The Transgender Movement’s New Subjectivity

According to what is rapidly becoming a reigning orthodoxy, a person’s sex is entirely a matter of his or her subjective feeling. Children at a tender age are thus being encouraged to reject their biological sex, and therapists and physicians have enabled young people to undergo extensive treatments and surgeries to “transition” from one sex to the other. In When Harry Became Sally, Ryan T. Anderson takes a critical look both at the effects of these medical and psychological interventions and at the ideology that underlies them. Rachel Lu writes in her review:

The child who gleefully exchanged her bunny slippers for soccer cleats might end up as a weirdly androgynous, baby-faced twenty-year-old, scarred by surgery and sterile for life. These aren’t the after-effects of some terrible, unexpected accident. They are predictable consequences of elective procedures that are now being performed on minors, on the advice of licensed medical professionals. This is what happens when subjective experience is crowned king (or queen). . . . Surely it is better, whenever possible, to help a suffering child in a way that doesn’t open the way to invasive medical procedures and likely lifelong sterility. . . .

In the book’s most heartbreaking segment, we hear the stories of several people who learned this truth for themselves, in the hardest possible way. These “detransitioners” were once advised by their therapists to identify as transsexuals and undergo recommended treatments. It didn’t help. In time, they discerned for themselves that they were not trapped in the wrong bodies: the dysphoria stemmed from other underlying issues that therapists had overlooked. Those issues remained unresolved. Meanwhile, some felt that the effort to change sexes had only deepened the alienation they were already feeling with respect to their physical bodies. . . . When efforts to uncover the authentic self lead to such gross distortions of reality, it should be obvious that something has gone awry.

That looks a lot like medical malpractice. So why was it permitted to happen? One reason, undoubtedly, is that the transgender cause dovetails so nicely with the agenda of the hard left. Under the Obama administration, activists pressed the transgender cause with all the grace and sensitivity of the mob at Pamplona. Clearly, this is about much more to them than just the social comfort of a fraction of a percent of the population. Transgenderism represents an opportunity to make an ambitious sortie in the ongoing battle against nature. . . .

Culture wars are not the whole story, however. Many activists and practitioners do sincerely believe they are doing something good in championing the cause of . . . people with dysphoria. So should we all. Is it really surprising that this malady would arise in a society that is deeply conflicted about the meaning of sex and sexuality? In an uncanny way, the transgender revolution itself testifies to the enduring significance of manhood and womanhood as meaningful and identity-forming concepts. Sex roles are a source of perpetual controversy, but almost no one favors bland androgyny as a solution.

Read more at National Review

More about: History & Ideas, Medicine, Psychology, Sex, Sexual revolution, Transsexuals


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law