Dylan Mulvaney’s parody of womanhood

The idea that a man can become a girl is irrational, creepy and sexist.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Feminism Identity Politics Politics Sport USA

We live in a world where a man who masquerades as a sportswoman is showered with praise and money while an actual sportswoman is branded a ‘stupid fucking bitch’ and punched in the face. A world where a bloke can be paid thousands of dollars to prance around in a sports bra in a grotesque parody of a female athlete while a real female athlete is set upon by a seething mob and told to ‘go the fuck home’. A world where a man in leggings doing a sub-Dick Emery satire on womanhood is held up as a role model while a young woman who trained her whole life to be an elite athlete is damned as a bigot and – direct quote – a ‘transphobic bitch’.

These are the cases of Dylan Mulvaney and Riley Gaines. Mulvaney is a 26-year-old man who labours under the delusion that he’s a girl. For the past year, in the modern Bedlam of TikTok, he’s been documenting his ‘journey to girlhood’, his ‘man-to-girl transition’, as the Daily Mail called it, brilliantly capturing the post-truth lunacy and outright sleaziness of this fully grown bloke saying ‘I’m a girl!’.

Gaines is a woman – one of the old-fashioned ones, the ones with vaginas, as Ricky Gervais calls them – who excels in swimming. She’s a champion college swimmer in the US and she is pretty ticked off that big burly blokes like Lia Thomas – six-foot-one, bepenised, full of that muscle mass bestowed on the male of the species by puberty – has been allowed to compete against women like her. Mulvaney and Gaines have both hit the headlines in recent days, and their stories show just how toxic and menacing the cult of transgenderism has become.

Mr Mulvaney made the news for securing a sweet sponsorship deal with Nike Women. He posted a video of himself doing a workout in Nike Women’s Zenvy leggings and Alate bra. I say workout. It’s less Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect and more Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Show. He does naff high kicks and star jumps, all while wearing a look of mouth-agape ditziness. Girls, what are you like! As many pissed-off women have pointed out, it looks nothing like a woman doing a workout. It looks more like a camp actor auditioning for A Chorus Line. Which, fundamentally, is what Dylan Mulvaney is. And yet he’s garlanded with praise. Corporations throw money at him. He’s treated as a real woman – or, shudder, girl – including by the White House.

Gaines made the news after being showered not with cash and love, but with vile misogynistic insults. Gaines is on a mission to save women’s sports. She has spoken movingly about how unjust it is to force sportswomen like her to go up against men. When Lia Thomas was plain old Will Thomas, he was an average male college swimmer in the US. When he became Lia he soared to the top of the women’s rankings. Women who trained for years to be the best at their sport were left behind in the waves made by his big man hands. Gaines gave a speech at San Francisco State University last Thursday on why women’s sports should be ringfenced from blokes, and the response was extraordinary. A heaving mob surrounded her. They barked insults in her face. They called her a bitch. Gaines says she was punched twice. She had to hide in a room for three hours to escape the fuming witchfinders.

And there you have it. A man in women’s sportsgear is fawned over by the right-on while a woman who wants to protect women’s sports is monstered by them. A man does a sardonic take on women’s ‘girly’ workouts and progressives cry, ‘Go, girl’. A woman stands up for the right of women to have their own sports and progressives shout, ‘Shut up, bitch’. The confluence of these two stories is perfect. It captures what a devastating impact the trans ideology has had not only on women’s rights, but also on the entire category of womanhood. That the elites feel more comfortable with a man’s frivolous performance of womanhood than they do with a woman’s passionate, reasoned defence of womanhood confirms that the trans ideology has laid waste to truth, science and sexual equality. All that is left in the wake of this deeply misogynistic ideology is the skin of womanhood, the accoutrements of it, the mask and the drag and the lippy. That’s why, in certain circles, Dylan Mulvaney is a more respected ‘woman’ than Riley Gaines – because he performs the caricature so much better than she does.

In July 1989, Germaine Greer wrote a piece for the Independent titled ‘On why sex change is a lie’. It is always wheeled out as Exhibit A in the Gen Z crusade to damn Greer as a foul old bigot, but in truth it’s a brilliant piece of writing, a reminder of what a fierce and excellent polemicist Greer was. She describes an encounter with a transsexual in the US in the 1970s, his face ‘thickly coated with pancake make-up through which the stubble was already burgeoning’. He had on ‘flapping draperies’. He shook her hand with – those of an easily offended persuasion, look away now – his ‘enormous, knuckly, hairy, beringed paw’. And then came one of Greer’s most famous lines on the trans issue: this man, she said, was a ‘gross parody of my sex’. ‘Kneejerk etiquette’ demanded that I accept him as female, she complained, ‘even to the point of allowing him to come to the lavatory with me’.

‘Gross parody of my sex’ – those words ring in my ears whenever I see Dylan Mulvaney. And many of the other ‘transwomen’ we’re meant to treat as actual women. ‘Trans women are women’, as the mantra goes, a mantra that was bellowed with medieval ferocity in the face of the witch, Riley Gaines. Today, though, there’s more than ‘kneejerk etiquette’ demanding that we recognise these fellas with stubble and hirsute fingers as women. An entire new machinery of authoritarianism has been fashioned to pressure us to believe that transwomen are women and to punish those, like Gaines, who dare to demur. Public shaming, blacklisting and even violence are now used to force all to acquiesce to the idea that someone like Dylan Mulvaney is a girl.

Mulvaney’s schtick is incredibly sexist. His diary of ‘girlhood’ gives the impression that femaleness is an act. You thought womanhood was biological, cultural, historical and relational, a thing of real substance and meaning? Think again. It’s drag, basically. It’s eyeshadow and hair extensions. From his make-up tutorials to his videos on how he tucks his bollocks into his swimsuit, Mulvaney’s vision of ‘womanhood’ is entirely fatuous. Womanhood is garb, apparently.

Let’s be clear about this: the idea that a man becomes a woman simply by having a facelift and popping a few pills and maybe having his knob removed is profoundly misogynistic. In Greer’s words from 1989, it promotes the idea ‘that the female is no more than a castrated male’. These days a bloke doesn’t even have to be castrated to become a woman. The demeaning of women as castrated males has been replaced by the even more repugnant demeaning of them as dolled-up males. Fellas, if you have access to mascara, wigs and tucking tape to hide your cock, you too can become a woman. Put on your leggings, do a couple of high kicks, open your mouths to make yourselves look dim and vacuous, and hey presto, you’re a lady. Anyone can do it.

The trans ideology has rendered womanhood meaningless. It has emptied it of its truths and reduced it to mere costume, one that anyone can don. As Greer has argued, the trans ideology is entirely counter-feminist, in that it treats ‘femininity’ as the core truth of womanhood. Femininity is a ‘role you play’, says Greer, ‘and for that to become the given identity of women is a profoundly disabling notion’. It really has become the given identity of women. Mulvaney is a celebrated ‘woman’ precisely because he performs femininity so enthusiastically, while Gaines is a demonised woman because she has the audacity to push back against the idea that womanhood is a performance and argues that, actually, it’s real. Biologically, culturally real. That Mulvaney’s gross parody of womanhood enjoys greater validation than Gaines’ sincere defence of women’s rights speaks to the misogyny that has been unleashed by the trans cult.

The problem isn’t Dylan Mulvaney himself. It’s the fact that the chattering classes, the White House and big businesses like Nike Women and Bud Light are all falling at his feet and saying: ‘Yes, Dylan, you are a girl.’ In doing so, they don’t only flatter one bloke’s delusions – they also give official sanction to the sexist idea that womanhood is nothing more than cosplay. And if women aren’t real, what’s the need for women’s rights? It’s a short step from treating womanhood as a joke to treating women as jokes.

Picture by: Dylan Mulvaney / Instagram.

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Topics Feminism Identity Politics Politics Sport USA


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