There’s a problem with the commonly seen acronym LGBT. Actually, sometimes it’s LGBTQ, depending who you ask. That problem comes with the “T” in the string of letters. While it may seem like a natural alliance in social justice circles, the fact is that one of these things is not like the others, to borrow a line from Sesame Street. The first three letters stand for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual. If you tack on the fifth one it stands for Queer. (Though I was assured many years ago that this was an offensive term. But hey… what do I know?)
All of those things relate to sexual orientation of one flavor or another, with none of them equating to heterosexuality. But “transgender” does not. Gender dysphoria describes a condition where an otherwise normally born human being mistakenly believes that they are actually the opposite gender. A male who “believes” he’s a female could be attracted to men or women or both. There’s no connection between suffering from gender dysphoria and sexual orientation.
Why is this important? Because we keep seeing these lines of attack in left-leaning media where the two are used almost interchangeably at times. One example popped up at the L.A. Times this week, in an article by Jaclyn Cosgrove seeking to claim that conservatives are now “at war” with transgender individuals because they “lost the war” over gay marriage.
In post-marriage-equality America, where same-sex couples live openly and increasingly are embraced in their communities, those on the conservative right who once pushed back against gay rights now appear to have shifted their focus to the transgender community.
So far this year, 10 states have introduced a flurry of bills that would make life tougher for transgender people, especially students who try to use campus restrooms that match their gender identity. And earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that it will no longer investigate civil rights complaints from transgender students who say they were barred from using restrooms that align with their gender identity.
The article goes on to include all of the usual hand-wringing and hyperbole, going so far as to equate questions of transgender policy to the civil rights movement and public access for the disabled. But that initial salvo about gay marriage really sets the tone for the argument. While I was never one of the conservatives who objected to gay marriage (preferring that government get out of the marriage business entirely), I’m aware that there were significant numbers of social conservatives who did object to legalizing gay marriage on religious grounds. But that issue has nothing to do with the subject at hand here.
Claiming that conservatives somehow lost the fight on gay marriage (actually roughly half of Republicans have no problem with it) so they are “changing targets” to focus on transgender individuals is absurd. That’s like saying Democrats failed to stop the tax cuts in Congress so they’re now trying to raise taxes by pushing for new gun control measures. These policy areas are unrelated. The differences are made even more clear when you remember that gay men aren’t asking to use the women’s restrooms and showers, nor are lesbians seeking to take up locker room space with the guys.
There is no “war on transgender people” going on. What you’re seeing is an effort to prevent a further erosion of societal norms, privacy concerns and a respect for scientific facts in the name of normalizing a mental illness. At the same time, more focus should be given to finding ways to actually help people suffering from gender dysphoria rather than enabling them in their delusions and trying to force the rest of society to go along with the trickery.