Bradley Manning wants to change his sex, and the bien-pensants of the Left honor his decision, changing the gender of the pronouns they use to refer to him. Meanwhile, John Doe wants to change his sexual orientation, but that’s different: They rush to save him from the horror of his self-hatred and psychological self-punishment, as they see it. Hence the bill that Governor Chris Christie signed in Trenton on Monday: It is now illegal for a psychotherapist in New Jersey to honor a minor’s request for help in becoming heterosexual.
As Kevin Williamson explains here, agreeing with a man that he’s a woman doesn’t make him one, and neither does any amount of hormonal therapy or surgical mutilation. The rational and humane response to a man’s request for gender reassignment is to acknowledge the psychological nature of his complaint and then help him to accept his condition. Many men who come to terms with their Y chromosomes go on to live happy, normal lives.
The Left disagrees. It believes in open borders for sexual identity.
For sexual orientation, on the other hand, it’s the Berlin Wall. True, the movement across the Wall, or attempted movement, is all in one direction, but that’s only because those who seek a better life as heterosexuals are still under the influence of a bigotry that itself is on the run and will cease to exist, except as a bad memory, in the utopian future just over the horizon. So goes the party line, which radical feminists promoted half a century ago with respect to abortion. Sure, it haunts us now, they argued, but the revolution is already deconstructing our false consciousness of this routine medical procedure, and someday . . .
It turned out that abortion is what it is and not what we said it was. It turned out not to be a social construct after all. Sentiment against it is unchanged or, in some analyses, stronger than it was a generation ago, and growing.
Reparative therapy, as it’s called, is effective in helping some people climb over the Berlin Wall of sexual orientation. Or it’s not effective. It’s hard to know whom to believe. Christie invoked the authority of the American Psychological Association, which, he says, warns that efforts to change sexual orientation can lead to “depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.” But presumably a youth seeking to change his orientation already suffers. He’s on his own now, at least in New Jersey. Any medical professional there who tries to help him past Checkpoint Charlie will be breaking the law.
In an unforced error, Christie raised questions about his credibility on the issue when his office issued an unfortunate statement explaining his position. Included there is an excerpt from an interview in which he said of homosexuality, “Well my religion [Catholicism] says it’s a sin.” That’s fatuous. It doesn’t. “I mean I think, but for me, I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so I think that if someone is born that way it’s very difficult to say then that’s a sin.” The Catholic Church distinguishes between disposition and conduct in this matter. The distinction is clear and easy to grasp, and Christie’s failure to acknowledge it indicates either ignorance or sophistry carried to the point of mendacity.