What is a woman? Why activists made this question so difficult to answer

The documentary What is a woman? (“What is a woman?”), released in the United States this month by independent conservative media company The Daily Wire and presented by political commentator Matt Walsh, is a good documentary to bring balance to the public debate about gender and transsexuality. Recalling other television works such as The Enemies of Reason (“The Enemies of Reason”, documentary series by 1972), in which zoologist Richard Dawkins had his DNA helices increased from two to ten, at least according to an interviewee who does alternative therapy, Walsh socratically interviews, with the simple question, adherents of another alternative variety of epistemology.

This is the belief associated with queer theory, identity activism and the subjectivist obsessions of our times that a person’s identity can fluctuate in the clouds of culture and habits without an anchor in reality, to the point that every person who calls himself a man, a woman or neither, in spite of biology, must not only have the tolerance of others (as liberalism preaches), but also the acceptance and affirmation of the therapists. Any other therapeutic path other than this one is treated as intolerance, ignorance and even a push in suicides on the verge of jumping from the building of life.

People who resist this are also interviewed. belief, as the presenter Matt Walsh himself, who expresses his opposition in a daily podcast produced by the same Daily Wire. Justin Folk’s direction is competent, making the hour and a half run smoothly and well connected. The tone, mostly witty, varies in the direction of drama and horror, and some viewers may feel that some of these variations are sudden.

The good

The title of the documentary is a question that progressives and even audiences without explicit ideological affiliations are increasingly uncomfortable answering, out of concern or fear of committing “transphobia” when define woman as adult human female, a correct definition that is (still) in dictionaries. When questioned last April by lawmakers, the current US Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Jackson refused to answer it, with the excuse that he is not a biologist.

When someone tries a The answer, as interviewed pediatrician Michelle Forcier, an expert in “gender affirmative therapy” for transgender people, is circular: a woman is someone who identifies as a woman. To which Walsh promptly responds by repeating the question.

As Matt Walsh shows interviewing people on the streets, especially women, it is not just the judge who is afraid to give an answer. The documentary gives the impression that ordinary people walking the streets, especially in “blue” states (where the Democratic Party usually wins elections), are under the sway of political correctness.

In the ‘Two Treatises on Government’, by 1689, the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) proposed that “every man has possession of his own person”. His idea that the body is a property of the individual was something new. Decades after his death, in the 18th century, when sodomy was a crime in the UK, men arrested for sodomy quoted Locke at second hand: “It is no crime to make any use of my own body as I please,” said one, “no can I make use of my own body?” rhetorically asked another prisoner in the act of committing a crime in London. Judging by Matt Walsh’s documentary, today it is not liberalism that is repeated by ordinary citizens, but the relativist ideas cooked up in universities since the postmodern thinkers of the years 1960.

The most explicitly relativist of the interviewees is Patrick Grzanka, professor of psychology at the universities of Maryland and Tennessee. The documentary plays with Patrick’s prolixity in editing, superimposing excerpts from his very long answer that in the end didn’t answer at all. When Matt pressed the question, the professor responded by asking why he was so interested in the answer. Because he would like to “get to the truth,” Matt replied. This, according to Patrick, is “deeply transphobic, condescending and rude”, countered the expert, asking “tell me what your truth is”. For followers of postmodernism, the truth breaks apart and is something that someone owns, like the body for Locke.

Matt Walsh also challenged Dr. Patrick Grzanka defining what a woman is without using the word “woman”. Declaring the exercise interesting, the latter fails to provide an answer. Pediatrician Michelle Forcier, who in addition to “gender-affirming” therapy also performs abortions, does not fare much better. She claims that “infants and young children understand gender,” which seems like a skewed interpretation of studies showing babies fixate longer on faces that look like their mother’s. Pressed about the ability of young children to decide something as consequential as their own gender, when Walsh reminds them that they believe in Santa Claus, Dr. Forcier responds that “for that child, Santa Claus is real.”

Walsh especially shines in the scene of the popular television show Dr. Phil, presented by a disciple of Oprah Winfrey. He presses other guests on the show to answer what a woman is, and a person who presents herself as feminine in makeup and hair, but with a beard, also appeals to relativism and circular definition. He points out a contradiction in ideology: if sex is different from gender, and trans people change gender and not sex, why is it claimed that trans women are synonymous with women? What is happening is that the adherents of these ideas are removing any connotation of the sex characteristic of the terms “woman”, “man”, “girl” and “boy”. It is a one-sided resignification. Another contradiction is in asking for treatments of a biological sexual nature, such as hormones, for those who call themselves “transgender” instead of “transsexual”.

Two specialists of opposing opinions seem to be the more sensible interviewed in the documentary, although the treatment of the two in the edition is quite different. Marci Bowers, a surgeon who does genital reassignment surgery and whose answer to the question was slightly better than others, and is herself a transsexual, says frankly that the surgery is not perfect and that it is a “Faustian bargain.” She acknowledges that there is also a new phenomenon of social contagion of LGBT identities, but claims that it is “very small”. His youngest patient who had this surgery was 16 years old at the time.

The other specialist is psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, who represents a more cautious and conservative view, but without denying that transition can be the treatment for a part of people who manifest gender dysphoria (which is a recognized psychiatric disorder and consists of a persistent and profound rejection of one’s sexual characteristics). Grossman gives the “classic” incidence of dysphoria in the population (one in 30 one thousand or 100 thousand people), reports that most children who manifest dysphoria have resolution without needing to transition — they usually grow up gay or lesbian. When told that her views that a few years ago were the consensus in psychiatry were called “dinosaur” stuff by Bowers, Dr. Grossman laughs. She is right to point out that the concept “gender” is subjective. As can be seen today, a growing proportion of young people who call themselves trans in the United States are “transgenders” who have never experienced dysphoria in their lives. Dysphoria is a necessary condition for defining a person as transsexual.

The most sensitive issue touched upon by the documentary is the use of puberty blockers in children in “affirmative” therapy. Clearly, the most irresponsible position is that of affirmative therapists who claim that puberty is like music that can be paused and then continued without any problems. Grossman reports that she knows patients whose puberty has been blocked and who have atypical illnesses for their age. There are also reports of an inability to have orgasms and even an impairment of the transition itself, as there is less development of genital tissue needed for surgery later on.

The drug Lupron (generic name) leuprorelin or leuprolide), used as a puberty blocker, was initially proposed for prostate cancer and infertility. A manufacturer of the drug, TAP Pharmaceutical Products, was fined 875 million dollars by the US government in

for fraudulent practices in its sale, such as prizes for doctors who prescribe it. The process was unrelated to the drug’s mechanism of action. Leuprolide has also been used for chemical castration of repeat pedophiles. A French government official told Deutsche Welle that the correct term is not chemical castration, but “chemical straitjacket”, as the effects on libido are transient.

The bad

Matt Walsh is well supported by good philosophy in rejecting relativistic terms of his interviewees as “his truth”. However, while he succeeds in pointing out contradictions in them, he also falls into contradiction on social media, sometimes in a matter of a few hours.

In the conversations that followed the documentary’s premiere on Earlier this month, in response to a netizen who told him that “adults should be able to make their own decisions,” Walsh tweeted: “I’m not talking about what adults are allowed to do with their bodies. I’m talking about what doctors and pharmacists should be allowed to do with other people’s bodies for profit.”

An hour earlier, responding to a commenter who said “It must be illegal for anyone at any age to transition. Period,” the presenter added, “Yes. Put another way: it must be illegal for doctors to do this. on anyone of any age.” His opinion is not new. In March 2021, commenting on the case of Elliot Page, a Hollywood artist who took male hormones and removed her breasts, Walsh said that “it must be illegal for doctors to amputate the body parts of a woman. physically healthy person.”

It is not known what the case of Page is, but the general problem, which precedes this decade in which evidence of social contagion of LGBT identities emerged, is that transsexuals are not healthy people to begin with. As said, they suffer from dysphoria, a psychiatric disorder. It is the role of psychiatrists and therapists to provide treatment for this disorder. And it is the right and freedom of patients who are old enough to decide to opt for the transition as a therapy for themselves.

As a mere matter of logic, a possible treatment cannot be a pathology. Syrup cannot be cough. And it is a fact peacefully mentioned in the specialized literature that, for a still uncertain part, but probably less than half of the young people who manifest dysphoria, the transition is the treatment – which involves changing the contents of the wardrobe, taking hormones and (the which is more dramatic and is not chosen by everyone) to have surgery on the genitals and breasts. This is the correct part of saying that transsexuality is not a disease: the disease is dysphoria. A mistake today is the relaxation of the medical scrutiny that needs to be present to assess whether that person really is transsexual. This evaluation needs to have a necessary condition in the diagnosis of dysphoria. And it is this need that is under attack by activism and under unreasonable doubt by identity ideology.

The ugly

An odd choice in the documentary was the lack of invitation to conservative transgender YouTuber Blaire White, who has already had public conversations with Ben Shapiro, founder and editor emeritus of Daily Wire. Blaire made the hormonal transition, had surgeries to adjust aspects of her face, but didn’t want to have genital surgery. She is against blocking puberty and classifying children as “trans”. With the sole exception of Marci Bowers, there does not seem to have been any es interest in bringing the other side of the coin: transsexuals who have transitioned, whether hormonal, genital, or both, and are satisfied with it.

The most dramatic part of the documentary is the testimony of Scott (Nellie) Newgent, presented like this, with the old female name and the new male name, without clarity from the documentary on which is the preferred one. Newgent cries saying he’s worried about children being transitioned at five American children’s hospitals. According to him, the cost of the transition for each child is US$100 thousand, thus providing a financial incentive for affirmative therapy. Newgent has had seven surgeries, including phalloplasty, an attempt to build a penis with a skin graft removed from some part of the body — he shows the scar on his arm and mentions complications like hair growing inside his urethra. It is unclear whether Newgent suffered from dysphoria from an early age, having lived a large part of her life as a lesbian woman.

It is very unlikely that the opinion of a single transsexual is sufficient to draw great conclusions about all. Newgent has a tragic history of regret and ill health, part of which is explained by the time he transitioned, part of which is explained by a lack of medical scrutiny of the wisdom of his decision at the time it began (which includes assessing whether there were same dysphoria), and part is explained by medical malpractice. It is important that his opinion is brought, because it is precisely the opinion that identity activists who follow queer theory and prefer to talk about “transgenders” instead of transsexuals want to silence. Other people like Newgent exist, especially in this new generation that claims it is possible to be something that is neither male nor female.

Newgent cites alarming statistics that the number of people who commit suicide trans after transition treatment would remain high for up to a decade after its initiation. The suggestion is that the suicide rate is not improved by appearance changes, hormones and surgery. Newgent is out of date. The largest study on the subject is of Dutch people and involved more than eight thousand transsexuals followed for a long period, from 1972 to

. The study was published in 2020 in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica and was first authored by CM Wiepjes, from the Department of Endocrinology at the University Free Amsterdam.

Wiepjes and colleagues conclude that “there was no increase in the risk of death from suicide over time”, but there was “even a decrease in the risk of death from suicide in trans women”, who have transitioned from male to female where possible. The risk of suicide for transgender people in the Netherlands, with its notorious culture of tolerance, remains high before and after transition compared to the general population, but it is not much different from the rate for gay men. The reasons for this continue to be investigated. But it’s clear that the documentary’s message, which is also seen on Matt Walsh’s podcast, that transition doesn’t help these people is wrong.

The End

Although it could be more balanced, What is a woman? is a great contribution to the public debate on gender issues and sex, as well as transsexuality and the mental health of young people. It brings to this debate a refreshing diversity of ideas that for years have been actively suppressed by the dominant ideologies in academia, in government sectors, in Hollywood and even in the human resources sectors of large companies. The Daily Wire has been the alternative to the single and monotonous message of identity progressivism seen in wide-ranging cultural production. In addition to this documentary, the media company is also producing films with actress Gina Carano, who was unfairly fired from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian for comments and jokes against sanitary authoritarianism in the pandemic and the queer insanities of our times.

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