Characterizing long-held viewpoints of gender and sexuality as forms of violence and threats to a trans-identifying person’s existence reveals the shaky, subjective basis and need for external validation at the heart of the ideology.
by Jonathan Liedl in National Catholic Register
“Cancel culture” is alive and well, with plenty of recent high-profile cases of individuals losing jobs or being deplatformed for expressing viewpoints that run afoul of the sensibilities of the elites who control Big Tech platforms or the progressive activists who patrol the digital streets of social media.
But a particular kind of hostility seems to be reserved for those who don’t accept the foundational claims of gender ideology — namely, that a person’s sexual identity is subjectively determined and affirmed, not something that is biologically “given” and inherently connected with his or her body. Oftentimes, dissent from this ideological framework is characterized as a form of violence or hate speech, even a threat to the existence of persons who identify as transgender.
This was certainly the case in perhaps the highest-profile dissent from gender ideology in recent years, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s 2020 outspoken criticism of transgender activism and its denial of distinct biological sexes as an objective reality. As Rowling wrote in an essay on the backlash she faced, she was told that she was “literally killing trans people with my hate,” while others wrote that her comments amounted to “denying the existence of trans people.”
Similarly, the Trump administration’s 2018 efforts to define sex on the basis of biology were characterized by The Washington Post as an attempt “to write transgender ‘people out of existence.’”
The hashtag #WontBeErased was the rallying cry of the Transgender Law Center and those who resisted the policy move.
And the same sort of dramatic, existentially loaded rhetoric has characterized a number of attempts at cancellation over breaching gender orthodoxy already this year.
Catholic World Report had its Twitter account suspended in late January after tweeting a news brief that accurately described Dr. Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services undersecretary, as “a biological man identifying as a transgender woman,” an apparent instance of “hateful conduct” that, Twitter claimed, promoted violence on the basis of gender identity.
University of Dallas (UD) professor David Upham faced a petition calling for his dismissal after he wrote a Facebook post referring to Levine with masculine pronouns, criticized the idea that he was a woman, and expressed concern that Levine would force others “to participate in these falsehoods, these hormonal and surgical harms.” Bethany Beeler, the trans-identifying UD alum who began the petition, characterized Upham’s perspective as “unreasoning hatred,” motivated by fear of the existence of transgender persons, and ultimately contributing to violence against those who identify as transgender. Beeler is a biological man who now self-identifies as a female.
And, most recently, Ryan Anderson’s book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment was removed by Amazon from its website, apparently after the retail giant determined that the book, which was published three years ago, was a form of “offensive content.” The book, in which Anderson offers a fact-based critique of gender ideology rooted in philosophy and science, had previously been described as “an ‘attack’ on trans people.”
The characterization of alterative viewpoints as violent or existentially threatening isn’t surprising to some who have previously identified as transgender…