But what is at work here is superstition—sympathetic magic, to be precise, which James George Frazer describes this way: “The magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it.”

Sympathetic magic, being a superstition, does not work, but the true believer sees in that only the need for escalation. If dressing men as women does not work, then what’s called for is surgically and hormonally manipulating their bodies until they more closely resemble those of women; when that does not work, what’s called for is a new set of social norms in which given names and legal names are suppressed and stricken from the public record. (Laverne Cox’s given name, Roderick, has been scrupulously scrubbed from Wikipedia, as have the names of Fallon Fox and many other prominent trans people; the editing record of the entry currently labeled “Chelsea Manning” is interesting to read.)

When that doesn’t work . . . etc., until we reach the current point of howling mobs calling for the criminalization of failure to conform to the mandatory etiquette. What’s next is anybody’s guess.