Gender Dysphoria and Hope

“Oh my God. I’m home. All the time … you finally really did it. You maniacs.
You blew it up. Damn you. G-d damn you all to hell.”

Wearing only a loincloth and a look of despair Charlton Heston slides off his horse and falls to his knees. Still on the horse sits a beautiful but speechless woman, a complete innocent, an almost sub-human heir of culture long since obliterated and forgotten.

The closing scene from The Planet of the Apes is intensely powerful and deeply ironic. At one level it is every man’s dream; post-apocalyptic and therefore unencumbered by any social obligations, heroic, sensual. But at another level it is a tragic and terrifying nightmare; a shocking blow to the myth of Western perpetuity. All could be lost. Great cultures can blow themselves up—or perhaps in our case, implode.

Culture includes what we do every day, but also what we think is important, what we think is right and wrong, what we believe. And most of this is based on received tribal wisdom. In “The 10 Principles of Conservatism,” Russell Kirk paraphrases Edmund Burke: “The individual is foolish but the species is wise. Prejudices and prescriptions and presumptions are the instruments which the wisdom of the species employs to safeguard man against his own passions and appetites.” We learn without necessarily understanding the significance of our culture’s prejudices. We occupy and are encompassed by culture, more like a body in water than a curious sampler at a buffet. Of course we know that we should transcend culture, that we should make our way out of the cave and gain critical distance, but this itself is often a false consciousness, a picture of a picture, but the bigger picture is also framed by the culture. For the most part this is good. We are not meant to be alone even in our minds. If left to ourselves, without the fear of shame that was the first effect of Original Sin, few if any would behave nobly, but culture can help us become noble.

And just as individuals need to be held accountable by culture, culture needs to develop within an older living tradition. G.K. Chesterton said that the future can only be seen in the shining shields of the past. He said that tradition was the democracy of the dead because through it we hear wisdom distilled through ages of triumph and failure and that we must “refuse to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who happen to be walking about.”

But the authority of tradition has become like a shadow at noon. Every new technology is a sacrament affirming the universal creed that what is old is obsolete and what is new is superior. We are transfixed by the unfolding technological horizon. We are floating, there is no fixed point, no rootedness. Unsure of our physical world we have become unsure of ourselves because we too are physical. The only constant is change and the only certainty is that everything is developmental; there are no permanent things. And so we are limp, expressionless, and voiceless as things that formerly would have enervated wash over us.

Guidlines for Mandatory LGBTQ Policies in Alberta Schools gives a fine example of the late decadence which swirls like a celestial black hole, sucking in and annihilating everything.

It reads: “Students have the right to self-identify their gender and be addressed by the name and pronoun of their choice….”

The first thing we notice about another human being is their maleness or femaleness. In the order of being this objective fact falls somewhere between “I exist” and awareness of the elapse of time. It is a cornerstone for a correlation between perception and reality. But all must be eclipsed by the LGBTQ gods. Make no mistake, when the high priests of oppression and grievance require you to deny what is plain to every eye, they are requiring you to deny nature and truth, they are claiming the authority of the supernatural and we are being forced to recite their creed.

It continues: “…students may dress in clothing and participate on sports teams that reflect their gender identity and expression.”

Over and above nature, one of the greatest achievements of Western culture was the gentleness and courtesy men extended to women. On average, men have 60 percent more upper body strength and are naturally more aggressive, but this was strictly contained. To use strength to overpower a woman was despicable and any man who did so would be thoroughly subdued and humiliated. But no longer. Since maleness and femaleness and the different obligations these facts entail have been replaced by the kolaiedescope madhouse of gender subjectivity and gender fluidity there are no longer restraints. And on this point, the Alberta Ministry of Education is merely imitating a global trend.

In a January 26, 2016 Lifesite article, Steve Weatherbe reports: “The International Olympic Committee … has ruled that “so-called male-to-female transgender athletes already allowed in the Olympics since 2012 after castration and two years of hormone therapy, will be allowed in the Rio Olympics without surgery as long as their testosterone has been below male levels for a year…”

Gender ideologues have enacted a near totalitarian mind control, inverting the most obvious facts and subverting the most important restraints and obligations. But surely there must remain some echo of sanity and decency on the ground, where people live? Not so. The January 13, 2016 CBC news article reporting on LGBTQ policies for Alberta schools put the policy document in context.

Last year an Edmonton transgender student’s wish to use the girl’s washroom at her Catholic elementary school pushed the issue of gender inclusive policies into the spotlight.

The seven-year-old girl was originally told she had to use a single-stall washroom at the school. But the principal relented after public outcry.

In other words, a public outcry arose when the principal at a Catholic elementary school provided a separate washroom for a 7-year-old boy who thought he was a girl, rather than confirm his madness and have him use the girl’s washroom with all the girls.

The Alberta Ministry of Education has replaced the terms “mother” and “father” with parent, caregiver or partner and has added “ze,” “zir,” “hir,” “they,” “them” and “Mx” to he, her, Mr. and Ms. And only God can help you if you don’t abide.

Blogger Charolette Allen writes:

If you’re a girl and you don’t like the idea of someone in the shower room who claims to be a girl but looks exactly like a boy anatomically, you’re the one who has to move. A student who objects to sharing a washroom or change-room with a student who is trans or gender-diverse is offered an alternative facility. And also, adults who claim to belong to a different sex from the one they anatomically resemble get to be in the shower room too!

There is a small minority for whom tradition still has some resonance, but we are in a freefall, unable to compete with the modernist vision. We may have hoped that things would stabilize on the low but sturdy ground of enlightened self-interest and that parents would protect their children, even if only as extensions of themselves, but all manner of madness prevails. Is this the twilight of our culture? Are we on the brink of a dark age in which vandals will smash all that is orderly, true and beautiful? Maybe, maybe not. Again, the wisdom of Edmund Burke may offer hope. In 1795 Burke wrote of the resilience of states:

At this very moment when some of them seem plunged in unfathomable abysses of disgrace and disaster, they have suddenly emerged. They have begun a new course, and opened a new reckoning; and even in the depths of their calamity, and on the very ruins of their country, they have laid the foundations of a towering and durable greatness. All of this has happened without any apparent previous change in the general circumstances that had brought on their distress. The death of a man at a critical juncture, his disgust, his retreat, his disgrace, have brought innumerable calamities on a whole nation. A common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an inn, have changed the face of fortune, and almost of Nature.

Though our culture may at the moment be unhinged from tradition and sanity, we ourselves can look into the shining shields of the past and imitate the noble few who throughout history proclaimed the truth with joy and without fear, and unexpectedly, altered the course of history.

Joe Bissonnette

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Joe Bissonnette teaches religion and philosophy at Assumption College School in Brantford, Ontario where he lives with his wife and their seven children. He has written for Catholic Insight, The Human Life Review, The Interim, The Catholic Register and The Toronto Star.

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