Much of the current debate over transsexuality that has been roiling the West grew out of the radical position that a man who chooses to “identify” as a woman should be considered a woman in every possible respect, regardless of his biological or anatomical characteristics. The same goes for a woman who wishes to be a man. At the extremes, this situation leads to male transexuals demanding entry to women’s locker rooms and prisons, and even rape shelters, and accusing lesbians who reject their sexual advances of “transphobic” bigotry. Adherents to this set of ideas have engaged in an ongoing crusade against dissenters, especially those of their fellow leftists whom they label “TERFS” or “trans-exclusionary radical feminists.”
Kathleen Hayes points to parallels between the radical transgender movement and another intellectual trend that predominates in the same academic and far-left circles, and that similarly disguises the most vicious intolerance as enlightened concern for the oppressed: namely left-wing anti-Semitism. The two movements even share as their “high priestess” one of the most influential contemporary figures in the humanities, the philosopher Judith Butler:
It’s maybe significant that this is the same Judith Butler who has expressed her appreciation of Hamas as “part of a global left” and presides over the grotesquely misnamed Jewish Voice for Peace. It is Butler who, . . . in the mid to late 1980s, . . . hit on the bright idea of defeating biological determinism—the traditional argument that biology dooms women to subordinate status—by decree. Butler argued that not only is gender (culturally variable beliefs about “proper” roles for men and women) socially determined, but so is biological sex. The claim that “anatomy is destiny” would thereby be vanquished.
Only a small mental sleight of hand is necessary for today’s bien pensant to hate Jews and women with a deliciously clear conscience. Jews are fine people, some of my best friends, the leftist will declare—it’s the Zionists who are racists and must be driven from the planet. I love women, he’ll say; of course they deserve equality and dignity—it’s the TERFs who are fascists and must be annihilated. He knows anti-Semitism and misogyny must be repudiated, but even as he congratulates himself on his lack of prejudice, progressive and identity politics allow him to indulge in a socially sanctioned variety of . . . anti-Semitism and misogyny.