become Christians merely because of Christian sexual views, but that they would find it a more feasible option than before.

#10 Comment By John Burzynski On August 25, 2016 @ 8:49 am

What
Are
We
Doing
To
Ourselves?

Where does this madness end? Admittedly, this is likely not a mainstream idea, but it points to the fact that this movement will stop at nothing before total perceived acceptance…before total feelings that everything properly biological has been reversed and ‘overcome’.

I can’t help but thing that sometime soon, judgment will be served on us all. Biblical?, maybe so. Maybe we need that viewpoint again.

#11 Comment By Joseph On August 25, 2016 @ 9:11 am

First, a point that is only tangential to this post:

While I appreciate that JD Vance wrote an insightful book about the circumstances that he transcended, he did transcend them. JD Vance is a member of the educated elite, albeit one with a more whole understanding of the underclass.

Please stop holding him up as a tribune for your understanding of “normal” America. JD Vance is not a hero, any more than you are a hero or I am a hero. Yes, JD Vance was born in rural Appalachia, received an education, and escaped the local culture of the slack-jawed yokels. But that doesn’t validate the people he left behind, or their prejudices. They are still slack-jawed yokels with backwards values worthy of ridicule and condemnation.

On to the main point:

People can do what they want. Human beings are their own masters. To deny a person’s right to be sovereign over his or her own destiny is to oppress that person. Even if that destiny includes lactating. Period.

[NFR: That last paragraph is not true. We have limits built into our bodies and into our very being. None of us is sovereign. That’s an illusion that comes with money and modernity. Ask the people out in Livingston Parish who have lost everything they own to the flood how sovereign they are. — RD]

#12 Comment By P Edward Murray On August 25, 2016 @ 9:28 am

The only reason I’m interested is to deny the crazies that are forcing this on us!

#13 Comment By anonymousdr On August 25, 2016 @ 9:33 am

I think I’ve mentioned this before, when I was a resident at a Major Academic Hospital, I was consulted to do a procedure on a patient under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance in the wee hours of the morning. I asked the consulting physician the usual litany, to try to delay the case. Finally I asked about a pregnancy test. The doctor responded that the patient is transgender and couldn’t be pregnant. I asked if they still had a period. The doctor replied yes, but she says she’s a man and say that he can’t get pregnant. I replied “tell this person that apparently we live in a world where men can get pregnant too, and he will need a pregnancy test”. I really couldn’t make this stuff up.

#14 Comment By carlo On August 25, 2016 @ 9:42 am

Joseph:

“Human beings are their own masters. To deny a person’s right to be sovereign over his or her own destiny is to oppress that person.”

Theologically speaking, that’s a fine description of what hell is about.

#15 Comment By dan On August 25, 2016 @ 9:49 am

“Are you really, seriously suggesting that people would become Christians because Biblical sexual mores line up with theirs?”

I would wager that will happen a great deal, and has happened a great deal in the past.

Christian Truth is one thing, not just a top down philosophical system in which one accepts proposition A, and B, C, D and E follow from that. E points to A and B etc. The Truth of Christian sexual mores is indeed an icon of the Triune God and there’s nothing irrational about the idea that the contrast between empty hedonism and Christian ethics would, has, and will point people to God.

#16 Comment By Surly Temple On August 25, 2016 @ 9:56 am

Rod–if you read the reader comments on the “chestfeeding” article you will be encouraged. Readers are pretty sensible even if the author and the subject of the story are deranged.

#17 Comment By ludovicus On August 25, 2016 @ 11:14 am

The amputation of women’s breasts is a characteristic sign of psychopathic misogyny and terrorism both against the direct female victim and the wider community:

‘Speaking in London at the Frontline Club, which focuses on conflict reporting, Bedoya said: “There are dramatic cases in rural areas in Colombia where women have been beaten, where their breasts have been cut off, where they’ve been amputated, where – and this is especially a practice of the paramilitaries – they’ve been abused and beaten to serve as a warning.”‘

[3]

That women would be so brainwashed as to zealously inflict this type of manifest misogynistic mutilation on themselves (and for self-avowedly inherently anti-woman reasons as far as their own persons are concerned) is both emotionally unspeakably chilling, as well as literally chillingly unspeakable because of the present neo-Stalinist regime of neoliberal ‘political correctness’ presently occupying the political and cultural power centers of the West and beyond.*

*(And yet FGM is decried, while this all but celebrated…)

#18 Comment By TR On August 25, 2016 @ 11:48 am

Maybe Vance’s people read it in the National Enquirer. Go to the grocery store some time and see what your fellow citizens are reading when they’re not busy mucking.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 25, 2016 @ 12:48 pm

I submit to you that most people in the elite media are far more concerned about the difficulties of a breastfeeding transman than they are with the struggles of a single mom in Appalachia trying to keep her kids from falling into opioid addiction

No doubt about that. Its more exotic. And the latter requires some hard thinking and hard work, which may or may not yield an enduring result.

Life is real. You may not get everything you can possibly dream of. Try to make yourself a man, you will not be able to do all the things that women can do.

#20 Comment By VikingLs On August 25, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

@Joseph

It amazes me that you’re so hyper-sensitive to any criticism of the LGBT community but then you throw around phrases like “slack-jawed yokels”.

#21 Comment By grumpy realist On August 25, 2016 @ 1:25 pm

Rod, I think you got trolled with Joseph’s posting. It’s such an example of all the cliches one would expect out of a stereotypical hothouse flower from San Francisco that I can’t believe it was said seriously.

#22 Comment By Jen On August 25, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

Rod, you write more about transgender issues than any of the lefty mainstream media I read. Who’s obsessed, exactly?

If it makes you feel better, though, the liberals who populate the comments section of the Atlantic are just as fed up with the transgender freakshow as you are.

#23 Comment By Teena H. Blackburn On August 25, 2016 @ 2:57 pm

As an Appalachian with three college degrees, I was wondering how educated you have to be to escape the slack-jawed classification? I also wonder how many Appalachians Joseph knows personally, and if he’s trying to be obnoxious, or is just an ass?

#24 Comment By Gerbby On August 25, 2016 @ 3:01 pm

My sister-in-law, who is a “breastfeeding doula” and recently lived Louisiana, is very interested in transmen breastfeeding and those insensitive La Leche Leagues that advertise themselves as “for mothers.” Her Facebook posts have generated a lot of confusion from her family.

#25 Comment By Jack On August 25, 2016 @ 3:03 pm

The world of chest feeders is Hillary Clinton’s world.

I can’t believe that many conservatives (including perhaps RD) are intent on helping to elect Hillary because they are too proud to vote for Trump. Vanity of vanities saith the preacher!

#26 Comment By al On August 25, 2016 @ 4:00 pm

“I can’t help but thing [sic] that sometime soon, judgment will be served on us all. Biblical?, maybe so. Maybe we need that viewpoint again.”

Bad timing for expressing that sentiment, dude.

“People can do what they want. Human beings are their own masters. To deny a person’s right to be sovereign over his or her own destiny is to oppress that person. Even if that destiny includes lactating. Period.”

Ayn Rand OD? Remember your post when you hit the wall.

#27 Comment By Marie On August 25, 2016 @ 4:19 pm

“People can do what they want. Human beings are their own masters. To deny a person’s right to be sovereign over his or her own destiny is to oppress that person. Even if that destiny includes lactating. Period.”

This really is the root of the disagreement. A fundamental difference in philosophy, from which all these “culture wars” stem.

Disney, Joel Olsteen, the poem Invictus, and self-help philosophies flirting with “manifestation” have been feeding the beast for decades. Now we get to decide who actually gets (policy-wise) to pursue their “destiny,” at the expense of others’ destinies.

#28 Comment By cdugga On August 25, 2016 @ 4:57 pm

…and fart jokes.

#29 Comment By Scott Miller On August 25, 2016 @ 5:42 pm

“Once he had his baby”

Never mind.

#30 Comment By DobermanBoston On August 25, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

Maybe it’s just me, but I appreciate much more your writing about your family or your community than I do when I click on Dreherbait (which, d*mn it, seems to be a shameful addiction for me).

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Another loyal reader of what I am lately calling The Saturday Evening Post-Op, I see.

Still, transgenderism is fascinating. Maybe it’s because of my line of work or the amount of travel it entails, but I am seeing it everywhere nowadays.

I make no apologies for enjoying Rod’s work on the subject. He’s a good writer. Most so-cons who are scandalized by transgenderism are not good writers, and some have a bad habit of citing non-peer reviewed studies in support of their stance(s).

The transgender community itself seems to be even more of a haven for solipsistic PTSD sufferers than AA is.

Add to that the fact that gender theory is dense stuff, and that political debate about it will almost always degenerate into dada, and you have a pretty solid argument in favor of Dreherbait.

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 25, 2016 @ 7:50 pm

To deny a person’s right to be sovereign over his or her own destiny is to oppress that person.

Mother Nature is the ultimate enemy. Why, if I enjoy the taste of arsenic, it is unfair and oppressive that eating it would kill me.

I also wonder how many Appalachians Joseph knows personally, and if he’s trying to be obnoxious, or is just an ass?

None, and perhaps someone who needs to kill a lion should ask to borrow his jaw bone.

#32 Comment By Cascadian On August 25, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

OK, so who here thinks that sex ed in schools does a good job? Obviously quite a few folk here assume only females can produce milk.

#33 Comment By Rosita On August 26, 2016 @ 9:20 am

Why must a trans-sexual man be a ‘freak-show’? Why must there be constant ostracizing and diminishment of the OTHER? Yet you call yourself a Christian?

Yes I understand the point you are trying to make about media showcasing the problems of one group over those of another but you diminish both yourself and your argument by deliberately de-humanizing the subject of the point you are trying to put across. We get that there are more pressing problems and calamities than a trans-sexual man trying to breastfeed, but why can’t you leave it at that? Why the cruelty and mean-spiritedness?

#34 Comment By David J. White On August 26, 2016 @ 9:44 am

People can do what they want. Human beings are their own masters. To deny a person’s right to be sovereign over his or her own destiny is to oppress that person.

What if I want to be an airline pilot, even though I’m 54, overweight, diabetic, have high blood pressure, and poor eyesight? If the airlines tell me that I can’t because I don’t meet the physical qualifications, are they “oppressing” me? Should I sue to force them to let me “do what I want”? Can I force the government (i.e., taxpayers) to fund whatever medical procedures and treatments might be required to get me up to snuff?

#35 Comment By russ On August 26, 2016 @ 10:56 am

@Gregory:

It ain’t just those media elites who live on the coasts who keep writing about transgender issues. There’s also this talented blogger in Louisiana who writes about them exhaustively.

Maybe it’s just me, but I appreciate much more your writing about your family or your community than I do when I click on Dreherbait (which, d*mn it, seems to be a shameful addiction for me).

Are you saying is that nobody should oppose the current dogma on transgender issues? Nobody should point out the advance of sexual identity and the retreat of religious identity in our society? Nobody should document the specific cases of moral lunacy that are following from this shift? We should leave the editorializing media and the coastal elites to have the only word on these issues? I completely disagree. I get tired of these posts at times and sometimes don’t like the fatalistic tone in Rod’s writing, but I read them anyway, because they’re important.

#36 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 26, 2016 @ 10:48 pm

David J. White: A case must be made that hypertensiphobic bigots shall not prevent you from following your dreams. Its not the easy decision, 300 people might die in the resulting plane crash, but its the right decision. You are sovereign over your own destiny, and their’s also.

Why must a trans-sexual man be a ‘freak-show’? Why must there be constant ostracizing and diminishment of the OTHER? Yet you call yourself a Christian?

Not necessary at all. What IS necessary is to recognize that trans-sexual is a medical diagnosis, and should be accommodated as such with tact and dignity. It is NOT an oppressed minority to be accommodated by re-arranging the entire fabric of society.

#37 Comment By Thrice A Viking On August 27, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

Grumpy realist, who in the world considers the National Enquirer to be an elite magazine, and who wouldn’t believe the Atlantic Monthly to be so? If you want to establish an equivalence, you have to do better than NE.

#38 Comment By Frederick Bartlett On August 27, 2016 @ 8:01 pm

I work in NYC, in an industry thoroughly dominated by the Left. But I was reared in central Florida and live in a Republican part of New Jersey.

If I went solely by my NYC experience, I would certainly assume that at least half (and perhaps 95%) of all Americans were homosexual, transsexual, or something else other than “cisgendered” monogamous heterosexuals.

Now, I certainly agree that the messiness of human existence does not map well to firm categories — but I’m enough of a materialist to think that, absent some objectively discernible signs in either the phenotype or the genotype, transsexuality must be a purely psychological disorder.

#39 Comment By mwing On August 28, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

Jack Shifflett says:
“With all due respect, I’m with “Joys-R-Us” on this one: from my non-coastal non-elite vantage point in western Montana, I haven’t encountered anyone who is anywhere near as obsessed with this decadent crap as you are.

Yeah, what he said. I mean, if looking for stuff to be appalled at on the internet is your job, hobby, or both, that’s up to you of course.
In that sense, the internet will never fail you!

Erin Manning-
“Actually, no. If every single place in the country had an equal distribution of LGBT individuals, you would still have to meet a few more than 50 people each day in order to be sure of meeting at least 2 who identify as L, G, B or T.”

By “meet” he may have meant “be in immediate physical proximity to in public”. If you live in a city and walk and ride the T (subway to you all) that’s hundreds of people a day.

#40 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 29, 2016 @ 4:08 am

Everyone seems to think that this can endure and prosper and won’t affect the continuity of the nation. But, like the Soviet, unforeseen collapse can occur suddenly when there is a critical mass of disaffection and loss of credibility of its governing institutions.