Why the trans lobby is so allergic to debate

The meltdown over the Cass Review confirms how brittle and tyrannical the trans movement has become.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Free Speech Identity Politics UK

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Has there ever been a movement as allergic to scrutiny as the trans lobby? Analysis is to the trans activist as sunlight is to the vampire. Even the mildest questioning of their claims is likely to induce a fit of the vapours. Wonder out loud if it’s wise to pump confused kids with drugs that might render them infertile, or to allow a bloke to parade around a women’s changing room with his tumescent knob hanging out, and you’ll instantly be added to their blacklist of transphobes. These are epic levels of touchiness, irascibility turned up to 11. Why are they like this?

Their infamous sensitivity has been on full and comedic display since the publication of the Cass Review earlier this week. Yes, even this civil review of the NHS’s gender services for kids has got them scrambling for the smelling salts. Even this polite if critical analysis of the NHS’s failings in relation to gender-confused youths, overseen by top paediatrician Hilary Cass, has got them hissy fitting again. The review is ‘pure bigotry’, they wail online. Is anything not bigotry? Biology is bigotry, women not wanting to look at the shrivelled cock of a man called Sheila is bigotry, and now even a paediatrician examining paediatric services – ie, doing her job – is bigotry.

Their Cass meltdown has been cosmic. All the review says is that medicine should be evidence-based, the medical pathway is the wrong approach for many gender-confused kids, and clinicians should exercise ‘extreme caution’ before letting people under the age of 25 take puberty-blockers and other pharmaceutics that screw with your hormones. It also raises concerns that ideology, not evidence, is too often the driver of medical messing with kids. To most people this will sound eminently sensible. To the trans activist in the vice-like grip of gender dogma, however, it’s tantamount to blasphemy. Evidence-based medicine? Fetch my pitchfork!

All over social media, the Cassphobes – see, we can all play the bigotry card – are out in force. They’re calling the review ‘anti-trans’ and a ‘corrupt sham’. Some are branding it ‘anti-care’ and even claiming it gives a green light to ‘conversion therapy’. These dystopian warblings shine a light on the doublethink of trans activism. The Cass Review is entirely about the best way to care for gender-confused kids – to call it anti-care is an Orwellian distortion, a flat-out lie.

As to the bunkum about Cass being pro ‘conversion therapy’ – actually, it’s likely Cass will help save gay kids from today’s true conversion therapy of having their sex ‘corrected’ by drug-pushing ideologues who’ve spent the past decade turning gay boys into ‘girls’ and lesbians into ‘boys’. It isn’t the Cass Review, or the TERFs who love it, that pushes ‘conversion therapy’. It’s the trans ideology itself with its grotesquely pre-modern urge to drug and even mutilate kids who display non-conforming gender traits. Boys who are a tad camp, girls who like footie. Under the cover of ‘gender affirmation’, the trans ideology has birthed the industrial-scale medical conversion of gay youths, the like of which even yesteryear’s religious hotheads might have considered a bit much. The sin trans activists see in Cass is one they themselves commit.

A key argument of the Cass haters is that the review will give succour to bigots. The review has ‘fallen into the trap of reflecting and therefore [giving] credence to anti-trans bias’, says Freddy McConnell at the Guardian. The review will be ‘weaponised’ by people who ‘revel in spreading disinformation and myths about [transgenderism]’, says Amnesty International UK. Remember when Amnesty focused on improving the lot of prisoners of conscience? Now it bitchily subtweets feminists who don’t think people with dicks are women – we all know that’s who they’re referring to in their haughty handwringing over people who ‘revel in spreading disinformation’.

Zarah Sultana, the Labour MP for Zarah Sultana, is worried that the Cass Review has landed in an era of ‘transphobia’ and ‘hatred’. Pink News likewise frets that the review will provide ‘ammunition’ to ‘anti-trans pundits’. How interesting that trans ideologues see evidence as ‘ammunition’. Facts are bullets to those who inhabit the post-truth universe of ‘gendered souls’ and ‘women with penises’. They fear proof the way the rest of us might fear the firing of a gun.

There’s a whiff of moral blackmail to these wild claims that a calm, lucid review of NHS gender services could crank up ‘anti-trans hatred’. What these people are really saying is that any discussion whatsoever about trans issues is dangerous. It’s clear now that they don’t only fear firebrands like Posie Parker – God bless her – but all analysis, all questioning, all debate. That even a government-commissioned, paediatrician-led review that makes great pains to be trans-friendly has caused so much gnashing of teeth is a testament to trans activists’ hives-like hypersensitivity to any idea or fact that runs counter to their dogma.

That’s what really underpins the rash reaction to Cass: a cult-like instinct to defend dogma, to protect holy beliefs from the sullying dissent of outsiders. It can be tempting to view this as the behaviour of a religion rather than a progressive movement, but even religions permit some dissent on doctrine. Even the old Catholic Church would employ a ‘devil’s advocate’ to make the case against the canonisation of a saint. If anyone in the trans lobby were to suggest employing a ‘devil’s advocate’ to test their cultish conviction that it’s good to chop off a young lesbian’s breasts or to allow a rapist into a women’s prison, he’d be damned as a transphobe and No Platformed from every woke gathering in Christendom. The devil of dissent gets no voice at all in the trans world.

It’s always a red flag when a movement demonises dissent as blasphemy. When it’s a movement whose ghoulish achievements include the mutilation of healthy young bodies, the restoration of gay shame and the decimation of women’s rights, it is doubly concerning. You want the right to give body-transforming, life-changing drugs to kids in the grip of a pubescent crisis? Yeah, we’re going to need to talk about that. We’re going to need the fullest, freest discussion imaginable about whether it’s a good idea. If we’ve learnt anything from the trans controversies of recent years, it is surely that censoring dissent allows hysteria to flourish. The demonisation of criticism as ‘bigotry’ paved the way for such calamities as medical experimentation on gay and autistic children and the sexual assault of female prisoners by rapists masquerading as women. Censorship is the foul soil in which social derangement takes root.

Here’s the thing: if you live in fear of the truth, then it’s possible your life is a lie. This is why trans activists, even by the standards of today’s famously fragile identitarians, are so innately hostile to debate: because at some level they know there’s a house-of-cards element to their identities. They know their insistence that they magically became the opposite sex, simply by saying it out loud like ‘Beetlejuice’, belongs to the realm of fantasy rather than reality. Their ceaseless efforts to make us all bow down to their deluded self-image is actually proof of the brittleness of that self-image. They demand conformism not because they are confident, but because they aren’t. They say ‘Trans women are women’ on a loop not because they believe it’s true, but because they fear it isn’t. And it isn’t.

This is what the Cass meltdown confirms: that tyranny often springs from weakness rather than strength. Self-assured social movements have no need of censorship – only the morally uncertain require such brute instruments. Yet rather than engage in a little self-analysis, rather than fess up to the hollowness of their post-truth claims, many trans activists are doubling down. It seems they believe that the medical sacrifice of children and the obliteration of women’s freedom of association is a small price to pay for the continued propping up of their narcissistic fantasies. This is a cruel calculation. I hope they change their minds and engage with Cass seriously and come to understand that they will never alter their sex. Bullying women to prove you are not a man? It’s beyond dumb, fellas.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech Identity Politics UK


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