To think that J.J. McCullough’s “Time for a Compromise on Transgenderism” is the kindest thing that National Review Online can bring itself to publish about a segment of society that until grassroots insistence couldn’t even get Human Rights Campaign to advocate on their behalf. “Disinterest in judging homosexuality is not an attitude government has coerced Americans into, it is the product of a free people’s informed knowledge,” McCullough writes, and for a moment you breathe a sign of relief. He’s not a loon, he gets it. In a column urging conservatives to chill the fuck out about transgenderism, he sounds the rational bells and chimes. Then he adds: “Today’s purveyors of identity politics cause acrimony because they seem determined to invent and prosecute new accusations of intolerance against those otherwise trying hard to behave properly.” Here we come to the aberrant inversions of the NRO conservative’s logic. Transgender men and women want equal protection under the law; they want due process. It’s their enemies who accuse them of mental instability at best and willful perversion at worst. We’re back to the shame attached to homosexuality before the seventies and Stonewall.
As it happens, these timid peace offerings did not go over well with McCullough’s NRO colleagues, who reacted as if Paul Ryan had annnounced he supported a living wage and the elimination of right to work laws. Here’s former will-he-or-won’t-he 2016 presidential candidate David French:
I can acknowledge that gender dysphoria is a “persistent aspect of humanity,” but I will not concede that gender dysphoria trumps biology, and I don’t think our culture should cease efforts towards “ending” the dangerous notion that men or women should amputate healthy organs in the quest to sculpt their bodies to become something they’re not
But French is just getting warmed up:
While I’m utterly opposed to boorish behavior, the use of a pronoun isn’t a matter of mere manners. It’s a declaration of a fact. I won’t call Chelsea Manning “she” for a very simple reason. He’s a man. If a person legally changes his name, I’ll use his legal name. But I will not use my words to endorse a falsehood. I simply won’t. We’re on a dangerous road if we imply that treating a person with “basic human dignity” requires acquiescing to claims we know to be false.
I ask rhetorically, how is this attitude any different from writing, “I won’t accept Alfred Soto as ‘gay’ for a very simple reason. He’s a man. He’s supposed to have sex with women if he chooses to have sex at all. But I will not use my words to endorse a falsehood. I simply won’t.” When I read putatively thoughtful conservatives like Andrew Sullivan insist that conservatism doesn’t oppose change, it suggests caution and skepticism and patience, I wonder if I’m reading dispatches from Île de Ré.
Between McCullough and French’s columns NRO published another beaut, this one by Michael Brendan Dougherty, also a volunteer to rap their young colleague’s knuckles with a razor:
Let me lay down my prediction, here. We are not headed toward some civilized modus vivendi but imminent tragedy. In the future, the current psychological theories and surgical enthusiasms associated with this movement will be regarded with open horror.
Oh, he’s clear. From the range of confused sadness to hysteria in these pieces, you’d think the transgender population was demanding that Rich Lowry’s children register for compulsory gender reassignment surgery. Again, it’s the same shit I heard as a child: if we let homosexuals around our children, they’ll contaminate our boys and girls. Ringed as an adolescent by a congeries of reactionary mindsets, I sure embraced Reagan-Bush and Elian, didn’t I?
Life is hard for these people, and I suspect they wouldn’t have it any other way.
NOTA BENE: I will not hyperlink to NRO. You can google the columns.