Sunday, June 1, 2014

Embracing Delusion

Transgenderism has gone mainstream. With Time magazine featuring Laverne Cox on its cover the phenomenon has become the next great civil rights struggle.

Has anyone else noticed how strange it is that a man named Cox declares him or herself a woman?

Fortunately, we can again turn to Kevin Williamson for a cogent analysis of this current mania. He begins by identifying the fundamental principle that has led to this and many other impasses. That would be, the notion that reality is what we think it is, what we say it is, what we interpret it as. 

This is, he explains, primitive thinking at its most modernized. Among other salient points, Williamson adds, those who follow this precept are obliged to police thought and language. By contemporary standards saying the wrong word or expressing the wrong thought is equivalent to genocide, mass murder and mayhem—mostly because such language and thought is imagined to be directing the latter actions.

Williamson writes:

The phenomenon of the transgendered person is a thoroughly modern one, not in the sense that such conditions did not exist in the past — Cassius Dio relates a horrifying tale of an attempted sex-change operation — but because we in the 21st century have regressed to a very primitive understanding of reality, namely the sympathetic magic described by James George Frazer in The Golden Bough. The obsession with policing language on the theory that language mystically shapes reality is itself ancient — see the Old Testament — and sympathetic magic proceeds along similar lines, using imitation and related techniques as a means of controlling reality. The most famous example of this is the voodoo doll. If an effigy can be made sufficiently like the reality it is intended to represent, then it becomes, for the mystical purposes at hand, a reality in its own right. The infinite malleability of the postmodern idea of “gender,” as opposed to the stubborn concreteness of sex, is precisely the reason the concept was invented. For all of the high-academic theory attached to the question, it is simply a mystical exercise in rearranging words to rearrange reality. Facebook now has a few score options for describing one’s gender or sex, and no doubt they will soon match the number of names for the Almighty in one of the old mystery cults.

Regardless of the question of whether he has had his genitals amputated, Cox is not a woman, but an effigy of a woman. Sex is a biological reality, and it is not subordinate to subjective impressions, no matter how intense those impressions are, how sincerely they are held, or how painful they make facing the biological facts of life. No hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change that.

The issue, as Williamson defines it, is whether reality exists independently of our beliefs. A trangendered person believes that he is of the wrong gender. He believes it completely and fully and unshakably. In other realms of psychiatry his belief would be considered to be delusional. In fact, someone who takes his belief to be more real than reality is, almost by definition, delusional.

Williamson explains:

The trans self-conception, if the autobiographical literature is any guide, is partly a feeling that one should be living one’s life as a member of the opposite sex and partly a delusion that one is in fact a member of the opposite sex at some level of reality that transcends the biological facts in question. There are many possible therapeutic responses to that condition, but the offer to amputate healthy organs in the service of a delusional tendency is the moral equivalent of meeting a man who believes he is Jesus and inquiring as to whether his insurance plan covers crucifixion.

It’s one thing for an individual to hold to a delusional belief. It’s quite another thing when a culture decides that everyone must accept the delusion as reality.

The mass delusion that we are inculcating on the question of transgendered people is a different sort of matter, to the extent that it would impose on society at large an obligation — possibly a legal obligation under civil-rights law, one that already is emerging — to treat delusion as fact, or at the very least to agree to make subjective impressions superordinate to biological fact in matters both public and private.

It’s fairly obvious that nothing good is going to come of this.


Anonymous said...

How about trans-species?

If I feel like a cat, should I be regarded as one?

Btw, homos* say they were born that way, and they and we should accept this fact instead of trying to force/pressure homos to be non-homo.
Fair enough.

If people should accept what they were born as, isn't trans-genderism opposed to that principle? While it may be true that someone who wants to be woman was physically born as a man, the fact remains that he was naturally born as a man with a woman's feelings. He should accept that natural fact instead of having his body parts mutilated to be what he was NOT born as.

One problem is we are moving away from humanism into narcissism. Humanism teaches us to accept our 'imperfections' and find meaning in basic moral values. Narcissism says we are whatever we want to be and we should force rest of society to agree with our hyper-esteemed sense of ourselves. The logic of Cox and Elliot Rodgers isn't much different. According to Rodgers, he was 'magnificent', and he thought it was unjust that the world didn't agree. Sorry, but he was a geek. Cox thinks he/she's some gorgeous blonde lady. Sorry, but he is a freak. Laughable.

*I refuse to use the term 'gay' for homosexual. 'Gay' is an adjective of a certain kind of style. Plenty of straight men--like David Niven--were gay in style and plenty of homos are not gay in style at all. It's wrong for homos to own an entire adjective.

It would be like Germans demanding that they be called 'industrious' because Germans tend to work hard. Surely, there are industrious non-Germans and lazy Germans.
So, why should Germans hog an entire adjective for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the civil rights frontier will be after transgenderism? All non-leftists want to know.

Maybe constitutional rights for animals? Extending the voting franchise to the entire Third World? Mandatory gay, transgender quotas on all pc-named athletic teams but no scoring since that will make someone feel bad? The possibilities are endless...

Larry Sheldon said...

Is there a real difference (other than degree) between this an other voluntary mutilations like tatoos, piercings, Botox, breast repacking, facelifts, .......?

dfordoom said...

"Maybe constitutional rights for animals?"

You're behind the times. That campaign has already started. Scary but true.

Ares Olympus said...

Sadly, the game has not reached its limit. Fantasy has only begun when people want to shed fixed sexual identities, although the online virtual realm is a more promising place for that fantasy, second life, you never know who anyone is.

I remember there's Turing's test for IA, whether a machine can simulate a human being so you can't tell the difference.

You might use the same test in a virtual world, where your chat mates may be male, female, or NSA spies for all you know, and all you have beyond their self-defined appearance is how they answer questions. I'd expect many observant males or females could play the opposite gender sufficiently to trick a vast majority of coplayers, or that is false positives and false negatives might be equally possible.

But even in the "real world" there's also now a huge "fantasy cosplay" going on where people go to conventions to play their favorite character, human or not.

I've never had an inclination to attend these, but seems quiet popular on the Facebook crowd, and wide ages from 20-60s!

So perhaps someday soon people will be advocating to be allowed to wear their "furry costumes" to work, and is really so more strange than body tattoos and cheek percings? And if you can't tell what gender a person is under all that disguise, does it really matter?

I'll say this is all a product of "mass culture", I mean no one living in a small town wants to stand out that much, but if you live in a big city, everyone wants to be special in some way, and there are endless possibilities of finding a subculture to support your fantasies.

I imagine some of these people want to have two lives, their ordinary one where they blend in, and their fantasy one in their subculture, while others would prefer to stay "in character" 24/7, and force the world to accept them.

Maybe the whole problem is how do you take people seriously? Do you feel safe having your dentist cross-dress at work, or have his "furry" ears on, or does that make customers want to run away?

And so far I guess you can be fired for failing to follow a dress code at work, but perhaps someday soon the right court case will say this is also wrong, and we have to accept everyone for who they are, and disallow personal choice to decide who to hire.

Yes, I don't think this can turn out well, and it all seems pretty unserious.

Allan said...
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John Milton said...
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