The Internal Contradiction in Transgender Theories

The Internal Contradiction in Transgender Theories

It doesn’t take long to recognize the internal inconsistency between these two narratives. The first depends on maleness and femaleness being something real, for a binary must exist for it to be transgressed or transcended. The second questions reality altogether, falling for a radical skepticism that reimagines the world in terms of linguistic power plays.

One of the most remarkable women in history, Joan of Arc, has long been at the center of various conversations and controversies because, while no one can deny her significance, the meaning of her words and actions eludes easy explanation.

Was she, as Shakespeare cast her, a witch? Were her visions heretical, as church leaders at the time concluded, or was she the saint the later Catholic Church canonized? What do we make of her commitment to a shining chastity and her insistence on her physical virginity? How should we interpret the rationale for wearing men’s clothing while leading armies into battle? Was she a reluctant warrior who wished for an ordinary life or an ambitious girl who desired the spotlight? What do we learn from her martyrdom?

In First Things, Dan Hitchens reflects on recent attempts to enlist Joan of Arc for the LGBT+ cause. Many today want to reimagine her as a nonconforming, prototransgender revolutionary. Hitchens reclaims Joan for a conservative and biblical understanding of sex and gender, as opposed to the cultural trend that makes her a founder of trans identity.

The questions about Joan of Arc’s life and legacy fascinate me, but they go beyond my purpose here. Instead, I want to lean on Hitchens’s description of the most important yet often unnoticed contradictions at the heart of today’s transgender theories. He believes one of the transgender movement’s most remarkable achievements has been to conceal the internal division at the heart of gender theory. “There is no single trans narrative,” he says. There are two, “wholly incompatible and mutually destructive, which have somehow been fused into a single, all-conquering cause.”

“Wrong Body” Narrative

Here’s how Hitchens describes the first narrative:

The first narrative holds that there are two realities, maleness and femaleness, and that some people are tragically exiled from their true states. Jan Morris, in the opening lines of the only trans memoir written by an acknowledged master of English prose, puts it like this: “I was three or perhaps four years old when I realized I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl. I remember the moment well, and it is the earliest memory of my life.” This kind of story is compelling at an emotional level: It speaks to the universal feeling of dislocation, of alienation, of longing for completeness, and at the same time resonates with the hope of the oppressed for justice, with the sorrows of every human being denied true flourishing by prejudice and fear.

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