BEN SHAPIRO: The Rise Of The Transgressives

WASHINGTON, DC: The President of the United States looks uncomfortable. He has a grin plastered across his elderly visage as he peers across the set at Dylan Mulvaney, a TikTok star and former actor who starred in Book of Mormon. Mulvaney’s hair is long, ironed down to his shoulders; his makeup is heavy, and he wears a pantsuit, crème on top, blue on the bottom, with a large pastel rose bow around his neck — “the trans flag colors!” he has explained before the shoot. He beams ear-to-ear, hard enough that the smile seems carved into his face, as he gazes down the most powerful man in the world.

Mulvaney is a TikTok icon because he decided in March 2022 to announce that he was becoming a woman — and to document his attempt to become a woman in a series he dubbed “Days of Girlhood.” Day 1 featured Mulvaney explaining that he had cried three times, had told someone he was fine when he wasn’t, and had ordered clothes that had cost too much money — all hallmarks of being a girl, apparently. When a man claims that women are emotional or that they spend too much money – when he engages in ugly stereotypes – this is considered sexist. When that man dons makeup and a blouse and says he’s a woman, that makes him an authoritative source.

And Mulvaney is certainly treated as that. From videos featuring him talking about normalizing his penis bulge in tight pleather booty shorts to videos featuring his reaction to his growing nipples — the result of estrogen injections — Mulvaney has racked up hundreds of millions of views. He has over 8 million followers on TikTok, who listen to his disquisitions on identity and gender and womanhood. Forbes featured Mulvaney at their “Power Women’s Summit” in September, where Mulvaney lectured the older generation of actual biological women to say to him — a man who has called himself a woman for less than 250 days — “we respect you enough to take the reins on this.” And he has a series of contracts with makeup companies, including ad deals with CeraVe, MAC, Neutrogena, and Kate Spade. 

Most recently, Mulvaney’s ad deal with Ulta has fallen under scrutiny, thanks to an interview between “genderfluid” host David Lopez, who wears a beard and dyed blonde locks, and Mulvaney — an interview in which Mulvaney declared his desire to “be a mother.” The backlash was swift and severe, with customers pledging a boycott of the company and labeling Mulvaney’s cosplaying “womanface,” a version of “blackface.”

Within days, Mulvaney announced his visit to the White House. He explained on TikTok, wearing a t-shirt reading, “Don’t mess with trans kids” imposed on a flag of Texas, “It’s day 222 of being a girl, I’m in Washington DC, and I’m going to the White House to speak to the President of the United States! You know that phrase, ‘I fear I may have girlbossed too close to the sun?’… As silly as I am on here, I’m ready to step up and show that trans people, we’re not going anywhere, and that trans kids, they deserve a fighting chance to be their true selves.”

Now, Mulvaney sits across from President Joe Biden and announces that he is becoming a woman: “Mr. President, this is my 221st day of publicly transitioning.” And the president, who has eyes and ears that are allegedly as fully functioning as those of any other human being, and thus the ability to perceive the falsehood of Mulvaney’s statement, lets a broad rictus spread across his face, then murmurs, “God love you.”

Then Mulvaney asks his question to the president: “Do you think states should have the right to ban gender-affirming healthcare?”

‘Gender-affirming healthcare’ (GAH) is a euphemistic misnomer for a series of medical interventions ranging from treating minors with cross-sex hormones — boys with estrogen, girls with testosterone — to mutilation and sterilization surgically — breast removals and phalloplasties in girls, vaginoplasties in boys. GAH physically attempts to obscure the biological sex of the patient; it ought to properly be termed sex-denying healthcare (SDH). The theory behind SDH is that those who claim they are members of the opposite sex, whether due to gender dysphoria or any other rationale, will commit suicide unless they are accepted societally; society is to blame for the sky-high rates of suicidal ideation that are comorbid with gender confusion.

There is no evidence to back this theory. The reality is that the vast majority of children who experience gender confusion will experience desistence from such behavior; there is no durable data suggesting that the link between suicidal ideation and gender confusion is severed by SDH. The reasons for suicidal ideation are complex, and the conversation surrounding SDH is purely propagandistic.

And the president of the United States is one of the purveyors of this propaganda. And so Joe Biden responds to a man cosplaying as a woman with all the earnestness of a priest discussing the value of sexual fidelity within marriage: “I don’t think any state or anybody should have the right to do that. As a moral question and as a legal question, I just think it’s wrong.”

For once, Joe Biden wasn’t misspeaking. His administration promulgates precisely that viewpoint: that the mutilation of children is a moral pursuit, so long as those children are gender-confused. As the White House recently stated, attempts to curb such child abuse are “un-American”; after all, the White House explained, “Transgender people are some of the bravest people in our nation. But nobody should have to be brave just to be themselves.” By “be themselves,” of course, the White House means “reject their biological sex in favor of a subjective feeling unsupportable by science.”

The Democratic Party has chosen to make SDH a litmus test for morality. The state of California now declares itself a “sanctuary state” for parents who wish to subject their children to SDH; Governor Gavin Newsom announced triumphantly:

States across the country are passing laws to demonize the transgender community, especially transgender youth and their parents…The hate demonstrated by these laws is unfathomable and has contributed to soaring suicide rates. 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves, and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth. This is unacceptable – we must fight for our youth and their parents.

California will now legally shield a mother who, for example, absconds with a child across state lines to escape a traditional father who refuses to trans their shared son. And according to Democrats, this is the height of moral virtue. Every single Democrat in Congress voted for the Equality Act, which overrules religious freedom in the name of ‘anti-discrimination’ law that includes transgender ‘healthcare.’

If sex-denying healthcare for children can be converted into a “moral question,” as Joe Biden puts it, there are no more battles to be won. Truth will have no meaning, facts will be completely subservient to narrative, and children — having become the tools of a radical agenda — will become its victims.

The Transgressive Identity

How, precisely, did transgendering of children become the tip of the spear for the radical social agenda? The answer lies in a broader movement over time to reshape the notion of Western identity around subjective sexual feeling. 

Traditional morality sees the locus of individual identity in a symbiotic relationship between the atomistic individual and society. We are born with certain biological characteristics, which restrict our choices in life but also grant us certain abilities; we are born into a pre-existing social system, with roles and responsibilities. We adapt our individual characteristics to the civilization around us. The goal of parenting is to civilize our children, not merely to celebrate their various biological drives. As philosopher Carl Trueman writes:

It is in communal activities that individuals find their true selves; the true self in traditional cultures is therefore something that is given and learned, not something that the individual creates for himself … This view depends on an understanding of the wider community as a positive good for those individuals who constitute it.

Romantic morality sees the locus of the individual in his unfettered desires. Who we are is a question of internal feeling alone. Societal forces that cut against the feeling, that refuse to celebrate that feeling, are oppressive and ought to be shattered. Again, as Trueman explains:

The intuitive moral structure of our modern social imagination prioritizes victimhood, sees selfhood in psychological terms, regards traditional sexual codes as oppressive and life denying, and places a premium on the individual’s right to define his or her own existence … And the refusal by any individual to recognize an identity that society at large recognizes as legitimate is a moral offense, not simply a matter of indifference.

This redefinition of identity is irrational; it presumes that the passions ought to govern mankind, and that true happiness is to be found in the evisceration of all rules, roles, and obligations. As Percy Shelley, the dissolute romantic poet, wrote:

In fact, religion and morality, as they now stand, compose a practical code of misery and servitude: the genius of human happiness must tear every leaf from the accursed book of God ere man can read the inscription on his heart. How would morality, dressed up in stiff stays and finery, start from her own disgusting image should she look in the mirror of nature!

This belief system — that sexual passions are the root of Who We Are™ — cannot be termed ‘progressive’ in any real sense. It’s actually a call to return to the animal rather than to achieve progress for humanity. A far more accurate ideological label would be transgressive: this philosophy of identity revolves around program of norm-violation, of destroying the boundaries and roles and rules of social acceptability, all in the name of ‘liberating’ the passions. 

Transgressivism results in deep unhappiness, since after all, we are far more than our genitals. We are embedded beings — embedded in our time, embedded in our society, embedded in our family. Removing from us all of those connections leaves us aimless, confused. As sociologist Emile Durkheim, a scholar of suicide, wrote:

Life, they say, is only tolerable if one can see some purpose in it, if it has a goal and one that is worth pursuing. But the individual in himself is not sufficient as an end for himself. He is too small a thing. Not only is he confined in space, he is also narrowly limited in time. So when we have no other objective than ourselves, we cannot escape from the feeling that our efforts are finally destined to vanish into nothing, since that is where we must return….it is in order to play our part in society that we have struggled to extend our understanding — and it is society, once more, that by handing down to us the knowledge that is entrusted to it, has supplied us with the instruments of that development … social man is everything for the civilized human being; it is this that gives value to our existence.

What’s more, linking our sexual desires with our identities dispenses with other aspects of individuality that have typically characterized human beings: our freedom of action, our reason, our sympathies. Reducing human beings to a Freudian sex impulse flattens them entirely. Transgressivism commits the failing of treating both behavior and desire as immutable characteristics, akin to race or sex, thus removing from us freedom and responsibility — which, presumably, is a feature rather than a bug. But behavior can be trained, controlled, shaped by environment. That concept is the predicate for any functional society. As to sexual desires, they are shaped by a combination of nature and environment; there is no ‘gay gene,’ for example, contrary to propaganda and public opinion. 

Historically, the romantic vision of individual identity would have fallen flat thanks to one simple fact: it runs contrary to results. Men who believe they are women, men and women who choose alternative sexual lifestyles directed at pleasure rather than reproduction, human beings who define themselves primarily in terms of their sexual desires — all would have failed in the evolutionary scheme. Society would have defended itself from such cancerous attacks with the immune system of traditional morality — a system of received wisdom tried over the course of centuries, and proved durable yet incrementally changeable.

But over the course of the 20th century, traditional morality was largely obliterated. 

It wore away thanks to three factors.

First, religious practice in the West markedly declined. Churchgoing dropped off; religious affiliation fell. ‘Spiritual but not religious’ became a widespread self-designation, followed by an uptick in ‘agnostic’ and ‘atheist.’ Religion has been, for all of recorded history, societal glue: ritual requires skin-in-the-game that forms group cohesion; religious tradition venerates the wisdom of the past and actually enshrines it; shared morals and principles create a backdrop of philosophical homogeneity that allow for the weaving of social fabric. As religion declines, so too does the moral and social immune system of a society.

Second, the advance of science and the welfare state lulled the West into a false sense of security — a sense that the link between action and consequence had been severed. The transgressive view of sexuality had always run up against the rocks of reality; promiscuity would generally result in unintended pregnancy; alternative sexual practices would often result in disease; both would often result in social isolation, and the economic poverty that would follow. But with the advent of the birth control pill, the link between sex and pregnancy was broken; abortion became a commonplace medical solution for those who simply missed their birth control. The link had to remain severed, even at the cost of the already-conceived unborn. With better medical care, the risks of sexually transmitted disease dropped radically (which was why the AIDS crisis took the West so very much by surprise — it felt like a reversion to a more ancient, punitive time); with the rise of the cradle-to-grave welfare state, the consequences of nearly all bad actions could be mitigated by a ‘generous’ government. All of this resulted in a massive spike in transgressive behaviors, which turned them from fringe to mainstream, thus removing the only disincentive toward their practice. 

Thanks to the first two factors — (1) decline of religious practice and (2) the advance of science and welfarism — a practical grounding could now be given to the third factor in the decline of religion: the rise of pseudo-rationalism, in which traditional mores and practices were held to the bar of ‘pure reason’ and found wanting. This pseudo-rationalism demanded that tradition explain itself in secular humanistic terms: it was no longer enough to cite tradition or the wisdom of the ages to defend a practice. Never mind that, as F.A. Hayek pointed out:

Experience comes to man in many more forms than are commonly recognized by the professional experimenter or the seeker after explicit knowledge …. The appropriateness of our conduct is not necessarily dependent on our knowing why it is so.

Now, the burden of proof would be shifted to defenders of tradition to justify their rules. The world had changed. Religion could no longer rely on inertia to guarantee its future; it would have to adopt the modes of secularism, and drag God and his Word before the bar of Kantian universalism or Millian utilitarianism or Marxist thought. Radicals needed to provide no defense of their own ideas — they merely had to tear down the existing structure. 

Incrementalism and caution had to be thrown to the wind to feed the transgressive beast; every moment that the social status quo ruled was a time of tyranny. As Michael Oakeshott wrote:

Much of [the rationalist’s] political activity consists in bringing the social, political, legal and institutional inheritance of his society before the tribunal of his intellect; and the rest is rational administration, ‘reason’ exercising an uncontrolled jurisdiction over the circumstances of the case. To the Rationalist, nothing is of value merely because it exists (and certainly not because it has existed for many generations)…his disposition makes both destruction and creation easier for him to understand and engage in, than acceptance and reform.

Without religion and tradition, the West lost the language to defend its own core values. Only two values now remain in the West, as Jonathan Haidt points out: harm/care and fairness/reciprocity. Other values — values conservatives have traditionally prized, ranging from loyalty to respect for authority to purity — have been discarded. As Haidt writes in The Righteous Mind, Westerners now defend the right of a man to buy a chicken at the supermarket and have sex with it:

If you’re an educated and politically liberal Westerner, you’ll probably give another nuanced answer, one that acknowledges the man’s right to do what he wants, as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone.

Except that Haidt doesn’t go far enough. He stops at the question of whether Westerners have the language to defend just why it would be wrong for a man to copulate with a chicken; his answer is no, since we’ve lost all appeal to tradition, purity, and dignity.

But that’s not the actual question these days.

The question is whether, if a man shapes his identity around carnal desire for frozen chickens — if he says that his deepest and most ardent desire is to fornicate with frigid poultry, and that this desire lies at the center of Who He Is™ — he ought to be held a hero. The question is whether society must be compelled to celebrate his newfound identity. What’s more, in order to inculcate the transgressive morality necessary to create a celebratory society, shouldn’t his practices be taught to our youngest and most innocent?

Teaching The Children

In July 2021, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus released a video on YouTube. The Chorus has a mission, according to its website: “We envision a world inspired and unified by the music we create … We evolve society’s views toward LGBTQ people through our commitment to excellence.” 

This commitment to excellence and evolution involves recruiting children to the cause, which is precisely what the SFGMC sang in their “Message From The Gay Community”:

You think that we’ll corrupt your kids

If our agenda goes unchecked

Honey, just this once, you’re correct!

We’ll convert your children, happens bit by bit

Quietly and subtly and you will barely notice it….

We’ll convert your children, we’ll make them tolerant and fair….

The world’s getting kinder, Gen Z’s gayer than Grindr.

We’re coming for them. We’re coming for your children.

The gay agenda is coming home.

The gay agenda is here….

We’ll convert your children and make an ally of you yet.

There is little question that advocates of transgressivism target children. They must. Targeting children allows for the possibility of restructuring society. If institutions mold us — and if they have molded us in intolerant, bigoted ways — the only possibility of building a future free for transgressivism lies in conversion of the young, those who have not yet been touched by the impurity of tradition. As radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich wrote in 1945:

The free society will provide ample room and security for the gratification of natural needs. Thus, it will not only not prohibit a love relationship between two adolescents of the opposite sex but will give it all manner of social support. Such a society will not only not prohibit the child’s masturbation but, on the contrary, will probably conclude that any adult who hinders the development of the child’s sexuality should be severely dealt with…The interlacing of the socio-economic structure with the sexual structure of society and the structural reproduction of society take place in the first four or five years and in the authoritarian family. The church only continues this function later. Thus, the authoritarian state gains an enormous interest in the authoritarian family. It becomes the factory in which the state’s structure and ideology are moulded.

The transgressives don’t hide the ball in this regard. They believe with ardent fervor that they are doing a favor to children by exploding the roles, rules and responsibilities designed to protect children historically. They are liberating the children.

The most obvious manifestation of this belief lies in the exponential multiplication of Drag Queen Story Hours and Family Friendly Drag Shows across the nation. The overt sexualization of children — teaching four-year-olds about sodomy or bottom surgery, for example — raises too many societal flags. But exposing children to cross-dressing men who twerk or gown-garbed dudes who read them books about gender fluidity — that’s not just tolerant, it’s morally praiseworthy. After all, it helps inculcate the values of transgressivism.

Why drag? Because drag is, by nature, transgressive. Transgression is the essence of drag — which is precisely why drag used to be a punch line. Violating norms in a society that respects norms is inherently funny. Bugs Bunny wore drag precisely because it was absurd, and transgressing social norms was worthy of laughter. Then, drag queens became the face of social rebellion: they represented a challenge to the idea that men should not act like women, and vice versa. 

But drag’s transgressive nature wore thin in the face of the open advocacy of homosexuality and radical feminist androgyny, both of which presented far more radical social propositions — that male-male or female-female dyads were perfectly morally equivalent to heterosexual pairings, or that men and women were perfectly interchangeable in all matters. A man wearing his wife’s garters wasn’t nearly as transgressive as either of those arguments.

But then things changed: drag became not a mere question of transvestitism, but a reflection of deeper questions about gender identity. Drag raised the possibility that men weren’t just dressing like women, thus transgressing sartorial boundaries (as well as traditional decency and good taste), but that men could be women, thus transgressing biological boundaries and obliterating entire gender categories entirely. As Simon Doonan writes in his glowing history of the subject:

[N]one of us foresaw the impending gender revolution. We could not possibly have guessed that by 2019 there would be more than a dozen official pronouns … In the past, the definition of drag was simple and unqualified: whether in Shakespeare, panto or kabuki theater, or on the bar of London’s Vauxhall Tavern or the deck of a gay cruise ship, drag was defined as women’s clothing worn by a man — or vice versa — for the purposes of entertainment … Cast aside your old definitions … Today’s dragsters are reveling in the fact that their identities are hard to pin down.

The sexualization inherent in drag is a natural byproduct of such modes of thinking; drag now turns autogynophilia into identity, and then waters it down into fashion. Targeting this message toward children is posited as a positive good: drag is suggested as an excellent way of ‘broadening minds’ and ‘blurring boundaries.’ As the Drag Queen Story Hour organization argues, such events are necessary in order to allow kids to “see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where everyone can be their authentic selves.” This is the language of pure transgressivism: your authentic self lies in your subjective sense of what you are — society must be reconstructed to cheer it. And, it goes without saying, if children are perceived as sexual beings, as many queer theorists argue, then that “authentic self” ought to be sexually informed and free, too. Christopher Rufo correctly explains:

For the drag pedagogists, the traditional life path—growing up, getting married, working 40 hours a week, and raising a family—is an oppressive bourgeois norm that must be deconstructed and subverted. As the drag queens take the stage in their sexually suggestive costumes, [Harris] Kornstein and [Harper] Keenan argue, their task is to disrupt the ‘binary between womanhood and manhood,’ seed the room with ‘gender-transgressive themes,’ and break the ‘reproductive futurity’ of the ‘nuclear family’ and the ‘sexually monogamous marriage’—all of which are considered mechanisms of heterosexual, capitalist oppression. The books selected in many Drag Queen Story Hour performances—Cinderelliot, If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It, The Gender Wheel, Bye Bye, Binary, and They, She, He, Easy as ABC—promote this basic narrative. Though Drag Queen Story Hour events are often billed as ‘family-friendly,’ Kornstein and Keenan explain that this is a form of code: “It may be that DQSH is ‘family friendly,’ in the sense that it is accessible and inviting to families with children, but it is less a sanitizing force than it is a preparatory introduction to alternate modes of kinship. Here, DQSH is ‘family friendly’ in the sense of ‘family’ as an old-school queer code to identify and connect with other queers on the street.” That is, the goal is not to reinforce the biological family but to facilitate the child’s transition into the ideological family. After the norms of gender, sexuality, marriage, and family are called into question, the drag queen can begin replacing this system of values with ‘queer ways of knowing and being.’

All of this is highly dangerous to children, of course. Children require stability, which means roles and rules and responsibilities. The ‘grooming’ of children in ideological fashion is not a matter of moral apathy. It results in confusion and pain and — as we see statistically — suicidal ideation.

How To Convince The Parents?

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY: Parents look on and laugh as a child, no more than two, hands a dollar bill to an overweight man dressed in a sequined onesie, black gloves, and a purplish-wig. Other children look on in confusion.

The scene isn’t uncommon. But the question is just why parents would drag their children to drag shows? Why would parents take their innocent kids to sit at the knee of fetishists reading them anti-scientific claptrap about how internal feelings dictate reality?

The answer is simple: an entire media and social media infrastructure has sprung up to defend transgressive values. This infrastructure presents both carrot and stick. The carrot: the reward of feeling that you are an ideal parent by indoctrinating your child in transgressivism. The stick: social hatred for upholding traditional norms and values, and the possibility down the line of full-scale prosecution.

The media and social media provide the carrot. They treat transgender people as uniquely strong and heroic; as Joe Biden put it, “Transgender people are some of the bravest people in our nation” (a unique descriptor for those who are tragically confused about their own biological sex). By featuring ‘trans kids’ like Jazz Jennings as brave heroes fighting the adult patriarchy, and his parents as the real heroes for understanding that Jazz’s biological maleness was all a mistake; the media never connect Jennings’ gender struggles with the hellish life Jennings has had to endure as an adult, including a recent 100-lb. weight gain and constant struggles with depression and anxiety. Fox News has even joined in on the fun, pushing a segment featuring the family of Ryland Whittington, a girl being treated as a boy by her family — and pushing propaganda statistics from The Trevor Project, an activist group that advocates on behalf of sexual fluidity. The medical establishment has provided its support to transgressivism by pushing anti-scientific nonsense about the malleability of sex, as well as sheer falsehoods about the supposed efficacy of SDH. The best parents, we are told, are those who “allow their children to be who they authentically are” — meaning who have ‘trans kids,’ and who foster ‘social transition’ as soon as humanly possible.

And this message resonates with a particular group of parents: as Bill Maher correctly noted, it’s rare to enter a social circle in New York or Los Angeles without a set of parents with a ‘trans kid,’ but you’re rather unlikely to spot such a phenomenon in rural Indiana. That’s not because of social pressure. It’s because of social contagion. A sort of Munchausen syndrome by proxy has set in in large areas of the country, wherein parents ‘spot’ LGBTQ identification in their very young children, then appoint themselves the heroic guardians of their children’s newly-discovered ‘authentic selves’ — selves that deny biology and indoctrinate children into a world of gender chaos.

Unsurprisingly, the result of all of this has been an explosive increase in LGBTQ identification: a recent Gallup poll showed that while 0.8 percent of Americans born before 1946 identified as LGBT, fully 20.8 percent of those born from 1997 to 2003 identified as such. Another recent poll showed 30 percent of Millennials identifying as LGBTQ, along with 39 percent of Generation Zers. Those numbers are surely far higher for those born after 2003. The number of young people who identify as transgender has nearly doubled from 2017 to 2020. Rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD), a social contagion, has also turned the population of those identifying as transgender from mostly biological male to mostly biological female

Then there’s the stick. The media and social media promote the great lie that the suicidal ideation of gender nonconforming children is driven not by comorbidities with that nonconformity, but by intolerance. “Would you rather a live son or a dead daughter?” Parents are emotionally blackmailed. But, of course, that’s sheer nonsense: the greatest danger to children is a society encouraging gender confusion, which is likely to result in precisely the comorbidities for which traditional parents are blamed. It is no surprise that as LGBTQ identification has skyrocketed among the young, so has suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety. 

And that’s not because of societal intolerance, but because transgressivism has a brutal casualty list. Yet our society incentivizes identification as LGBTQ; it then tells parents that such identification is built-in, inherent, unchangeable and unchanging, and that parents who refuse to spot their “daughters” lurking inside their sons are blind and cruel.

The myth that suicide among LGBTQ youth is caused by societal intolerance is now morphing into legal bars on traditional child-rearing. Some 20 states plus Washington D.C. ban ‘conversion therapy’ for minors, which includes banning therapy that does not ‘affirm’ chosen gender. The next step will presumably be to encode laws that prosecute parents who refuse to treat their children as members of the opposite sex, as proposed recently by a Virginia Democratic delegate.

Exporting ‘American Culture’

ECUADOR: According to Fox News, the US State Department has now granted $20,600 to the Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano Abraham Lincoln to “promote diversity and inclusion” by promoting “12 drag theater performances.”

The promotion of the LGBTQ agenda abroad is no coincidence. During Pride Month, US Embassies in a variety of countries — including the Vatican — flew the so-called Pride Flag. This was part of a broader White House attempt to commemorate “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, Queer and Intersex Pride Month,” during which President Biden called upon “the people of the United States to recognize the achievements of the LGBTQI+ community, to celebrate the great diversity of the American people, and to wave their flags of pride high.” Biden simultaneously reached out to “our younger transgender Americans,” saying, “I will always have your back as your President so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”

The American government has now been mobilized to spread the transgressive message abroad: as Joe Biden stated, “Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights.  The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values. “

All Americans should oppose violence on the basis of sexual proclivity or gender confusion. But the notion that our most dearly-held values as Americans lie in spreading transgressivism has not gone without note abroad. Most of the world still rejects the values of transgressivism; imperialistically promoting such values is not likely to result in widespread American foreign policy success. There is an enormous amount of truth to the meme that has repeatedly gone viral of late regarding America’s current foreign policy orthodoxy:

David French, Sohrab Ahmari And The Question Of Conservatism And Liberty

Virtually all conservatives — and moderates, for that matter — agree that the transgressive perspective ought not target children, at the very least. But the question remains: what should be done to prevent such predations?

On the right side of the aisle, this question has raised a far larger question about the limits of liberty and the power of government. The most famous battle over the matter was joined in 2019 between David French, now of The Dispatch, and Sohrab Ahmari, now of Compact. French has famously upheld the value of ‘viewpoint neutrality,’ the First Amendment doctrine that when the government restricts or sponsors speech, it must do so in a way that does not privilege any particular message; this means that speech you don’t like must not be curbed by government. In its most radical form, French advocated the message thusly while speaking with The New Yorker:

…you can’t define victory as the exclusion of your enemies from the public square. There are going to be Drag Queen Story Hours. They’re going to happen. And, by the way, the fact that a person can get a room in a library and hold a Drag Queen Story Hour and get people to come? That’s one of the blessings of liberty.

The best solution to transgressivism, according to French, lies in the cultural square: win the battle in the churches, in the schools, in the community. Classical liberalism, in its focus on free speech and convincing others, will win the day as the tyrannical restrictions posed by transgressives materialize. 

To Ahmari, such language is blasphemous. If Drag Queen Story Hour is a ‘blessing of liberty,’ then liberty is no blessing. We must instead pursue “a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good.” In Ahmari’s view, the neutral square is dead. There will be winners, and there will be losers. And virtue requires that the winners stand against Drag Queen Story Hour and transgressivism using all power at their disposal. As Ahmari points out, there will be no deal cut with the transgressives: “The more that conservative liberals like French insist on autonomy, the more they strengthen the bullies’ position. This far with autonomy, they insist, but no farther. But why should the other side stop?”

It is possible that French and Ahmari are talking slightly past one another. French’s language describing Drag Queen Story Hour — ‘blessing of liberty’ — is exaggerated for effect. He would more precisely believe that Drag Queen Story Hour is one of the necessary negative byproducts of liberty, presumably — but that liberty must be preserved nonetheless because there is no alternative, in a diverse democracy, to government neutrality. Ahmari, despite his disdain for classical liberalism, would presumably still like to exercise measures of liberty — he does not seek a full theocracy, without freedom to choose.

Their debate, then, comes down to two more basic questions: first, is there a right to transgressive indoctrination of children? Second, what can government do?

To answer the first question, we must first answer what a right is. American jurist Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld developed a rubric for rights — a breakdown on the types of rights we mean when we talk about rights. For our purposes, two such rights are relevant: privileges and immunities. Privileges are the things we have no duty not to do. For example, we have a privilege to eat a hamburger for lunch, because we have no duty to refrain from eating a hamburger for lunch. Immunities are assertions against the power of another. So, for example, I have an immunity against the President of the United States dictating the color of my socks – he was granted no such power, and therefore I have an immunity against him.

No privilege can be asserted on behalf of indoctrinating children into transgressivism. It is doubtful that even French would argue that parents have no duty to protect their children from such damaging trash. Legally, however, French may be correct that localities have immunities against the federal government on such matters — the federal government has not been delegated the power to regulate Drag Queen Story Hour at local libraries. 

The debate between French and Ahmari really begins to take shape at the local level, then. Local governments did historically have the power to regulate against Drag Queen Story Hour. Should they? French might say no – that we ought to aim for neutral spaces across the land, so that a San Francisco Library could be forced to also host a religious story hour. But Ahmari’s claim here is more convincing: yes, local communities have the power to — and should — restrict Drag Queen Story Hour. The founders never conceived of a federalized free speech principle in violation of local sovereignty, and local communities should have the ability to preserve traditional values against the aggressive rapacity of transgressivism. If the war against transgressivism is to be won, it must start with the little platoons of family, move across local communities, then up to the state level and finally to the federal level — not as a matter of morality (again, there is no privilege to push transgressivism) but as a matter of practicality.

The Costs Of Transgressivism

And transgressivism must be stopped. Its costs can be measured in terms of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation — all of which are reaching epic proportions. According to the CDC, as of 2019, fully 46.8 percent of LGBT high schoolers have seriously considered suicide and 23.4 percent attempted suicide, compared with just 14.5 percent and 6.4 percent of heterosexual high schoolers, respectively; as the number of LGBT youths increase, those numbers will rise for the general population. Transgressivism has consequences.

Those consequences are most obvious among desisters — the group of formerly transgender identifying youths who have now reverted to identifying with their biological sex. A mass campaign by the transgressives has taken place to silence their voices, but their numbers are growing nonetheless. 

Then there is the broader cost to American society. A society that loses its traditions loses its social fabric. No consensus can be built around transgressivism: one of transgressivism’s chief premises is that every identity requires a unanimous support structure, and it is inevitable that those support structures will come into conflict. The support structure for heterosexual identity, for example, has always been traditional marriage; transgressivism has demanded that traditional marriage be redefined into meaninglessness to make room for new identities. The only way for transgressivism to achieve durability is to create a caste system whereby certain identities are privileged above others.

And this is precisely what is happening. In order to establish that hierarchy, freedoms must be curbed, social fabric must be torn. To the transgressives of course, that’s just an additional incentive rather than a cost. But for everyday Americans, atomistic isolation combined with repressive tolerance is a horrifically tyrannical combination.

The backlash to transgressivism has already begun. But it remains to be seen whether that backlash will be merely a knee-jerk spasm of apoplexy against the obvious excesses of transgressivism, or whether it will be more profound. The only true victory over transgressivism will involve the overturning of an entire philosophy — a poisonous philosophy that the West has taken into its bloodstream — and the reinculcation of a value system that prizes mores, roles, traditions, and institutions as core to individual identity. That reinculcation must become the task of the conservative movement. There is no bargaining with transgressivism. It must be fought, and it must be destroyed.

Concluding his interview with President Biden, Dylan Mulvaney said, “Do you have any messages to the families of trans folks that are seeking, you know, options for their children but are struggling to find resources? Do you have a message to those parents?”

Biden squinted across at Mulvaney and immediately responded, “Yes, I do. This is blood of your blood, bone of your bone … I think it’s just a matter of leaders speaking out … Just because it’s different, it’s nothing to be fearful about.”

No one is afraid of men who believe they are women or vice versa. But a society built on the lie that children ought to be indoctrinated into confusion, socially transitioned into confirmation of delusion, sterilized and mutilated — that is a society we should all fear and that we should all fight. If we don’t — if we acquiesce in the transgressive destruction of truth and their flattening of humanity into mere sexual impulses — then we will reap the whirlwind. More importantly, so will our children.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  BEN SHAPIRO: The Rise Of The Transgressives