Last year the Scottish philosopher John Haldane took part in a Sydney Ethics Centre debate challenging the notion that ‘Society Must Recognise Trans People’s Gender Identities’. Facing a hostile audience filled with Mardi Gras visitors, his reasoned arguments took issue with the coercion implied in that ‘must’. ‘We need toleration, a principled response to difference but toleration is not endorsement,’ he said. ‘We need to hold back the forces of coercion,’ he added.
We’ve had decades of this compulsory politics of inclusion, a highly selective process where the elite crowd decides who is to be included in any debate or lobbying effort, whilst omitting whole sectors of communities when it suits them.
This was very much in evident at the Ethics Centre debate where the so-called ‘Rainbow Coalition’ was out in force. What shone through the occasionally acrimonious debate was the perilous state of this splintering coalition. How ironic that we have been bullied into using the crazy ‘LGBTIQ’ terminology – ‘alphabet soup’ as some call it – when the various factions are at each other’s throats.
Take British journalist and provocateur Milo Yiannopolous’s efforts to promote a ‘Drop the T’ campaign, lobbying to have transsexuals turfed out of the coalition. Milo, who’s been campaigning on US campuses on his self-described Dangerous Faggot tour, argues that the lobby for gay rights and freedoms is being undermined by transsexuals’ demands. ‘Everyone’s pretty much sold on gays and lesbians as a sexual orientation now. But you can’t do the same with trannies who require hormone treatments and the services of a skilled butcher.’ Complicating matters still further, many key medical authorities are now refusing to do sex reassignment surgery arguing transgenderism is actually a psychiatric disorder.
Lesbian feminists are up in arms about T campaigners riding roughshod over women’s rights. The tension between the two groups erupted at a women’s festival in Auckland last year which included cupcakes shaped like vulvas (to encourage women to accept their own nether regions). Transgender activists complained this created an ‘unsafe environment for them’ and tried to shut down the event.
And so it goes on. Gay men are grumbling about lesbians commandeering the Rainbow float, muscling in to head up the alphabet soup and promoting an anti-male hate movement hell-bent on undermining the rights and welfare of boys and men. Australian blogger Andy Bob mentions Betty Friedan’s 1960s warning that the lesbian feminists she called the ‘Lavender Menace’ were bad news. ‘Perhaps if G had paid closer attention to this warning it may be have been better prepared to handle the moment when L told G to check its privilege and remove its limp-wristed self from the front of the queue,’ he writes, showing how gay men have been brainwashed into accusing their straight brothers of being responsible for every injustice the world has ever known.
And here’s Milo: ‘Let’s not forget, the majority of LGBT people, gay men, put in all the work to make gay rights happen. So stop taking us for granted and stop crapping on us just because we’re not going along with your latest fad. The G in LGBT has been a load-bearing wall for the whole alphabet soup crew for decades, and we extraordinary gays, the best gays, are tired of pulling along every single alternative sexuality when they expect us to do the heavy lifting while they do the easy grifting.’ Recently in America the reputation of the coalition took a hit following battles over bathrooms, as state governments opposed Obama’s decree that American kids in public schools can choose any bathroom which fits their perceived gender identity. The Sydney Festival recently enjoyed performances from Ivan Coyote, a superb storyteller who thrilled audiences with moving tales of struggles with gender identity. Coyote takes issue with women’s complaints about being afraid of men in women’s washroom because of what might happen. ‘I’m afraid of women in the women’s washroom because of what happens to me all the time…Who decides who gets to feel comfortable?’ Coyote asks. Much as I was won over by Coyote’s powerful stories, I suspect compulsory unisex toilets are just not going to happen – not until we find some way of teaching drunken men not to pee on the floor. But more seriously, it just doesn’t make sense to threaten the safety and comfort of the majority to cater to such a tiny minority group.
It all comes back to John Haldane’s plea for tolerance but not coercion and the T lobby, Coyote aside, shows no sign of getting that message. Late last year an article that was published in Quadrant magazine by John Whitehall, Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University, presented worrying evidence of surgical abuse of so-called ‘transgender’ children most of whom would have grown out of any gender confusion. Whitehall proves activists are grossly inflating figures regarding the prevalence of transgender children and describes alarming laws being introduced in Victoria which essentially prohibit professionals from sensible ‘wait and see’ policies with children, demanding they intervene with puberty blockers, cross-sex-hormones and even surgery. ‘What astonishes me is the lack of evidence to support massive medical intervention in the face of evidence that it is not necessary,’ writes Prof. Whitehall.
Coercion has defined our recent debate over gay marriage – just look at the way the ABC used endless news reports to proselytise ‘marriage equality’ and belittle people who challenged their propaganda. Polling on this issue suggests a Trump effect where the privacy of a plebiscite vote would have revealed the extent of rebellion to this intimidation.
It’s a lesson Hillary Clinton confronted through the ballot box. Her downfall was a clear sign that mainstream communities have had a gutful of forces of coercion bullying them into accepting views which they find uncomfortable or inappropriate. There must be a way of giving enthusiastic support for rightful claims for tolerance and understanding to minority groups without being bullied into absurd policies which subvert the needs of the general population.