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Wellesley forgets who women are

Female students at the historic college vote for their own erasure

Wellesley College campus in Wellesly, Mass. Business Wire

Wellesley forgets who women are

In an apparent effort to prove that turkeys may indeed on occasion vote for Thanksgiving, Wellesley College students voted last Tuesday to admit women who identify as men and nonbinary students to the historic women’s college. The referendum is not binding on the college’s board or administration but is nonetheless a sign of the hopeless confusion that is now engulfing American institutions.

Wellesley was founded to provide educational opportunities for women. Apparently, that original intention now hangs in the balance as trans ideology grips the student body’s imagination. Men identifying as women are already allowed to enroll. Now the students want women identifying as men to be able to enroll, too. In short, the students are calling on the college to abandon not simply the assumption of its traditional reason for existence—the sex difference between men and women—but any coherent notion of the difference between men and women whatsoever.

Such confusion is inevitable when being a man or a woman comes to be based upon a psychological claim whose veracity is practically unverifiable by any public criteria. This makes the matter of being a woman nothing more than a performance with no objective grounding. Judith Butler scores for the win.

The Wellesley situation makes two things abundantly clear. First, once a society rejects the significance of biological sex for gender, it will find itself facing all manner of intractable problems and strange situations. Biological men who identify as women are women, while biological women who identify as men—well, for enrollment purposes they can still be women too. Males who identify as women are really women until, that is, they are sentenced to hard time for vicious sex crimes. Formerly conservative commentators will have to resort to an increasingly implausible separation of legal proceduralism from any kind of substantive moral framework in order to reassure themselves and their followers that conservatives are just as wicked as his own chosen political team. And women—real women—will have to deny that any of the bodily things that touch so close to their sense of self and sense of identity are of any real importance to who they actually are.

It is not that the definition of what it means to be a woman is being expanded. It is being abolished.

And that brings me to the second point: The Wellesley student referendum is yet more evidence that what is really happening with the trans movement is the erasure of women. It is not that the definition of what it means to be a woman is being expanded. It is being abolished. And how could it be otherwise once biology has been bracketed out as irrelevant?

Thus, this week also witnessed the president of the United States continuing the longstanding tradition of infantilizing politics by tweeting a handwritten note from a child who is not yet able to write in cursive or type but apparently has a profound grasp of the economics of gender. The president expresses in his tweet concern for women’s equality but this is no more than fine sounding rhetoric.

How can he care for women’s rights when he actually has no idea what women are and his own administration supports the erasure of women? For example, his wife recently presented one of the 2023 International Women of Courage awards to a man, Alba Rueda. And President Biden himself has referred to as “close to sinful” Florida’s move to protect confused children from having their bodies—bodies considered too young, of course, to be tattooed under any state law in the USA—from being permanently mutilated with regard to their genitalia and their hormones.

Truth be told, we have a president who cares for progressive votes and gives not a fig for women whom he is clearly happy to be erased by the trans movement. Nor does he care for children, for he is happy to allow them to have their bodies destroyed for the sake of a bizarre ideology. Mortgaged to the radical trans movement, he is at best ignorant and confused, at worst a potent enabler of real, tangible evil. What he is emphatically not is an advocate for women’s rights or children’s safety.

To return to Wellesley, it is surely ironic that a college steeped in feminist history, a college that has indeed done much to educate and enable women, now has a student body apparently committed to the opposite. Just as the sexual revolution liberated men, not women, by promoting male promiscuity at the cost of the chemical manipulation of women’s bodies, so the trans revolution erases women by denying that their bodies have any real significance at all.

You may menstruate each month, you may gestate babies, you may breastfeed infants, but these things are of no importance to who you are. Ask President or Mrs. Biden or the students at Wellesley. What a pity that so many women are apparently willing to erase themselves in the cause of such a poisonous and dangerous lie.

Carl R. Trueman

Carl R. Trueman taught on the faculties of the Universities of Nottingham and Aberdeen before moving to the United States in 2001 to teach at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 2017-18 he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.  Since 2018, he has served as a professor at Grove City College. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor at First Things. Trueman’s latest book is the bestselling The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. He is married with two adult children and is ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

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