Emo support sweaters

Mary Wakefield at the Spectator on Kirrin Medcalf and “emotional support animals”:

Kirrin appeared in court last week because Stonewall is currently being sued by a lawyer called Allison Bailey, who claims that they bullied her and cost her her livelihood as a result of her insistence that men and women have different bodies, which of course they do. Bailey has been harassed by the usual activists in the usual way – death and rape threats – but nonetheless it was Kirrin who appeared to feel most victimised. Although he appeared in court only online, via Zoom, he insisted on being accompanied by his mum and his support dog. Just the sight of Bailey was too traumatising for him without the dog.

He tried to insist on being accompanied by his mum and his support dog and his support person – who was actually a lawyer.

I can’t bear to think about what Stonewall’s weird ideology does to children: the unthinking glibness with which they tell kids they can choose their sex, then push them towards mutilating their bodies and taking drugs which will make them infertile. I can’t bear it for the adult activists either – all the restless, unhappy allies who will one day face the enormity of what they’ve done.

I wonder if they ever will. I guess my hunch is that they’ve already warped their thinking so much to accommodate the nonsensical ideology that the thinking will stay warped, and they’ll go on thinking they were right no matter how many former trans people say how much they regret what they did to themselves.

So instead, as we move into another week of Allison Bailey vs Stonewall, I’m going to focus on the animals – not just Kirrin’s dog, but all the thousands of emotional support animals, or ESAs, this anxious young generation requires.

ESAs are a big business now both here and in the States, which I suppose makes sense. If you’ve been persuaded that you’re not the fortunate inhabitant of a free and democratic country, but instead the victim of an oppressive tyranny, you might well feel more comfy clutching some form of teddy – and an ESA is laughably easy to acquire. Unlike service animals for the blind or deaf, emotional support animals don’t need to be trained or properly certified. All you need to designate your pet an ESA is a letter from a therapist saying that the animal contributes to your psychological wellbeing. No therapist? No sweat. Any number of online sites will offer you the same service for a fee and throw in some ESA dog tags and a smashing official-looking harness just like the one on Kirrin’s dog.

So…do they do the trick? Do anxious people become less anxious because they have a critter in a fancy harness with them?

Jeffrey Younggren at the University of New Mexico has written a number of scientific papers pointing out that there’s no real evidence that support animals help with anxiety at all: ‘An ESA is an example of a well-intentioned idea that has metastasised and developed into a world of nonsense.’

Why not have an emotional support stuffed animal instead? Cheaper, tidier, easier to schlep around. I saw a [probably] homeless guy yesterday [there are a great many in Seattle] with a backpack with a little white stuffed bear at the top, packed appropriately for breathing and observing what was going on. To put a hold on the sarcasm for a moment, I found it quite touching – not only that he had it but that he wasn’t embarrassed to carry it around fully visible. I muse sometimes on how difficult it is not to think of stuffed animals as semi-alive or -real or -conscious or all those. You know they’re not, but at the same time, they’re not like a sweater or a bottle or a tennis ball. It’s the deeply encoded response to faces, I think – humans can’t fully override that, no matter what we know.

Men still aren’t women though.

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