Tuesday 18 June 2019

Mary Kenny: He says, ze says

Personal pronouns are being replaced to respect transgender theory

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Ever since I was made aware that folks from the city on the Foyle favoured different names for their home town ("Do you come from Derry?" "Yes, I come from Londonderry") I have believed that people should be called whatever the heck they like. So I have no problem with the transgender (or "intersex") pronoun "ze" replacing "he" and "her".

Justin Trudeau's Canada has even passed a law about personal pronouns. The amendment to the Human Rights Act (Bill C-16) prohibits "gender identity and expression", thus enforcing the use of "ze" (also "zi") where transgender people demand it. Woe betide anyone who adheres to Freud's principle that "anatomy is destiny", or, worse, that biology determines gender or sex.

Sex and gender, according to progressive thinking now, are social constructs. You do not derive your gender identity from your body, or your chromosomes: it's society that has formed gender stereotypes. We can choose our gender identity.

Dissent from this view - especially in Canada - at your peril. Professor Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has called the new pronoun laws "compelled speech": and those who refuse to comply may be brought before the courts for "hate speech".

The triumph of transgender ideology is now unstoppable. In Britain (where there's been a tenfold increase in demand for referrals to gender identity clinics) the education authorities are pressing forward with teaching young children about transgenderism. The National Union of Teachers has recommended that children as young as four should be taught positive transgender values - to combat "hate speech" against people who change sex, or people who reject the "binary" concept of sexuality. Top London schools like St Paul's have introduced "gender-neutral" protocols to allow pupils to choose whatever gender identity they wish.

Recently, a British academic, Dr Joanna Williams from Canterbury, caused a furore at an education conference, by saying that teaching transgender policies confuses young children: they don't need to be taught about "gender fluidity" in primary school, and since the transgender issue only affects about 1pc of the population, it's a "waste of time and money" to dedicate educational policies to it.

But transgender policies (and politics) are gaining ground everywhere.

Where does this ideology come from? The philosophical source of gender theory is a 61-year-old Californian professor called Judith Butler, whose complex and sometimes difficult academic works on gender theory have attained global status. Professor Butler objects to words like "masculine" and "feminine", since they represent an unacceptable "norm", and "norms" imposed by social practice.

All gender stereotypes and sexual identity stereotypes must be challenged. (And sexual identity does not necessarily correlate with sexual orientation.)

Although gender theory affirms that we are all on a spectrum between "masculine" and "feminine", Professor Butler nonetheless deplores the words "masculine" and "feminine". Calling some women "masculine" and some men "feminine" is itself a violence against gay, transgender and intersex people. It is these "norms' which have led to violence and hate crimes against all LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) people.

A gay woman herself, Butler dislikes campaigns for same-sex marriage on the grounds that equal marriage is mimicking heterosexual "norms", and therefore itself a transgression.

Actually, I can buy the idea of gender fluidity. Some women are more masculine (if you'll forgive the word) and some men more feminine (ditto), and it's interesting to observe that. A professor of mathematics once analysed the way I write, and concluded that I must be a man in disguise, because my sentence structures are masculine. If you say so, prof!

And anyway, the sexes do tend to merge much more with age. Older women become "virilised", in the medical term (more like men) and men grow feminine with age, soft-skinned and rosy-cheeked.

However, this is straying into the area which is rejected and rebuffed by gender theory - that gender is based on biology and chromosomes. Germaine Greer was silenced ("no-platformed") in British academia for saying that she did not accept that a male could become a female through surgery and hormone treatment.

It was Victor Hugo, I think, who said that there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. And this is the time for gender theory.

Canada certainly is at the forefront of gender theory and transgender rights. Recently, an eight-month-old Canadian baby was the first ever to be officially registered as "gender unknown". The infant, child of a "non-binary trans person", Kori Doty, will choose its own gender when it (or "ze") has "the sense of self and command of vocabulary to do so". And anyone who gives it a pink or blue toy, or otherwise strays into the explosive field of what little boys or little girls are made of, will surely fall foul of Mr Trudeau's transgender protection laws.


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