Julia Beck’s voice quavered with emotion and she seemed on the brink of tears as she neared the end of her presentation Monday. “We are losing an entire generation of sisters to this madness,” she said. “That’s why it’s personal. It’s infuriating. It’s devastating. And I have had enough.”
A radical lesbian feminist, Ms. Beck spoke these words at a place she once never imagined she’d be — a seventh-floor auditorium at the conservative Heritage Foundation — as part of a panel discussing “this madness” of transgender ideology. But as Heritage scholar Ryan T. Anderson said in introducing Monday’s event, no liberal institution in Washington was willing to host such a discussion because the influential and well-funded transgender lobby has effectively silenced criticism on the Left. Ms. Beck began her presentation by telling how she was removed from the Baltimore mayor’s LGBTQ commission because she refused to kowtow to transgender ideologues.
“You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Why is a lesbian speaking at the Heritage Foundation?’ And I ask myself the same thing,” she said. “But my answer is pretty simple: There is no place for me. I am politically homeless.” Ms. Beck was the target of what she called a “month-long witch-hunt” after she committed the “crime” of referring to a rapist as male. This involved the notorious British case of Stephen Wood (a/k/a “Karen White”), a sex offender who assaulted two women in a women’s prison to which he had been assigned after he decided to “identify” as female. As crazy as that sounds, it actually reflects the current state of law in England, and the fact that a lesbian feminist got kicked off a municipal commission in Baltimore for stating an indisputable fact — i.e., the rapist is a man, no matter how he may “identify” — shows how transgender ideology is a threat to basic First Amendment freedoms. Yet as serious as the threat to free speech and religious liberty may be, what most concerned Monday’s panel participants is the way transgender ideology threatens the health and safety of women and girls.
Psychologists have recently identified the phenomenon of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) in which teenagers and young adults manifest a sudden fixation with sex-change “transition” after immersing themselves in the online transgender cult. The influence of the Internet often intersects with peer pressure, as in some high schools now as many as 1-in-20 students may identify as transgender (or “non-binary” or “genderqueer,” as new terms keep being added to the nomenclature). Unlike previous teen fads — the hula-hoop craze of the late 1950s, or girls screaming for Ringo Starr at the height of Beatlemania — transgenderism can have life-altering consequences. And whereas transgenderism was once more common among males, the current craze has disproportionately affected young women. Thousands of teenage girls in America are now binding their breasts, injecting themselves with synthetic testosterone, and even undergoing radical mastectomies before they’re old enough to purchase a beer legally, because the ideology of “gender identity” has been embraced by schools, psychotherapists, and the medical community. Anyone who criticizes transgenderism is denounced as a bigot, and people have been fired from their jobs for refusing to cooperate with this increasing madness.
Jennifer Chavez, a board member of the radical Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) who spoke on Monday’s panel, addressed the real-life consequences of the transgender trend by sharing accounts by mothers of girls who’ve been drawn into the vortex of ROGD. “Their stories are heartbreaking,” Ms. Chavez said, before reading an email from a mother whose daughter — “a smart, quirky teen on the autism spectrum” — began identifying as transgender at age 13 while attending a school “where several students were already on hormones and one had a mastectomy at the age of 16.” The mother said she had been “living this nightmare for over four years.… Parents who do not support their child’s gender identity risk being reported to Child Protective Services and possibly losing custody of their children.” A second mother’s account: “My daughter at age 14 spontaneously decided she is actually a male.” This child was diagnosed with several mental health issues (“co-morbidity” is common in such case) and had been “spending a large amount of time on the Internet” before announcing her new “male” identity: “At age 16 my daughter ran away and reported to the Department of Child Services that she felt unsafe living with me because I refused to refer to her using male pronouns or her chosen male name.” Without the mother’s knowledge, a doctor began providing her daughter — still a minor — with testosterone. The girl “then ran away to Oregon where state law allowed her at the age of 17 without my consent or knowledge to change her name and legal gender in court and undergo a double mastectomy and a radical hysterectomy.” Now age 19, “my once beautiful daughter is … homeless, bearded, in extreme poverty, sterilized, not receiving mental health services,” the mother wrote. “The level of heartbreak and rage I am experiencing as a mother is indescribable.”
Such parental “heartbreak and rage,” of course, is mocked by supporters of the transgender agenda, including Planned Parenthood, which has recently gotten into the business of supplying sex-change hormones. There is no authentic science to validate the “gender identity” concepts by which such treatments are justified, according to Hacsi Horvath, a lecturer at the University of California-San Francisco who spoke at Monday’s Heritage panel. “Society is now indoctrinated to think this is ‘human rights.’… The science is complete junk.”
Yet this junk science could be enshrined in federal law, if Democrats are able to pass the Equality Act, proposed legislation which would “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” This bill was endorsed by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primary contest for the Democrat presidential nomination, and also has the endorsement of every Democrat in the Senate except Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Speaking at the Heritage panel, WoLF board member Kara Dansky said “women’s rights will utterly disappear” if their protections under current law are erased in the name of “gender identity,” as the Democrat-backed bill would do. “It means effectively that women and girls will no longer exist as a coherent category worthy of civil rights protection, and that is an absolute disaster,” Ms. Dansky said.
Whether or not the effort to prevent that disaster could produce a new political alliance — “Radical Lesbians for Trump 2020” seems far-fetched — Monday’s panel was evidence that transgender activism on the Left is alienating many women who have long supported the Democrats. One could not help be reminded of the musical cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which a transsexual mad scientist from outer space is finally confronted by his raygun-wielding henchman Riff Raff: “It’s all over. Your mission is a failure. Your lifestyle’s too extreme.”
The transgender “T” in the LGBT acronym has become so extreme, as Ms. Beck said Monday, that it is threatening to erase the lesbian “L.” And she was choking back tears as she vowed to resist this Rocky Horror agenda: “I’m here because I care about women and I expect that you do, too.” The Heritage audience reacted with overwhelming applause.