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The materialist magicians of transgenderism

The claims of the transgender ideologues are both dangerous and untrue


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The materialist magicians of transgenderism

The materialist magician is back, sporting a preferred-pronoun nametag and waving a LGBTQ pride flag. C.S. Lewis’s wily fictional devil Screwtape coined the term, and today’s transgender dogma is an obvious manifestation of the incoherent combination of magical thinking and materialism. Materialist magicians are a danger to us all.

The doctrine of transgenderism asserts that we each have an innate gender identity that is separate from, and which may not match, the sex of our bodies. This mystical claim—that we have some sort of immaterial gendered self that can be born into the wrong body—is presumed but never explained or argued for.

A recent Vox article offers an example. Written by transgender activist Emily St. James, it is an aggressive defense of medically transitioning children that implores readers to “Stop worrying about what happens if we let kids transition. Worry about what happens if we don’t.” Writing about puberty, the author claims that “For a trans person, the changes dictated by the body they were born into might prove incredibly painful, destabilizing, or even life-threatening.” The presumption is that our true self is a gendered but immaterial entity that can somehow end up in the wrong body, and that in such cases the natural and healthy processes of physically maturing are the enemy of the self.

This bold spiritual assertion is not acknowledged as such by its adherents. The body/soul dualism of transgender doctrine is far beyond the bounds of what science can determine, and it conflicts with the teachings of most religions and philosophical systems—it is certainly not compatible with Christianity. Nonetheless, its adherents presume that people have something like a gendered soul, and ignore the massive theological and philosophical work needed to support this essentially religious claim—it is the faith that dare acknowledge itself as such.

For instance, the Vox article opens with an anecdote about a young man distressed by puberty: “When Mae Sallean was a teenager, her body and mind began to slip away from each other. Her body and face began to sprout thick hair, her voice dropped, and she felt dissociated from her physical form.“ This framing of mind versus body persists through the piece, but the mind part is left mysterious. The nearest the article comes to addressing the issue is a complaint about a world that “cannot conceive of a self that doesn’t begin from the body,” but the nature of this incorporeal self is never explained.

The presumption is that our true self is a gendered but immaterial entity that can somehow end up in the wrong body.

We are told to just accept that such a self exists, that it has a gender identity that can diverge from bodily sex, that this mismatch is knowable even to children, and it should be resolved by drastic and irreversible bodily modification. These are not scientific assertions, rather, they are spiritual claims that must be taken on faith. The author does not even attempt to make the argument that transgender identities arise from having a “girl brain in a boy body” or vice versa—a claim that has been made by some trans activists such as Jazz Jennings, but for which there is no evidence.

Rather than defending their mystical claims about the true nature of the self, trans activists and their allies attempt to support their beliefs by demonstrating that transition leads to human happiness. This is why so much effort is devoted to manufacturing evidence showing that transition reduces suicide and generally improves patients’ well-being—philosophers may worry about the nature of gendered souls if they wish, but science can show that transition helps, regardless of the spiritual details.

But as Jesse Singal noted, there are a plethora of problems with the evidence cited by the Vox piece. And in general, the research used to support medical transition is weak at best, and junk science at worst. It is horrifying that doctors are sterilizing children and amputating healthy body parts on the basis of this shoddy research.

Furthermore, the Vox piece itself inadvertently reveals that the push to transition children is driven by unhappy adults who blame their misery on not having transitioned sooner. The author references the “many trans people, who despair that they were kept from transitioning as youths” and later cites a survey of “trans women at all stages of life who did not transition as young people. The picture … of these women in middle and old age is deeply sad.”

Yes it is, but the problem is not that these men transitioned too late, but that they are living a lie by pretending to be women. Instead of doubling down by pushing children to transition, we should back away, recognizing that the dogmas of the transgender materialist magicians are neither true science nor true religion. They are just not true.


Nathanael Blake

Nathanael Blake is a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


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