Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Virginia's Shame

State of the Union: The failure of Sage’s Law in the Virginia Senate is a sad symptom of the liberal political order.

Michele Blair, the mother of Sage, speaking at a January 19 press conference.

"Sage’s Law" (HB 2432: Minors & students self-identifying as a gender different from biological sex; parental notification) has failed in the Virginia Senate, thanks to Democrat state senators. The law would have required school authorities to notify parents if a child claims to be a different gender and school counsellors not to withhold secret information from parents or encourage the child in gender confusion; it would also have clarified and redefined the meaning of “child abuse” to remove the term “misgendering.” The proposal seemed to be commonsensical and prudent. And yet, it failed.

The name comes from the story of Sage, an unfortunate teen confused about her gender identity, who was then groomed, brutalized, trafficked, and raped after being actively helped in transitioning by her school, working against her mother. The story is too horrific to repeat in detail here, but you can read more in this local reporting.


There are two important points here. Most people who are focused on foreign policy miss small domestic stories such as these. But the threat of an ideological elite wrecking society from within is historically far, far greater than that of a peer rival bogged down trying to conquer a tiny stretch of land or island in a faraway region. These threats are also connected. Great powers collapse due to internal rot as much if not more than due to foreign overstretch. American decay is reflected, compounded, and promoted by peer rivals, too, as an example of limitless social degeneracy inherent in liberal internationalism, and rightly so. This is not the pro-family great power that faced “godless communism” in the 1980s. And people notice that.

Second, there is no simple or polite way to couch this, nor should there be. What happened here was evil. Normal people often misunderstand evil, confusing it with incompetence and idiocy. That is why everyone blames parents for not keeping an eye on their children, not taking into account that parents are simply helpless—as Sage’s mother said herself in an appeal to the lawmakers—before the governing power is in the hands of bureaucrats and medical malpractitioners. In the words of a whistleblower, they will simply roll over parents. That is why there is no accountability when a middle-aged male teacher talks to children about the “need to wear skirts”. Or when the transgender assistant secretary for Health has the audacity to talk about how “medicine and science are being politically perverted around the country” without any sense of irony, or visible pushback from anyone around about how patently ridiculous this all is.

As Theodore Dalrymple once said, some of this is a purest form of powerplay. You know it is wrong and often downright evil, but you can’t do anything about it, and it is rubbed in your face. Or in the more poetic words of Joy Goswami, it is the absurd rage of impotence within a cage.

But this is fundamentally a story of a consequenceless society. No one is being punished for what happened here. No one is punished for their constant failure in anything, whether it is in the domain of foreign policy or domestic policy. There is no accountability.

In a normal society there would be street protests by parents against the Senate members who voted down this bill. The school authorities would be replaced and charged with negligence, the judge and social service officers would be disbarred for dereliction of duty. And the Republican party would be directing that anger, translating it into electoral gains, legislation, and governing power. But a liberal society is fundamentally predicated on endless debates and sagely nods over the protests of one of the most vulnerable groups of all today, parents.