The Pointless, Dishonest Alliance of the Transphobic
Today, I want to talk about the unprincipled and pointless alliance of two groups: the gender critical feminists on the Left, and the reactionary anti-LGBT faction of the Right.
Note that when I say ‘gender critical’, I mean the activist movement that is committed to that particular ideology, with roots in second wave radical feminism, not just anyone who may be questioning certain trans issues.
First of all, let me make it clear: this alliance clearly doesn’t make sense at all, except to oppose trans people and trans rights. Gender critical feminism is a very Left-wing revolutionary ideology that seeks to radically change society, while the reactionary faction of the Right are opposed to LGBT rights as part of their broad resistance to all social change. They literally belong on the extreme opposite ends of the political spectrum! On one hand, if the gender critical feminists win, there will be social changes much more radical than the longest and wildest trans rights wishlist. On the other hand, if the reactionary Right wins, they will turn the clock back so far for women that trans people would be the least of any feminist’s worry. In other words, gender critical feminists and the reactionary Right are essentially willing to enter a de-facto alliance with their worst enemies, the people who would destroy everything they hold dear, just to oppose 0.3% of the population!
Now, before you say that there is no alliance, I will acknowledge that there is no formal alliance. But it is clear that there is substantial cooperation going on, and it is clearly not accidental or subconscious either.
For example, intellectuals on the Right who otherwise consistently oppose critical theory somehow often make an exception for gender criticalism. The same people who go on and on about why critical race theory and queer theory are so problematic and even dangerous often won’t speak a bad word about gender critical feminism, even though they clearly share the same roots. Some of them might even try to paint the gender criticalists in a sympathetic light, saying that they are more ‘reasonable’ than trans activists because they ‘acknowledge biology’. What they forget is that the fundamental worldview of gender critical feminism is the idea that ‘gender is a social construct’, which wouldn’t be ‘acknowledging biology’ at all if we stick to the standards of empirical and evolutionary science. Opposing all other forms of critical theory while being sympathetic to one specific form of it, just to oppose trans rights, is the height of hypocrisy!
Many gender critical feminists have also actively supported anti-trans rights campaigns that are clearly started by, and funded by, the Right. Some of them have even spoken at events held by famous Right-wing organizations! It’s really a good example of ‘cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face’.
As to why a clearly unprincipled alliance like this can exist, without much challenge to it, I think it’s due to several reasons.
Firstly, most people don’t really expect or require others to act in good faith anymore. Perhaps we are all jaded by the dishonesty of our politicians and leaders. However, we must not let our disappointment turn into justification of the unjustifiable. No matter how bad the reality is, we must not give up on demanding that people act honestly and in good faith.
Secondly, the rise of critical theory and postmodernism has put a major dent in the need to be righteous and truthful in public life. After all, if even some of the most respected philosophers and academics think that sometimes the ends justify the means, maybe there are times when the ends do justify the means, even if they are unscrupulous means? That’s the problem with postmodern morality. For those of us who don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, we must remember that, no ends can be justified by dishonest means.
NOTE: I wasn’t talking about postmodern philosophy per se, but the combination of postmodernism and critical theory-based activism (criticalism). The ‘value’ of postmodernism to criticalists is that it provides some level of justification for a worldview that all ‘truths’ are a manifestation of power and oppression. What is stressed is not the empirical or scientific truth, but the supposed ability of these theories to ‘liberate’ people (especially the ‘oppressed’). Hence using the ends (liberation) to justify the means (theory that might not be scientifically valid).
Finally, perhaps people are just too busy to think deeply anymore. Thinking deeply and clearly is required to expose the hypocrisy. I’m really worried that the world of social media, the world of 15 second videos and 280 character statuses, is making people superficial and dumb.
So what can we do about this? I think that, as people who are awake to this hypocrisy, and especially as trans people who are caught up by this hypocrisy, we have a unique opportunity to expose it, and hence to help restore the expectation of honesty and good faith. We just need to speak up. Be brave enough to speak the truth loud and clear. Speak the truth loud and clear until they hear us. There is no other way, really.
TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, who recently published her autobiography The TaraElla Story, in which she described the events that inspired her writing.