Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Transgenderism, Conservatism, And Public Restrooms

     Quite a title, eh? No, it’s not that I’m “in a mood.” And it’s not that I’ve suddenly been possessed by the ghost of Dave Mason, who (as far as I know) is still alive. (Famous send-up of the song titles on his first album, Alone Together: “I Couldn’t Think Of A Shorter Title; Could You Think Of A Shorter Title?”) Those three elements are merely the linchpins for today’s little pseudo-Jeremiad...those three, and this article forwarded to me by my favorite Twenty-First Century Jeremiah, Pascal:

     There’s a few articles out there now on a ‘conservative trans woman’ who apparently said a few things about the transgender idiot in Canada that got offended when a bunch of women wouldn’t wax his…..ya know:

     Conservative and transgender…um….what?

     The [first] I heard of this was from Steve Deace, who noticed this in his timeline and had a similar reaction:

     I agree with him completely. You can’t just abandon the most basic essence of our humanity and call yourself a conservative.

     Now, I don’t know the first thing about Steve Deace. I’m not familiar with his published opinions or other work (if any). And the cited article is “published by The Right Scoop,” so I must treat it as unsigned. But the sloppy thinking exemplified in the above should be a lesson to anyone who presumes to comment on a complex cultural and sociopolitical issue that deserves a radical simplification (and right BLEEP!ing now, at that).

     Close your tray tables, return your seats to the fully upright position, and buckle yourself in securely, Gentle Reader; this ride’s about to get bumpy.

     It’s become my preference, in these latter years of my life and swiftly waning tolerance for poor thinking, to explore the thornier subjects in a fictional context. Indeed, that preference is the reason for my most recent stories and novels:

     Stories have power, both explanatory and persuasive, that exceeds the power of argument and exposition. No matter its premises nor its setting, to be entertaining and edifying a story must show us plausible characters embroiled in the solution of important problems – important to them, at any rate – in a fashion we can imagine real people embracing in the real world. Mind you, they might fail. They might incur consequences that cost them severely. But people’s problems and their attempts to confront them are the key to dramatic fiction.

     Transgenderism is an attempt by some persons – about ninety percent of them born male – to solve a particular problem. Their perception of that problem might strike others as irrational, as evidence of an emotional disorder, or what have you. But that’s irrelevant, as is anyone else’s opinion of one person’s personal long as the afflicted one keeps the problem, its consequences, and the consequences of his chosen solution or palliation entirely to himself.

     Therein lies the rub with transgenderism. Once a phenomenon has been politicized – made into something that demands legislative or judicial intervention – privacy is no longer available to most of those involved.

     It’s only a few months ago that I last wrote about this subject. At the time I hoped my thoughts would bring some peace to the matter, at least among the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch. Perhaps that is the case, but it’s clear that society in general remains disturbed by it. The origin of the disturbance is the “trans activist:” he who demands some variety of legal recognition and sanction for the decision to present oneself as the other sex. As anyone with three functioning brain cells could have foreseen (and the Law of Equilibrium guaranteed ab initio), there arose counter-activists: persons utterly opposed to such recognition and determined to prevent it.

     Perspective is important here. Americans have been undergoing various kinds of sex transition for many, many years:

  1. Type 1: Some don’t bother with anything but clothing and cosmetics.
  2. Type 2: Others purchase depilations and breast implants.
  3. Type 3: Still others go for more elaborate surgeries – in some cases, elaborate enough that their birth sex is no longer detectable except by genetic assay.

     Each level has its own costs and consequences, both for the transitioner and for those around him.

     The private consequences, if “private” means “confined strictly to those willing to deal with them,” are tolerable. The public consequences are the problems...but to this point, the problems are effectively confined to pronouns, potties, and “pride marches.”

     I have absolutely no sympathy for the trans activists who demand that their decisions receive social approbation and legal enforcement. I regard them as a bleeding canker on the body politic. They are a curse on their quiet, privacy-inclined brethren. Indeed, were it not for such persons, there would be no issue whatsoever about transgenderism.

     What’s that you say? You want proof? Why certainly, Gentle Reader! Coming right up. I hope you’re braced – and if it makes you “uncomfortable” to have your illusions shattered, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

     First, have a snippet from The Wise and the Mad:

     Holly crossed the threshold of Costigan’s Pub in a state of unaccustomed uncertainty. She scanned for Walsingham as she rounded into the dining area and spotted him seated in a booth. He rose when he saw her approach. She composed herself as best she could and joined him.
     “Thank you for coming, Holly,” he said. “I must admit I was a bit surprised when you said that you could get away.”
     “Ro and I aren’t joined at the hip, Sir Thomas. We each have some independent pursuits. Besides, on the phone you said you wanted to chat about Unashamed. That’s a conversation for two, not three. And Ro hasn’t read it.”
     “She hasn’t?” he said. “I should have thought she’d read it page by page as it rolled out of your typewriter.”
     “Why would you think so?”
     He frowned. “Isn’t it about her?”
     She laughed. “Heavens, no! I’d never craft a tale around a real person. Especially not someone as dear to me as Ro. It would be an unconscionable invasion of privacy. Here in America that can get you sued.”
     “Hm. It seemed so certain.” A waitress approached bearing an uncorked bottle of Cuvee Rouge and two stemmed glasses. He thanked her, poured a generous amount into a glass, and pushed it toward Holly. “This is from the same winery as that nice Riesling that graced your table yesterday evening.”
     “Thank you.” He filled his own glass. “To your health.” They clinked and sipped.
     “We have these transgenders on the eastern side of the pond as well,” he said, “but ours have made much less noise than yours. An English thing, no doubt. Your protagonist Heidi seems out of the usual run for the U.S. She values her privacy and displays a most attractive reserve. It made her seem English, and quite appealing, despite...” He trailed off.
     Holly grinned. “You were about to say ‘despite her disorder’ or some such, weren’t you?”
     He nodded. “It is a disorder, you know. A man once born cannot become a woman in truth.”
     “Agreed,” Holly said. “Yet it is not impossible for one born a man to present as a woman. Hormones, minor surgery, cosmetics, and diligent study of the personalities and mannerisms of women will suffice for those who already have feminine inclinations and aspects of appearance. For example, you just referred to Heidi as ‘her’ without any apparent tension. That suggests that my portrayal of her in Unashamed was convincingly feminine. I gave her the appropriate appearance, personality, and manner to persuade others to take her as a woman and to treat her as such. I had her respond to such treatment as a woman would respond. An American woman, at any rate. Thus, despite her Y chromosome and male genitalia, she was able to pass in common society as a woman, as was her preference. Only if she had chosen to announce her birth sex to those around her, or to bare her lower body in public, would there have been any conflict about it. Any necessary conflict, that is.”
     He blinked and set his glass on the table.
     “What about love?”
     Holly smiled. “Didn’t Heidi and Roland solve that puzzle adequately?”
     “Yes...yes.” He looked briefly away. “It should not have startled me. We have those on the other side of the Atlantic, as well.”
     Holly took a moment to choose her next words.
     “I’ve been told that a wise man once said that ‘love laughs at hardware.’ I know the sort of love Heidi and Roland chose to enjoy isn’t to everyone’s taste. It’s not that long since it was illegal, both here and in the U.K. Oscar Wilde went to prison for it, did he not?”
     “He did,” Walsingham said.
     “Is sodomy still against the law across the water?”
     “That law was overturned quite some time ago,” he said. “There have been attempts to have it reinstated, but all have failed.”
     “It’s the same here, and just as well,” Holly said. “There can be no pretense of autonomy or personal privacy in a land where the private bodily conduct of consenting individuals is a fit subject for the attention of the police.”
     Walsingham’s face worked. “That is the usual argument. Yet there are many who regard the maintenance of society’s moral standards to be of greater importance.”
     “I know. It’s unclear to some how utterly impossible it is to have both individual freedom and legally enforced sexual standards at once. The Constitution was the touchstone for reform here, particularly the Fourth Amendment. But America has groups demanding the return of the old laws, too.”
     She drained her glass. Walsingham gestured at her with the bottle, and she nodded. As he poured she said “As you know, a law that specifies permitted and forbidden modes of sexual conduct would pose a huge problem for Rowenna. Given her bodily configuration—”
     “Her alternatives are celibacy or functioning as a man,” he said. “I’m aware. But it doesn’t appear a problem for you and Rowenna. You are lovers, are you not?”
     Here it comes.
     Holly inclined her head. “Yes, we are.”
     “And it would seem that the tension that arises from making love to what seems a woman but having her function sexually toward you as a man has caused you no difficulty,” he said. “Or no amount you could not surmount.”
     She smiled and saluted him with her glass.
     “I do present rather convincingly as a woman, don’t I, Sir Thomas?”
     He paled.

     I offer no apologies for the length of that segment. Read it. Imagine it being played out in real life – as it is each and every day, by successful transitioners who keep their origins (and their genitalia) to themselves.

     Holly Martinowski, the viewpoint character in the above, is a Type 2 transwoman: clothing, cosmetics, depilations, and breast implants. Sir Thomas Walsingham, her interlocutor, is unaware of it until the very end of the scene. She has an agenda, but it’s not social, legal, or (God help us all) political. It’s to help her flatmate and lover Rowenna, born a futanari, to reconcile with Walsingham, her father. Other than that, she’s a private person who was born male but “presents” as a woman. As she demands nothing from anyone, she is entitled to her privacy and to the tolerance of those around her.

     Imagine Holly using the women’s restroom at Costigan’s Pub. Imagine her going in, doing her business therein, washing her hands, perhaps powdering her nose, and emerging. Would anyone be moved to indignation? Why? Her public presentation is convincing. She hasn’t attacked anyone or exposed her lower body to anyone. Neither has anyone attacked her. So who would be incensed, and why?

     Now imagine that someone who knows, from other sources, that Holly was born Horace is present and raises a row over it. Who has committed the offense against the public peace, and why?

     As we mathematical types like to say, quod erat demonstrandum. No, don’t applaud; just buy my novels – and read them, and think. For the love of God and the future of the Republic, set your preconceptions and prejudices aside and think!

     Blaire White, the transwoman featured (?) in the linked article from The Right Scoop, decided early on to go public about her decision. Her motives are her own; the consequences are not. One of those consequences is the sort of foofaurauw raised by Steve Deace and the writer(s) of the cited article. Yet had Blaire not chosen to go public, she would be as convincing as my fictional character Holly. She would pass as a woman born, and no one would have any cause to complain about her. So the reactions to her are entirely a consequence of not keeping her private decisions to herself. She’s intelligent, so she knows this.

     Deace and the Right Scoop editorialist commit a glaring sin against their own supposed conservatism by implying that Blaire cannot be a political conservative. What’s more conservative, politically, than an emphasis on the sanctity of personal privacy? Blaire has sacrificed her privacy for a reason, in my opinion, a good one: to demonstrate that there is such a thing as the socially tolerable transitioner. But she doesn’t demand that others accept her, or kowtow to her pronouncements.

     Transgenderism is a social and political problem only insofar as we allow it to become one. Unfortunately, the forces of chaos and division are using it as a stick to beat us with. That’s bad. It should be fought. But it should be fought on the correct grounds: the importance of personal privacy about intimate decisions to the preservation of vital social norms and public conduct. As there is no more intimate decision than whether to transition, or to what extent, I’m tempted to say that that “should” be “obvious.” Unfortunately once again, apparently it takes a Certified Galactic Intellect to make it obvious to a significant fraction of the “conservatives” among us.


Michael Stone said...

Well said, Mr. Porretto!

Sanders said...

"Conservatism, Inc." has already embraced homosexuality. Why not trannies, too?

Gateway Pundit - run by an open homosexual

Drudge - kept it private for a while, but no longer

Log Cabin Republicans - a homosexual organization

Those are only a few I came up with without thinking too hard about it. The problem is, once you compromise one of your principles, the others are easier until you have no principles left at all.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Sanders: I challenge you to:

1) define the word principle in a fashion that differentiates it from rule and preference;
2) express a principle that somehow forbids or condemns private transgenderism of the sort I defended in this article;
3) somehow connect it to political conservatism.

I'll be waiting -- and breathing.

Tracy Coyle said...

Sanders, Francis has approached your comment in his typically wonderful fashion, I do so in my arrogantly, direct, confrontational one:

What principle do you think a transsexual (and I am making a distinction here) abandons to be conservative politically? Do YOU give up your sense of self to be a political caricature? Or does your sexuality define your political stance? As it does to certain elements of the Left that demand conformity by gays to Liberalism in it's current claimed manifestation?

I am politically classical liberal and being trans in no way violates ANY tenant of that political philosophy. I've known Blaire for about 3 years and we share many of the same viewpoints.

Francis makes the first point about privacy - I expose myself here as post-op TS to note an informed opinion on the topic, and the second within his book and the excerpt:

“There can be no pretense of autonomy or personal privacy in a land where the private bodily conduct of consenting individuals is a fit subject for the attention of the police.”
Walsingham’s face worked. “That is the usual argument. Yet there are many who regard the maintenance of society’s moral standards to be of greater importance.”
“I know. It’s unclear to some how utterly impossible it is to have both individual freedom and legally enforced sexual standards at once."

Such a position is clearly conservative (both in today's sense and in the classical liberal sense) that YOU are suggesting is a violation thereof.

Sorry. Your comment is willful, not informed or contemplative. I hope Francis' request leads you well.

Tracy Coyle said...


I think I disagree with your categorization scheme.

Type 1 isn't transitioning, but just playing in the sandbox.
Type 2 MIGHT be transitioning, but is more likely just buying a vacation spot that they regularly visit. Or prefers to be 'non-conforming' in their own way. I refer to these as transgendered as they have completed their move from a societal norm to 'normal for them' that offends sensibilities.
Type 3 are the transsexuals that move from one side of the equation to the other. The rational ones acknowledge both the inability to changes our chromosomal birth and your 'present as man/woman' characterization.

Finally, MtF is about 60% of those that make medical transitions. FtM is usually much more presentable and therefore harder to notice. Actual TS' are a very small subset of the TG movement/identification.

It is a little nitpick that doesn't change the accuracy of your commentary one bit....

Francis W. Porretto said...

Tracy: Please email me at morelonhouse -at- optonline -dot- net. I've lost your email address.

Paul Bonneau said...

Francis, I am about 90% with you, but still I have some qualms (even though I'm not a conservative myself).

For one thing, there really is not such a black and white distinction between public and private. The only completely private case, is the one where only one person knows. More usual is the case where many friends and family and some acquaintances know.Then you still have to consider, what effect does this knowledge have on society - which includes those friends, family and acquaintances? Would some child, say a nephew of the trans person, see the option of transition more favorably than he "should"?

I am reminded of an episode of one of those British shows, where one of the servant girls gets pregnant out of wedlock. Contemporary standards demanded that she should be fired and shunned, but one of the more "enlightened" members of the household tried to make life easier for the servant girl by various means. The question (which predictably was not addressed by the show's producers) was: when illegitimacy becomes less burdensome, doesn't society end up with more illegitimate children? And is that not a very bad thing?

Another issue that this brings into relief is the notion of "help". I have an interracial marriage. This is one of those things that are more public than private; every time I go out with my wife it is clear. Yet 20 years ago I had essentially no problem with it. Now though, as the propagandists have made diversity such a desired-for condition, all you see these days are advertisements of interracial couples. I suppose those who produce such things believe they are helping me. But in doing so they have caused the rise of people who react against having it shoved down their throat, and miscegenation is now again a subject for discussion. Did I really need such "help"? The problem is not just when courts and politicians gets their hands on it, but also when Hollywood and corporations get into their heads that they need to "help" things along.

Oh, BTW I enjoyed your books in this series. Made me think...

Tracy Coyle said...

In a similar vein: I have said for decades that Pride Parades do more damage to the gay community in a day than any anti-gay movement does in years. And, trans-activists are doing more damage to the trans community than they are helping.

"in their face" is any reminder that there are people that don't think/act like them and almost everyone that considers themselves (foremost) a part of a group takes offense at people that deny their participation in that group. In other words, people get real defensive about their group standing when confronted by others NOT in the group, and by simply NOT being part of the group is 'confrontational' words or deeds are necessary.

I'm agnostic but saying that makes religious people get defensive, or offensively attack my position. The Left loves to do that...attacking the 'out' members.

The last 3-4 years have damaged transsexuals and the community. It has forced people like me, who are not out to the greater community to expose ourselves to help mitigate the damage. I assume two very contradictory things in my day to day life: that I pass (present convincingly as a woman) and that everyone that sees me 'knows' the truth. These contradictions allow me to be confident in my day to day dealings AND always to be ready to deal with people that just want to confront/embarrass/harass me. I am extremely effective at both - the advantage of my 30+ yrs as a woman.

Going public is a choice to give up some privacy. BEING in public is NOT giving up privacy. I think the distinction is important.