Oct 7, 2021
When I welcomed Dr. James Cantor to the program, we talked a great deal about science—about what it can tell us of gender dysphoria in minors, and what it can’t tell us. We discussed the wisdom of performing medical or surgical alterations on children, and whether science supports such radical interventions as a means of restoring mental health.
About this, we agreed: Medical science simply does not, at present, support the claim that gender transition is a necessary or effective treatment for dysphoria. There is just no good evidence to suggest that altering a young body through hormones or operations leads to a happier life. And therefore, those who insist on rushing ahead with so-called “treatment” that will leave a minor patient maimed, sterile, or traumatized for life are committing not only medical, but scientific malpractice.
Still, one thing Dr. Cantor and I might disagree on is this: whether science can ever demonstrate that we have a moral imperative to conduct or not conduct such transitions. You see, even if a study were to emerge demonstrating that little boys who transitioned to life as girls or little girls who transitioned to life as boys were happier and had better mental health, we would be no closer to knowing whether it is, in fact, possible to change a person’s sex, much less whether doing this to a child is morally right. Scientific studies can offer answers on outcomes and physiology. But they cannot tell us what it means to be male, female, or even human.
This is vital, because the claims of the transgender movement are not, in the final analysis, scientific, medical, or even psychological claims. They are claims about metaphysics. The dictionary defines “metaphysics” as “the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.” In other words, it’s about describing the way things really are. The metaphysical pretensions of the transgender movement are obvious in the painstaking efforts to redefine “man” and “woman.” Consider an answer San Francisco-based medical website Healthline offered to the question, “Can Men Get Pregnant?”: “Yes,” they declared. “It’s possible for men to become pregnant and give birth to children of their own. In fact, it’s probably a lot more common than you might think. In order to explain, we’ll need to break down some common misconceptions about how we understand the term ‘man.’” Healthline then proceeds to divorce the definition of “man” from biology, making it into a matter of purely subjective identification such that even a person with a uterus and ovaries, who can get pregnant, qualifies as a man.
Notice what has happened, here. In one fell swoop, the transgender movement has taken the primary question of this cultural debate completely out of the realm of science. By every measurable and quantifiable physical trait, a person may be a member of one sex. But if, despite all of this, he identifies as the other sex, then that is what he really is, according to the transgender movement.
We don’t normally do things this way. I’m not the first to point out that in all other cases where a patient’s body objectively contradicts their psychology, we treat them as mentally ill and compassionately care for them accordingly. When an anorexic patient enters the hospital severely malnourished but convinced that her body is morbidly obese, we do not indulge this dangerous fantasy by putting her on a diet. Yet if the very same patient walks into many medical establishments today and says that she identifies as a man, she can begin the process of having her healthy breasts removed. This is true even if the patient is a child. As WORLD Magazine reported earlier this year, this scenario is actually unfolding in California, where girls as young as thirteen have been given double mastectomies.
Why, if we seek to align all other forms of body dysphoria by treating the mind, do we respond to gender dysphoria by “treating” the body? The simple answer is that we no longer have a shared, metaphysical definition of “male,” “female,” or even “human being.” The whole debate comes back to this question: Is there such a thing as human nature? Are humans real as more than LEGO sets of atoms and organs, to be rearranged at our pleasure? And is sex more than just a matter of malleable plumbing? Are we male and female at our deepest level, and do these categories tell us anything about our purpose in the universe?
Christianity’s answer—and the answer of virtually all philosophers before very recently—was a resounding “yes.” Yet today, an ideology that says otherwise is rapidly seizing control of the sciences, the academy, and our medical establishment. This coup is based not on empirical evidence, but on the raw willpower of an unproveable metaphysical assertion. And these revolutionaries demand—often on pain of firing and professional censure—that scientists and doctors shut up and go along with it.
Yet this ideology contains the seeds of its own undoing. Aside from the fact that experimenting on the bodies of children is publicly revolting, the transgender movement lacks a real answer to why we have a moral duty to support any of its claims or meet any of its demands. After all, if there is no such thing as objective human nature, or male and female, then it makes little sense to speak of an obligation to help people “align” their bodies with their feelings. Why do feelings reign supreme, and why should I care? Is it part of the human purpose to feel “natural” in our bodies, and to help others do so? What is happiness, and why is it important? Says who?
In a time when the most fundamental facts about ourselves are up for grabs, such questions have to be asked. Yes, it is vital to hear the voices of courageous critics like Dr. James Cantor and Dr. Allan Josephson, the former University of Louisville psychiatrist benefitting in court from Dr. Cantor’s expert testimony. Gender transition, especially in minors, is junk science, and the lack of evidence to support its extravagant claims is glaring. But in the final analysis, we must realize that what’s really driving the transgender craze isn’t bad science, or any kind of science at all. It’s bad philosophy—a set of metaphysical claims that are defining human being out of existence. And if we hope to restore sanity to our institutions and save young patients from horrific psychological and physical abuse, we must confront those claims head-on, above all seeking to understand how we were created before allowing anyone to re-create us.