This one goes out to the paid subscribers only, who are owed some extra content. The missive is prompted by a recent CDC announcement, as the headline suggests. But later in the newsletter I drift a bit more into policy. Here is a taste:
Coleman Hughes discussed many of the relevant issues in the podcast I recommended in my recent ACLU post, and one of the topics I found intriguing is the way that the New Orthodoxy actually seems to pigeonhole people into unyielding sexual stereotypes. In the old orthodoxy, if you were a boy who didn’t really like sports all that much, or if you were a girl who hated wearing dresses but enjoyed hanging out with the guys and rolling around in the dirt, some people might have disapproved of your nonconformity, but many others (like myself) would have recognized that you are one of many, many people who don’t fit the neat gender stereotypes that society tries to impose on us all. And that’s great! A consequence of individualism is that people won’t always adhere to the expected pattern.
But now, it seems, the boy who doesn’t like sports will inevitably be questioned about whether he thinks he is really a girl. A girl who would have been called a “tomboy” in the old days will, in the New Orthodoxy, be bombarded with suggestions that she might secretly feel herself to be a boy.
Whether this is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing is dependent on whether the current explosion in people declaring themselves to be transgender is principally the result of the lifting of a societal taboo on a healthy development (identifying as a different gender or sex) that makes people more well-adjusted, on one hand, or whether it is the result of a sort of social contagion that causes many teens to take irreversible steps like hormone therapy that many later regret, on the other. It seems beyond debate that both phenomena occur. The question is the relative measure of each. I have my own suspicions, but at the very least the jury is still out. And so it’s not necessarily clear whether an insistence on labeling people with the sex they claim to prefer is helpful or harmful.
As always, anyone issuing confident pronouncements regarding the newsletter based on an excerpt is doing something they should not do. Twitter has a button for people who retweet articles they have not read, asking: “Would you like to read the article first?” If I had the technical ability, I would present a button to critics of my excerpts that asks: “Would you like to subscribe and read the whole thing first?”
It’s been a while since I put out free content, which I feel less guilty about, but I have been working on a long piece responding to David French’s Sunday piece for The Dispatch. When that comes out, it will likely be free.