I’ve Got the Blues — Part 1
This is the first segment of an essay in two parts.
Over the past few years since my teen son adopted a trans identity, I’ve adopted a new identity of my own. I now identify as a “politically homeless former life-long Democrat.” (Still need to work out those pronouns.) At the risk of sounding as if I’m highlighting a political divide in what should first and foremost be a non-ideologic issue of medical wrongs, I think it’s important to acknowledge a stark difference between those of us with kids caught in the gender web who tilt Left and those who tilt Right.
To a greater degree, liberals not only grieve for our children, living with the non-stop trauma of watching them shuffle or careen along a path that we know will cause them emotional and physical harm, we grieve for the loss of a reality in which we found safety and solace, and through which we found purpose and community — a world we thought we understood. A world we thought we could trust.
Not only has trans ideology delivered liberal parents the crushing blow of watching our children self-destruct, we also have to face that it is our people — wider liberal society — who took a U-turn on the road to sanity, and are aiding and abetting this nightmare. Our icons who are selling and supporting this garbage. We have the distinct displeasure of having to focus our rage at our own.
Encouraged and reassured by left-leaning mainstream media, I believed that I was a part of a community that was more compassionate and more intelligent, selfless and kind, the torch in Lady Liberty’s outstretched arm. What a shocker to peel back the glowing skin of righteousness and find underneath a bunch of horrible lizard-people.
Take this example of what is now a completely predictable interaction on Twitter. After posting a link to an article documenting schools that keep a student’s newly discovered gender identity a secret from their parents — a New York Times article, no less— I was told by an avowed lefty that, not only did the article probably not say what I claimed it said (reading references is often not a viable option for the educated Left), I was only pretending to be a liberal. In fact, I was a right-wing MAGA Nazi, and a stupid one at that. This is the standard issue line from the tolerant, inclusive Left — a group so fragile that they cannot stomach even the idea that someone could have a valid opposing opinion. If misgendering is violence, surely mis-assigning core values and a life-long political identity is flat-out murder.
And what happened to my beloved “trust the science” smarties? I certainly can’t hold onto the claim that the Left is objective and rational when it comes to biology or medical evidence. Many (most?) liberal Democrats — both on the ground and in places of power — believe absurd, anti-science, evidence-free concepts. That sex is some kind of spectrum, largely based on regressive ideas about femininity and masculinity, the existence of a range of ridiculously rare (and irrelevant) genetic anomalies, word games, and wishful thinking about what defines males and females. That you can tell if an infant is “trans” by whether he unsnaps his onesie to mimic a dress, or she pulls out her barrettes exhibiting her baby trans-mascness. That interrupting natural puberty — a crucial, timed, poorly understood biological process, with drugs never before used for this purpose on this cohort — is reversible and harmless, despite exactly zero data to support this and no shortage of evidence to the contrary. And about the existence of a pseudo-religious gender-soul, a soul that requires altering the body (through drugs and surgery) to properly express its otherwise ethereal self, like some kind of trans Voldemort. Progressives pride themselves on their intellectual superiority yet, as if in a stupor, they accept the specious conclusions of glaringly flawed studies plagued by loss to follow-up, inadequate follow-up timeframes, inconsistent measurement tools, lack of accounting for other interventions, and mysteriously disappearing variables, among other problems.
The Trump years galvanized lefties like no other period in my lifetime. There were marches and protests and pink hats. The mainstream legacy media was on fire, surging back from creeping obsolescence. Like so many of my fellow libDems, I sucked up every NYT article about Trump’s collusions and callous behaviors. I fed greedily off WaPo indignation. And if that paragon of truth, NPR, could have been surgically attached to my ear, I would have gladly gotten in line. But it wasn’t only me that lived for left-wing news, my son was right there with me, energized by the passion of social justice and encouraged by his lefty teachers in our liberal enclave. We soaked up the liberal outrage and joy. And then I was hit in the face with the brick of gender ideology, only to see the incomprehensible lies being spread by these same media outlets. It was too much. At first, and on and off for a solid year after, I had to convince myself I wasn’t crazy. That it wasn’t me misunderstanding what quickly became so blindingly obvious — that adolescents had no capacity to comprehend the path they were being set upon; no ability to foresee the horrible price they would pay for what the medical establishment was selling. That it was, in reality, my world turning upside down that was making me feel dizzy and destabilized. Goodbye to the news sources I trusted — if the NYT, WaPo, and NPR will lie about what’s happening to children and families, complicit in the horrific harm to vulnerable young people, what else had they lied about?
It has been a seemingly endless process of letting go for political neo-nomads like me. It wasn’t just the tether to legacy news organizations that we had to cut. We relied just as much — maybe more — on our witty, (arrogantly) self-deprecating, beloved late-night pundits. How can I describe the crushing demoralization we felt seeing John Oliver come out on the side of ignorance on this issue? After years watching his in-depth, searing coverage of one crazy corner of the right-wing world after another, his impressive team of young, hipster researchers ignored the obvious, documented flaws in the evidence supporting medicalization of minors. Watching this show felt like having my chest hollowed out. And how can I convey the disappointment and frustration we felt witnessing Jon Stewart arrogantly skewer an easy mark? Stewart confidently took on an unforgivably unprepared Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, exposing himself as a smug know-nothing with all the charm of a smarter-than-usual playground bully. Even worse was the sick, sinking feeling, of knowing that my former community was now even further from understanding the reality of “affirmative care,” buoyed by what they’d heard from their lefty gurus as the penultimate proof of its “lifesaving” qualities, knowing that we had been set back years in terms of getting our friends, relatives, and neighbors to consider that maybe the popular narrative was a house of razor-edged cards. In severing my ties to Stewart and Oliver, I felt like an astronaut uncoupled from his spaceship, floating away into the cold, empty unknown.
It goes without saying that the word “progressive” when applied to gender politics is as Orwellian as you can get, unless by progressive you mean adhering to 1950s-style gender roles and putting the wants of males in front of the needs of females. Looking to our Democratic representatives for inspiration leaves us empty and hopeless. Watch Tennessee’s hearing on “gender affirmative care” and you will see Republican representatives asking real questions, having clearly gotten up-to-speed on the topic. They treat detransitioners with kindness and empathy, while unserious, shameless Democrats hurl empty gotcha questions, hoping to score cheap points, and coming off instead as hollow, unkind ignoramuses.
There’s no salvaging our current President (who I voted for! So proud!) or his administration, who champion the medical and psychological harm of children and families as a main part of their platform. (Biden should consider “Mandating Mastectomies for Minors!” as his new campaign slogan. You’re welcome.) But did they have to take Obama from us as well? I welled up with tears when he was elected. Our first Black President, broadcasting a message of hope. I had no idea — was not conscious then — that under his presidency the stage was set for self-ID and it was established that Title IX applied to the gendered soul as well as sex, opening the door to weakened rights and protections for women and girls by swapping gender identity for sex in law.
In the 2020 election, I was an excited supporter of Elizabeth Warren, hoping she would snag our first female presidency. I was struck by her clarity and passion, and her focus on leveling the playing field for everyday Americans. Similar to how I looked past Bill Clinton’s rape-y dalliances, it was easy to ignore what could only be spurious accusations about her mischaracterizing her heritage. It’s quite a bit harder to ignore that she inexplicably wants federal agencies to loosen restrictions on testosterone, a Schedule III controlled substance, to make it even easier to access. Warren, who took sizeable donations from Kaiser Permanente and Big Pharma during her presidential bid, wants testosterone descheduled entirely — no federal restrictions whatsoever. Warren’s folksy concerns for the common man extends to the downtrodden gender doctors, who, as a bonus, would no longer need to set eyes on patients regularly to ensure that they aren’t suffering from any of the drug’s serious side effects. Finally, someone is thinking of the doctors.
Try as they might, they can’t take away our beloved, iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg, champion of women, and female icon, but likely only because she’s dead. Instead, we lost the equally iconic ACLU, once the quintessential upholder of free speech that rightfully fought for the Klan to march in my largely Jewish hometown. The ACLU recently changed RGB’s words on women’s reproductive rights by swapping out the now meaningless “woman” for the activist-approved “people/persons,” rendering the quote incoherent, but adequately inclusive: “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity. When the government controls that decision for [people], [they are] being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for [their] own choices,” (ACLU’s executive director Anthony Romero apologized, nobly blaming the mistake on the company’s digital team.)
Continuing on its course to undoing its proud legacy, the ACLU now advocates for banning books they don’t like, while carrying on that conservatives (and a whole lot of liberal parents) are banning books they don’t like — the only difference being that, for the most part, the parents don’t want 6th graders reading pornography, while the ACLU doesn’t want anyone to know that tens of thousands of susceptible girls are being harmed by ideologue clinicians. Potato, potahto. Also cross off your list the Human Rights Campaign (formerly upholding LGB rights and now upholding the rights of those who believe homosexuals are by nature transphobic bigots).
Once you’ve adjusted to all of that and you think it can’t get worse, you’re hit with yet another blow. That kick-in-the-gut moment, that cold, crushing wave of dismay, is when you lose Planned Parenthood.