(Edited for clarity)
Bobby Lopez: Welcome to CogWatch 23. This is the 23rd in a series of podcasts run by children of gays, dealing with issues of gender and sexuality out there in the popular culture. And I’m here right now with Dan Moody, who is a blogger in the UK who came to the attention of my great esteemed colleague Stella Morabito (who is a senior contributor at The Federalist) because of some of the work that he has done on gender (and specifically transgender) issues but also larger sex and sexuality ideological questions.
Thank you very much for joining me here Dan.
Dan Moody: Good to talk to you Robert.
Ok. So tell me a little bit (I’ll guess I’ll start from the practical point) about why it is that Stella Morabito told me that you were someone to meet and someone that I had to talk to about gender. What impressed her about your work?
I think it was the fact that I am different and we are being attacked with sameness. Everybody is supposed to think the same way and I have some different things to say about gender.
Ok. And you’re in Britain. I have to say as someone who has travelled to the UK from America several times, the UK does seem to have quite a rigid, stratified view of gender right now. Can you tell me: what is the predominant gender ideology in the UK, so that then you can explain to me why you dissent from it?
Well it’s a good time to ask that question because the dominant ideology has changed this very week, in that Parliament has just produced a report here in England which will see virtually every sector of society ‘de-sexed’, if you will, in law, and ‘gendered’ instead. So that means the education system, the police system…
And what is the law that they passed?
This will be that in effect your core identity is a kind of free-floating state of mind that you get to choose. And because you get to choose it nobody can ever say it’s wrong. It’s insulated from reality, and in effect you can tell people who you are and there won’t be any comeback from that.
Ok. I wanted to delve a little bit deeper into this because a lot of times I have seen people on my side of the dial (conservatives) who critique modern gender ideology criticize this notion that you can choose your sexual identity. I don’t know whether that’s a good rhetorical approach, or an analytical approach, because I think it would be fine if people could choose their sexual identity. But I don’t think that that’s what these types of legislation do. I don’t think that it really does give people the liberty to pick their own identity. I think there are organizations that impose identities on people and then misrepresent what has happened as the person choosing it. Because they don’t say that you can decide that you were gay yesterday and now you’re not gay—that’s become illegal in the UK hasn’t it? And they don’t really say that you were transgender before and now you have transgender regret and so now you’re going to go back to being cisgender. They don’t allow some choices. So what do you have to say about that? Maybe an argument that we have to make more as conservatives, that these types of legislation don’t actually give choice to people but they impose. Is that legitimate to say?
Yes. The stumbling block (or the thing that we have to wrestle with originally) is language, in that in any sane world we would have a common language and therefore we could talk about concepts in a way that we mutually understand. So if I ask you what your favourite colour is you can say “red” because you know that when I say “colour” I mean that kind of thing. We can talk about colour because we both know what that word means. But now we have words like Male and Female being used in brand new ways, so when somebody says they are male the next question has to be “what do you mean by that word?” Until you ask that question you are just talking past people. The conservative world in America, to quite a great extent, would say a man can’t be woman. If we are using those words to mean sexes then that’s right, but if we’re not using them to mean sexes then it’s not necessarily right.
If we’re using the word Female to mean ‘somebody who has blue shoes on’ then a male can be ‘female’.
So it depends on the relationship between those words and what they mean. And that underlying assumption that should be there in society (that we are using a shared language) just isn’t there anymore.
And I guess the way that this connects to what we were just talking about at the beginning is that a lot of the legislation that is supposed to be put in place to respect people’s choices and to respect people’s liberty of identification actually constrains the language of other people, because it’s not so much that you are passing a law affirming a man’s right to say “I am a woman”. You’re actually punishing the surrounding people, the neighbours, the co-workers, for telling that person “No, you’re a man”, right? Does that make sense? So that actually what looks like liberation is really a punitive measure and it’s control. It’s controlling the 99.5% of people who are not transgender and it’s imposing a whole new ideology on them and by extension re-creating society. Is that fair?
That’s exactly true, and you have the analogy with ‘gay marriage’, if you want to call it that. The whole gay marriage scenario isn’t about allowing 1% of society to do something new. It’s about taking the concept of marriage and re-defining it for everybody. Not even 99%, but everybody, so that it fits an idea that 1% of people had. And with transgenderism the problem isn’t actually transgenderism. Transgenderism is a manifestation of this ideology where we have this word Gender which has pretty much replaced the word Sex in law, where sex means body and gender just means mind.
So in transforming our fundamental identities into states of mind, really what we’re doing is…We’re not letting 1% of 1% off the leash; we are denying sexual identity of 100%. We are denying the maleness of all males (if you’re using those words to mean sex), and we’re denying the ‘biological femaleness’ of all females. ‘Biological femaleness’ is a ridiculous phrase because you should be able to just say femaleness.
So it’s an attack on sex. It’s not an affirmation of anything, like you said. But these things only make sense when you turn the whole picture round. It’s all about the opposite of what it says it’s about.
It’s interesting because we already had plentiful words that could account for this. We have words like feminine and masculine; tomboy; cissy, girlish, delicate, you know, to describe a man. Or to describe a woman: somewhat tough, or feisty or fierce. We had so many adjectives at our disposal that could reflect the spectrum, right? So we didn’t need this. Ultimately this isn’t adding anything. It’s erasing. Is that fair to say? It is suppressing. It’s eliminating parts of our vocabulary. And when you say that you’re turning gender into a state of mind rather than a physical state it’s interesting because your state of mind is easier to police than your body.
It’s much easier to try to brainwash people than to actually transform the physical. The editor’s job is much easier than the surgeon’s job.
Yes. Well, two things then. One is the emergence in various countries of laws which allow you to ‘re-assign’ gender, and to the layman that would sound like another word for ‘sex-change’. But because gender means mind, ‘re-assigning gender’ simply means changing your mind about who you are. And we don’t need surgery to change our minds, so we’re seeing various countries (Malta, Ireland, probably Sweden soon, Denmark, Argentina, and so on) allowing people to re-assign gender with no surgery, no hormones, no diagnosis even. It’s purely self-chosen. In other words, that relationship between medicine and gender (understood as an ideology) is a veneer which is now being pulled away, and underneath that veneer we are seeing a purely legal thing.
But you’re right about language, again, because it’s the glue that binds together the real and the unreal. It is two sides fighting over a common language, so we have words like Male meaning two different things. And it’s a real warning sign. If I can use an analogy about why we are using these words in particular that really flags up that something’s gone badly wrong here:
Let’s say that it’s possible to own £1M, and we want a word for that, and we call that thing Rich. It’s also possible to have zero money, and we’ll call that thing being Poor. But it’s also possible to have no money and in some way feel Rich. There are about a million words we could come up with to describe that state of being Poor but feeling Rich, but there is one word that we really should never use to describe that state…
…and that word is Rich, because if we use the word Rich to describe somebody who has no money but feels as though they have money…
You’re denying the whole social justice…
That’s right. You are using one word to mean both ‘having’ and ‘not having but feeling’. And then you’re collapsing two categories, two opposites, into a common word.
And it absolves the social contract of any responsibility for providing for somebody who’s poor, right?
You’re robbing people of valid words, so that the rich man no longer has his own word to describe what he actually is. So if you then translate that to bodies:
If you have a man who in some way feels female (even if you could say it is philosophically possible), the one word you should never use to describe that man is Female, because if you do you are making it sounds like all people who are female are only female because they feel it. Again you have this attack on sex, so that sex gets wiped out and we just have feelings for everybody.
Now you brought up a very good point in a presentation that you made a couple of days ago at the Oxford Sex, Marriage and Culture Group, which I enjoyed tremendously, because you pointed out there that actually not only is this dangerous in general because of what it is arguing, but also that it is internally contradictory. You brought up the fact that the same week that this law was introduced in the British Parliament the New York City law went into effect which basically punishes people up to $250,000 for mis-gendering people. Tell me exactly how you see a contradiction between the New York law and the Parliamentary Bill that was introduced.
The proposal put forward in a report delivered to Parliament this week is that British passports should be ‘de-gendered’ so that we shouldn’t have an M for Male or an F for Female anywhere on the passport. That’s not going to happen for a while. I think we are probably going to go down the route of having an M, an F, and an X representing a non-specific other. Again we are obviously talking about gender not sex, because in sex there is just male and female. So the idea is that gender is so unimportant that it doesn’t have to go on forms. Meanwhile in New York, as you say, you now have this $250,000 fine hanging over your head if you mis-gender somebody.
The contradiction is that gender on one hand is saying it is so unimportant that we should scrub society clear of it and on the other hand it is so essential to our identity that we can be offended simply by being referred to through a wrong word. And wherever there is a contradiction there is a lie. That’s the great thing about lies: you get a contradiction thrown in free, and that’s how you can tell you have bought into a lie. If you buy the truth you get the whole truth, nothing but the truth. If you throw mud at the truth it comes up whiter than white. But if you find a contradiction, that’s how you know you have a lie. And gender is cram-packed full of contradictions. They’re everywhere.
Is it organized madness? Is this societal insanity being enshrined by law and imposed by a police State?
Is that a leading question Robert? (laughs)
I think it’s a statement that is disguised as a question…
Well it’s not quite a sign that society has gone mad. It’s a sign that society is in a state where it now believes something which in-and-of-itself is mad, and the longer it believes it the more mad society will become.
Haha! Ok. Well thank you very much. That was a lot of information. I really appreciate it.