The Deconstruction of Gender
by Babette Francis
A speech delivered on September 13, 2015, at the 44th Eagle Council, the major annual conference of the Eagle Forum, held in St Louis, Missouri.
I am honoured to be speaking to you all today. Before I deal with my topic, I would like to mention a victory you all have had, and I have no doubt it is due to Phyllis Schlafly's tenacious battle against Common Core. Daniel Henninger, writing in the Wall Street Journal last month, reported that U.S. College Board, "the non-profit corporation that controls all the high school Advanced Placement courses and exams published new guidelines for the Advanced Placement U.S. history test". He said: "They read like a left-wing dream. Obsession with identity, gender, class, crimes against the American Indian, and the sins of capitalism suffused the guidelines for teachers of Advanced Placement American history.
"As of a few weeks ago, that tilt in the guidelines has vanished. The College Board's rewritten 2015 guidelines are almost a model of political fair-mindedness. This isn't just an about face, it is an important political event."
Where the previous guidelines were neo-Marxist, the new guidelines honour Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Even the Federalist Papers have been fished out of the memory hole. So congratulations to all at Eagle Forum, and especially to the indomitable Phyllis Schlafly.
[NB: After my talk an Eagle Forum member told me that the changes I had referred to were more cosmetic than substantial, so perhaps you had better check out the Wall Street Journal report] The title of my paper is "The Deconstruction of Gender", but it is really about the deconstruction of reality and what is bordering on a collective insanity. I say "bordering on insanity", because there is still apparently a line to be crossed. A man is a hero if he calls himself a woman, but if he thinks he is Napoleon he is regarded as crazy; but is it any more likely that Bruce Jenner is a woman than a reincarnated Napoleon?
I was born in India where many Hindus believe in reincarnation, so a man, especially one who has fathered several children, is just as likely to be Napoleon as he is to be a woman. And what if a man thinks he is a chicken trapped in a man's body? If a man is called courageous because he says he is a woman, isn't he even more courageous for saying he is a chicken? And how long before we provide him with feather implants, poultry hormones and beak surgery? Let him strut and crow and legally marry hens. Let's open a new frontier not merely in transgender but in trans-species.
Well, where did all this nonsense start? One can speculate that some of it is caused by the concentration of estrogen from contraceptive pills in water supplies which has been observed to cause fish to change sex. However, human beings are not fish, and I prefer the witty observation of a mathematician who commented that she thought the earth was rotating through a cloud of stupid gas. Where my observations started was when I was appointed a member of the Committee on Equal Opportunity in Schools in my home state of Victoria in Australia in the late seventies. The committee's function was to encourage more girls to study maths and science and to encourage boys to study home economics and sewing. The committee was dominated by feminists whose thesis was that there would be more equalization of subject choices in school if lesbianism and/or an androgynous, unisex society was promoted, starting with books in kindergarten such as Jane Has Two Mothers.
Well I had done maths and science in India 50 years ago in what was quite a traditional society, and I didn't think lesbianism had anything to do with girls choosing to study maths. I discovered that the leading private schools in Victoria had twice as many maths classes in their timetables than the government schools. I wrote a minority report, making the recommendation that the number of maths classes in government schools be doubled.
But I found that feminists are not interested in rational debate. They insist at one and the same time that there are no differences between men and women, but also that the world would be a more compassionate place if more women were in power. If one argues that this is not logical, feminists retort that logic is a male construct and that women think differently, with "empathy and intuition" rather than logic. Have you ever noticed that arguing with a feminist is like wrestling with Jell-O? After the publication of my minority report, a number of women around Australia got in touch with me and said they had experienced the same frustrations with feminist domination of education in their home states, and eventually we got together and established Endeavour Forum, our inspiration being Phyllis's Eagle Forum. We realized that some political aspects of educational policy in Australia were a trickle-down from interpretations of United Nations treaties and conventions. So we began to attend the annual sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, and in 2000 achieved NGO status recognition by the Economic and Social Council of the UN.
At the UN we discovered that the policy was not so much the promotion of a unisex society as the promotion of multiple genders: they were lobbying for five genders: male, female, asexual, transsexual and hermaphrodite. The situation reached high drama at a session of the Commission on the Status of Women when the development agencies of the Scandinavian countries threatened to withhold development money from Nicaragua unless the Nicaraguan government sacked the head of its delegation, Max Padilla, from his then Cabinet post as Minister for the Family.
His offence, on-going from the 1999 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in New York, dubbed "Cairo plus five", was to refuse to accept the European Union definition of "gender" as an arbitrary social construct which could include several "genders". He insisted that "gender" be defined in its common meaning of two sexes, male and female. The hapless Mr Padilla was duly recalled - Nicaragua is a poor country vulnerable to economic coercion. His replacement duly arrived, but he had apparently not been briefed about what he was supposed to say, because he looked at the papers before him and said, "But in my country we only have men and women....".
This is what passes for debate at the UN and your taxes are paying for much of it, as the United States is the major funder of the United Nations. Today, however, five genders seems comparatively modest. The Australian Human Rights Commission acknowledges 23 genders, and Facebook recognizes 58 genders, all of which are also recognized by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, so you have a wide choice.
These genders are: Agender, Androgyne, Androgynous, Bigender, Cis, Cisgender, Cis Female, Cis Male, Cis Man, Cis Woman, Cisgender Female, Cisgender Male, Cisgender Man, Cisgender Woman, Female to Male, FTM, Gender Fluid, Gender Nonconforming, Gender Questioning, Gender Variant, Genderqueer, Intersex, Male to Female, MTF, Neither, Neutrois, Non-binary, Other, Pangender, Trans, Trans* Trans Female, Trans* Female, Trans Male, Trans* Male, Trans Man, Trans* Man, Trans Person, Trans* Person, Trans Woman, Trans* Woman, Transfeminine, Transgender, Transgender Female, Transgender Male, Transgender Man, Transgender Person, Transgender Woman, , Transmasculine, Transsexual, Transsexual Female, Transsexual Male, Transsexual Man, Transsexual Person, Transsexual Woman, and Two-Spirit.
Our Victorian Labor government has recently appointed a Gender and Sexuality Commissioner. Her name is Rowena Allen, and she derives her inspiration directly from your Native Americans. She is quoted in a recent article in Melbourne's Age newspaper as follows: "I identify as a Walker which is a Native American term for someone who walks between genders. At any point people will call me male or 'sir', which is great when you're buying a car, but I'm just as comfortable in a group of women." She also identifies as a lesbian. She has a daughter, and lives with her partner who has a son. And how does one select one's gender? Well, the Yogyakarta Principles, enunciated by a handful of human rights lobbyists and a radical homosexual group who met in Yogyakarta in Indonesia in 2007, determined in its preamble that "gender identity" refers to "each person's deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms".
All this may seem absurd, but it also involves tragedies. No doubt you have all read about the Reimer twins, victims of the late Dr John Money's grand experiment into changing sex. One of the boys, David, due to a circumcision accident, had his penis badly damaged. Dr Money - who was professor of pediatrics and medical psychology at Johns Hopkins University from 1951 until his death in 2006 - encouraged his parents to have him castrated and to bring him up as a girl. Dr Money also coerced the boys into "sex play" with each other. The experiment did not work, and both of the boys as adult men committed suicide.
This tragedy is also reflected in data from Sweden, which shows that the incidence of suicide is higher among those who identify as transgender and who have had sex-change surgery than among those who have not had the surgery.
The Gender Identity Clinic at John Hopkins was closed, and Dr Money's controversial evening course in human sexology was cancelled in the late seventies. Dr Paul McHugh, chairman of the Psychiatry Department at John Hopkins, criticized transsexual surgery as "the most radical therapy ever encouraged by 20th century psychiatrists", and likened it to the once widespread practice of frontal lobotomy. Dr Jon Meyer, a Hopkins psychiatrist and former director of the Gender Identity Clinic, produced a long-term follow-up of fifty post-operative and pre-operative adult transsexuals treated at John Hopkins and reported that none showed any measurable improvement in their lives and concluded that "sex re-assignment surgery confers no objective advantage in terms of social rehabilitation". There is a determined push by the homosexual rights movement to legitimize sex changes and also for the right for birth certificates to be altered to show the "new" gender, even when there has been no hormone treatment or surgery, i.e., individuals should have the right to be regarded as male or female regardless of anatomy and based solely on their feelings of self-identification.
New York is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate, even if they have not had sex-change surgery. People born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional stating why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent. Applicants would need to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements. "Surgery versus non-surgery can be arbitrary," said Thomas R. Frieden, the city's health commissioner. "Somebody with a beard may have had breast-implant surgery. It's the permanence of the transition that matters most."
Then there are the staff and students of the University of Tennessee's Office for Diversity and Inclusion who want people to think beyond the "he/she" pronouns and are encouraging the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as "xe", "xym" and "xyr". And, at Washington State University, Professor Selena Lester Breikss told students of her "Women and Popular Culture" class that they would risk "failure for the semester" if they used the terms "males" or "females," because they are "gross generalizations" and "derogatory/oppressive language".
She added: "Not everyone in society identifies on a strict male-or-female basis, according to diversity office staff, so they are asking people to be aware some may identify themselves with a name and gender that's not strictly male or female. We should not assume someone's gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems,"
Donna Braquet, director of the University of Tennessee's Pride Center, wrote in a newsletter last month: "Transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth." She suggested instructors learn students' chosen names and chosen pronouns during the first few weeks of classes.
"We are familiar with the singular pronouns she, her, hers and he, him, his, but those are not the only singular pronouns. In fact, there are dozens of gender-neutral pronouns." State Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said he thought the suggestion was a joke. "And then I found out it was true," he said, "at which point I thought, 'Are we really paying somebody to come up with this stuff?'." Dunn, a graduate of UT, said he would rather see public money spent on other academic areas such as maths or technology.
"I just think that when people pay their taxes, they would rather have it go to a university so that people can learn something," Dunn said, "not be brainwashed into some gobbledygook." State Senator Frank Niceley posted on Facebook: "It seems to me the biggest lack of diversity we have at the University of Tennessee is people of common sense".
Universities in Michigan, Maryland and North Carolina have had campaigns on gender-neutral terms, he said. University of Vermont has gender-neutral terms on its forms. Students enrolled in Selena Lester Breikss' "Women and Popular Culture" class at Washington State University can be failed for referring to men and women as males and females. This is considered oppressive language and heterosexist.
The idiocy is not confined to the University of Tennessee - in Australia our federal Labor government in 1974 appointed a royal commission on human relationships, which recommended that "id" be used for both sexes instead of he or she. Most Australians thought this an idiotic recommendation.
But there appears to be a dose of partial sanity from Boulder, Colorado. A law there was passed a few years back extending legal protection to transsexuals (known as "gender-variants") so that they will not be discriminated against in housing, public accommodations or employment. Transsexuals may have full access to public bathrooms which serve the sex of their choice. The law states: "At work, employees can change gender identity and dress as the opposite sex without fear of being fired - but only three times within every year-and-a-half. After that, their employer is permitted to fire them on the grounds of 'gender inconsistency'."
In a homily for the Mass of the Election of the Pope before the conclave where he was elected pope, Benedict XVI said, "We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists of one's own ego and desires."
I will conclude by telling you a story about Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain. She was visiting a psychiatric hospital and one of the patients, a nicely-spoken lady, came up to her and asked her who she was. Mrs Thatcher replied, "I am Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of Great Britain". The woman patted her on the arm and said "It is okay, dear, I used to think I was too when I first came here, but they eventually cured me."
But why should that nice lady have been "cured"? If Bruce Jenner can be "Caitlyn", why can't that lady be Margaret Thatcher? Why should I be cured? You see I also think I am Margaret Thatcher, and I hope you will applaud my bravery and courage in "coming out". I just happen to be trapped in this small brown Indian body, but I hope you will all treat me with the respect due to the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national and overseas coordinator of Australia's Endeavour Forum, Inc.
Daniel Henninger, "Hey, conservatives, you won", Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2014. URL: www.wsj.com/articles/hey-conservatives-you-won-1440628311
Jill Stark, "Fighting for equality: meet Victoria's new sexuality and gender commissioner", The Age (Melbourne), August 30, 2015. URL: www.theage.com.au/victoria/fighting-for-equality-meet-victorias-new-sexuality-and-gender-commissioner-20150828-gj9zo3.html
Paul McHugh, "Transgenderism: a pathogenic meme", Public Discourse (Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, New Jersey), June 10, 2015. URL: www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15145/
Paul McHugh and Jon Meyer quoted in Elizabeth Gilbert, "Transgendered student in Brockton needs help", Massachusetts News, November 11, 2000. URL: www.massnews.com/past_issues/2000/11_Nov/1100op.htm
Damien Cave, "New York plans to make gender personal choice", New York Times, November 7, 2006. URL: www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/nyregion/07gender.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0
Eric Owens, "Taxpayer-funded professors censor words 'female,' 'illegal alien' and make white students 'defer'", Daily Caller (Washington, DC), August 31, 2015. URL: http://dailycaller.com/2015/08/31/taxpayer-funded-professors-censor-words-female-illegal-alien-and-make-white-students-defer/
Jan Sobieski, "University of Tennessee tells students to use gender-neutral pronouns" Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 31, 2015. URL: www.gopusa.com/news/2015/08/31/univ-of-tennessee-tells-students-to-use-gender-neutral-pronouns/
Bulletin published by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), Vol. 8, No. 2, August 2000.
NB: Truth is stranger than fiction - Babette Francis's joke about a man claiming to be a chicken has come more or less true for Englishman Ted Richards who has had his face tattoed with feathers. He has also had his ears removed and is looking for a surgeon to turn his nose into a beak.