Earlier this month, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Educationreleased a joint guidanceto, in their words, “help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students.” The guidance cites Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, wherein schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex. As the document makes clear, students may self-determine and self-report their gender identification, regardless of their biological sex.
I want to get something out of the way: This is no “our culture is doomed” post. I make no predictions about what willactuallytake place, only what isallowedto take place based on what current laws and ideas now permit.
At first glance, this idea of transgender accommodation may appear as warm, inviting, and inclusive. No doubt we may initially see positive effects in some cases, where otherwise sinful abuse of transgendered people is prevented. But as time unfolds and society allows this concept to be worked out in its full consistency to more and more situations, American culture—including the LGBT community—might be forced to look back and say, “What have we done?”
The federal government has bought into the idea that gender identity is essentially a matter of the mind. On this understanding, one’s gender cannot be examined, measured, touched, seen, or scientifically proven; gender identity relies wholly and exclusively on self-reporting. And this report comes from one’s own internal feelings and self-analysis, regardless of age. We now have our two basic categories for discussion: gender identity has been removed from thevisible(anatomy and biology) and located purely in theinvisible(what goes on in the mind). Under this view, when a woman is enveloped in male anatomy, the invisible woman takes priority over and is detachable from the visible, masculine form.
When the inherently invisible nature of gender is applied consistently, laws that group people by physical features become meaningless, irrelevant, and unnecessary. Gender fluidity allows not merely a single identity-transition from male to female (or vice versa)—where the visible body may undergo transitions to mimic one’s mental identity—but also identity-transitions to reverse genders (female to male, or vice versa) or even to compound genders (maleandfemale) at any given moment.
If our government defines gender as both invisible and endlessly fluid, what follows is that bathrooms, locker rooms, or changing areas separated based on visible differences become nonsensical. Physical gender disappears and no visible separation of any sort can be consistently defended.
At this point in history, transgender advocates may celebrate this newfound freedom. What was formerly an awkward and potentially harmful experience (bathroom use, locker rooms, etc.) for transgenders now appears to be liberated, changed into an experience with safer options. For progressives seeking cultural victories, this certainly has all the apparent earmarks of a win.
But whether our culture sees the implications of this thinking, the progressive push can only go so far without hurting its own cause. Remove gender identity from the visible and place it in the invisible mental realm, and it will become a roaring lion, seeking to devour any non-liberated belief that comes near it. Think what gender fluidity does to women’s rights: When gender identity is a mental feeling, men can have babies and can claim maternal leave from work; women can be fathers; sports teams, both amateur and professional, have no consistent reason to segregate genders. Again, the point isn’t that this will happen in our lifetime or even at all; the point is that the U.S. government has removed all barriers to these now viable, permissible scenarios.