WHEN HARRY BECAME SALLY
Responding to the Transgender Moment
By Ryan T. Anderson
New York: Encounter Books, 2018
251 pages, $27.99
To order: encounterbooks.com or (800) 343-4499
President Donald Trump’s election afforded a temporary respite from the juggernaut intent on carpet-bagging the legalization of homosexual “marriage” to advance an activist “transgender” agenda. Catholics, however, should not be lulled into a false sense of security; those who think sexual differentiation is but a cultural construct sustained by discrimination have not abandoned their program.
Most Catholics would probably be hard-pressed to articulate exactly what the agenda entails. They may have heard about “discriminatory” bathroom bills in North Carolina and famous men-who-became-“women.” But I bet they are unfamiliar with the full details of the “transitioning” process. People probably don’t have all the details behind transgenderism’s philosophical anthropology, either (gender is a “state of mind” that trumps the reality of every cell in your body). I am sure many have never heard from people who have “transitioned” who rue what they did to themselves.
Ryan Anderson, in When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement, leads us through how we reached “our transgender moment”; the inconsistent philosophy of activists (what does it mean, without depending on the stereotypes they supposedly eschew, to be a “woman” without a female body?); the voices of those who’ve “been there, done that” and regret it; the all-pervasive nature of sexual differentiation and the developmental biology behind it; what gender dysphoria and “sex reassignment” entail; the application of this treatment to minors; the interplay between gender and culture and where it is/isn’t reinforced by biological reality; and recommendations for public policy. Along the way, he points out some of the disputable “science” underlying the movement.
Philosophy is what’s really at issue, Anderson points out. Is the body personal or sub-personal? The modern reduction of the body to a tool subordinate to the “person” has its roots in Descartes; its implication for sexual ethics was already clear in the controversy over contraception and Humanae Vitae, now in its 50th year.
According to Anderson, “Our minds and senses function properly when they reveal reality to us and lead us to knowledge of truth. And we flourish as human beings when we embrace the truth and live in accordance with it. A person might find some subjective satisfaction in believing and living out a falsehood, but that person would not be objectively well off.”
And Anderson points out others also have rights: the rights of females not to share showers and bathrooms with other “women” with male anatomy and the right of all people not to be compelled to call a she a “he.”
“The transgender moment may turn out to be fleeting,” Anderson writes, “but that doesn’t mean we should expect it to fade away on its own. We need to insist on telling the truth, and on preventing lives from being irreparably damaged.”
John M. Grondelski, Ph.D., writes from Falls Church,
Virginia. All views are
exclusively his own.