The Exact Moment When Progressivism Becomes Religion
Affirmation laws could violate the Establishment Clause
In fighting monsters, heroes inevitably become monstrous. When normal everyday people react to progressive extremists messing with their communities—think parents resisting trans affirmation occurring without their consent—their responses are captured, photographed, and delivered to the masses as yet another illustration of the monstrous bigotry that we must constantly resist.
The masses receive this gift happily—right wingers want to beat up and kill minorities of every variety, and that they, by clicking on the correct Current Things, are valiantly fighting back. The left provides the anti-inflammatory balm of tolerance. The heroes become the monsters, and the state becomes the hero.
This simulacra has been running since at least the Civil Rights Era, with Rosa Parks herself—a practicing activist for a decade before the bus incident—being a perfect example.
However, the latest hero-monster to be vanquished by the state “transphobia,” seems different. And it seems different because it is different. It is the moment at which the left leaves the real world behind, and enters the spirit world. And as such, demanding affirmation of it likely violates the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.
But This Time is Different
The regime uses leftists as its primary propaganda actors in large part because it has learned, time and again, that identity politics is its most potent and effective weapon against genuine resistance. But that merger is not without consequence.
The left does not like religion. It never has. Combine this with the regime’s desire for complete atomization—your “self” as the sum of your clicks—and you have the globalist vision: a world where individuals have complete freedom as long as they’re alone. Religion, on the other hand, is something you do with other people, and it’s almost always free.
This is why, on its face, transgenderism is the perfect issue for the globalists. It entails indulgence in individualism, the affirmation of what even its proponents acknowledge is “dysmorphia.” It creates lifetime subscribers to high-profit substrates: pills and surgery. And, again, it triggers news headlines.
The blindspot for the left, however, is that affirmation of transgenderism also necessitates belief in transgenderism. It requires the acknowledgment of the spirit, the body reversed from the “self.” It springs not from biology (race/gender), attraction (sexuality), or practice (religion), but from the metaphysical world. Put simply, a law can protect black people, gay people, and Jewish people without adopting any new beliefs. This is not true of transgender people. Protecting them mandates not just negative action (leave them alone), but positive action (switching birth certificates, enforcing access to “gender affirming care”)—and thus requires a step into the world of belief, if not religion.
Put another way, every other civil rights recipient already possesses their protected identity. Governments must ensure only that others don’t discriminate against this what they already own. But transgender people do not possess their identity—they must affirm it, which means governments must affirm it too. In doing so, they run afoul of a core principle of leftward marching Cthulhu: no soul stuff.
Gender Identity is the Soul
When progressives say “gender identity,” they in fact mean the soul. The key to understanding this is in the soulful language of transgenderism. Let’s explore how our “serious institutions” talk about it.
Johns Hopkins acknowledges that dysphoria is the root cause of transgenderism. However, it does not seek to treat the dysphoria, it seeks to “affirm” it. “These medications work to more closely align outward secondary sexual characteristics, such as enlarged breasts, body fat distribution or facial hair, with someone’s gender identity.” This is not the language of remedy, but of “alignment” with reality.
The Stonewall gay rights organization, says, “If you aren’t recognised as being the gender you know you are, it’s extremely damaging.” The language “you are” here necessitates that you exist somewhere apart from your body.
A new California law gives the state jurisdiction to intervene in a variety of ways in cases where parents or guardians refuse “gender affirming” care for their children. The convoluted bill was ostensibly passed in response to other states banning “gender affirming care,” for minors, e.g. irreversible hormones and surgery for minors, and it remains to be seen whether the bill has teeth or not. However, we discover California’s position on transgenderism in other places, for example in its lengthy “TGNC Guidelines” for foster parents.
Foster parents are, for example, banned from considering therapy that dares question the brand new concept of “gender identity.”
“Workers should be alert to any approach or intervention that treats gender diversity as a defect, or suggests that a person’s gender identity can or should be changed. If necessary, agencies should seek a protective order from the juvenile court to stop these practices.”
So where does the trans-ness actually come from? If parents are barred by the state from handling a child’s feelings about it, surely it must derive from some concrete, physical, detectable place?
Quite the contrary. The entire “trans debate” hinges on the belief in this concept of “gender identity.” Where gender identity exists, how it works, and what it actually is? They admit they don’t know.
“The factors that influence the formation of a person’s gender identity are not completely understood. Existing evidence suggests that gender identity is either innate or fixed at an early age, and has a strong biological and genetic component. For this reason, it is misleading to pose a distinction between a person’s gender identity and their so-called “biological sex.” A person’s gender identity is not subject to voluntary control and cannot be changed by therapy or other means.”
…a strong biological and genetic component that is undetectable via biological or genetic tests! A person’s gender identity can never be seen or known. It can also change at any time, which is what “gender fluidity” means. It all depends on how they feel, and how “persistent[ly], insistent[ly], and consistent[ly],” they say things like—and I’m quoting directly from the state of California here—“I have a girl brain and a boy body.” But they don’t have a girl brain and a boy body. What they actually mean is that I AM a girl in a boy’s body. And what is the “I” there? Where does that “I” exist? In metaphysical world of the subjective “gender identity.” Here in reality we’re left to merely analyze the signs and symptoms of a condition emanating from the beyond, like an exorcist treating the possessed.
The problem for the left is that recognition of the undetectable is generally the role of faith, not the government. Everything else that’s like this—our personalities, our minds, our “selves,” our beings, our souls—can’t be legislated without the governing body accepting a belief, having a faith, about what’s happening in the spirit realm. Show me another state law that requires us to “affirm” something metaphysical? You can’t, because such a law would amount to state-established religion.
Church and State
When a state changes someone’s gender on a birth certificate, it crosses the chasm between soul and state, the precipice between the physical and the metaphysical. It’s saying “I believe in gender identity.” It doesn’t just require tolerance of another person’s appearance. It doesn’t just require the state’s acceptance of others’ belief in the soul. It requires the state’s belief in a soul and that it can be in the wrong body.
As a spiritual condition, trans is just like any other. Chest binders, like tefillin or tzitzit, represent the physical emanating from the spiritual. The surgical aspects of trans can even be defended as in-group religiosity in the vein of circumcision. However, refusing to circumcise a child doesn’t give the state of California jurisdiction to intervene. Failing to affirm a child’s gender identity does.
And here we begin to see why manufacturing this particular monster was a mistake for the left. Our First Amendment principle against mixing church and state has not one but two prongs. We usually think only of the Free Exercise Clause, which prevents governments from restricting religious practice. But the second and equally-important prong is the Establishment Clause: governments cannot establish a state religion, or even support one religion over another. The Establishment Clause has been used to ban prayers in schools, commandments in town squares, and public Christmas trees without giant accompanying menorahs.
But transgenderism isn’t an organized religion! There is no God of Progressivism! The two could never be confused! But that might not matter. The Supreme Court has struggled to define religion, but one thing is certain: a religion, insofar as the First Amendment is concerned, needs no gods.
In Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), the Supreme Court struck down a Maryland law requiring public office holders to declare a belief in God, stating that governments may not “aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.” Surely this means that states also cannot aid religions founded on different beliefs as against those based on a belief in God.
In United States v. Seeger (1965), a case about religious exemptions in the military, the court defined religion as “whether a given belief that is sincere and meaningful occupies a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God of one who clearly qualifies for the exemption.”
It then narrowed this definition in Wisconsin v. Yoder (1975), which distinguished the beliefs of the Amish as religious as those from Henry David Thoreau, which were merely philosophical.
“[I]f the Amish asserted their claims because of their subjective evaluation and rejection of the contemporary secular values accepted by the majority, much as Thoreau rejected the social values of his time and isolated himself at Walden Pond, their claims would not rest on a religious basis. Thoreau's choice was philosophical and personal rather than religious, and such belief does not rise to the demands of the Religion Clauses.”
Thus, just because transgenderism has no god doesn’t matter, governmental affirmation of gender identities may still violate the Establishment Clause. The question is only whether the belief in gender identities 1) “is sincere and meaningful and occupies and place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God” and 2) whether that belief is more than just “philosophical and personal.” I would say that for transgender people the answer to the former is obviously yes. The latter is a closer call, but I would argue, again, that gender identity is in every way equal to the soul, and belief in the soul is the border between religion and philosophy.
Some right wingers will say that it none of this matters, that the regime marches left forever, and that the natural condition of transphobia will be just another fallen domino in the path to dystopia. Legislators and judges will define transgenderism however they damn well please, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But I’m not so sure. Communities should never be forced to adopt the soul-related beliefs of the state, and to give over their children to those beliefs. Governmental transgender affirmation really could run afoul of the Establishment Clause, and a conservative Supreme Court could strike it down as precedent that lasts for decades. Can we turn their hero into a monster?
The Carousel is a reader-supported publication.
Klaven is hot air pseudo classicism, gatekept gay dweebness. A bunch of entrained propositions about Being, with none of its real essence.
"Show me another state law that requires us to “affirm” something metaphysical" the entire substance of law depends on the notion of personhood which is metaphysical.
I think you are far too optimistic. It's becoming rather apparent that if "glass delusions" arose today and was felt to be advantageous by the globalists, questioning someone's "material identity" would soon be be a crime in Canada and California and our scientific institutions would swiftly start saying "scientifically, people are mostly empty space anyway, so we affirm the right of individuals to identify as a material in accord with their own since of self." for about 2 years before they just give in entirely-- "some people are glass, the science is settled!" Those who say otherwise are dangerous conspiracy theorists!"