Culture

What I Learned at an LGBTQ Rally: Part 2

LGBTQ activists and supporters hold a rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., October 8, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Not much that wasn’t already evident from their usual activism.

Washington, D.C. — Where did I leave you? Oh, yes. I was sitting on a wall, waiting for the cops to move, and two men had just finished telling me about the nasty “terfs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) who hold the bigoted view that women can’t have penises — “ever!”

After the cops gave us the greenlight, the LGBTQ protestors — accompanied by yours truly –charged down First Street. I never did learn how to count crowds in journalism school, but my guess, as I mentioned earlier, would be that the LGBTQ activists outnumbered the “terfs” & co at a ratio of around ten to one.

“Get out of my face,” I heard one woman, holding a “terf” (“Protect Fairness for Women”) poster, say to a trans activist, who was following her down the street with a megaphone. As everyone gathered outside the court, multiple women, parents, and others took to a miniature stage to speak. They made a number of points, including:

  • We will keep fighting for ourselves and we will not back down.
  • We can’t let decades of progress be lost in a culture that’s confused. Stand up for women.
  • Sex is binary, and biology is not bigotry.
  • We as Americans have to find a way to find some middle ground that respects both sides.

Kara Danksy, a feminist from the Women’s Liberation Front, then stood up and read the following message from Julia Long, a feminist “from across the pond” in the U.K.:

We live in dangerous times. We have been sold a lie, a terrible lie — the lie that a man is a woman if he tells us he is. The lie that a young woman distressed with her own body is somehow really a man. A lie of such magnitude that it is hard to believe that all our major institutions have all been thoroughly complicit in promoting, and indeed enforcing, something so patently untrue and so devasting in its consequences.

All the while, swarming around them, yelling, tooting, and blasting sirens, were trans activists making counter points:

  • Trans women are women.
  • Trans women are women.
  • Trans women are women.
  • Trans women are women.

Repetition is their favorite rhetorical trick, which they also applied to the following:

  • Trans rights are human rights.
  • When trans people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!
  • Homophobes, go home. 

Amidst the noise and rabble were bunch of parents from the non-partisan Kelsey Coalition. This is a parental grassroots organization lobbying for protections for children from the medical harms of transgenderism. They are informed by the principle “First do no harm” rather than by any ideology or unifying political perspective. As the group explains on its website: 

Our inspiration is the courageous FDA pharmacologist Dr. Frances Kelsey, whose refusal to authorize thalidomide for market use in 1961 prevented thousands of serious birth defects and helped strengthen FDA oversight of the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Kelsey’s bravery in the face of immense corporate and political pressure has inspired us to speak truth to power, regardless of the personal cost or strength of our opposition.

Two parents from the group then took the stage to tell their stories, talking over the screaming crowds:

Like any parent, it is hard to believe that my once beautiful, healthy child, now 19 years old, is in and out of homelessness, bearded, her breasts amputated and reproductive organs removed, and living in extreme poverty, all just to be her “authentic self.”

Doctors did this to her while she was still a minor, without my consent or any involvement.  My child is mentally ill, no longer thriving, and yet our public schools, government, mental-health professionals, medical doctors, and pharmaceutical companies are telling me what is best for my child and that being opposed to this form of self-actualization is tantamount to abuse.

Another parent spoke, her voice wavering only slightly:

Did you know that most college students can be prescribed cross-sex hormones while attending school, unknown to their parents? I do. Because Rutgers University medically transitioned my son without my knowledge.

Did you know most college health care plans will pay for this? I do. Because the hormones that my son was prescribed cost nothing more than a small co-pay.

Did you know that schools do not properly assess students before prescribing them these drugs? I do. Because all my son had to do was sign a simple form and go to the pharmacy and start taking the hormones that are wreaking havoc on his body.

Did you know that when you find out that your child’s college is prescribing life-changing hormones, and you try to tell them about your child’s medical history, that they will not care? I do. Because Rutgers transitioned my son even though I begged them to consider underlying health concerns.

It is standard medical practice that health histories should be considered before prescribing any drug. “First, do no harm.”

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the court heard three cases in relation to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The first two relate to sexual orientation and the third relates to gender identity. In each case, the respective plaintiff claims to have been discriminated against on the basis of being either gay or transgender. In each case, the employer disputes that claim and gives a counter-explanation — quite apart from identity — for why they fired their employee. But the question before the Supreme Court is more fundamental than any factual particulars.

The question is this: What does the law preventing discrimination “on the basis of sex” mean by “sex”? In other words, by “sex,” did the lawmakers mean an anatomical marker observed at birth (male or female), or did they mean it also to extend to a self-declared sexual orientation and gender identity? A natural follow-up question would be: Is it the court’s role to redefine “sex” in federal law or to apply a redefinition retroactively?

Of course, the activists, with their megaphones and chants, are not in the least bit interested in what the law — as written — says. And neither is the ACLU, which is representing the transgender plaintiff in the gender-identity case Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Speaking outside the Supreme Court, John Bursch, the legal representative for Tom Rost, owner of Harris Funeral Homes, explained:

The ACLU’s attempt to redefine the word “sex” creates unfair situations for women and girls and undermines nearly 50 years of advances for women in this country. In Alaska, city officials tried to force a women’s shelter to allow a man, claiming to be a woman, to sleep in the same room, mere feet away, from women who have been raped, trafficked, and abused. The ACLU endorses that position.

In Connecticut, two boys identifying as girls have taken 15 state track-and-field titles in the girls’ division. And do you know what the official said when the mother of one of those girls asked about it? She said girls have the right to participate but not the right to win.  That’s unbelievable. The ACLU endorses that position.

In this very case Tom [Rost] is being punished for having the audacity to apply a sex-specific dress code based on an employee’s biological sex. Under the ACLU’s position in this case, sex-specific policies of every kind — whether it’s the shower, the locker room, the sports teams, or the dress codes — they all have to go. And that is a change that Congress has to make, not the courts.

The sound of the activists nearly drowned out Bursch’s remarks. One stuck chant with me. It’s the one that simultaneously pretends to demand equal justice under law (as engraved on the front of the Court) while also threatening:

If we don’t get it — shut it down.
If we don’t get it — shut it down.

What did I learn at an LGBTQ rally? Not much that wasn’t already evident from their usual activism. Still, I was reminded that the tyranny of the minority has always been the greatest test of our democratic institutions, that it ought not to be underestimated, and that none of us — no matter who we are or how fearful we may be — should ever bow to insolent might.

Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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