She pointed to vague notions of “knowing” and “feeling”

A psychologist at Feminist Current on how she bought into trans dogma until she didn’t any more:

Until mid-January, I was a stalwart advocate of what is commonly referred to as “transgender rights.” I didn’t waver in my belief that transwomen are women and transmen are men, that transgender individuals should be granted access to single-sex spaces based on their chosen “gender” (including female change rooms, homeless shelters, prisons, sexual assault centres, transition houses, etc.), and that those who question such beliefs were misguided at best, and transphobic bigots at worst.

Certain aspects of trans activism would occasionally unsettle me, such as self-identification being the primary requirement needed for transwomen to compete against female athletes and on women’s sports teams, but I pushed those concerns aside. This wasn’t worth my attention, when transgender individuals were supposedly being discriminated against in so many areas of society. Further, I had repeatedly read that transgender youth had a high risk for suicidal ideation and attempts, so when it came to advocating for transgender people, it was clear to me that time was of the essence.

It’s always been one of the biggest puzzles to me in this whole thing, how thoroughly some otherwise reasonable people buy into the official doctrines. I don’t expect that puzzle ever to be resolved; it just is puzzling. The core claims are so wack, so magic-adjacent, that all this furious impassioned belief is inherently surprising and baffling. I can understand buying into the idea that one must pretend to believe it all more easily than I can understand actually believing it all. (That’s still not very easily though. We don’t normally think we have to pretend to think other people’s flaky beliefs are true [with the massive exception of religious beliefs], so why has this one so suddenly and furiously been made socially mandatory?) The suicide explanation is some answer, I guess, but then that claim itself is not particularly credible on its face and falls apart if you do any research on it. So…it’s puzzling. Mystifying, in fact.

I discounted those who didn’t agree with my belief system — or rather, shouted online at them, in 280 characters or less. I used my PhD in clinical psychology as a sword, despite the fact my knowledge of the science and psychology of sex and gender was minimal. Most people who disagreed with me were women, who repeatedly stated that males could not become female, and that while the rights of every individual in society must be respected and protected, the rights of one group (trans-identified people) cannot be realized at the expense of another (women).

When asked why I believed transwomen were, in fact, women, I asserted that some boys and girls are “born in the wrong body,” and that our brains are gendered (thus, transwomen had a male body, but a “woman’s brain”). When asked to elaborate, I pointed to vague notions of “knowing” and “feeling,” rather than terms that were rooted in science and could be operationalized. When asked to explain further, I resorted to circular reasoning: some men feel like women, and only women can feel like women, therefore some men are women. When pushed on the question of how it is possible to “feel like a woman,” I’d argue that because I “felt” like a woman, it must be true.

Ah but do you “feel like a woman”? How do you know? How do you know you don’t just feel like yourself, while knowing that you are in fact a woman? I think that better describes what most of us think. We’ve always been told we’re female, so being ourselves is being female, just as it’s various other things we’ve always been told about ourselves; it’s not some special essence or core that is feelinglikeawoman. We can’t generalize from our own claim to “feel like a woman” to the existence of some essential “feeling like a woman” that exists independently of female people who grow up being treated like female people.

But at the time the formula worked for Alicia Hendley until it didn’t any more.

But early this year, everything changed. In January, information about the alleged misbehaviour of a self-declared transwoman (“JY”) was revealed. Initially known for filing human rights complaints against 16 Canadian women who declined to wax male genitals, JY was now alleged to have made predatory comments about young girls online. One comment JY allegedly left said, “Every single time I take that ferry there’s field trips with 10-12 year old girls on it… If a girl asks me for a pad or tampon and help on how to use it, if it’s her first time, what do I do?” A selfie of JY in the women’s washroom, which included girls standing in the background, also began to circulate.

People tried to talk about it, and found themselves kicked off social media for doing so. This made Hendley uneasy, so she consulted…Morgane Oger.

We spoke for almost an hour, and Oger listened to my concerns, telling me that other women had reached out regarding JY’s behaviour as well. Oger stated that it would be fruitless to bring such concerns to law enforcement unless there was concrete, verifiable evidence to present them with. I was encouraged to find possible sources and to get in touch if I found any. Based on our conversation, I felt Oger was troubled by the accusations that were being made against JY and was taking them seriously.

During our call, Oger mentioned an event that had occurred a few days earlier at the Vancouver Public Library, discussing gender identity ideology and women’s rights. While I was not at the presentation and could not comment on what occurred, I was struck by Oger’s description: “It was like 1933 Berlin.”

Hendley’s husband and children are Jewish, and that comparison was a large step too far. The slide began.

More conflicting thoughts followed. Was there any evidence that transgender people were at risk of imminent extermination, similar to vulnerable groups during the Holocaust? No.

Were transgender people, as a group, more vulnerable than women? I had no evidence to support this claim.

Was silencing women who say that transwomen are not women (and transmen are not men) a punishment that fits the “crime”? Should referring to a self-identified transwoman as “he,” even inadvertently, mean that women deserve to have online methods of communication (a vital tool for women, enabling them to participate in both public and private conversations) cut off? No.

She used her academic training and did a lot of research.

Like so many other women before me, I reached my “peak.” And finally, even though it may have taken a long time, I tipped, falling away from the beliefs ascribed by gender identity ideology, and onto firmer ground. I was no longer willing to “affirm” transgender individuals at any cost, especially if it cost us women’s rights. I was no longer willing to agree that the end (transitioning a teen) necessarily justifies the means (using scare tactics about suicide on parents). I was no longer willing to perceive every transgender person as made of finely spun glass, too fragile to be questioned, and capable of being broken by mere words. I was no longer willing to sacrifice truth and ethics for political correctness.

Now, when I reflect on my “switch” from being an unrelenting trans activist/“ally” to being critical of gender identity ideology and legislation, I’m chilled at how easy it was for me — a psychologist (now retired), ostensibly trained to understand the human mind — to become so caught up in the momentum of “trans rights” that I avoided critical thought, much like a new member of a cult.

Quite. The culty aspects are very obvious and very disturbing. It’s obviously not a coincidence that trans activism has a lot of both: 1) magic-adjacent claims and 2) ferocious bullying of dissenting women. If the claims were less magic-adjacent they wouldn’t be so god damn hard to believe, and thus wouldn’t require all this bullying and ostracism and silencing to enforce belief and repetition.

And, while I’m reluctant to call trans activism a “cult,” I’m aware of many disconcerting similarities: the absolute refusal to allow anyone to criticize issues; silencing, smearing, and ostracizing those who do ask questions (in this case, labeling them “transphobic”) about the ideology of transgenderism; and pressuring individuals (from parents to health professionals) to blindly adhere to the view that some people are “born in the wrong body,” and that the only way to “fix” this error is through medical intervention, such as puberty-suppressing drugs, cross-sex hormones, and various surgeries, rather than with psychological intervention. And, much like in a cult, those who push gender identity ideology discourage independent thought, and instead respond to requests for evidence and facts to support their beliefs with platitudes, mantras, and scare tactics, repeated over and over, until they become reality.

All of that, with knobs on.

H/t Lady Mondegreen

15 Responses to “She pointed to vague notions of “knowing” and “feeling””