The good folks at Public Discourse were kind enough yesterday to publish my research on the current state of transgender science. Spoiler alert: The state is not very good. Indeed you might be surprised to learn that, contra the current zeitgeist, there is exceptionally little to justify the wildest claims of the transgender movement, particularly those related to “transitioning.”
The politics of the transgender movement are rather interesting. In the course of researching the article, I managed to get in contact with Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatry professor at Columbia and NYU. That exchange, however, was among the more bizarre interactions I’ve ever had with a medical official, or indeed with anyone.
When I first reached out to Dr. Drescher via email, he offered to field my queries and “see if [he could] be of help.” I posed to him several basic questions about the transgender phenomenon, his professional opinion of its basic premises, his opinion on the current state of transgender medical care, and his thoughts on whether or not doctors who might dissent from the widespread orthodoxy on transgenderism might be scared to speak up about it.
Drescher responded: “Let’s have a bit of a back and forth…If I like how you think, I might give you more of my time.” He then posed to me the hypothetical of a man losing his genitals due to a war injury, or a woman receiving a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. Were these individuals still men and women, he asked me? “Who decides?” he wrote. “And how?”
I responded that yes, I believed the individuals in question were still men and women under these circumstances. For clarity’s sake I quoted John Skalko’s stupendous essay at Public Discourse from this past summer, in which he posits:
How we fundamentally distinguish male and female…is based upon the two biological roles in reproduction. A human individual that has the basic capacity to reproduce with the female is biologically and truly a male. A human individual that has the basic capacity to reproduce with a male is biologically and truly a female…
One must distinguish, however, between two types of “capacity.” Males are still males even when they are not actively reproducing with a female, or if they are unable to reproduce due to sterility, castration, or a genetic or physical defect. The sense of “capacity” or “potency” in question here is a fundamental one. A mechanic that doesn’t have the proper tools is still “capable” of fixing your car, but not in the same way in which a mechanic with the proper tools is “capable” to fix your car in the here and now. A male is the type of organism that is capable to impregnate the female. In other words, he could impregnate her, given that he has the appropriate functioning organs. A female, however, cannot impregnate another female.
Drescher ignored this response entirely and subsequently posed another question: what about individuals with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome? In a baffling paragraph, he wrote: “XY chromosomes that do not respond to masculinizing effects of testosterone and are born looking like girls but have a small vaginal pouch and undescended testes which, since the mid 20th century, are surgically removed to raise the child as a girl despite being XY.”
“What do you think?” Drescher concluded. “Male or female?”
I responded that I wasn’t sure what the answer was, and that while it was an interesting question I didn’t see what it had to do with my initial query. I again asked if he could answer my questions. I never heard back.
I am honestly not sure what to make of this. It is an odd thing, to witness a grown man, one who is evidently in possession of a solid education and a successful professional career, wondering “who decides” whether a man is a man or a woman, a woman. That’s the flaw in the transgender hypothesis: Nobody decides, any more than anyone decides how many valence electrons are in a molecule of carbon. These things just are—they’re basic properties of the intelligible world we inhabit. Nobody ever had to ask if a man with his genitals shot off was somehow “not a man” before transgender activists came along and convinced everyone it was somehow a question worth asking. As you can see, the results of that zeitgeist are not pretty—and sadly they may be with us for a while longer yet.