When Your Values Are at Odds with Transition

One thing that happens when you write a memoir is that your values become abundantly clear.

A memoir, even when it’s about the author’s encounter with a difficult person, is about the author herself. It won’t resonate with readers if it’s a just list of complaints about someone else.

If you’re doing your job while you’re composing a memoir, you’re asking yourself:

  • Why did that one incident, in particular, bother me?
  • What was it I found odd about the other person’s stance that I couldn’t quite put my finger on?
  • What was I trying to say in that argument we had?
  • What couldn’t I abide, in the end, and why?
  • What final straw broke the camel’s back?

What’s become clear is that my values were at odds with my ex’s. Specifically, my values were at odds with the values he acquired as he became involved in transgender activism.

My ex likes to twist any value difference between us into “transphobia” on my part. For him, it simply isn’t possible to hold legitimate values at odds with his own. There are only illegitimate ones, namely, conservatism and aversion to difference. Thus, if I’m not on board I must be a conservative and a person who was “disgusted” with his presentation.

It’s a bald-faced lie. I vote democrat. I’m 100% pro-choice (unlike my ex, who once said pregnant minors should have to consult their parents before getting an abortion). I recognize and sympathize with the oppression of minorities. I’m in a same-sex relationship. I support the right of everyone to love who they love and wear what they want. I’ve dated “girly” boys and “manly” women (for lack of better terms). I supported my ex’s identity in many ways, before he lost his mind, from buying him clothes and manicures to role-playing in bed.

So no.

I am not a conservative and never have been. My ex’s values changed, not mine. The values I hold, which I’m about to share, were once his, too. Or at least he said they were.

These are the values I hold that interfered with our relationship after he began to pursue transition:

  • Honesty. I couldn’t keep lying to someone and for someone. I couldn’t keep moving my mouth in the service of dishonesty without feeling dirty and compromising my soul. I couldn’t keep biting my tongue and censoring myself to keep from blowing over someone else’s house of cards. I intend to live and speak the truth, however inconvenient for others.
  • Body-positivity. It’s kind of a dumb modern phrase, but the concept is sound. It’s better to love your body than to hate it. It’s better to treat it kindly than to harm it.  It’s better to age gracefully than to pursue youth and beauty. A person’s value comes from his mind and his ethics, not in the conformity of his body to some standard. Physicality is superficial. A failure to come to terms with one’s physicality is a failure of mental health because it’s unsustainable: our bodies deteriorate and forever move toward an undesirable state. There is no a way to “support” a transitioning person without encouraging or condoning his bodily hatred. And because I’m not religious, bodily hatred is self-hatred. There aren’t “good” reasons to hate your body, and I can’t, in good conscience, support someone’s idea that there are and watch him injure himself in the service of that self-hatred.
  • Emotional intimacy. You aren’t being emotionally intimate when you’re lying or being lied to. You can’t become close when you’re evading topics because you don’t want to hurt feelings or you fear increasingly frequent outbursts of temper. When calm and rational discussions must end because of thought-terminating phrases about “triggering” and “feeling safe,” real communication has been lost.
  • Physical intimacy. This is threatened when one partner’s addiction to role-playing supersedes normal sex. It’s threatened when one partner removes and suppresses the sex characteristics that turn the other partner on. It’s threatened when one partner’s self-centeredness precludes his interest in pleasing his partner.  It’s threatened by the decreased sexual response that are a side-effect of hormones. It’s threatened by surgery.
  • A tremendous respect for female people. It is simply not possible to value women in all our uniqueness while defending or accepting the idea that we are nothing but a collection of indistinct traits, indistinguishable from kangaroos, smoke and mirrors, and men who play Grand Theft Auto and jack off to tranny porn. Women are people who are shaped by intense shared experiences from childhood sexualization to the need to subdue rivers of blood to the knowledge that a new human being can emerge from our bodies if we’re not careful. This is not trivial.  One cannot respect women while subordinating women to whichever men utter the right incantations.

I won’t apologize for valuing honesty, body-positivity, intimacy and a respect for female people.

Instead, opponents need to explain why dishonesty, self-hatred, a compromised ability to participate intimately with a partner and a hatred of women must become a necessary consequence of gender dysphoria.

The Wrong Side of History

No, it’s not when women want private spaces of their own.

It’s when straight white males support a movement that sterilizes lesbian and gay children and promises to convert them into straight people.

Important to note: straight white males have always felt justified and honorable and righteous when they’ve done such things.

Rights Are Not Like Pie

“Rights are not like pie,” some are fond of saying when discussing transgender activists’ demands. “When someone gets them, they aren’t taken away from someone else.”

This is an argument borrowed from the gay marriage debate in which, indeed, gay people marrying each other does not prevent straight people from also marrying each other.

And it’s a good argument that I fully support. Rights are not like pie.

In fact, if you find that something you want is like pie, and is depriving someone else of that same thing, that’s a good sign that what you’re seeking is not a right. It’s simply a desire.

Actual rights, including those to which transgender people are entitled, are not like pie. The right to freedom from discrimination in hiring and employment, for example, can exist peacefully alongside others’ right to freedom from discrimination in hiring and employment. Similarly, the right to freedom from violence can be extended to all groups, without one group losing that right as another gains it.

However, some things are like pie.

Sports awards and positions are like pie. When one person gets first place in a competition, all the other competitors are denied that award. And when a male-bodied person is awarded first place, female-bodied people, by definition, are not.

Female sports teams and competitions were created to give females the opportunity to excel in sports. Before the creation of female sports, females didn’t have these opportunities. This is both because they weren’t allowed to compete against males and because they wouldn’t have succeeded in competing with males due to physical differences between the sexes.

The creation of female sports allowed all females to develop physical strength, confidence and personal growth in a safe and appropriately challenging environment. It additionally allowed those with special acumen to have a chance at winning awards. Before female sports were created, females had neither of these opportunities. That’s why Title IX included sports–because developing physical strength, confidence and personal growth was seen as a part of a well-rounded education. And the opportunity to win awards was seen as unlocking opportunities, such as scholarships, previously denied to females.

So the question in this situation becomes not one of rights, but of who gets the pie. Traditionally in our history, males got all the pie all the time. Title IX was designed to even that playing field a bit. To make some pie available for females.

So the question of including transgender males in female sports is a question of who gets the pie. Perhaps some would like to take the pie from females and give it to transgender males, because the latter is downtrodden or oppressed. But make no mistake, it’s like pie. If it grants privileges to one group at the expense of the other, it’s not a right.

The same can be said for positions reserved for women and employment quotas. More males in these positions equals less females in these positions.

Including males in situations like these brings us closer to the situation that existed before these concessions were made to females, when men could use their physical strength and dominant social positions to push women out of opportunities. 

If it’s like pie, it’s not a right.

There’s an old saying that “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” That brings us to another situation that’s like pie. Both people don’t walk away from a nose-punching situation with their rights intact. The person who gets punched in the nose loses. The person who swings wins.

One of the privileges sought after by transgender males is the opportunity to enter women’s restrooms, gyms, prisons, and other spaces. Notably, they don’t want their own spaces, because that would be conspicuous or invalidating. The presence and participation of other human beings–females–is required for implementing the only scenario they find acceptable.

That’s where it gets tricky. Other human beings have rights. Yours end where theirs begin.

There are some females who do not want to undress or deal with private bodily functions in the presence of males. Victims of sexual violence and religious women are often mentioned, but really, lots and lots of women don’t want to do this. I’ve heard from teenage girls who are mortified to crinkle a tampon wrapper in the presence of a clueless male classmate. I’ve heard from women whose periods are so heavy they must go to the sink with blood on their hands. I’ve heard from a woman who miscarried in a public restroom.

And when transgender males get what they want (to perform bodily functions and undress in the presence of females), females lose what they want (to perform bodily functions and undress away from males). And as the more physically vulnerable group in terms of size and reproductive function, to say nothing of social disadvantage, females have more to lose here.

This is especially true in the military and in prison, where women don’t have the option to simply stay out of Target or skip showering. It’s like pie. Either females get privacy or males get validation.

But it’s more important than pie, because it’s consent. An individual’s rights never include the coercion of other parties.

Females getting what they want in this situation, which is privacy, wouldn’t stop males from getting privacy. There are options that allow both groups to get privacy. That’s a good sign it’s a right. 

But males getting what they want in this situation–the presence of unwilling females in their presence as they do their private business–does impede upon the rights of the unwilling females.

Transgender males must have the right to pee in public facilities. They must have the right to pee in privacy. But they are not entitled to the privilege of peeing alongside other human beings who do not share their wish for comradery.

That’s a desire, not a right.