The transgender movement has made great strides in recent years in advancing the cause of a marginalized minority.
However, the movement’s claim to the absolute right of people to choose their gender, and have that choice legally enforced, is resulting in unfairness.
Gender dysphoria is a condition involving an anatomical male who believes he is a female in a man’s body (and the reverse for women). It affects about one-10th of one percent of the population.
However, this condition has received much attention in recent years, and has found its way into legislation and corporate policy.
Gender self-identification involves the right of people to identify with the gender of their choice. People have a right to be gender nonconformists or to believe in gender fluidity.
The problem arises when that person, or others acting on their behalf, seeks to compel others to recognize their gender choice as fact. Just because a man thinks he’s a woman doesn’t make him a woman. Recent legislative attempts to compel others to accept belief as fact are having perverse results.
Increasing numbers of men identifying as women have entered women’s sporting competitions and dominated. This is unfair since men generally do better than women in activities involving physical strength.
Then there are cases of female-identifying men choosing to use a women’s bathroom or other private areas where women expect only other women to be present. This can be be extremely uncomfortable – even dangerous – for women when they’re placed in this situation.
Some men pretend to be gender dysphoric in order to gain access to women-only areas. Domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centres are spaces where the presence of men could do great damage to vulnerable women.
What about a man who said he felt he was a woman and demanded admission to a women’s prison?
Or what about a man who says he is a woman one day (and is treated that way), but the next day says he feels like a child and demands to be treated as a child? Harvard University now has a policy that a person can change their gender from day to day, and other people must respect those changing decisions.
Yale University has tampons for sale in the men’s bathroom.
Remember Rachel Dolezal? She lived most of her life claiming to be black person – except that her parents and all her ancestors were white. When exposed, she explained that she identified as a black person, ergo she was a black person.
If a man can choose to be a woman and must be accepted as such, why can’t a person choose to belong to a different race?
Then we get to the truly bizarre: a young man who is transitioning to be a genderless alien.
Or what about ‘otherkin?’ These people believe they’re not entirely human. Society is expected to take this seriously. Our federal government could probably be persuaded to prosecute people who refuse to do so.
And if you can be whatever you want to be, what about age? A 70-year-old Dutch man says he feels like a much younger man, so he insists on being one. He wants 20 or so years lopped off his birth certificate.
Until recently, those who spoke out about the perverseness of unrestricted gender self-identification tended to be people associated with right-wing groups or causes. The best known in Canada is University of Toronto Prof. Jordan Peterson.
But now voices from the left are saying essentially the same thing. Megan Murphy describes herself as a radical feminist and speaks out against the wrong-headedness of some of the samples I’ve listed.
This debate is far from over, of course. However, it seems that the tide may be starting to turn. Common sense might be making a bit of a comeback.
People with gender dysphoria must be treated with respect and acceptance. They have an absolute right to identify however they wish. But privacy and safety should not be sacrificed. And, as Prof. Gad Saad of Concordia University says, “We shouldn’t change our understanding of reality to celebrate your unique personhood.”
A million years of evolution have made this a world of women and men. A new social movement – no matter how worthy its original purpose – is unlikely to change that anytime soon.
Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.