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Metaphysics Of The Men’s Room

Which gender? Which bathroom? Decisions, decisions... (Chris from Paris/Shutterstock)

Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer really doesn’t get it:

Charles Krauthammer comments on Donald Trump’s apathy toward North Carolina’s new LGBT laws on transgender people using restrooms. Krauthammer is puzzled by the need for the law and asked, “do we really have an epidemic of transgenders being evil in bathrooms?”

Krauthammer said the law is a “solution in search of an issue” and said transgenders using public bathrooms has become a problem “precisely because Republicans in North Carolina decided it was a problem.”

“It is not a major national problem and it should have been left that way,” Krauthammer said.

I’m sure Krauthammer is being sincere, but I think he’s in way over his head here. In one sense, yes, transgender access to bathrooms is not a “major national problem” — but the activist left and their supporters in corporate America and the Democratic Party are turning it into one.

It was Obama’s Education Department that decided Title IX forces high schools to open up their locker rooms to transgenders, based on the transgender’s choice — and, note well, rejected compromises as a form of separate-but-equal. It’s major companies like Target taking initiatives to tear down the walls separating bathrooms:

In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.

Hey, it’s a private company, it’s their right to run their bathrooms as they please. I don’t begrudge them that. But note that Target is trumpeting this to signal its own virtue, and calling it an example of “inclusivity” — which is to say, companies and stores that maintain male-female bathrooms are guilty of exclusivity. Monsterbigots, in other words. See how that works?

It’s kind of astonishing, actually, how quickly what was considered unspeakably radical the day before yesterday becomes normalized the next day, and today, any opposition to it is treated as if it could only come from irrational animus. The Law of Merited Impossibility is getting to be as uncontestable as Newton’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The LMI is defined thus:

The Law Of Merited Impossibility is an epistemological construct governing the paradoxical way overclass opinion makers frame the discourse about the clash between religious liberty and LGBT civil rights. It is best summed up by the phrase, “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that traditional Christians and other conservatives will suffer a single thing from the expansion of LGBT rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.”

Here’s a good example, from today’s headlines. If I told you as recently as a year or two ago that people were about to start gender transitions in kindergartners, and that any objection to this would be seen as cruel bigotry, you would have thought me an alarmist. Well, look at this piece from ThinkProgress, titled, “It Takes A Village To Bully A Transgender Kindergartner.” Excerpt:

When Dave and Hannah Edwards were lucky enough to win the lottery to enroll their child at Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, they were excited about the charter school’s small classrooms, the kind teacher they’d met, and the special attention their kid would receive. What they didn’t anticipate was an entire community rising up against their family as they became the latest victims of an anti-transgender backlash sweeping the country.

Over the course of the school year, the kindergartner would transition from a gender non-conforming boy to a transgender girl. At every step of the way, the Edwards sought accommodation from Nova to help protect her from bullying and make sure her classmates understood who she was, and at every step of the way, a growing force of anti-transgender parents shut them down, creating a public spectacle and only increasing the harassment their daughter experienced.

The Edwards have since pulled their daughter from the charter school and enrolled her in a different public school where she is a happy and healthy little girl. But they have also filed a complaint against Nova for the way she was treated in hopes of protecting other trans kids from enduring the same treatment. “Now that we’ve had to move and now that we’ve had this potential harm that’s been inflicted on our family,” Dave told ThinkProgress, “we’re invested in making sure this doesn’t happen to any kid again.”

Let me state up front that bullying is wrong and should not ever be acceptable, full stop. But read on, and see if this is merely a case of bullying — and see who was bullying whom. Halfway through kindergarten year, the Edwards child began to identify as female:

Classmates would make fun of her for her shoes, backpack, or other preferences that were more associated with girls than with boys. The Edwards, both teachers themselves, approached Nova to discuss ways to minimize that bullying. “We came from a place of both being educators and really believing in children having the educational tools and language to talk about things and how that might make a difference.” Hannah explained. “Kids, when they’re given the opportunity, can really learn and grow and they want to be good people.”

Their first impression was that the school was on the same page. In fact, administrators agreed to incorporate the book My Princess Boy into an anti-bullying lesson about gender diversity. But when they emailed the school community on October 14th to inform them of this lesson, the backlash began. “Once parents knew, things changed completely,” Dave said.

Behold, the voice of the savage mob:

Just because the student deserves to be safe and respected, wrote parent Vince West in October, “that does not mean, nor does the law imply, that we have to celebrate gender non-conformism (or any controversial moral difference) in school (or anywhere).”

“Given the current climate at Nova, we are opting our children out of any teaching that goes against the natural order of gender identity on the 16th and any other teaching on this topic on some future date,” wrote parent David Bursey. “We all have differences. We recognize them and respect them but we don’t need to call attention to them and celebrate them as a school.” In another email, he explicitly opposed allowing transgender students access to bathrooms and sports teams that match their gender, adding that he even thinks respecting their preferred names and pronouns “is treading on murky territory.”

The debate grew really heated, but the Edwardses could not discern between truly abusive, out-of-bounds commentary and simply objecting to what they want and believe:

Hannah’s sense was that the school was “trying to please this other side so they felt like they were heard, because they thought it was important to bring the community along with us by letting them speak their minds, but it just ended up being unsafe for my child because they were allowing this discriminatory discourse to happen.”

Got it? If you disagree with them, and speak your mind, then you are guilty of making a school unsafe for a child because of your “discriminatory discourse.” More:

After the Edwards’ daughter socially transitioned, they sought more education from the school so that students could better respect and appreciate her as their classmate. The complaint explains that these requests were summarily dismissed in a February 29th meeting:

We were told that the school was not willing to use effective materials like I Am Jazz; would not ever conduct gender education, whether proactive or corrective, without first introducing delay and inviting or encouraging families to “opt out”; and would not even — as a bare minimum — simply inform our child’s classmates of her preferred name and pronouns, without first delaying for days and inviting or encouraging families to “opt out” of this information.

And so, one set of parents of one confused child get to overrule the convictions and wishes of most other parents, and feel entitled to dictate the curriculum to other elementary school students. And if anybody resists, well, they’re haters and bullies.

Nova is a classical school, and one whose core principles include a “strong school-family partnership.” The Edwardses and their supporters frame this as the administration leaving decisions up to the mob, when in fact they are trying to honor their own principles. The Edwardses believe that they should dictate to the school and the school community how to think and how to run the charter school that they chose for their son/daughter. 

The bathroom wars are entirely connected to this greater debate. It’s not really about where people get to pee, but something far more fundamental — and it’s a wonder that it eludes someone as intelligent as Krauthammer. It’s about reality and identity. 

Dale Kuehne, who teaches politics at St. Anselm College and who studies and writes on issues of gender and sexuality, had this to say at a Q Ideas conference. Excerpts:

No wonder journalists are noticing that this is a significant time. But most are still missing what’s most important: while today’s conversations push the boundaries of how we understand gender, they don’t understand that this brave new world of identity is about more than gender.

The students with whom I associate—from middle school to college students—have understood for several years that we now reside in a world beyond gender. The youngest of them probably don’t realize that TIME’s article announced anything “new.”

For many of them, gender discussions, even of the transgender variation, are just so yesterday. When we talk about personal identity, we don’t include the mundane questions about being male and/or female. A person can certainly identify as male or female if they wish, but there is little expectation that one would do so.

After all, today Facebook gives us over 50 “gender” identities to choose from. (Conversations about this can involve questions about why there are so few options.) And rather than looking to gender or variations on a gender, more and more young people are seeking to discover their identity by widening the options to include “otherkins” (people who consider themselves to have a non-human identity, such as various animals, spirits, mediums, and so on).

Young people today are much less binary when it comes to understanding identity because “male” and “female” as categories don’t express a unique or comprehensive identity.

When I tell this to many adult audiences, they laugh, believing that young people will grow out of this “stage.” They’re surprised that I don’t share their sense of the immaturity of our youth.

That’s because the young people with whom I interact are extraordinarily perceptive, compared to adults. As one high school student recently asked me, “Why does our school demand that we figure out if we are male or female or some variation? How could we figure it out even if we cared about gender? Can you tell me what it feels like to be woman? Can you tell me what it feels like to be a man? Of course not. No one knows.”



We don’t live at a tipping point; we already live beyond the tipping point. Whether adults realize it or not, the most important conversation today is not about gender, but about identity, as released from the confines of gender.

We have entered an era of liquid identity. One’s chosen title may express something, nothing, anything, or everything—but as a result, all these designations lose meaning, rather than gain it.

Again: this is about reality. Charles Krauthammer simply does not understand what is going on — and he’s not the only one. And even though Dr. Krauthammer and others think this is about nothing more than arguing how many transgenders can pee in the head, these ideas have consequences, these ideas have far-reaching ramifications. As I wrote earlier:

Kuehne, I should say, thinks this is a very bad thing, because it is part — indeed, perhaps the end point — of the total deconstruction of the relational bases of society and its refashioning to serve the needs of the sovereign Self. (His book about the Sexual Revolution and identity is here.)

… [This is] also a frontal challenge to the natural order, and beyond that, it’s a metaphysical challenge. Is reality nothing more than what we choose to call it? Does the Self have the power to re-order reality to suit its desires — and, in our deracinated culture, does it have the power to compel others to live by its illusions at the risk of being denounced as bigots, or even sued?

I notice this morning that TAC publishes a rave review of The Crisis of Modernity by the late Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce, translated by our own Carlo Lancellotti. In the book, Del Noce recognizes the Sexual Revolution as primarily a metaphysical one intended to destroy the basis for traditional morality. In an essay first published in 1970, Del Noce wrote:

Indeed, [Wilhelm] Reich’s thought is based on the premise, which of course is taken as unquestionably true without even a hint of a proof, that there is no order of ends, no meta-empirical authority of values. Any trace not just of Christianity but of “idealism” in the broadest sense, or of a foundation of values in some objective reality, like history according to Marx, is eliminated. What is man reduced to, then, if not to a bundle of physical needs? …

Having taken away every order of ends and eliminated every authority of values, all that is left is vital energy, which can be identified with sexuality, as was already claimed in ancient times and it actually difficult to refute. Hence, the core element of life will be sexual happiness. And since full sexual satisfaction is possible, happiness is within reach.

More Del Noce:

The idea of indissoluble monogamous marriage and other ideas related to it (modesty, purity, continence) are linked to the idea of tradition, which in turn presupposes (since tradere means to hand down) the idea of an objective order or unchangeable and permanent truths (the Platonic True in itself and Good in itself). On top of everything else, the affirmation of these themes is one of the glories of Italian thought, because what else is Dante’s Comedyif not the poem of order viewed as the immanent form of the universe? …

Interesting. In the Commedia, the Inferno is where individual souls are trapped for eternity, isolated from communion with each other, in worlds they fashioned for themselves, because they preferred their own “truth” to the objective truth of the divine order. Del Noce:

But if we separate the idea of tradition from that of an objective order, it must necessarily appear to be “the past,” what has been “surpassed,” “the dead trying to suffocate the living,” what must be negated in order to find psychological balance. The idea of indissoluble marriage must be replaced by that of free union, renewable of breakable at any time. It does not make sense to speak of sexual perversions; on the contrary, homosexual expressions, either masculine or feminine, should be regarded as the purest form of love. …

Sexual liberation, as Del Noce saw, is based on the denial of metaphysics — that is, the denial of the claim that there is an immanent order in the world. Del Noce said traditionalists can’t even have a dialogue with the sexual liberationists because they deny the very foundation of tradition: belief in an unseen order.

The normalization of transgenderism requires the denial that gender and gender difference have essential meaning. It requires us to believe that truth is whatever the willing individual wishes it to be. And it greases the slippery slope to the loss of our very humanity. Ever heard of species dysphoria? You will.

It’s anarchy, and it can’t last. There will be an immense amount of destruction before this passes, and the natural order reasserts itself. Point is, the craziness in these two stories I posted at the top of this blog are hilarious, in a way, but deep down, not funny at all. The profound disorder within those people is, and is becoming, valorized by our culture, a political act that is undermining the basis of political and social life.

Do not let the Krauthammers dismiss your concerns, and don’t let the progressivist bullies make you think that you are insane or wicked for having them. There’s a very great deal at stake here. We are talking about the disintegration of the Western mind. Camille Paglia says, of today’s college students:

They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilisations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell. If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure…’ – a magical utopian view that we are marching to perfection. And the sign of this progress is toleration – of the educated class – for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.

To me it’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilisation just before it falls: ‘we’ are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilisation who will bring it down.

Whole interview here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxoN4wTrnvs?rel=0]

UPDATE: Isidore the Farmer speaks truth:

One thing this is demonstrating is that the activism of the LGBT movement is about much more than what people do in the privacy of their homes.

An assurance given in recent years regarding gay marriage is that nothing being pursued actually impacts anyone else. Now, this was always a lie (whether they were also deceiving themselves I’m not sure – that may vary from activist to activist, citizen to citizen). And the Trans Offensive of 2015/2016 is demonstrating this perfectly, because it actually is having an impact on how people, in public settings: schools, locker rooms, restrooms. And, it is impacting children and adults alike.

While it is true that this is only a very small percentage of the population, it is increasingly obvious that this small percentage is seeking to impact the public interactions of all of society.

It never was about the privacy of one’s bedroom. It was always about coercing everyone to affirm their behavior, in public. However, the goal posts have now shifted enough that the LGBT activists and their supporters no longer really deny it, as even many commenters on this forum would have as recently as 18 months ago.

This. This is the key to understanding this entire thing. Whatever is demanded today will not be enough. There will always be more demanded, and the assurances that it will only go this far, no further, are worthless. Reason has nothing to do with this. It’s entirely about power. You will learn this now, or you will learn this later, but you will be made to learn it.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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