Jonathon Van Maren

Be Careful Not to Allow “Transgender” News Stories to Accustom You to Their Lunacy

Change can happen—overnight, historically speaking. People may have condemned or mocked the idea that a millennia-old institution could be redefined by a handful of activists and revolutionaries, but here we are. The younger generation of voters don’t even remember what society was like before.

(LifeSiteNews)—Simply to keep up with the carnival of absurdity our culture has embarked on with the embrace of gender theory may seem like a pointless endeavor, and indeed, it is nearly impossible to review each new daily round of dispatches from the frontlines of the Sexual Revolution as it moves through our public schools and halls of power. But because we must live in this culture and raise our children on what we hope will be islands of sanity, it is still important at least to track certain trends.
One of these trends, and I have been detailing it in this space consistently, is that of normalization. What I mean is that we are very close to becoming inured to the sheer ludicrousness of the claims made (and now largely imposed) by transgender activists. We have become so barraged by news that once would have been the exclusive purview of satire sites such as The Babylon Bee and The Onion (which, like nearly all once-liberal outlets and institutions, has been thoroughly domesticated and has become what it once mocked.)
There are, for example, headlines like this in The Metro: “Ex-soldier exposed her penis and used wheelie bin as sex toy in public.” The first line reads: “A trans sex offender lifted her skirt and exposed herself three times in one day.” This article produced a wave of derision, jokes, and double entendre on Twitter, all directed at the fellow trying to pass as a girl while flashing his member about as well as those indoctrinated or dumb enough to believe this pervert was a woman. Comments along the lines of “women are acting so weird these days!” constitute the majority of responses.
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“Smartphones as Security Blankets” Prevent Us from Living Fully Human Lives

It is an irony that the very devices that are causing us so much stress—through non-stop social media, doom-scrolling the latest pandemic or war news, the fear of missing out on what is going on right now—have also become pacifiers that make us less likely to actually do something.

(LifeSiteNews)—A Saturday column in the Washington Post posed an unsettling question: “Are smartphones serving as adult pacifiers?” It begins with the story of a UPenn assistant professor observing that while working on her PhD, she often reached for her phone when she was stressed. “Just holding it made me feel good,” Shiri Melumud said. “It gave me a sense of ease or calm. It was similar to children who seek out their pacifiers when they are stressed. For many of us, our phone represents an attachment object, much as a security blanket or teddy bear does for a child.”
At first glance, the comparison doesn’t seem apt. After all, our smartphones often cause us active stress — social media companies intentionally use anger, fear, division, lust, or loneliness to monetize our attention and drag our eyeballs past more ads to keep their tabs running higher. But Melumud’s comparison went further. Like children, she noted, we often “become frantic” when we misplace our omnipresent smartphones, which serve as digital security blankets. We use them constantly, and for everything. We route our lives through these devices.
But as it turns out, the role of smartphones in our lives may be even larger than we thought. According to the Post: “[S]cientists studying the relationship between people and their smartphones also have come up with additional insights in recent years about how people behave when using them, including discovering that people can draw needed comfort by their mere presence.” In short, we genuinely form “a deep personal connection with our phones” that become, in some senses, extensions of our personalities—and we open up more on our phones than in other spheres of our lives.

Words as Weapons: Why We Must Stand Our Ground over Pronouns

In the autumn of 2016, trans activists targeted Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, at the time a relatively obscure psychologist based at the University of Toronto. Peterson had released a video explaining why he opposed proposed Canadian legislation, Bill C-16, an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act regulating speech regarding gender identity. Due to his decades-long study of totalitarianism, Peterson stated in no uncertain terms that in the fight for civilization, language was always one of the first battlefields—and was thus the hill to die on. We all know how that fight went. Instead of getting cancelled, Peterson got rich and famous.
After the fact, many wondered: why was Peterson so willing to sacrifice his career over the issue of transgender pronouns? He is now one of the world’s most well-known intellectuals, but at the time there was every likelihood that his story would end the way most of these incidents do—with a quiet firing, a 24-hour news story, and another victory for the dudes in drag. I heard a student ask Peterson this question at one of his early lectures in 2017, before he launched his global tours marked by the presence of security and prohibitive speaking fees.
His response was simple: why not? Usually, he pointed out, there are few compelling reasons to die for any particular patch of soil. But in order to fight, one has to draw a line. For Peterson, that line was language. He would not say what the trans activists and their government enforcers told him he must say, because he refused to cede the right to choose his words to the state.
It is cliché to mention George Orwell these days—everyone does it. But when it comes to explaining how totalitarians of all stripes manipulate language for ideological ends, it is difficult to beat 1984. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Syme, of the Ministry of Truth, tells Winston Smith. “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
When the range of available terminology is narrowed, so are the boundaries of the debate. When you accept the confines placed on language—or, in the case of ‘preferred pronouns’, use the compelled speech demanded of you—you accept ground chosen by your ideological opponents and agree to put aside the most potent weapons you have for making your case: words.

We’re Losing the Culture Wars Because Majorities Don’t Matter

I applaud the parents seeking to fix their public schools, but they should do that while also pulling their kids out. Progressive educators cannot be trusted. Mobilizing is important, but we must also recognize that we need volume, staying power, and strategy before we can even hope to halt the woke advance, much less turn the tide.

Over the past few months, we have been treated to a torrent of encouraging think-pieces declaring that wokeism has peaked and that the progressive vandals demolishing Western civilization are on the run. With a growing backlash from parents against the ideologies being taught in public schools and a handful of electoral races (most notably in Virginia) swinging to the GOP over CRT and gender ideology, it does appear that people are finally getting fed up. The Daily Wire grandly called it the “Turning of the Tide.” Old school liberals such as Andrew Sullivan hastened to declare that the insanity on their far-Left flank was dying down.
I’ve certainly been encouraged by some developments—especially the pushback against gender ideology in Europe, where many intellectuals are getting restive over the deleterious effects of ideologies imported from the U.S. (America returning the favor for the Frankfurt School.) But over at his essential Substack The Upheaval, N.S. Lyons has a grim but fascinating piece titled “No, the Revolution Isn’t Over.” Lyons says that wokeism may have faced setbacks, but these are skirmishes rather than conflict-defining events—and supplies a devastating list of reasons that he believes this is the case, noting that progressives still own the institutions, that public schools will continue to promote the same ideologies under different names and—most importantly—that people don’t change their religion over setbacks.
It’s an important essay, and everyone should read it. For the moment, I wanted to single out one particular observation that stood out to me:
Majorities don’t matter. Unfortunately for those dreaming of harnessing a majority anti-woke popular will, the truth is that, as statistician and philosopher Nassim Taleb has explained in detail, it’s typically not the majority that sets new societal rules, but the most intolerant minority. If the vast majority generally prefers to eat Food A instead of Food B, but a small minority is absolutely insistent on eating Food B and is willing to start chopping the heads off of anyone who disagrees and serves Food A – and the majority doesn’t care enough to get all bloody dying on this particular culinary hill – all restaurants will soon be serving only Food B, the new national cuisine. This is especially true if the intolerant minority already holds a disproportionate position of influence within the system.
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In Europe, the Transgender Movement is Facing an Enormous Backlash

A subset of the French elite is taking a stand against gender ideology. In September, over fifty medical professionals, prominent academics, legal experts, doctors, philosophers, psychiatrists, judges, and psychoanalysts published a scathing open letter condemning aspects of gender ideology and gender transition in children. Published through the Observatory of Ideological Discourses on Children and Adolescents, the letter laid out their concerns.

In less than a decade, the transgender movement has taken the West by storm. Gender ideology spread swiftly from campuses to public schools; the media obediently changed their language and their ledes; the entertainment industry flung themselves enthusiastically into producing propaganda for all ages. There was a sudden rise in female rapists who looked suspiciously masculine; women were told to shut up and welcome their new penis-packing sisters into female-only spaces; religious people were informed that they were guilty of a brand-new phobia, having just gotten used to the previous ones.
But most worryingly, untold thousands of children—usually girls—became convinced that they were born into the wrong bodies. A medical industry sprang up almost overnight to remedy this, providing double mastectomies, sex change surgeries, and hormone blockers to transform their human subjects into the people they thought they were. There were dissenting voices—they were shouted down. Heads of state obediently fell into line, conditioned to snap to attention when the ever-expanding LGBT movement informed them what was next on the agenda. Suddenly, parents were faced with girls who insisted they were boys and boys insisting they were girls, and everyone was telling them to head down to the new gender clinic to get the drugs and snips their children needed.
It was staggering to see how swiftly dissent was crushed and gender ideology became a new dogma. And yet, in the last several years, there have been signs of hope—cracks in the transgender narrative. Those cracks are growing across Europe, and there is a very real chance that this horrifying civilizational medical experimentation on the young may finally be forced to face the facts.
In the United Kingdom, gender ideology spread far and fast. Even Boris Johnson transitioned, backing away last year from plans to ban sex change surgeries for minors at the behest of trans activists and, according to some Tory parliamentarians, due to influence from his millennial live-in fiancée, Carrie Symonds. Prince Harry, the Windsor wokeling, endorsed the radical transgender charity Mermaids, which promotes sex change treatments for children. Feminist critics of the transgender movement were attacked: J.K. Rowling was doxed and received death threats; philosophy professor Kathleen Stock resigned from the University of Sussex after a wave of harassment and intimidation from trans activists.
But while it is too early to say that the tide is turning, there are indications that the trans movement has hit the high-water mark. In 2020, the UK government announced that it was scrapping plans for “self-identification,” which would have allowed people to change their gender via a statutory declaration as opposed to attaining certification from the Gender Recognition Panel. LGBT activists decried this move as “a major blow to LGBTQ rights.” Trans activists are also warning that opinion may be turning against key elements of their cultural project, especially gender transition for children.
This aspect of the pushback bears the face of Keira Bell, who went to the Tavistock clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service in London at age 16. Bell, struggling with gender dysphoria, was promptly prescribed puberty blockers, which stop natural physical development. Trans activists claim that puberty blockers give children time to grapple with their gender identity and that they can resume puberty if they choose, but the reality is these drugs can have permanent effects. By age 20, Bell had her breasts removed and the treatments she’d taken had given her body hair, a beard, a low voice, and impacted her sexual function—and she realized that none of it had helped her.
“What was really going on was that I was a girl insecure in my body who had experienced parental abandonment, felt alienated from my peers, suffered from anxiety and depression, and struggled with my sexual orientation,” she wrote later. “As I matured, I recognized that gender dysphoria was a symptom of my overall misery, not its cause.” Bell became what is known as a “de-transitioner” and once again lives as a woman. She took the Tavistock clinic to court, where her team argued that “Tavistock had failed to protect young patients who sought its services, and that—instead of careful, individualized treatment—the clinic had conducted what amounted to uncontrolled experiments on us.” Bell won a unanimous verdict.
To the horror of the trans movement, the judges ruled that children under 16 could not give consent to puberty blockers, and clinics seeking to prescribe these drugs to 16 and 17-year-olds might need to obtain permission from the courts. Mermaids called the judgment a “devastating blow;” Stonewall, a UK LGBT charity and the largest gay rights organization in Europe said it was “stunning.” Earlier this year, an appeals court overturned the judgement, and Bell is seeking leave to take her case to the supreme court. The futures of thousands of children hang in the balance.
Bell’s case broke through the monolithic discussion on gender identity, which for several years has been almost totally dominated by trans activists. The BBC and other major British media outlets have reported on Tavistock scandals, medical misdemeanours, and dozens of resignations from gender clinics. Criticisms of trans ideology that would never get published in countries like Canada now appear regularly. Slate even asked in 2019 “how transphobic discourse has become so mainstream in the UK” and called the UK “the motherland of ‘gender criticism.’”
In a little-noticed but significant event, last month Vice reported that the BBC is planning to withdraw from “Diversity Champions,” a program run by Stonewall.
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The Movement to Destigmatize Pedophilia Needs to Stop Now

We must call out every attempt to “destigmatize” pedophilia. Those doing so may claim they are doing so out of compassion for those suffering from unwanted attractions, but they are bad faith actors with sinister agendas and a deeply perverse view of human sexuality. The place they are beckoning us toward is not one of love but of the Sexual Revolution’s next set of horrors.

(LifeSiteNews) — It was only two months ago that we covered the story of a transgender-identifying professor seeking to “destigmatize” pedophilia in her book The Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity. Alyn Walker wants people to use the term “minor-attracted people” (MAPs) rather than the term “pedophile” because it has less negative connotations and makes the case that sexuality is fluid while avoiding addressing the question of whether she considers pedophilia to be simply another sexual orientation.
On Monday, USA Today chimed in with an article by reporter Alia Dastagir on pedophilia with a similar perspective, advocating for “destigmatizing the attraction” and making the case that it is “among the most misunderstood,” noting that “[r]esearchers who study pedophilia say the term describes an attraction, not an action, and using it interchangeably with ‘abuse’ fuels misperceptions about pedophiles.”
Unsurprisingly, the article favorably quotes Walker, noting that “there is growing support in the field for Walker’s point of view” that if pedophilia is “destigmatized,” it might ultimately result in pedophiles seeking therapy rather than abusing children.
The article quotes researchers explaining that this is not a chosen attraction, and that pedophiles are simply born this way:
One of the most significant findings is that scientists who study the disorder say pedophilia is determined in the womb, though environmental factors may influence whether someone acts on an urge to abuse.
“The evidence suggests it is inborn. It’s neurological,” said James Cantor, a clinical psychologist, sex researcher and former editor-in-chief of “Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.” “Pedophilia is the attraction to children, regardless of whether the (person) ever … harms.”
Not all people who sexually abuse children are pedophiles. Some pedophiles never abuse children, experts say, and some people who sexually abuse children do not sexually prefer them, but use them as a surrogate for an adult partner. They may be disinhibited and anti-social, with impulse control problems.

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LGBT Activists are Loudly and Proudly Trying to “Normalize Queerness” in Children’s Literature

If you have children and you want them to develop a healthy, biblical view of sexuality, you need to know that you are facing off against the forces of Big Tech, the government, the entertainment industry, and what passes for education these days. Parents have told me that it is pretty much impossible to let kids pick out their own books at the public library these days, because LGBT themes pervade the children’s section (all funded by you, the taxpayer!) To ensure that your children do not see the ugliness, hedonism, and confusion of today as “normal,” you will have to be extraordinarily vigilant.

This comes as no surprise to those of us who have been following the LGBT takeover of culture over the past decade or so, but it is still worth noting: Activists now feel comfortable enough to say the quiet part out loud. That is, as I’ve written in this space before, they are no longer pretending that the education (or re-education) of children is not the goal of their movement.
Writer Anukriti Prasad says as much this month in an article titled “How children’s literature can help in the move to normalise queerness.” This can be difficult, Prasad says, because many parents are still homophobic and dedicated to “heteronormativity.” As such, it is important that the education children receive at school be designed to subvert the upbringing they might receive from such parents. An excerpt:
Nandini Choudhury, relationship expert and meditation mentor at a Kolkata-based wellness organisation called Crystal Minds, believes this cycle runs on modelling. “Being especially impressionable in their formative years, children often emulate their parents’ exhibited behaviour. Along with adopting demonstrated vocabulary and mannerisms, they also inherit the biases they hear most often. How they witness elders, whether at home or in school – the two most crucial sites in children’s lives – approaching various topics, defines the formation of their own responses to these concepts.”
It is important, Prasad writes, not to “perpetuate” the “generational prejudices that we inherit from our elders.” In other words, certain views of sexuality and gender are outdated and must be dispensed with. It is the task of educators to ensure that parents do not pass their beliefs on to their children. An important aid in that, Prasad says, is children’s literature, which as the power to “endow their young readers with lifelong values.”
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Referring to Sexual Offenders As “Adults Who Commit Sexual Offenses” Is Troubling. Here’s Why.

These debates about language and terminology don’t seem like a big deal to many. But they are the opening battle in the progressive war to change society’s perception of reality. We would do well to pay very close attention.

I am keenly aware of how easy it is, at this stage in the sexual revolution, to produce commentary that seems prone to panic or is designed to provoke anger or fear. But I also think that it is essential, considering the breathtaking and lightning-fast speed of cultural change over the last ten years, to keep our eyes wide open. Remember: We were told for decades that much of what has occurred over the past few years was impossible by the very people working to bring it about.
With that stated, I would like to draw your attention to a story from a CBS affiliate revealing that the Sex Offender Management Board in Colorado, which sets standards for the state, voted on November 22 to abandon the term “sex offender” to something more “person-first.” From CBS:
The Sex Offender Management Board, which is made up of everyone from public defenders to prosecutors, sets standards and guidelines for treatment providers so the new terminology will only be used in that context. It doesn’t change the term sex offender in law or the criminal justice system, but some worry it’s a step in that direction.
“I’m involved today after hearing that it would be improper or offensive in some manner for me to refer to the man who raped me, as a sex offender,” Kimberly Corbin, a rape survivor, told KCNC-TV in Denver.
Corbin is among those who spoke out against changing the term sex offender to something less stigmatizing, saying labels based on traits people can’t control is one thing. “It’s very, very damaging for those who people who are labeled when it has to do with gender, race, sexuality, ability, but those are not their choices, the biggest thing for me is these are choices that sex offenders make,” she said.
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Liberal Christianity Comes Not From a Closer Study of Scripture, but of Culture

There’s a lot of cultural prestige to be had and available platforms to stand on if you’re willing to be the sort of Christian who assures non-Christians and their liberal Christian friends that conservative Christians are cruel and misogynist and that their views on sexuality and the sanctity of life can be dismissed.

(LifeSiteNews)—Earlier this month, conservative evangelical Denny Burk, pastor and professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, faced off on Twitter with progressive Kristin Kobes du Mez, whose book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation has been the toast of the mainstream press for the past year. There is obviously much the two disagree on, and their back-and-forth on LGBT issues was an interesting exchange, with both penning blog posts to articulate their disagreements more clearly.
What struck me about this debate, however, is not that Denny Burk, a conservative Baptist and staunch pro-lifer, and Kristin Kobes du Mez, a progressive scholar who displayed thinly veiled contempt for pro-lifers through her recent book, have much to disagree on. It was du Mez’s implication that it was Burk’s theological views which were primarily shaped by culture rather than her own.
Now, to be fair, du Mez did not state that she has definitively concluded that she supports LGBT rights as such—although Jesus and John Wayne made it crystal clear where her sympathies lie. But she did state that she was re-evaluating her stance on sexuality, as is her denomination. Many churches, she pointed out, have been doing so over the past several decades. And she’s right—many major mainline Protestant denominations have abandoned the traditional biblical view of sexuality just before imploding.
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The Culture Wars Are Real Conflicts Involving Real People

Trans activists have achieved cultural hegemony and are going after everyone who disagrees — even with doxing, death threats, rape threats, and violence. They are coming after public education, what’s left of the entertainment industry, and will inevitably demand that churches, religious institutions, and all remaining dissenters submit to their demands and play along with their delusions as well. The culture wars are, unfortunately, real conflicts involving real people and the futures of our countries. 

There is a certain faction on the Right, especially in the libertarian wing, that poo-poos the culture wars as unimportant. Issues like gender ideology, for example, are dismissed as crass attempts to gin up anger among people uncomfortable with the pace of social change and a mere distraction from more important issues like inflation, house prices, and jobs. These are boutique issues, the thinking goes, and thus the Right would be better off ignoring these issues and focusing on the “things that matter.”
This is wrong-headed for many reasons, but most significantly, those making this article underestimate the radicalism of trans activists. Consider, for example, the fact that J.K. Rowling — a pro-abortion, pro-gay progressive — has not been invited to the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film. Trans activists are so brazen that Rowling has been almost constantly threatened with violence. Recently, her home address was posted online by activists who showed up in person, and Rowling noted that this was accompanied by ominous warnings:
I’ve now received so many death threats I could paper the house with them, and I haven’t stopped speaking out. Perhaps — and I’m just throwing this out there — the best way to prove your movement isn’t a threat to women, is to stop stalking, harassing and threatening us.
It’s not just Rowling, either. Other liberal feminists are also facing a backlash. As Rowling wrote on Twitter:
Over the last few years I’ve watched, appalled, as women like Allison Bailey, Raquel Sanchez, Marion Miller, Rosie Duffield, Joanna Cherry, Julie Bindel, Rosa Freedman, Kathleen Stock and many, many others, including women who have no public profile but who’ve contacted me to relate their experiences, have been subject to campaigns of intimidation which range from being hounded on social media, the targeting of their employers, all the way up to doxing and direct threats of violence, including rape.
In fact, trans activists are going further than that in attacking those to their Left. Lesbians are being accused of “transphobia” for not being interested in “trans women”— that is, biological men with penises.

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