A question of bravery

16 April 2022

9:00 AM

16 April 2022

9:00 AM

Joe Biden announced in November: ‘Transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know.’ When Conservative MP Jamie Wallis came out as trans last month, Boris Johnson hailed the revelation as having taken ‘an immense amount of courage’.

Mr Wallis says that he was subjected to sexual violence after having ‘hooked up’ with another man in the autumn, which raises the question of whether the parliamentarian might be plain old gay. But then, nowadays being gay is dull. In fact, homosexuality having become a big snooze is one of this century’s healthiest turns of the cultural wheel. ‘There’s something you should know’ – freighted pause – ‘I’m gay.’ OK, fine. Now tell us something interesting about yourself.

On a dime in 2012 – exactly when same-sex marriage was welcomed across the West, and there’s no greater a let-down than a civil rights movement that succeeds – our obsession pivoted to transgenderism. It’s hard to recall any collective preoccupation that gathered momentum so quickly. Overnight, we were inundated with documentaries about people ‘born in the wrong body’, many of them children. Television programmes such as Orange is the New Black had transgender characters, while Transparent featured the phenom as its central premise. ‘Transgender Day’ was born. Early childhood education was revamped, so that six-year-olds were instructed that they could choose to be a boy or a girl or something in between.

There’s an element here of prurient voyeurism. We’re bored with hetero sex, which has become too permitted, and now carries a whiff of the unhip. We’re bored with gayness. We needed a new fixation. If the consequences of our latest social fetish were limited to what we discuss, read, watch and think, no problem. This too shall pass.

But the consequences are proving considerable. The population signing up for sexual ‘reassignment’ has gone through the roof – to such an extreme degree that the idea this is merely a population that was always medically present but now feels free to speak its name is not only improbable, it’s preposterous. Their number having risen 4,400 per cent between 2010 and 2018, the majority of those referred for gender treatment are now adolescent girls. 

That girls would view the onset of physical womanhood with horror is understandable (it’s awful). Moreover, many teenage girls are insecure and suggestible. They’re susceptible to fashion, and girls who don’t possess a sixth sense of what’s trending or abruptly old hat are often shunned. (I should know; I was one of them.) It makes sense that this demographic would glom on to transgenderism. Because transgenderism is a fad. Coming out as trans is now an act of conformity.

Refusing to go along with the crowd takes some nerve, but in what way is jumping on a bandwagon ‘brave’? For the past decade, no status has better guaranteed attention, approbation and elevated stature than being transgender. This is the group that the dominant western left has designated as sacrosanct. By declaring himself gender dysphoric, Jamie Wallis – who looks and dresses like a man – has made himself politically unassailable. Magically, any criticism of the MP will henceforth be deemed ‘transphobic’.

A few trans women in particular are harassed and abused, especially in America’s black community, which just isn’t that into this stuff. But in today’s mainstream, going trans is a sure route to beatitude. How ‘courageous’ is it to declare yourself a member of the one group certain to be celebrated as ‘courageous’ by the highest office-holders in the land?

Bravery entails putting oneself at risk to some laudable purpose. Firefighters are brave. Ukrainian soldiers are brave. But sexual grass-is-greener-ism is wholly about self: transforming from perceived caterpillar to butterfly. Nothing is achieved, no higher purpose served. However subjectively urgent, transition is a self-indulgence – one that places severe demands on families and healthcare systems.

Officialdom’s outsize fawning over this minority matters because the raging vogue for transgenderism – which shows no sign of decelerating – is far less benign than crazes for hula hoops, lava lamps and pet rocks. It’s subjecting healthy young people to painful, irreversible elective surgery, while consigning them to a lifetime of infertility and sexual dysfunction. It’s confusing children about the basics of their biology. It’s intimidating women in changing rooms and domestic violence shelters, placing physical men in women’s NHS wards and putting inmates of women’s prisons at risk of rape. It’s in danger of turning women’s sport into a farce.

More perniciously still, we’re all now commanded to embrace a lie: that sex is not an exterior fact but a special interior feeling, which in the absence of any clinical evidence the medical establishment has bent over backwards to accord diagnostic legitimacy. A society that’s lost a grip on as profound a matter as the reality of the male and female has reached a state of perilous decay. Practically, too, all this surgery and costly drug treatment is a waste of resources. We’ve roughly enough men and women already. Swapping them back and forth is at the very least inefficient.

In the olden days (say, 2010), there was such a thing as gender dysphoria. Exceedingly rare, it was categorised as a mental disorder; sufferers were repelled by the sexual aspects of their own bodies. (Human beings are endlessly inventive of ways to be screwed up. Some people become alienated from, say, their left arms and beg doctors to cut them off.) Are these once highly unusual trans folks of a previous generation ever resentful of the stampede of pretenders who have stormed their rarefied perch?

Regarding the burgeoning population of people play-acting a sex they’re not (sex is written in our every cell; we can dislike our sex, but we can’t change it), clearly compassion is called for, as well as, in less convincing cases, a sense of humour. But let’s draw the line at admiration. Very much on-trend, yes. Asking for plenty of gratuitous physical grief, definitely. Misguided about what truly bedevils them, often as not. Brave? No.

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