Because I Have Nothing To Lose
Belated thanks, everyone, for all these comments. It means a lot. There's a lot coming into my inbox privately, as you might imagine.
I'm so glad you do talk so much about it, because that's how I know you, and because you help other people talk about it.
You know why I'm in this conversation? Because I have a female, teenage family member that wears her hair short. That's it!! As a teenager in the USA, presenting to the world with short hair, in this crazy, topsy-turvy, trans-pusher world, she is under tremendous social and cultural pressure to question and solidify (for others) her "gender-identity." Shopping with her, the store clerks will hesitate to speak to her as a young woman, primary-care medical offices insist she identify her pronouns, teachers and school social workers will flag her for gender "safe-space" activities at school The overall persistent message to her by society (professionals, legal, medical, educational, entertainers, well-meaning, clueless adults) and her peers is that you cannot look like that (a female with short hair and eschew dresses) and confidently present as a young, adventurous, sensitive, young female. So f@cking sad!!
Thank you for what you do. I'm definitely too chicken, and I'm a nobody. I'm attending a writers conference this year, and I'm already nervous about refraining from putting my pronouns on my nametag. I'd like to say nothing in that space, but am also tempted to put, "any pronouns are fine," or "I/you" or "I Me Mine" or "female pronouns"...
I support people who want to state or ask about pronouns, but I don't want to wear a sign I made myself when I feel sure that my pronouns are obvious at a glance.
I also want to say sincerely thank you. I only joined substack to support you in some small way because some days you are my best connection to a sanity.
Appreciate this. I have started to have this fantasy where One night with my friends I say￼; “Look I feel like I can’t pretend anymore. I don’t think there are 60 genders and ultimately I know this is bad for us as people... I will respect your child’s (formerly known as daughters’) chosen name and pronouns but know it’s only out of respect for you “
What do you think is it a good speech I’ll probably chicken out because my husband wants to keep the peace.
I am not exaggerating, I do not have a single friend whose daughter is between the ages of 10 and 18 who is in default mode. This is a small sample I admit 6 girls
But only the youngest is still going as a she.
How do I show people that being who you were born to be is actually the brave thing to do these days. It seems so unfair.￼￼￼
I appreciate your work on this subject a lot, as well as this personal reflection. I also just listened to the recent Vice debate on feminism this morning. I find it all so depressing. How did it come to be that 1) rejecting the reality of biological sex, and 2) aggressively advocating for the complete normalization of life-changing medical interventions at the slightest sign of "gender noncomformity" at any and every age, including very young children became the most important commitment of today's most powerful forms of feminism and progressivism?
I understand that these changes had been brewing at some level since the 90s but in terms of the takeover of the old left-liberal culture, it happened FAST. Like most people who don't embrace this change, I'd like to better understand how and why this happened.
Obviously, answering this question has to involve speculation. But there must also be concrete factors with regard to law, policy, philanthropy, activists, etc. that can be traced. I'd love it if you could expand your coverage of this issue to include more analysis of the specific dynamics of this particular political and cultural sea-change.
I know that you've raised the question with guests, but it's not an easy analysis to attempt and really requires people who have focused on it in depth. I've listened to other podcasts with Leor Sapir and found him very interesting. But it would be great to hear from a variety of people with different takes on the "why has this one issue taken over 'progressive' politics and culture so fast" question. There's so much more at stake here than sex and gender issues, huge as those are - it really impacts everything left-of-center and by extension politics and culture in general.
As a non-affirming parent of a trans identified daughter, I am profoundly grateful that you do. My relationship with my daughter is too important for me to speak up at school board meetings. My relationship with my husband (and his job) is too important for me to out myself on social media. I think my job is safe, but I really don’t know for sure.
I’m not an intellectual, but I’m intellectual adjacent. I enjoy reading and listening to thoughtful, smart people and was struggling to figure out why no one I was reading in the mainstream media seemed interesting or thoughtful anymore. Your writings and the writings of people you’ve introduced me to has helped me hone my own voice.
Thank you and please keep up the good fight.
#meghan4ever! Thank you for saying this.
Keep on keeping on, Meghan. You're good on other topics, but yes, too many are afraid to touch this third rail. When filling out a form for a recent physical therapy appointment, I opted not to specify pronouns. When I later read my chart notes for that visit, I was referred to throughout as they/them! I'd spent an hour with this PT. You'd think he could tell that, at the very least ,I'm "presenting" as female!
A couple of years ago, I heard McWhorter say, approximately, "I'm still learning about the gender issues, so I can't say much yet." I think he learned enough to realize how perilous the territory is. Too bad, because I think he could say, at minimum, that he'd want his daughters to accept themselves as they are, and at least not make permanent decisions as teens. At least there are some who are publicly willing to urge pushing the pause button on medical interventions for teens.
Wow. WOW. This was beautiful. Aesthetically, it’s gorgeously written. Your voice and style pop out so brilliantly. It made me want to stand up and clap. Yes!!! I find it so odd that talking about (mostly) rich white trans kids is worse somehow than racism? I don’t understand it. How parents have been hoodwinked into accepting radical pre-teen and teen gender identity conceits is beyond me.
Something really interesting and maddening happened the other day. As a Substack and freelance writer/editor, I belong to the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association). Writers look for help through the EFA forum. A few days ago--incidentally on my 40th birthday--an email was sent through the EFA to we freelancers.
The email was from a mid-thirties Jewish individual who was trans but had de-transitioned. They were writing a book about their experience with ‘trans humanism.’ The writer was extremely thoughtful, kind, honest, vulnerable and compassionate. They made sure to say they meant the trans community zero harm. They’d simply changed their perspective and become ‘pro-biology.’ They were highly educated, had studied English literature at George Mason, and had serious writing chops.
Anyway I was excited about the project (they were seeking developmental editing). I emailed the writer. The next day the EFA emailed us all saying they were removing the email from the list because it had offended some people and it ‘violated our anti-harassment policy.’ Two days after that (today) I opened my email to find a five paragraph explanation for why they’d removed the email. They explained that the writer’s email had been ‘harmful to transgender individuals.’ They droned on about believing in free speech and the diversity of different ideas...but not at the expense of transgender people.
I don’t know what to do. Is having a different perspective ‘transphobic’? Doesn’t the writer deserve to get a fair shake like everyone else? Is the point of writing to be safe and inoffensive? Who gets to decide these rules? Does this foster discussion or discrimination? Part of me wants to rip the EFA a new one and cancel my membership. Also: I think I need to write a Substack post about this experience. I find myself sad, angry and confused by it. Why is this such a sacred cow?
‘Sincere American Writing’
Thanks for this, Meghan. It is so tricky. I'm very careful about who I speak to about my real thoughts on this issue. My teenage daughter, like many of her friends, went through a period of wanting to bind her breasts and present as a boy. Many, if not most, of her friends go by non-binary names and/or they/them. My employer, a very large health system, just announced a training for staff based on the genderbread person. How is it OK to present this ideology as fact, much less use a cookie analogy to train adult professionals? We're living through something really weird and regressive and I hope it has peaked. Thanks for continuing to speak and write about this!
The world is moving into peak-trans. Within the past 5-6 years, a number of organizations have been formed to address the issue, some focusing on sports, some on pediatric health care, etc., and skeptical, or at least, more balanced writing is starting to make its way into mainstream media. Most state legislatures, never the most nuanced of forums, have debated and many have passed restrictive legislation on the topic.
I'm waiting to see what happens with erstwhile bastions of progressive thought like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, La Leche League, NPR, who have gone whole hog--will they just quietly drop the flag, or will there be struggle sessions and purges?
Meghan, thank you for being fearless on this issue and speaking out while recognizing why some people cannot. I feel so strongly about this issue as a woman and mother of a teenage daughter. I don’t have a career to risk, but my daughter is going to college next year with big aspirations and my husband has a public-facing job. I stay anonymous because I don’t want to damage their prospects, but it’s hard! I so look forward to your podcasts and posts because you are speaking for me (and probably so many others). I know it doesn’t pay the bills, but I admire the hell out of you and recommend your Substack to as many people as I can.
Meghan, you talking about trans stuff is mostly the reason I subscribe to everything Meghan-related. I said your name twice in a single sentence. This debate, cause it's one, is necessary. I had to comfort my 9 year-old boy yesterday, after breakfast in a restaurant, because his horrible grand-father (my father) called him a girl like 10 times and one forty something told him he was entering the wrong restroom. He has magnificent hair, shoulder-length, and he loves metal music, plays drums and bass. A metal head in the making. But strangers are calling him a girl. What the actual fuck? He loves his hair but keeps doubting. And #justtobesure, he is a giant boy, looking nothing like a girl. So yes, this society has a problem with gender, and prefers trans-ing people than accepting their non-conforming way, and it's frustrating. I am done, I have a hangout to join.
I’m so grateful I found your writing and that you have this stance about the issue. Such an important voice , happy to keep reading and talking and sharing it :) thank you for continuing to shine the light!