DRUGS that cause cancer, slippery slopes to surgery and self evident truths of sexual revolution – no, it’s not the gay new world order, but another Miranda Devine column.
In a modern fusion of factual and grammatical inaccuracy, her April 27 opinion piece ‘Transgenderism: Has anyone seen my girl?’ claims, among other concepts, that doctors are conditioning kids into being transgender, that tolerance will destroy society and that a sexual revolution has begun under our noses (which sounds suspiciously like a description of oral sex).
This fantasy world Devine lives in is congested with doctors, prescription pads armed and handing out hormones like hotcakes, with government-mandated sexual revolution education in state schools and with genital reassignment surgery that is not only highly but dangerously accessible, as if there was a substantial risk of a cisgender person seeing a psychiatrist to be prescribed a little something for their anxiety and emerging that same day with their genitals inverted.
For clarity’s sake, it’s worth clearing up a few factual inaccuracies.
Transgenderism is not a word. I get that journalism is a stressful job but I heard that computers now have spell-check. Just a handy tip.
Genital reassignment surgery is, in fact, notoriously difficult to both gain access to and afford, something that comes heavily into play for a community who experience heightened levels of violence and homelessness, as well as a substantial pay gap – issues which affect transgender women of colour most of all.
Additionally, doctors don’t prescribe puberty blockers or sex hormones to prepubescent children (surprisingly because they haven’t actually started puberty yet). The hormones they do prescribe to transgender teenagers, often at great clerical length, have identical carcinogenic properties as the hormones naturally present in the bodies of cisgender people. Inversely, recent research has shown that preventing transgender teenagers from accessing puberty blockers and hormones is far more toxic than anything in the medications themselves, and access can assist with a range of mental and somatic stresses.
Finally, the authoritative sounding American College of Paediatricians, whose official position is that “gender ideology harms children” is an organisation with self-described ‘traditional values’ of between 60 and 200 members. It is quite separate from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which boasts 60,000 members and an official position to support the care of transgender youth, as their oath requires them to. These details are difficult, I understand. Googling facts is hard.
The rub of it all is Devine’s notion that it is good manners to accept transgender adults’ identities, due to their, in her words “difficult transition”. While on the surface this may seem like a stroke of kindness, it actually entirely disregards that for so many transgender people, their lives and transitions are difficult due to the very abuse and distress we often experience since childhood, enacted by the language of conservative politicians and press.
These “good manners” are in fact a symptom of a wider issue: that the far right should tolerate queer people and no more. Tolerance is often heralded as gospel, when in reality it equates to a barely adequate yardstick, a measure where we are allowed to exist – just – but preferably over there and definitely not with any kind of legal recognition.
The recent legislative attacks fielded against transgender people worldwide are a direct result of this ‘tolerant’ attitude, where it’s okay to be gay as long as you “keep it in your homo”, an allowance of existence that fits established heteronormative narratives only. Faced with the gradual dissolution of both biological essentialism and traditional binaries of sex, queerness is no longer something that can be contained in the neatness of a four letter acronym, or the arms length distance of an underground community. When you spill the alphabet soup, conservatives might have to get their toes wet.
For all their rallying against programs like Safe Schools, the fight for access to hormones and legislation in support of rights and against discrimination, the true irony of writing like this is it conclusively proves the need for everything they decry with dogmatic fear. For every national newspaper column about attacks on freedom of speech, there are a dozen that set upon transgender youth and no doubt contribute to already high rates of suicidal ideation, mental illness and continue to uphold a society that rejects these children when they need us most.
As Devine noted that Aristotle said, all virtues when taken to the extreme become vices, and maybe it’s time we as a community reflect on the supposed virtue of the political far right. How long can you claim the moral high ground while openly advocating for practises and perspectives that harm queer youth? If that’s a “social norm” then maybe questioning the system that perpetuates that harm is not a terrible idea. At least it can’t be any worse than reading another Miranda Devine column.
Liz is an aspiring poet and acoustic guitarist who enjoys dabbling in experimental affirmative podcasting. She currently works in graphic design and photography, and collects earrings that look like miniature food. She can be found posting jokes & feminist rants at @lizduckchong and love letters at @loveletterpod. Liz is openly transgender, and owns several instruments she cannot play yet.