There’s a chilling new version of homophobia sweeping across the United States, disguised as “LGBTQ” activism. For adult homosexuals like me, it is clear that this activism does not advance our equality, but in fact compromises our ability to live peacefully in society. In fact, it threatens our very existence.
I first became aware of this new homophobia in the summer of 2017, when I did an internship at a large LGBTQ rights organization. In January, I had enrolled at Columbia University to complete my undergraduate studies, a goal I had been putting off for more than a decade. After volunteering for the Maryland Marriage Equality Campaign and a subsequent campaign on transgender rights legislation, my aspiration was to become a writer and social justice activist.
My enthusiasm for the internship quickly gave way to a nauseating mixture of fear and shame. I quickly realized that I was not the right kind of “fag”. I was just another “cis” gay man (short for “cisgender”, a word I had never even heard of until it was attributed to me, usually as an insult) – fr d’ other words, a privileged, unevolved relic of the past. After all, I had my rights – the right to marry, the right to serve openly in the military, the right to assimilate into this oppressive, “cisheteronormative” patriarchal society. It was time to make room for a new generation of “queers”, a generation that had little to do with gender-based rights and more to do with the total abolition of the concepts of sex and sexuality. .
At the time, I was draining so much mental energy memorizing my co-workers’ pronouns and all the new progressive dogma for fear of being severely condemned if I slipped up, I had no one left to think critically or to wonder where these dogmas had even come from. Luckily, and somewhat by chance, the following semester I enrolled in a course called US Lesbian and Gay History, led by eminent gay historian George Chauncey. This is where the culture I had encountered during my internship – and, of course, on Columbia’s ultra-progressive and extremely “queer” campus – started to come into its own.
In this course, I learned about queer theory, an obscure academic discipline based largely on the writings of the late French intellectual Michel Foucault, who believed that society categorizes people – male or female, heterosexual or homosexual – in order to oppress them. The solution is to intentionally blur – or “queer” – the boundaries of these categories. Soon, this “queering” became the predominant method of discussing and analyzing gender and sexuality in universities.
With the proliferation of social media, which spread ideological dogma faster than any religious institution in history, academic-activists can reduce these theories to palatable maxims that are easy to digest and regurgitate, especially on platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and now TikTok. So suddenly we have a massive increase in the number of young people who identify as trans and “non-binary”. Queer theorists insist that overturning the categorizations that have been imposed on young people – for example, the sex they were “assigned” to them at birth – is the ultimate expression of autonomy, and moreover, the key to free society from a system designed largely, they claim, by white cisgender men. (Never mind the scientific and cultural achievements of women and racial minorities.)
It might not be a problem if, in adopting these new identities, young people were just playing with the limits of normative gender expression – something that gays, lesbians, feminists, most liberals and even many conservatives would welcome two decades into the 21st century. But many young boys don’t just paint their nails and wear dresses, and young girls do more than cut their hair and play football. With increasing frequency, these children are being given puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries, all while being encouraged first by online communities, then mainstream media, and now the current presidential administration. .
In rare cases, medicalization is the appropriate pathway for gender non-conforming youth, particularly those with gender dysphoria – a “marked incongruity between their lived/expressed sex and their assigned sex, in a duration of at least 6 months”, according to the DSM of the American Psychiatric Association. -5 defines it – onset very early in life, causes acute mental distress and shows no signs of cessation without medical intervention. But according to the top 10 follow-up studies on gender dysphoria in young people to date, the vast majority (up to 85%) end up abstaining during or after puberty, i.e. they become comfortable with their biological sex and no longer wish to identify as the opposite sex.
And what else did these studies find? That the vast majority identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual as adults.
Even without these studies, most gays and lesbians could have told you the same. Gender nonconformity, after all, is a very common childhood experience for most of us. For my part, I was bullied relentlessly in elementary school for my femininity. “Are you a boy or a girl?” the children laughed, even though they hadn’t already thrown that effective six-letter F-word at me. As a child, twirling around in the flowered skirts of my big sisters, I often imagined myself as a girl too. Even as an adult, I sometimes, but not often, see myself as the opposite sex, an experience that I assume is common to gay men. After all, our inherent disposition gives us the advantage of viewing life through a dual gender lens. But I grew up to be a well-rounded, successful, even masculine man, comfortable in his gender and, finally – and despite the long-term effects of bullying and a childhood spent in anti-religious fundamentalism -gay – with my homosexuality.
Of course, the religious far right remains a threat, and like any other gay person, I can always be stung by anti-gay slurs and fear the threat of violence in less tolerant spaces. But today I am also afraid of the radical activists I once aspired to emulate, activists who push a regressive, illiberal agenda that reifies gender stereotypes, downplays the seriousness of long-term medicalization, and ultimately seeks to abolish my identity – because without sex biology, there is no homosexuality. Today, the least tolerant spaces for people like me are, of all places, the hallways of LGBT rights organizations, where the threat may not be violence, but terrible stigma nonetheless. and shame.
Speaking recently about these issues with an LGBT mental health specialist – one of many who are seriously concerned about the rush of medical transition for young people in the United States – I was struck by the fact that, if radical activists can convince enough people that biological sex is a joke, that “trans women are women” and “trans men are men”, then the path to the complete erasure of non-conforming homosexuals to gender role will be fully paved.
You may have heard stories of distressed parents whose children suddenly announced trans identification. Maybe you are one of them. Advocates for medical intervention often ask these parents a morbid question: “Would you rather have a trans daughter or a dead son?” But the real question should be, “Would you rather have a trans daughter or an effeminate gay son?” I fear that for many, if they were honest, the answer would be first.
It is time for LGBT rights organizations to respond to the growing number of gay, lesbian and trans people who are sounding the alarm over the medicalization of homosexuality by radical queer activists. And it’s time for Americans to ask themselves, despite all the progress gays and lesbians have made in this country in recent years, how comfortable they really are with the idea of raising gay, effeminate sons male lesbian girls. Our very existence depends on it.
Ben Appel is a New York-based writer. his memoirs, Cis White Gayfor Post Hill Press, is forthcoming.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.