Human interest stories are like earthquakes. Readers love earthquakes, but they get bored with the small ones that flatten a single city. Editors need devastated provinces and tsunamis up to wind up their interest. So the lives of transgender people are the gift that keeps on giving for tabloids. Readers are always interested and the stories keep getting weirder and weirder.
Bruce/Caitlin Jenner is a 65-year-old man transitioning into a 45-year-old woman. Yawn. So 15 minutes ago. Where to from here?
To 52-year-old Paul Wolscht, a Canadian mechanic with a wife and seven children, who has transitioned into Stefonknee Wolscht, a six-year-old girl in frilly dresses who lives with adoptive parents and spends her time playing with their grandchildren.
Stefonknee (pronounced Stephanie) doesn’t look like a six-year-old girl, even in the frilly dress. She is heavy-set, about six-feet tall and has a deep voice. But she likes colouring in and playing with dolls with other children.
Transitioning was difficult after more than 20 years of marriage. Paul’s wife was puzzled, and while she was initially supportive of his interest in cross-dressing, she drew the line at changing gender and kicked him out the house. He lost his job and lived for months in a homeless shelter. Twice he tried to commit suicide.
Now, however, he is content and explains why in a video made by gay news site The Daily Xtra in collaboration with The Transgender Project.
“I can’t deny I was married. I can’t deny I have children. But I’ve moved forward now and I’ve gone back to being a child. I don’t want to be an adult right now.
“I have a mommy and a daddy – an adopted mommy and daddy – who are totally comfortable with me being a little girl. And their children and their grandchildren are totally supportive.”
What comes through in the interview is that she wants to escape the pressure of adult responsibilities:
“It’s liberated me from the hurt. Because if I’m six years old, I don’t have to think about adult stuff. I still drink coffee and drive a car and even my tractor, but I still drive the tractor as a little kid…
“In my mind, I’m a little girl. I was never allowed to be a little girl, so I’m filling that tank of little girl experiences…
“I have access to really pretty clothes and I don’t have to act my age. By not acting my age I don’t have to deal with the reality that was my past because it hurt…
“I have a whole bunch of friends who want to play … You just de-stress. Some people turn to drugs, to different kinds of fetishes or medication or therapy, but for us we just let it go and stop thinking about big-people stuff…”
He still has to fill up his car, so he has a job driving a snowplough (in his dress). But off-duty he can revert to the girly stuff and watching cartoons.
The Daily Xtra interviewer is very sympathetic and suggests that Stefonknee could be an inspiration for other transgender people who are afraid to come out. But even the most ardent supporters of transgender ideology must feel that Wolscht is an uncomfortable role model.
First, if we accept that Paul can become Stefonknee, are there any limits to defining an identity? If a 52-year-old man can seek to be accepted as a six-year-old girl one day, can he become a Labrador retriever the next? Or could a 14-year-old young man identify as a 74-year-old widow and demand a pension? Wolscht’s case shows that the sky is the limit for people’s bizarre fantasies. Since it is impossible for society to accommodate all of them, where will the transgender ideologues draw the line? Can they?
Second, should Wolscht’s autonomous choice be respected? From an ethical point of view, he selfishly pursued a fantasy and abandoned a wife and the seven children they brought into the world. From a psychological point of view, he ended up in jail, homeless and suicidal. No matter how it’s sliced and diced, autonomy made him and his loved ones miserable.
Third, Wolscht’s words support the suspicion that the desire to live as a transgender is a mental disorder, not a legitimate lifestyle choice. All of us suffer in one way or another. But running away from the “big-people stuff” of coping with reality diminishes us as human beings. Stephonknee needs therapy, not sympathy.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.