You can't pretend widely held views don't exist
This relates to an issue I have with trans rights activists. They seem to set the bar waaaay too high. They don't just want you to accept them as people, and grant them all the rights anyone else has, they want you to accept their epistemology.
My recollection with the fight for gay rights, and gay marriage in particular, was that they were looking for tolerance and equal rights. It was ok if you believed that marriage was between a man and a women, so long as you didn't stand in the way of the US recognizing gay marriages or same sex couples getting married. You didn't have to be personally OK with same sex relationships, so long as you treated everyone equally. This was important because you have a lot of people, e.g. Catholics, where these things are literally against their religion, but who are OK living in a pluralistic world.
The same is pretty clearly not true for trans activists. You can support every aspect of the Trans Right movement, anti-discrimination laws, pronouns, military, bathrooms, sports teams, etc.. You can even personally believe that it is fine to be trans. But if you don't buy into the epistemology, i.e. that TWAW, you are called a bigot and told that you want trans people dead.
This is particularly rough because you don't chose your beliefs. You can be more or less open to arguments on an issue, but, if you haven't been convinced of something, you haven't been convinced. To make your having been convinced (or at least being willing to lie about your beliefs), rather than your willingness to live and let live, as a ticket to polite society, seems out of step with what it means to live in a liberal democracy.
We live in a pluralistic society. People's beliefs are going to differ. I have friends who are Christians, who I respect as people despite not agreeing with them that they have an immortal soul. I have friends who are Scientologists who I respect as people despite not agreeing that they are full of thetan. I don't need to agree with someone on their gender to respect them and believe they should be able to live their best life.
I look forward to reading on Twitter how another Yglesias take that seems obviously correct is actually patriarchal white supremacy
The wedge issue is womens’ sports. Suburban dads want their daughters to pursue excellence. Their daughters will never be as fast or as strong as athletic boys, but the training, discipline, struggle and joy of athletic competition are just as sweet for women as men. Watching Lindsay Vonn ski fearlessly was beautiful even though she was 3% slower than the elite men.
Allowing trans athletes to compete as women shits on the struggle of girls and women for physical excellence. It subordinates the needs of the 99% to the 1% and allows the exception to deconstruct the rule. I’m all for toleration, but I would become a lot less tolerant if trans gender athletes destroy paths of female excellence.
Chappelle is clearly more pro trans than the majority of America. He would vote for the Equality Act. He’s not being canceled for saying that trans people shouldn’t have rights; he’s being canceled for essentially saying “sure, trans women are women, but…”
Like you, I watched "The Closer" solely so that I could make my own decision about The Discourse. My verdict? Chapelle spent a gratuitous portion of his time (over 50%??) poking fun at trans people. It's clear that he's been deeply affected by the pseudo-cancellation attempts from the LGBTQ+ community so far, and his reaction has been to double down + make a few friends from within that population that are on his side. That alone is reason enough to oppose "the doomed politics of shunning"- it doesn't work, it backfires.
You say he's a comic and that stand-up is not political; I couldn't disagree more. Comics have a long history of political commentary that does in fact deeply impact culture over time. Google "reverse racism comic" and see a standup bit that is shown in DEI trainings to dismiss the idea that one can be racist against white people and you'll recall how sticky some of these ideas can be. So, for someone like Chapelle, he has a lot of influence over how a lot of people approach these issues, whether he likes it or not (I think he does, as he chose to spend half of his time on this single topic).
My personal belief is that a segment of the population is more or less born gay, and an even smaller portion of the population is born with such an extreme mismatch between their biological sex and their gender-associated traits/personality that transitioning makes a lot of sense. These folks are entitled to respect, decency, and if they wish, privacy. They are not entitled to never be swept up in cultural commentary, nor is someone expressing that they disagree with a trans person necessarily transphobic. I am sensitive to the fact that for trans people in particular, they are constantly faced with people who don't "believe" them, or portray them as overly dramatic. Most of them just want to live their life in peace (and I can't imagine too many opt for the urinal if there's a stall available).
The activists within this group, of whom the most extreme are the most visible, have made it their life's mission to shift hearts and minds on the topic of gender, to convince everyone they meet to think about gender in the same way they do. I believe their motivations are actually good- they are trying to make the world a safer, more accepting place for others like them. When folks with a platform, like Dave, use that platform to push back, it of course feels like not just a defeat but an existential threat. Of course they will push back even harder. The response that got me thinking most was Terra Field's Twitter thread listing the names of Black and Hispanic trans women who've been murdered over the past year, pointing out they are not offended because they are dead. Her point is clear: platforming influencers who delegitimize transness as a state of being increase the likelihood that trans people's lives will be taken violently.
Here is the thing though.... I think Dave Chappelle actually tried to address this, though not directly enough because no one is talking about it. Dave's bit about DaBaby (who, full disclosure, I'd never heard of) was that people are enraged over his homophobic comments, but *no one is speaking out about his murdering of people.* What most directly caused the death of these trans women- Jokes Dave Chapelle made, or people choosing to pull out a weapon and murder other people? Murder is on the rise in our nation and it's taboo to talk about it- why? Many of the same activists who want to deplatform Chapelle also want to defund the police- do they care about saving lives or not?
In the end, I didn't find the special all that funny (I chuckled at his MLK impressions, directing people to oil up for the Pride parade). I found it pretty juvenile but if that's people's jam, ok. I think people who are trying to influence the discourse have every right to speak out against his views, share their own views, write their own anti-Chapelle comedy routines, etc. I think the focus on Sarandos instead of Chapelle is telling- people don't want to engage in dialogue, they want opposing voices silenced entirely. They want the gatekeepers of pop culture to pick a side. They're entitled to advocate for that too, and I'm entitled to shrug it off.
One final note... over the past year or so, I've started to move to the "gone too far" end of that Pew survey. The exploding number of teens who identify as trans or non-binary sure seems to indicate this is more than people expressing their innate traits and has become a social trend. I would not have a problem with this if it weren't so often leading to life-altering medication and surgery on minors. I am not a TERF, but I am a feminist, and I feel strongly that both men and women can feel free to express themselves in any way they wish without needing to alter their biological state to match centuries-old stereotypes about what range of personalities or interests are acceptable for each biological sex. If Chapelle were set on using his platform to challenge the pro-trans orthodoxy, I wish he'd done it in a more thoughtful way. But that's not his schtick.
Chappelle had a joke about how elizabeth smart wasn't smart because her captors didn't tie her up all the time and she didn't escape, he had a joke about how kobe bryant's rape victim couldn't have been raped because she had other men's semen on her underwear, he had another joke about how Michael Jackson performing oral sex on children he invited to his residence made him a good host.
I find this all very weird as someone familiar with his standup, he says incredibly offensive things all the time, if you don't like offensive humor he isn't your guy. Its weird to me that saying your team terf and that transwomen are like wearing blackface is worse than any of that.
I am a suburban father with middle school aged children. The prevalence of identity issues in school is honestly shocking. I've been supportive of most left wing causes throughout my life and have consistently voted for democrats but the identity and gender politics of the woke left is a bridge too far. Just last night I said to my wife that while I would never vote for him I'm starting to understand why some people voted for Trump. If the democrats keep going down this road they can count me out.
My cold take is that the people canceling Chapelle think it’s OK to make fun of poor whites and Jews because that’s “punching up” or whatever.
Gender is an ancient category, sanctified by nature. Every one of my ancestors has successfully reproduced as a male or a female. Trans people stand athwart history and evolution. I do not doubt that gender dysphoria is real. No one would take on all the shit and contempt that trans people deal with for shits and giggles. Though real, gender dysphoria is a disorder, a failure of the mind to harmonize with the body, a rejection of the constraints that nature imposes. Those who suffer from gender dysphoria deserve sympathy, but their plight should never be normalized, much less glamorized. The urban fad for gender fluidity is dangerous.
Teenagers who are unhappy with their birth gender should try really hard to deal with it before transitioning. Things might get better, and it’s best to try to harmonize with nature before making irreversible changes to one’s body. Any person born with a disorder, be it depression, anxiety, dyslexia or a speech impediment, should try really hard to manage and treat it. I stutter and stuttering has really hurt my life. The world would be easier for me if everyone stuttered or if stuttering were glamorous, but those are velleities. The best course for me is to treat my disorder and try to stutter as little as possible while asking for patience when it takes me longer than normal to get something out. I well understand that this is an imposition on my listeners and that things would be better for everyone if I always spoke fluently.
Some people stutter so horribly that they learn sign language and join the deaf community. I feel sorry for them because that choice is very limiting. Similarly, performing a gender for which one lacks the essential reproductive equipment is also limiting. At a minimum, it destroys the ability to become a biological parent and drastically narrows your dating pool. Still, just as I understand that speaking could be so painful that one acts deaf, I understand that being masculine could be so painful that one chooses to act like a woman. This is a fraught adaptation to a disorder and should not be anyone’s ideal.
Not to single out MY, but this article represents a double standard that really frustrates me. Dave Chappelle does a few Netflix specials with transgressive jokes because, you know, he's a comedian. So MY writes up a thoughtful article that digs up a bunch of statistics about black Americans and more-or-less concludes that progressives have to tolerate their regressive views because Democrats need their vote. And *Chappelle* is the bigot!?
If you watch Sticks and Stones and The Closer back-to-back and do not find anything Chappelle said to be directly offensive towards a group to which you belong or identify with, then you are either not American or not human.
The thing is, many people find Chappelle very, very funny (I watched Closer on an airplane and literally could not help laughing out loud). Humorless progressive scolds—exactly like the activist Christians in the 90's—are jealous of people with a sense of humor. So they get their underwear all in a knot and label Chappelle an offensive bigot because... actually I'm not really sure, because mostly they just assert that he is transphobic and the Closer proves it... somehow... and if I can't see why that is, well, then I'm transphobic too.
Lefty scolds go out of their way to be offended in the same way righty whackos seek out things to get outraged over. I guess they like the attention their rants on social media get them?
I grew up poor, rural and white, only we were all addicted to meth back then because heroin was too scarce and expensive. I lost friends to meth. I have younger family members who ruined their lives with heroin. But in Sticks and Stones Chappelle does a whole bit on the difference between poor whites on heroin and poor whites on meth. The joke was all about how to load your shotgun properly with bird shot and buck shot so you can shoot them when they break in to your house. *And I laughed my ass off.*
This is a particularly funny instance where the activist meme "listen to black voices" very clearly means "listen to this particular highly educated black person who has the same exact political opinions as me."
Seriously though, everyone mad at Chappelle on twitter has unironically used the phrase "listen to black voices" at some point and here Chappelle is making comments that are likely to the left of the median black voter! And those views are being condemned as unacceptably bigoted. So bigoted that people are *quitting* their jobs in protest. Just hilarious to me
In recent years the mainstream news media has become swamped with advocacy journalism, the evil product of an educated class that knows who Foucault is but thinks teaching evolutionary biology is a capitalist plot. Laughing an hour with Dave Chapelle helps me feel better about the extra money that I have to pay to the Yglesiases of this world, in order to get commentary and journalism that lives up to the name.
Somewhat often on the ol' internet, I see progressive activists somewhat lamenting (jn a roundabout way, of course, though not always) that Democrats should be more stubborn and hard-nosed, like the Republicans tend to be...reflecting that old saw that "Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall apart." Sometimes it is mostly whining, but other times the person in trying to be more prescriptive. I think I read Tom Nichols tell one of them, in response to why Democrats can't afford to alienate the parts of their party they don't like, "...because you're a coalition, not a cult."
I think that's a really hard truth to absorb if you are a progressive activist advocating for policies you think are (and may, in fact, be!) morally correct. You look across the aisle, and you see the most vocal nutjobs getting cowtowed to party leadership, and you think to yourself, 'Why can't WE be those nutjobs?!?" while ignoring the hard reality that the people in your coalition put off by your policies ALWAYS vote, and the ones who really like what you have on offer...just...kind of don't? At least not at levels that would allow you to sustain the loss of the voters you don't like.
You write: "I don’t think trying to arm-twist people into shunning everyone who expresses a widely-held viewpoint that trans activists disagree with is going to accomplish anything useful."
Au Contraire! This substack is useful. Having a place where you are able to write freely and persuasively (sometimes!) about a wide range of topics without being subjected to the Vox echo chamber and surrounded by people who feel "unsafe" if you sign a letter supporting free speech is a very useful thing.
We're watching 30 Rock on Netflix. It's annoying that I need to go to the library for the DVDs so we can see the 3 missing episodes. It's even more annoying that they misnumber many episodes so you can't even tell that they've deleted those episodes.
BLUF: Matt is wrong on the Military and Transgender people
First: I haven’t seen the closer, so I can’t comment on Chappell directly. But, I can say as a moderate that the Trans-lobby influence on politics seems to have an outsized influence on discourse.
It has gotten to the point where if I see anything about LQTBTXYX, I assume it’s not really about gay rights, but more directed at Transgender issues. Gays have largely won. Even on the conservative side, being gay doesn’t even raise eyebrows anymore. I work among a pretty right wing conservative group of blue collar workers, and gay marriage or gay jokes just aren’t really a big issue anymore.
Now, to my main point, and one that constantly annoys me.
The reason Transgender people should nott serve in the military is medical. It’s not cultural. It’s social.
People who have transitioned have to be on permanent hormones and hormone suppressors. Their hormone levels must be maintained and tested. Any other condition that requires this level of medical care automatically disqualifies you from Military Service.
If you are diabetic and must take insulin, you are disqualified. If you must take any sort of medication for depression you are disqualified. Even if all you take is medication for ADHD, you are disqualified. Blood pressure medicine, you are disqualified. Asthma, nope. The list is endless.
People argue that allowing Transgender people to serve is about increasing the pool of recruits, but this is obviously bull-pucky. If this was really the goal people cared about there are half a dozen other vastly more common exclusions that effect 1000s more people that could be debated.
The Transgender in the military issue is pure optics. It’s so that activists can say they won, feel good about themselves, and then every few months read an article about how Jane, formerly Jim, is the first Transgender airborne truck driver in the Army.
I am not saying that Transgender people can’t successfully serve and contribute in the military. What I am saying is that there is a double standard that is driven entirely by wanting to “make a point”.
I served in the USAF for 22 years. Before that I was in the Army Reserve. I think that the people in the military are the most diverse and dedicated and professional people in our country. I resent the Military being used as token organization that carves out exceptions to make cultural and social points. It causes disruption and resentment in the military, when really people should be concentrating on war fighting.
If there is a review of military enlistment standards that holistically reviewed all medical issues and what maximizes Military strength, then I would have no problem with Transgender people serving.
Ok, that’s my rant.
Now on to my solutions to all other issues.
Let’s reserve the words female and male for Gender. And then come up with other words that refer to biology.
Then what we need is a word to refer to people with wombs. I say this because some people have vaginas, but don’t have wombs or the other organs that are involved in reproduction.
This word for people with wombs should be non-gender specific, only referring to when we are talking about people who menstruate or get pregnant or require birth control.
Maybe something with the world womb in it, or at least part of it… I was thinking Wom… ite, wom… at, wom em, wom… en. That’s it. We can call people with wombs, women. Though you could be a male woman or a female woman or a non-binary woman.
Its ironic that once precise words become associated with gender, they lose their precision.
If we literally created a word… let’s say “xanin” (I don’t think that’s a real word) to refer to people with wombs in a non-gendered way, because vast majority of people with wombs are female, eventually the word would become synonymous with female/women and become gendered anyway.
Honestly unless we can talk about biological differences and gender separately, we are doomed to have the same endlessly repeating arguments.
I do have a solution for the bathroom issue. We should have a sit-down room and a stand-up room. If you can do your business while on your feet, this room has nothing but urinals. If you need to site down… then go to this room. (Though lets face it… many women wouldn’t be happy sitting one stall over from me if I had to take a dump)
Yes, I know this whole post could be taken as me not being as moderate as I am. It’s the one small issue that just gets so much more attention than it deserves as far as its applicability to most people’s daily lives.
Healthcare, housing, racism, education. Those are the issues I care about.