The Queering Of Young America
In addition to the pronounced generational differences, significant gender differences are seen in sexual identity, as well as differences by people’s political ideology:
- Women are more likely than men to identify as LGBT (6.4% vs. 4.9%, respectively)
- Women are more likely to identify as bisexual — 4.3% do, with 1.3% identifying as lesbian and 1.3% as something else. Among men, 2.5% identify as gay, 1.8% as bisexual and 0.6% as something else.
- 13.0% of political liberals, 4.4% of moderates and 2.3% of conservatives say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
- Differences are somewhat less pronounced by party identification than by ideology, with 8.8% of Democrats, 6.5% of independents and 1.7% of Republicans identifying as LGBT.
- There are no meaningful educational differences — 5.6% of college graduates and 5.7% of college nongraduates are LGBT.
This is a staggering finding, whether you think the news is positive, negative, or neutral. This kind of change in something as fundamental as sexual orientation, in such a short period of time, is mind-blowing.
The trans part is the most shocking: between Gen X and the Millennials, the number of self-identified trans people has increased by
600 500 percent. Between Gen X and their children’s generation, Gen Z, the number of self-identified trans people has increased by 900 800 percent.
This is the effect of the collapse of cultural standards, and the propaganda campaign waged in the media and in schools. Today I had a private Zoom conference with senior clergy of a conservative American denomination. They said that the trans thing is exploding among their youth — kids who were raised in this conservative church — and pastors are struggling to know how to talk about it. One cleric said other pastors tell him that they don’t want to “lead” with preaching on transgenderism, for fear of alienating seekers. He said he tells them that you have to take that risk, because families and congregations are being hammered by propaganda all the time.
I agreed, and told him that pastors have to find the courage to tell the truth, no matter what it costs. The dominant culture knows what it believes about transgenderism, and does not hesitate to teach it, constantly. In my experience, parents don’t know what to say or do. If they don’t learn about it from the church, where will they learn it?
One cleric said that in his church’s youth group, some kids stood up and walked out when they begin to present the Church’s teachings on the body, sex, and gender. “They have been told in school that whenever you hear somebody criticize trans, that you are to stand up and walk out,” the cleric said.
I pointed out that this is what Solzhenitsyn told his followers in the Soviet Union to do when confronted with lies: stand up and walk out. Amazing that the other side is using the same tactics against the church!
On the Zoom call, which was to discuss Live Not By Lies, I talked about the Equality Act, which has just been re-introduced in Congress, and which is likely to pass, given that the Democrats control it. President Biden has said that he would sign it into law. If it becomes law, the Equality Act will write SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) into federal civil rights law. This will have devastating effects on our society. Ryan T. Anderson, the new president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, briefly outlined them. Excerpts:
The act “updates” the law Congress passed primarily to combat racism, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes akin to race. So if you have any reservations about gender ideology — as even many progressives do; just ask J.K. Rowling — you’d now be the legal equivalent of Bull Connor.
Rather than finding common-sense, narrowly tailored ways to shield LGBT-identifying Americans from truly unjust discrimination, the bill would act as a sword — to persecute those who don’t embrace newfangled gender ideologies. It would vitiate a sex binary that is quite literally written into our genetic code and is fundamental to many of our laws, not least laws protecting the equality, safety and privacy of women.
The Equality Act would sacrifice the hard-won rights of women, while privileging men who identify as women. If it becomes law, such men would have a right to spend the night in battered-women’s shelters, disrobe in women’s locker rooms and compete on women’s sports teams — even at K-12 schools.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the text: “An individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.” So you can keep separate facilities for men and women, but you have to redefine what men and women are. Likewise, you can reserve certain jobs only for men or women — think TSA agents doing pat-downs — but you have to let a man who identifies as a woman do strip searches on women.
The act would also massively expand the government’s regulatory reach. The Civil Rights Act, it seems, is too narrow for today’s Democrats. The Equality Act would coerce “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting or legal services,” along with any organization that receives any federal funding.
That’s more or less everyone and everything.
Religious institutions are very much included. Under the Equality Act, religious schools, adoption agencies and other charities would face federal sanction for upholding the teachings of mainstream biology and the Bible, modern genetics and Genesis, when it comes to sex and marriage.
They’ll be at risk, because the Equality Act takes our laws on racial equality and adds highly ideological concepts about sex and gender. But most laws on racism included no religious-liberty protections — unlike, for example Title IX, which includes robust protections for faith-based schools.
Outrageously, the Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Pope Francis would be treated as the legal equivalent of a Jim Crow segregationist.
It gets worse. Medical doctors, secular and religious, whose expert judgment is that sex-reassignment procedures are misguided would now run afoul of our civil-rights laws. If you perform a mastectomy in the case of breast cancer, you will have to perform one on the teenage girl identifying as a boy. All in the name of equality. And no one knows what is required under the act to avoid committing “discrimination” in the case of “nonbinary” gender identities.
The icing on the cake? The act treats any refusal to offer abortion as “pregnancy” discrimination. Decades of conscience protections against abortion extremism at the federal, state and local levels would be undermined.
The sky really is falling. You’re not going to hear any of that in the media reporting of the Equality Act, but it’s true. If by some miracle the Republicans in the Senate all hang together, and can convince a single Democrat — Joe Manchin? — to join them, the Equality Act might be stopped this time. But sooner or later, it’s coming. Those numbers you see in the Gallup poll tell you why.
We are getting much closer to the time I wrote about in The Benedict Option, when faithful Christians and others who dissent from the new ideology are going to have to make decisions about whether or not they can continue working in their particular jobs. If you read TBO, you might recall the unnamed physician who said he would discourage his children from pursuing medicine as a career, because he can see the day coming when they will have to do conscience-violating things like perform abortions or participate in gender transitions, or lose their jobs. If you have $400,000 in medical school debt to repay, you are trapped.
If you have not begun to organize support groups and lay the groundwork for networks like Father Kolakovic did, as I report in Live Not By Lies, you should know that time is running out. The Equality Act really will regard you as no better than a Klansman if you hold to the traditional teachings not only about homosexuality, but about transgenderism. (Radical feminists who deny that male-to-female transgenders are women will be held by the same contempt in the law as a fundamentalist preacher.)
Elsewhere in TAC today, the Southern Baptist ethicist Andrew Walker writes about the meaning of the Equality Act. Excerpt:
The problem with the Equality Act does not lie predominantly in the statutory language of the bill, but in its long-term effects, further transforming the moral imagination from anything resembling a Christian social order. The Equality Act, in my view, is a symbol for the de-conversion of the West.
We see this de-conversion on at least two horizons. First, we see it in the type of moral reasoning behind the bill itself. It is a bill of aesthetics and emotion instead of reason and principle. The Equality Act would have you believe Americans relish any opportunity to discriminate. That’s false. Second, by undoing the very ontology of womanhood, the core logic of the bill contradicts key tenets of progressivism’s own advances, such as feminism. How the Equality Act can move forward with so little resistance is only understood in light of the guiding ethic of today’s progressivism. Anything that fails to rise above solipsistic phrases like “live your truth” and “you do you” cannot impede such philosophically absurd bills.
The Equality Act contains a metaphysical revolution in its pages, and it seeks the evangelization of the West. The old order was one with an ethic of objectivity, reason, fixed nature, authority, and boundaries, where organic connections and family relations were seen as guiding, normative, and persuasive, with anything opposed to these as transgressive. The revolution well underway is to make all of these metaphysical fixities not only wrong, but harmful. Thus, in the Equality Act’s telling, anything that does not champion expressive individualism or limitlessness, or derive its existence by government fiat is, well, oppressive. We are witnessing, in real time, the final displacement of a Christian account of the universe by a wholly secularized one.
The Equality Act is an assault on the Christian imagination, and this is where its long-term consequences are most dire and calamitous. It aims to reconfigure not only the foundation of family life and biological connections to gender, but to catechize, inculcating a different way of conceiving one’s place and orientation to the world. Moral imaginations are guided by normative constraints, which give them definition and direction. Ideally, a human imagination ought to comport with what is good, true, and beautiful. To educate the moral imagination is to seek a shared imagination, rooted in a shared account of the world, and therefore binding and persuasive to all of the citizens beholden to it.
Such norming norms are found within the Christian cultural framework. It creates a metaphysical order that demands compliance by all. It offers an account of human flourishing and the common good. However, the so-called Equality Act now being proposed in Congress seeks to belie all such order by completely overturning its most basic definitions. Whereas the Christian metaphysical order upholds creational boundaries as instituted by God and enshrined in the natural world, the Equality Act promotes the metaphysic of sexual autonomy and expressive individualism as the highest goods of society. So good are they, in fact, that they must be upheld in law to protect them from prosecutorial examination. The self is the sole lens of reference for all moral guidance, making the tenets of natural law and divine revelation moot, mere objects of religious fascination rather than universal appreciation.
Again, the law is a very, very big deal. But we would not be on the verge of this radical bill becoming law if not for the massive cultural changes that preceded it. The fact that between my generation and my children’s, the number of self-identified transgenders has increased by 900 percent, testifies to the final victory of the Sexual Revolution in destroying all the traditional sources of the Self. Eight years ago, I published here what has become the most popular piece I ever wrote for TAC: an essay called Sex After Christianity. Excerpts:
The magnitude of the defeat suffered by moral traditionalists will become ever clearer as older Americans pass from the scene. Poll after poll shows that for the young, homosexuality is normal and gay marriage is no big deal—except, of course, if one opposes it, in which case one has the approximate moral status of a segregationist in the late 1960s.
All this is, in fact, a much bigger deal than most people on both sides realize, and for a reason that eludes even ardent opponents of gay rights. Back in 1993, a cover story in The Nation identified the gay-rights cause as the summit and keystone of the culture war:
All the crosscurrents of present-day liberation struggles are subsumed in the gay struggle. The gay moment is in some ways similar to the moment that other communities have experienced in the nation’s past, but it is also something more, because sexual identity is in crisis throughout the population, and gay people—at once the most conspicuous subjects and objects of the crisis—have been forced to invent a complete cosmology to grasp it. No one says the changes will come easily. But it’s just possible that a small and despised sexual minority will change America forever.
They were right, and though the word “cosmology” may strike readers as philosophically grandiose, its use now appears downright prophetic. The struggle for the rights of “a small and despised sexual minority” would not have succeeded if the old Christian cosmology had held: put bluntly, the gay-rights cause has succeeded precisely because the Christian cosmology has dissipated in the mind of the West.
What makes our own era different from the past, says Rieff, is that we have ceased to believe in the Christian cultural framework, yet we have made it impossible to believe in any other that does what culture must do: restrain individual passions and channel them creatively toward communal purposes.
Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions.
How this came to be is a complicated story involving the rise of humanism, the advent of the Enlightenment, and the coming of modernity. As philosopher Charles Taylor writes in his magisterial religious and cultural history A Secular Age, “The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaningful cosmos).” To be modern is to believe in one’s individual desires as the locus of authority and self-definition.
Gradually the West lost the sense that Christianity had much to do with civilizational order, Taylor writes. In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.
If you expect orthodox Christianity — as distinct from the false church of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism — to survive all this, you had better be drawing in and digging down in a Benedict Option way of living. And you had better start preparing yourself, your family, and your community, Kolakovic-style, for the coming persecution, once we are declared “domestic terrorists” because we will not conform. If you think I’m being an alarmist here, then tell me, where is the line you would draw, beyond which you know that persecution is upon us?