Rachel McKinnon, a biological male, won the women’s 200-meter sprint at the Masters Track Cycling World Championships for the second year in a row last weekend. While many LGBT advocates are celebrating this as a triumph, I, a lesbian healthcare professional, find myself deeply worried.
When I watch the course the contemporary transgender movement has taken, I see a movement that can’t possibly endure. And, since that movement has hitched itself aggressively to the cause of homosexuals such as myself, I fear what the backlash will mean for our hard-won liberties.
I’ve only had the right to marry for the last four years in the U.S. I remember that struggle vividly, and I don’t take for granted the freedoms won. Living in the rural American South, I’m reminded regularly of how many people remain wary or disapproving of certain legal rights for gays and lesbians. I’m also aware of how much my friends and I rely on our marriage and parental rights, and on the non-discrimination policies that allow us to be protected from violence and harassment.
Homosexuals won recognition of our civil rights because we were able to exercise our rights without requiring much participation from those outside our communities. The average person’s life changed very little when gays began to marry and live our lives more openly. We asked for inaction in the form of others not seeking to punish us for our personal lives.
These goals contrast sharply with those set by the radical gender movement. Rather than asking for basic protections, the same rights that are common to all people, the movement demands all society make extreme changes to language, personal habits, parenting, medicine, scientific practices, and more. Nothing short of total compliance through words, deeds, and policies is considered adequate. They aren’t asking people for tolerance, but for obedience.
And the consequences for disobedience are severe.
Many outspoken gender-critical women like me have been ostracized from our communities, fired from our jobs, threatened with violence, and even physically attacked. I write under a pseudonym due to my own fear for myself and my family, and my need to stay employed to support them.
I’ve never personally believed in gender ideology, this idea that “man” and “woman” are internal feelings separate from chromosomal and reproductive sex. But I supported trans people anyway because I was able to support them personally and advocate for their respectful inclusion in society without needing to submit to their doctrine. I used their pronouns to be polite, and because I could do so without implying I thought they were literally that biological sex.
But things have changed, and the message sent now is that a transgender woman is literally a biologically female who was mistakenly “assigned” the male sex at birth. As a healthcare professional, I know this to be scientifically false. But for many within the gender movement, saying “she” now equals unreserved agreement with that ubiquitous mantra, “Trans women are women.” By this logic, biological women aren’t entitled to any spaces, opportunities, or protections distinct from males who identify as women. And that is something I do not agree with and cannot affirm.
So I don’t do the pronouns anymore. For me, the demands of the movement became unsustainable, and I had to withdraw my support.
If these demands are driving away people like me, how can the transgender community hope to maintain any sort of broader public acceptance? I’m a hardcore lesbian feminist, and I used to lead teachings for healthcare workers on providing respectful care to transgender and gender-nonconforming patients. If I feel bullied by the demands being made, I can’t imagine how enraged people are who were never comfortable with this population to begin with.
The gender movement in its current form is unstable because it requires brute social and political force to maintain. It’s estimated that approximately half a percent of the U.S. population identifies as transgender. A group that deeply in the minority cannot succeed in securing their rights in the long term if that success is upheld by a public saying and doing things they don’t agree with.
The power this movement holds today is an opportunity, much like that experienced by the suffragettes in 1920 and homosexuals in 2015. It’s a chance to create reform to benefit transgender people, but those reforms will be little more than a historical blip if they can’t be maintained once power shifts. And it always shifts.
By escalating demands to a level that even progressives are finding invasive, leaders of the movement are wasting their opportunity and gambling with the hard-won rights of others. People who care about the future of not only transgender rights but also the rights of homosexuals and women need to stop and reflect on what goals are reasonable and sustainable. The protections we ask for must allow for belief systems other than our own.
Today’s radical gender movement is a movement without perspective or empathy. It disdains compromise and ignores any interests it doesn’t share. While most people, given time, will learn to tolerate policies and belief systems they don’t agree with, no group will work against its own interests indefinitely. And this is why, if nothing changes soon, the gender movement will fail.