Speaking at Ferris State University, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro took on transgenderism and pro-abortion advocates in the Q&A after the speech, crushing their arguments in the process. The exchange is below, followed by the video:
Young woman: How do you say that some people don’t have real privilege when you basically just said that trans people aren’t valid, they’re not a thing, they’re just boys pretending to be girls or girls pretending to be boys? Gender is a completely different thing.
Shapiro: No. Gender is not disconnected from sex. So –
Young woman: It’s not completely disconnected, but it’s still a cultural thing, it’s still a problem in society, it’s still in the mind.
Shapiro: No, it is not in the mind, okay. You’re not a man if you think you’re a man. I didn’t say “pretending,” or if I did, I shouldn’t have said “pretending,” let me amend –
Young woman: You said, “playing.”
Shapiro: I said, “A boy who thinks he’s a girl.” That’s the usual phraseology I use; not “playing.” I usually say, “A boy who thinks he’s a girl” or “a girl who thinks she’s a boy.,” which is technically what we’re talking about here. As far as the actual psychological issues at play, it used to be called gender identity disorder; now they call it gender dysphoria. The idea that sex or gender is malleable is not true. I’m not denying your humanity if you are a transgender person; I am saying that you are not the sex which you claim to be. You’re still a human being, and you’re a human being with an issue then I wish you Godspeed in dealing with it in any whatever way you see fit, but if you’re going to dictate to me that I’m supposed to pretend, I’m supposed to pretend that men are women and women are men, no. My answer is no. I’m not going to- I’m not going to modify basic biology because it threatens your subjective sense of what you are.
Young woman: Okay, but you’re still saying that these kids should like, not be accepted because they don’t really fit in either place? They can’t just like—
Shapiro: I’m saying that the Boy Scouts have a standard. You must be a biological boy to be a Boy Scout. You have to be a boy to be a Boy Scout.
Young woman: Where is that written, though?
Shapiro: In the name, “Boy Scouts.” Because for all of human history, boy meant boy and girl meant girl. Boy did not mean girl.
Young Woman: It’s 2017, though.
Shapiro: If I call you a moose, are you suddenly a moose? If I redefine our terms –
Young woman: That’s a completely different thing.
Shapiro: Yes, that’s right. Men and women are a completely different thing. This is true. Have you ever met a man or a woman? They are completely different.
Young woman: It’s a completely different thing . . . It’s not a thing; it’s a gender.
Shapiro: I don’t understand. Let me ask you this. I won’t ask you how old – I will ask you how old you are, because you’re young enough that it’s probably not insulting to ask you.
Young woman: I’m 22, so I’m probably a little bit naïve, right?
Shapiro: No. Why aren’t you 60? Why aren’t you 60? Why can’t you identify as 60? What is the problem with you identifying as 60?
Young woman: It’s not the same as gender, you can’t just –
Shapiro: You’re right. Age is significantly less important than gender. You can’t magically change your gender, You can’t magically change your sex. You can’t magically change your age.
Young woman: You can still legally change it; people will recognize –
Shapiro: You can’t legally change your age, by the way.
Young woman: Obviously. You can change your name; you can change your sex; you can change your identity.
Shapiro: Just because you can do things legally doesn’t mean that they are correct biologically. You could do lots of things in the past that were incorrect biologically but correct legally. For a long period of time in the United States, sterilization of the mentally ill took place; that didn’t make it okay; Skinner vs. Oklahoma, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the decision.
Young woman: Right. I just still don’t understand why . . .
Shapiro: It’s not a matter of open-minded and accepting; I want them to get the treatment that they see fit. The idea behind the transgender movement as a civil rights movement is the idea that all of their problems would just go away if I would pretend that they were the sex to which they claim membership. That’s nonsense. The transgender suicide rate is 40 percent. It is 40 percent. According to the Anderson School at UCLA, it makes no difference – there’s a study that came out last year – it makes no difference, virtually no difference statistically speaking, as to whether people recognize you as a transgender person or not, which suggests there’s a very high comorbidity between transgenderism, whatever that mental state may be, and suicidality, that has nothing to do with how society treats you.
Young woman: Do you think it could be that they are bullied at school?
Shapiro: First of all, I’m against bullying of any sort. The idea that somebody would beat somebody up is terrible. As somebody who was viciously bullied in high school I’m not a fan of bullying. The normal suicide rate across the United States is four percent; the suicide rate in the transgender community is 40 percent. The idea that 36 percent more transgender people are committing suicide because people are mean to them is ridiculous. It’s not true, and it’s not backed by any science that anyone can cite. It is pure conjecture. In fact, it is not even true that bullying causes suicide, according to a lot of studies. For example, in the black community, where the idea is supposedly that America is a racist society, blacks are bullied a lot; in the black community, the black community has significantly lower suicide rates than the white community. In fact, in third world countries, the suicide rate is significantly lower than in first world countries. Suicide actually seems to be a privilege of the upper classes, if you actually look at it from a financial perspective. So the idea that suicidality is directly a result of people like me saying, “No. Men are not women and women are not men," it’s not true.
Young woman: So you think it doesn’t impact their identity at all, their depression or how they feel about themselves?
Shapiro: I think the idea that you’re going to sacrifice the entire society’s proper definition of sex because you think that there is, in legal terms, somebody with an “eggshell skull,” meaning somebody who has a preexisting condition that makes them more susceptible to criticism, that that is not a way to run a society. You can’t sacrifice truth because some people are going to actually suffer because of the truth. Plus, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the suicide rate would go down in the transgender community in any marked way, if people just started pretending that men are women and women are men. We’re trying that experiment now; we’ll find out whether it works. So far, no evidence.
Young woman: Have you talked to a group of trans people, instead of this group, like, white people?
Shapiro: I’m more than happy to talk to a group of any people if they’ll have me, but usually they protest me.
Young woman: Last question, about your Planned Parenthood thing. So why do you think it’s not about women’s bodies and just about a separate life? After the baby is born, how come more people don’t care about them; they don’t care about whether they end up in foster care; they don’t care about the mother being poor --
Shapiro: I do care about the mother being poor; I do care about foster care.
Young woman: Why don’t you (unintelligible). Planned Parenthood is supposed to prevent abortions.
Shapiro: Planned Parenthood doesn’t prevent abortions; they perform hundreds of thousands of abortions a year. They perform 300,000 abortions a year. They’re the leading abortion mill in the United States.
Young woman: Where is your evidence for that, though?
Shapiro: That they perform 300,000 abortions a year? From Planned Parenthood. That’s my evidence, they don’t dispute that. No one disputes that.
Young woman: … like birth control, and cancer?
Shapiro: I’m not anti-birth control. Birth control is extraordinarily cheap.
Young woman: . . . that provides affordable birth control.
Shapiro: Okay, they’re not the only people in America who provide affordable birth control. You can go get a pack of condoms at the local CVS for $12.
Young woman: . . . great, but you’ll need medication, too.
Shapiro: Yes, it’s true that most forms of birth control are also extraordinarily cheap on an annualized basis. Unless you have a severe problem, most birth control is very cheap and readily available. I’m not against people going and getting that from Planned Parenthood; as you may have noticed, I’m mostly against abortion. If you want to go to Planned Parenthood and get a contraceptive, go for it; I don’t care. I do care when you start killing babies. This is a problem for me.
Young woman: But what about in rape and incest?
Shapiro: This is a long conversation; I’m enjoying it actually, which is why I’m allowing you to stay. The question of rape and incest- first of all, important to note: rape and incest are not only a vast minority of abortion cases; they’re an extraordinarily low percentage of abortion cases. So, if at first we can stipulate that all the other abortions are bad, then we can talk about that other one. Can we do that? Are all the other abortions bad or are those ones okay, and you’re just using this as an excuse to make the other ones okay?
Young man’s voice from the back of the room: They’re all okay.
Shapiro: Ah! Good. Someone who’s honest. So . . who’s the honest fellow? Okay. Yay. Honest people. I like the honesty. Okay. So all abortions are okay. (Noticing someone holding up a sign in the back of the room) Oh, a sign, that I can’t read, because it has lots of words on it! (Continuing) I have one question for you, and one question only on abortion: Does the vagina, the vaginal canal magically confer personhood? Answer: Does the vagina magically confer personhood? Yeah, raised hands are okay. You, sir?
Man: No. The first breath does.
Shapiro: The first breath confers personhood? Okay. So if the baby is in the womb, and is exactly the same size, and it has not yet breathed, and you take a knife and you stab the baby in the head, a fully-formed nine-month old baby, it is not a human, the only thing that makes it a human is when it takes a breath, and it has to independently breathe?
Man: I mean, I’m going to be honest; I’m going to stick to a gaffe, because I’m also pro-capital punishment, and pro selective-suicide, so I’m going to stick with it.
Shapiro: Selective suicide? I assume you mean elective suicide.
Man: I mean elective suicide. I’m not going to make someone commit suicide.
Shapiro: That’s good because that wouldn’t be suicide; that would be homicide. By the way, I’m for capital punishment too, because people who kill people should be killed, but babies who have not killed people should not. This is my basic position on abortion.
Turning back to the young woman, Shapiro said, “I’ll get your answer, because you’re the one who asked the question. Are you willing to stipulate that all the other abortions are bad, just rape and incest bother you?"
Young woman: I mean no, I believe a woman should have the right to –
Shapiro: Got it. So it’s just an excuse. It’s an excuse so we can take the marginal case and then say that the marginal case applies to all cases. That’s again, faulty thinking. But if you want me to answer specifically on rape and incest, here is my basic answer: rapists should be castrated or killed; you shouldn’t kill babies. End of story.
Young woman: But are they ever castrated or killed? Most rapists don’t even get convicted.
Shapiro: I agree, and that’s usually the left side of the aisle, because the left side wants to let them out after five years in prison. I want them castrated or killed. I’m telling you what my belief is. My belief is not public policy at the moment. But I think, would you agree with me on that one? Can we at least get a little agreement so we can finish this particular parlay? Should rapists be castrated or killed?"
The young woman: Well, yes.
Shapiro: Okay, good, then we can agree, thanks.