When you write "teenagers seeking gender conversion", you are closer to the mark than you may realise. GLAAD and its sister organisations have become the exponents of what is essentially a religious movement, and those they label "TERFs" are either heretics or blasphemers.

Once-reasonable people such as Dan Savage have been hoodwinked by this movement into a false sense of solidarity, since gay people were often falsely accused of the very things that trans activists are brazenly doing -- namely targeting children across a broad cultural front for ideological indoctrination, from Drag Queen Story Hour to queer pole dancing to gender theory lessons implicitly and sometimes explicitly elaborated on Cartoon Network shows to schools colluding with young children to hide new pronouns and clothes from their parents.

Each of these things is either ignored or downplayed by the Dan Savages and Freddie deBoers of the world, people who are obviously well-meaning and otherwise-intelligent but who do not see how deeply theological and misguided and damaging this movement has become, specifically as it intersects with children and pedagogy. These things are either not happening because they resemble conservative hysterics from the early aughts, or they are happening and it is good because children should be able to learn queer people exist and if those children weren't destined to be trans themselves there is no danger to exposing them to graduate-level gender theory as presented by ideologues clearly hungry for converts.

Back in the bad old days when gay people were persecuted in the West, gay kids had to worry about conservative parents kicking them out or carting them off to some kooky Bible camp; these days, parents have to worry that their children are being recruited into a cult that will convince them their parents hate them if those parents don't instantly adopt new names and pronouns their children announce to them, and where the state can take those kids away if the parents don't comply, and where the children are locked into a lifetime of drugs and surgeries in the pursuit of an unobtainable miracle. The gay kids themselves must contend with a movement that tells them homosexuality is unnatural; that instead of being same-sex attracted, they have a mismatched gendered soul, and they will have to spend the rest of their lives changing their bodies to match that soul's expression.

This is an unacceptable and unstable state of affairs. I do not know what comes next, but I do not think it will be the best thing for families, for gay kids, or for kids who feel weird about being a boy or a girl.

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Great post. For decades, political strategists will study how trans rights activists convinced loads of well-meaning Democrats that this is “just like gay rights” when it’s completely different and arguably hostile to the gay community.

Most of the gender non-conforming children who get hormones, and later surgery, would have grown up to be gay. Sometimes, they transition because of homophobia. For a while, I didn't believe it -- but I’ve now seen multiple cases where conservative parents tried to quash “effeminate” behavior in their young sons, and when it didn’t work, they decided to transition the child. And as a lesbian, it breaks my heart to see a huge increase in young girls thinking they’re boys because they don’t conform to regressive gender stereotypes (and/or because female puberty is awful).

When your child says “I’m gay,” acceptance is the right answer 100% of the time. Your child might change his or her mind one day, but you can’t go wrong by saying “That’s great! I support you.”

When a child says “I’m trans,” parents need to be much more cautious. Affirmation and social transition are hugely consequential interventions that quickly lead to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, surgery, infertility, lifelong medical needs, and countless risks (loss of sexual function, surgery complications, increased risk of cardiac issues, significantly worse mental health outcomes….) The detransitioners who regret these interventions speak for themselves.

Even in the best case scenario, with no complications or regrets, these individuals will spend the rest of their lives staking their mental health and wellbeing on everyone else going along, and validating something we all know to be false. Some older trans individuals seem to have a healthy self-perception grounded in reality, but the new ideology teaches people they’re *literally* the opposite sex, setting them up for a lifetime of insecurity and disappointment.

Yet, parents aren’t supposed to say “hang on, let’s talk about this” before getting on board. They’re supposed to be indifferent to whether their child goes down this path or not, because it’s all valid and wonderful.

It’s not transphobic to have concerns. As more people become aware of what is happening, they are realizing that this isn’t simply the “next gay rights” and that it’s much more complicated, which is why activists are so desperate to shut down debate.

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I also think this movement asks for a bit more. Gay marriage was a law, a policy, a thing on a sheet of paper. No one was asking for everyone to internally validate or accept people. You could think them gay were icky and gross, and we still wanted your vote for gay marriage. This movement, however, demands that people accept certain metaphysical beliefs about gender: it can be nonbinary, it can change, etc. We're asked to accept people's identities, which I don't see for any other movement. Like, I'm against Islamaphobia, but I'm not asking anyone to accept Islam.

Furthermore, there's tradeoffs here that there aren't for gay marriage. On the greatest hits for the gay marriage movement was "how does this affect you?" No one got hurt by gay marriage. Ok the other hand, there's serious tradeoffs here on things like women's sports.

It's such a different movement in those two ways

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Feb 27Liked by Jeff Maurer

I think John Kerry looks like a badass in the windsurfing photo. Have you ever tried windsurfing? It’s fucking hard. Kerry looks like he’s got it dialed. His campaign suffered from too FEW of those sorts of photos. I’d bet if more swing voters saw the badass windsurfing Kerry photos, he’d have won in a landslide.

But, yeah, those other two photos are weird.

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Feb 27·edited Feb 27

The difference between now and the 2000s is social media. As many have pointed out, ideas that were once popular only in humanities departments of elite universities have spread to exponentially more people via Tumblr and Twitter.

In the 2000s, you couldn't get excommunicated by your liberal friends for not taking the activist position on gay marriage. You absolutely can be today on gender stuff, and it's because these people are living in a bubble and drunk on power. Instead of persuasion, they take the fire-and-brimstone preacher approach of labeling everyone who doesn't agree with them a vicious bigot.

This doesn't work! It has never worked!

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"Some children seem to benefit from the child sterilization cult" is not a recommendation for the child sterilization cult. Maybe it's just me, but I suspect that in the fullness of time, the child sterilization cult will be rejected as a "civil rights cause" and be seen instead as a, you know, dangerous cult that sterilized children.

Dr. Mengele did sex-change experiments on Jewish and Roma children. They reportedly enjoyed his warm bedside manner and his patients were well-fed. Though it seems that some of them did get a little upset as they were carted off to the gas chambers after his experiments, because it felt like being ghosted. Plenty there for the "happy" transitioned teen on TikTok to consider, in between the multiple operations by different surgeons, all making it up as they go.

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"You can debate the ethics of the liberal obfuscation of the time."

Or you can just admit you're okay with lying if it gets you what you want.

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Thanks Jeff. This is a terrifying issue for a lot us, socially, and as always it's great to have a comedic release valve whilst hammering out the nuance.

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I almost never LOL while reading, but "Beefsteak O’Blammo" got me ...

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“I’ve learned to ignore the fact that if an asteroid targets Earth, our current plan is to shake our fists at it while it destroys us “ --> False! NASA just successfully completed a mission where we knocked an asteroid off its orbit. https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-confirms-dart-mission-impact-changed-asteroid-s-motion-in-space

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Guilty on both accounts back in the 2000's. I'm glad I have evolved big time since then.

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If you want to get depressed about the state of Left discourse on this topic following your analysis to a ‘T’, here’s Rick Perlstein acting as if he had “‘Premature anti-fascists’ were on the right side of history” tattooed onto his inner eyelids:


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I had always assumed the Neoliberal account was just Noah Smith talking to himself.

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