Status Anxiety & Transgender Tots
Sonny Bunch takes a gander at the front-page, above-the-fold story in Sunday’s Washington Post: “Transgender at Five” — as in, five years old. (That’s right, front page, above the fold; The New York Times is even more insistent that every little thing that happens on the LGBTQ-E-I-E-I-O front gets prominent coverage — yet it’s conservatives who are routinely derided for their “obsession” with this stuff). Sonny says:
In truth, it has less to do with the little boys or girls and the discomfort that parents feel with their children. … What a tolerant, modern, decent parent you are, accepting your children just how they are.
It’s complicated. Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Paul McHugh, in a First Things essay cited by Sonny Bunch, expresses skepticism about sex-change operations in general, but particular concern over compelling (or allowing) children, whose identities are rather plastic, to commit themselves irrevocably at a young age. The situation the mother, father, and child in the WaPo story face is heartbreaking, and I would be very careful about passing conclusive judgment on them, even as I am very skeptical of the path they’ve chosen here. I share with Sonny a suspicion that a lot — not all, and maybe not most, but a significant degree — of the storm and stress the overculture constantly expresses about homosexuality, transgender, and related issues has more to do with status anxiety than the things themselves.