Within the space of the past 18 months alone, various articles and essays have shown transgenderism to be anti–psychiatry, anti–science, anti–language and anti–sexual difference. We have read of tomboys heading to jamborees, of athletes and lobotomies. And undergirding these pieces have been those everything-at-once essays best filed under the category: this makes no sense.
Before proceeding, however, it would be imprudent not to offer a couple of in-advance clarifications.
Firstly, this short essay deals in concepts, not people or actions. It is not a comparison between people struggling to accept their God-given sex and people experiencing paedophilic urges.
Secondly, what exactly is “transgenderism”? Well, from the legal angle, the words “male” and “female” no longer signify given, fixed states of body (sexes), and instead signify chosen, fluid states of mind—gender identities. On this view, transgenderism is a mere possibility arising from the fact that our legal identity is now changeable. Anybody can be transgender.
Now, the idea of “trans-ageism” has been touched on before, the claim being that if we can change gender we ought to be able to change age. I will give a subtly different account, observing that if we can deny sex, we ought to be able to deny sexual maturity. And I'll break down the journey from gender identity to paedophilic acts into four stages, with each stage arrived at via a question.
To begin, suppose I tell you I feel like a beer. Ten seconds later I say, “No, I fancy a coffee.” Each of my two statements concerns a drink, and it is true to say I cannot change one drink for another using my mind alone. But I can change “I feel like a beer” to “I fancy a coffee” with my mind alone. How come? Because those things are not drinks. Those are states of mind. As such, the difference between them is also a state of mind—which is precisely why I can change from one to the other using my mind alone.
Transferring this line of thought from drinks to identities, our first question proper is: if male and female are states of mind, what’s the difference between them? The answer must be that the difference too is a state of mind. Good. With this point established, it can be applied to sexual maturity.
Here, our focus shifts from male-and-female to its four sub-identities: boy, man, girl and woman. Question two, then. What is the difference between a boy and a man? Ordinarily, our answer is grounded in sex and goes something like this:
We are conceived sexually immature. In time, we become sexually mature. This happens independent of emotional maturity, hence the possibility of, say, an immature man. The definitional difference between a boy and a man is a physical one.
I am sure the difficulty has not escaped you. Within a post-sex legal environment, we cannot appeal to sexual maturity, as such an appeal would readmit s-e-x. It would be like saying the moon is a myth and Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on it. It doesn’t work, does it? If sex has left the conversation, sexual maturity has been silenced. What does all this mean? It means that an acceptance that male and female are states of mind necessitates an acceptance that adult-child difference cannot be anything other than a state of mind.
That’s the groundwork taken care of. Here come the inescapable final blows.
Suppose an eight-year old boy, Jimmy, wishes to “transition” from male to female. According to law, he can do so by way of self-declaration (i.e., without physical alteration). Why? Because in the same way I can change “I feel like a beer” to “I fancy a coffee” without doing anything physical, like putting the kettle on, Jimmy can change “male” to “female” without doing anything physical, such as having surgery. With all this in mind, here's question three. Why is Jimmy limited to transitioning to a girl? Why is no boy-to-woman option available?
Remember, we have already prevented ourselves from using the S-word. So? Answer came there none, except for “But that’s not a thing.” And that's not a satisfactory answer. Nothing is “a thing” until somebody makes it a thing. The question remains: why can't boy-to-woman transition be a thing, along with man-to-girl, girl-to-man, woman-to-boy, boy-to-man, man-to-boy, girl-to-woman and woman-to-girl transition? Can I feel like a beer despite having no beer in the house? Yes, I can. Then Jimmy can be a woman despite being neither female (sex) nor sexually mature.
Put another way, if we can move between male and female, and if we can move around within male (from boy to man, say) and within female (from woman to girl, say), then Jimmy can move between and within, from boy to woman. With the terms “male” and “female” having been peeled off the body and attached to the mind, all four sub-identities can be accessed by anybody. Indeed, the four are identical.
To be precise, it is not that the category of “child” has been rendered legally unsustainable. Rather, both “adult” and “child” are now legally unintelligible because the difference between them is now unintelligible. Bodies can sexually mature; minds cannot.
I am sure you can sense the direction in which this is heading.
A fourth and final question. How is the state to go about extracting from law these old-fashioned, unstable categories? The easiest way to discover the answer is to turn the question around. How are “adult” and “child” presently demarcated in law? Well, with sexual maturity being the definitional difference between the two categories, it follows that the legal boundary separating them is located within the realm of sexual activity. In short, law recognises children as children by forbidding sexual activity in the absence of sexual maturity. And if that is where law’s bright line is located, adult-child difference is legally collapsed by erasing that line. That is the stark barrel we are staring down.
Adults and children are to be done away with in law by making one of two declarations. Either everybody is effectively declared a child, in which case nobody will be permitted to perform sexual acts, or everybody is effectively declared an adult, in which case…
Which of the two do you think it will be?
Feminist academic Rebecca Tuvel recently posited a logical conceptual link between transgenderism and “transracialism.” But as she discovered to her cost: when invited to an ideology party, it is considered offensive to arrive with facts as your plus one. To be clear, I am not saying transracialism needs to become a thing. No, there is always the option to remain in a state of contradiction. But if that is how it is to be, the party’s host can expect a fair few uninvited guests to turn up and join with transracialism in knocking on the door, demanding entry.
If you look carefully, the distinct outline of paedophilia can be seen on the legal horizon, heading towards the party being thrown by gender. The rat-a-tat-tat is not currently loud enough to keep us awake at night. Expect the volume to rise.
Daniel Moody is a philosopher from Dorset, England. This essay was originally published on his blog Gentlemind: The body, the mind, language and law